Why I’m Tired of Being an (Asian) Actor

The Call

So, one day, I got a call for an audition at a Big New York Theater (BNYT).  The character description read:

30s-50s. (actually ageless) The tribal chief of the NaKong of the lost city of Pahatlabong – a very war-like people. Proud of his culture. Very smart and very observant. Truly a fish out of water . . .  he speaks only a few words of English, but picks up on many English customs during the course of the play. MUST BE A GREAT PHYSICAL COMEDIAN.

Okay, great.  A tribal chief.

An indigenous person.

A native.  I could look ‘native’.

Asian, sort of.

Asian, sort of.

“NaKong “ and “Pahatlabong” sound vaguely Pacific. 

Pacific Islander?  I’m Filipino.  Check.

This is great.  There are only a handful of actors I know that could go out for this.  For once, I’m happy I don’t look Chinese.  Very few of my East Asian actor friends could look like they were a native from a Pacific island.  This is a GREAT opportunity for me.  The pool just got smaller.

I check out the sides.  The sides are all in a made up Polynesian sounding language:

Luigi Sides

I speak Tagalog, so this is definitely something I can do and sound ‘authentic’, even with a fictional language.  I can make all this made up language sound REAL.

I read the play, and the character first appears wearing blue paint and tattoos and feathers.  And knickers.

STOP.  Wait a minute.

Am I going to be okay with doing this role?  We’ve struggled so hard to get away from these stereotypes: the tribal chief?  The non-English speaking savage?  Talking in some whackadoo made-up language?  Are the white people having a laugh at our expense, AGAIN?

Wait, I said to myself, read the play at least.  If it’s funny, and with a twist, maybe it’s worth it.  Maybe it’s even genius.

The play turns out to be very, VERY funny, and is actually lampooning the European explorers who find these ancient tribal people and claim to have discovered them.  The play even centers around the woman who brings this tribal chief to England, only to have a hard time joining the club because, well, she’s a woman.

Hey, look what I found!

Hey, look what I found!

The play specifically exposes white European male exclusivity and here, the white European males are all made to look absolutely ridiculous!  Fantastic!

I tell myself, yes, I can do this role.  It’s spinning the tribal stereotype on its head.  It IS genius.

The Audition

FIRST.  My audition is with the casting director and her assistant.  The casting director laughs; throughout the ENTIRE thing.  Everything that came out of my mouth was GOLD.  Wow, that may be the best audition I’ve ever had.  I’ve NEVER had anyone respond that positively in the room.  EVER.  I get called back.

SECOND.  In the callback, another casting person is there, which makes three,  along with the playwright and director.  I knock it out of the park.  The room is bigger and the laughs are louder.  I am SO getting this.  If the writer and director love me, it’s a done deal.  I get called back again.

THIRD.  In the second callback, a producer of the BNYT is there, along with everyone else from the second callback.  The laughter isn’t as robust, and the producer has a permanent sneer, but the casting director nods her head with a big smile throughout the entire thing.  She’s rooting for me.  The rest of the room seems tempered by the presence of the producer, but they laugh anyway.  This is in the bag, I thought.

I didn’t get the part.

The Bomb

So, I’m crushed.  I want to know who got it.  In my mind, I go through the people I know who might’ve gotten it;  I wonder if I was too confident in that final callback;  I wonder if I should’ve played nicer with the producer; I wonder if it’s because I don’t have any major theater credits in New York, that I was passed over for someone with Broadway credits.

Then, one day, I see my agent.  On the way out, I tell him how devastated I was about that audition for that BNYT a few weeks back.  He said they decided to go with someone more ‘physical’ and then he dropped the bomb:

“They cast a white guy.”





But he’s “The tribal chief of the NaKong of the lost city of Pahatlabong – a very war-like people . . . . he speaks only a few words of English.”

I go online and see the cast.

My jaw, my heart, my soul drops to the floor.

How could they cast a white guy?

They couldn’t find anyone a shade darker than this?

This was their idea of a tribal chief of a very war-like people.

I know who this is.  I’m sure he had a fantastic audition, because the guy is VERY talented and very funny.  He also has Broadway creds and a ton of other credits that I probably could never accumulate in 20 years.

But he’s WHITE.

The Questions

Obviously, I had some questions:

1)      Was there really an injustice done here?  Is anyone even going to notice that the tribal chief is white?  And if they notice, will they care?  Will it matter?

2)      And if there WAS an injustice done, is it even worth mentioning?  On the scale of injustices, if the sectarian massacres on the beach towns of Syria, involving the killing of women and children and babies and unborn fetuses are a TEN, if a thousand Bangladeshi garment workers dying so my t-shirt could cost $10 instead of $15 is a TEN, then surely this casting choice injustice (if it is one), is down somewhere around ONE.  Maybe even a .5.

3)      Are people even going to CARE what the race is of the actor playing the part of the tribal chief?  It’s a comedy!  White comedians play colored folks all the time on Saturday Night Live.  No one’s holding up banners at 30 Rock.  Doesn’t comedy get a pass?  It’s a farce, it’s comedy, lighten up!  It’s not a history lesson, it’s not even a real Pacific Island, it’s about a fictional people!  It’s about laughs, have a good time!

4)      Since this is the FIRST statement in this BNYT’s mission:

“INNOVATE. Our mission is to produce a season of innovative work with a series of productions as broad and diverse as New York itself”

. . . wouldn’t this have been a good opportunity to fulfill that mission statement, by casting a character of color with, you know, an actor of color?  In the name of diversity and New York City?

5)      Wasn’t the character supposed to be a NATIVE that comes out in tattoos and feathers and blue paint?  I guess Braveheart wore blue paint . . .

Wasn't he in Apocalypto?

Wasn’t he in Apocalypto?

But still.  He was from Scotland.  Blue paint or not, he was supposed to be white.

6)      Speaking of movies, would this casting choice be made in a movie?  If this play were a movie, would Jim Carrey be the native?  Will Ferrell?  Zack Galifinakis?  Surely they are some of the funniest physical comedians around.  And white guys playing native always gets a laugh.  And surely a financial venture as costly as a movie, easily 20 times more expensive than an off-Broadway play, would cast the BEST comedian; the funniest, hottest, best known comedian they could find, because it would be the best way to guarantee a hit, so they could recoup their gargantuan investment.  Hollywood would cast a white guy if this play was a movie, right?

7)      Speaking of color, would this BNYT cast a white guy if this role was a fictional AFRICAN tribal chief?  If he was the chief of the zebra-herding Mbutu clan of the Zamazinga savannah, would they cast a white actor?  Or, because of the vast melanin gulf that exists between black and white, would the BNYT have to cast a black actor in that instance?  Is the difference between white and Asian LESS than the difference between white and black?  Is the difference so small it doesn’t exist AT ALL? 

In mathematical terms, is the following statement true:

If W – A = 0, then W – A < W – B.

8)      How will the play poke fun at the white European male explorers when the tribal chief in front of them is . . . a white European male?   What about satirizing the 19th century European explorer/colonizer, and the racist attitudes that he embodied?  Shouldn’t the actor playing the tribal chief be anything BUT white?   

9)      Did ANYONE at the BNYT even say “Hey, wait a minute guys, I just realized something:  the tribe is not in Europe.  So, the tribal chief is probably, you know, dark.  Or dark-er.  We cast a guy who is probably Irish by descent.  Is that . . . weird?”

10)  And if someone DID say that, what was the following conversation like?

11)  Isn’t the play also about a woman who isn’t allowed in the club because she’s a woman?  Surely a writer who is fully conscious of the ideas of exclusivity (and has written a brilliant play about it) and how the old notions of inequality are downright silly, surely SHE would object to having the savage played by a white man.  Right?

12)   But isn’t this the magic of theater?  That anyone can play ANYTHING?  Anna Deavere-Smith played all sorts of races in her one-person shows.

She's so good.

She’s so good.

So does a whole bunch of other super talented actors in their own one-person vehicles.  What does it matter that this role is played by a white actor, as long as the story is told and the audience is entertained?

13)  Should I really be complaining about the lack of parts for Asian actors?  Didn’t the Signature just do a season of David Henry Hwang plays?  Hasn’t Here Lies Love, a musical set in the Philippines with Filipino characters, just been extended at the Public?  Wasn’t Chinglish on Broadway last year?  Why gripe about this ONE part at this one BNYT?

14)  Are they doing something so witty and so 21st century post-racial that I can’t even grasp it:  casting a white person to play a noble savage in a play about how racist white people are (or were) to show how crazy it is when white people are/were racist?

15)  Was I just simply not good enough?  Was no other colored actor good enough?  Although I looked the part, the actor they cast was just SO much better, just way funnier, that the BNYT decided “Hey, he may be white, which is the completely wrong skin color for this role, but he was just SO damn funny!  Plus, look at his resume.  No, don’t look at his headshot, look at his resume.”  Was the actor they cast just THAT good?

16)   Am I just being too sensitive again?  Am I just being the bitter actor who didn’t get the part?

These are not rhetorical questions.  If you have some answers, please respond.

The Dream 

Before I found out who was cast, before I realized I hadn’t gotten the part, I had a nightmare.

I dreamt I was in some town hall type meeting.  Representatives from the BNYT were there, along with the artistic directors of every major ‘ethnic’ and off-Broadway theater in New York, as well as actors, other theater folk and activist types.

I dreamt that the BNYT had cast a white actor in the role I auditioned for.

I dreamt that the BNYT people said that while I was good, they went with someone that had a bigger name, and that it was simply a business decision.

I dreamt that I thanked the BNYT for allowing this conversation to take place.  (I was extremely polite in my dream.)  I said I completely understood their decision, and of course it was their right to do what was best for their business, which their theater is, after all.  A BNYT is not in the business of giving jobs to actors of color, they are in the business of theater, of entertainment.  I get that, I said.

Then, I dreamt that I began telling the crowd what the role was:  how the character first appeared, how he would be dressed, what he would say and how he would say it.

I dreamt that I heard the crowd gasping in disbelief.  I dreamt I heard murmuring turn into yelling, and shouts.  I dreamt the crowd turned into an angry riotous mob, and their cursing and screaming turned towards the representatives of the BNYT, demanding answers.

I dreamt the BNYT people attempted to defend their actions, stammering out half-sentences at the increasingly furious body of angry colored people.  I dreamt they were yelling over the din, desperately trying explain their choice again, and I dreamt I said to these BNYT reps:

“No.  You’ve had your chance to talk.  It’s MY turn now.”

What do you know?  Dreams do come true after all.

The Asian Actor Exits.

130 thoughts on “Why I’m Tired of Being an (Asian) Actor

  1. I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if we were talking about an African role- why? Why is it considered acceptable/profitable/call-it-what-you-want to experiment with Asian roles but not with African ones?

    • Right, because all those stories of Egypt and biblical stories that are set in Africa that come out each year with a full white cast isn’t them disregarding the lives of black people. No, they only do it to Asians. How about the prince of Persia, Persians are not exactly white but that was a full cast of white people as well. No need to throw black people under the bus to highlight your own struggles.

      • No throwing anyone under the bus here. Black actors have received worse treatment in the past, by far. And I never said discrimination only happens towards Asians. But I do think that the diversity conversation isn’t as simple as black and white, but that is often how it’s discussed.

  2. You know its entirely possible that the irony of the play was completely lost on the producers. They’re just the guys with the money, not necessarily the guys with the vision.

  3. Crazy stuff man. Its insane to me the complete lack of asian representation there is in movies, theater and tv. Its hard to explain to my “white” and “black” friends just how it feels when you look around and literally no one in media looks like you. Keep pushing on man. Dont give up!

    • Yeah…It’s just like when I hear from Silicon Valley employers that only Asians and Indians know how to write code, and they blatantly admit passing over equally qualified Caucasian applicants because they believe Caucasians aren’t as good of workers.

      Sorry to tell you but discrimination is everywhere. Whites even discriminate against other whites.

      All types of people are needed in films, television and commercials. I don’t know how theater works but since it was a comedic play maybe the ethnicity of this character wasn’t important.

      BTW – Do me a favor and please do something about the Asian woman trying to grab that dollar from the fisherman in the State Farm commercial!!!

      • Thank you for your comments, Thomas.

        Not that Google represents all of Silicon Valley, but for Google’s workers to be 70% male and 61% white, seems like they aren’t passing over that many Caucasian applicants. Check out the article here:


        Asians come in at a distant second at 30%. There are twice as many white guys at Google than Asian and Indians COMBINED.

        And yes, discrimination is everywhere. And we must call it out every time it rears its head. Exhausting.

        I don’t think that in this instance the theater believed that the ‘ethnicity of this character wasn’t important.’ In fact, the character was defined almost entirely by his ethnicity. I think the theater believed that the ethnicity of the ACTOR wasn’t important. I find it troubling that they can so easily accept a character of color, but did not think it vital that an actor of color play that character.

        I don’t know what it means, but there’s a disconnect.

  4. I’m not Asian but here’s my opinion coming from someone who knows a few black actors trying to make it in Los Angeles; including myself at one point. When your black, and your an actor, Hollywood want’s to type cast you. It sucks because, you either get the thug image, the I’m a suave player but I love women too much to play them so now I have a problem kind of guy, a drug dealer, rapper, or that random black guy yelling out, “Oh hell naw nigga!” “That shit is whack!” This is why in America I can walk down the street and someone come up to me and say some dumb shit or assume that all black people like one thing because of stereotypes. Honestly, I think it was a blessing you didn’t get the
    role. I would rather see an Asian or Polynesian actor play in any role. Plus, when you get turned down or someone tells you no, it only means your getting closer to the next person whose going to say yes. =)

    • I agree. I understand why it is offensive and problematic for a white person to play a ‘native’ as there seems to be an element of mockery there, particularly given the history of colonialism, which cannot be ignored. However, I think it would have been just as problematic for them to give you a role ‘because you were brown’ (as well as talented, obviously). I think whoever was better suited for the character should have been given the role, although I hope they deal with it tastefully now seeing as there are a lot of things that could go wrong with a white physical comedian playing a native. I think the problem will not be resolved so long as Asian actors are only hired to play Asian roles. Of course, sometimes ethnicity is a crucial part of a character and plot, but as a person of Chinese heritage myself it does make me cringe every time I see someone unreflexively fulfilling a stereotypically ‘Asian’ role, often only for comic relief.

      • Thanks for your thoughts.

        I grinned reading your reply, because it mirrors my own sense of confusion and back and forth about the whole thing.

        Yes, I do think whoever is best suited for the character should be given the role. The question then becomes, is there anything wrong with them thinking that a white actor is best suited for a role as a tribal chief? What does ‘better suited’ mean?

        Likewise, I don’t think I should’ve gotten the role JUST BECAUSE I’m brown. But again, I wonder, IS a white actor better suited to play a character of color, than an ACTOR of color?

        Is it right that a white actor, (who has access to a majority of roles simply because of the color of skin) can just as easily play a character of color, when an actor of color seems to only be relegated to playing the much smaller amount of characters of color (of which white actors should also have access to)?

        Sounds like a bamboozle to me.

        • The answer to your last question (is it right that a white actor can just as easily play a character of colour when an actor of colour has access to limited roles) I’d say is a resounding no! However, I don’t think the problem is so much with the white actor playing the character of colour as it is that this relationship is not reciprocal. Can a Filipino person play a white person, for example? If we conclude that your white contemporary can reasonably be given the part for a ‘tribal islander’ then we should also conclude that you could play an Amish person… for example. Haha. The fact that that would never happen does reveal the racial inequalities in the entertainment industry, I think.

          In this instance, seeing as the character was part of a non-existent, fictional tribe, I’d say neither of you were inherently better suited to play the part because of the colour of your skin. Both of you would be equally dressing up as someone of another ethnicity. If the character had been Filipino, on the other hand, that would have been a huge smack in the face.

          I think (but I’m still trying to work it out haha) that by concluding that an actor of colour is inherently best suited to play any character of colour, you are also concluding that people of colour are somehow the same, regardless of where they are from. For this reason, I think perhaps the right thing to do is to cast actors based on other attributes, such as their capacity for physical comedy, etc. and, if you are going to allow a white person to play a person of colour, to also allow the reverse to happen. Or am I just crazy? Do let me know what you think ha!

          • Thanks for your reply! Yeah, I don’t know. My head hurts thinking about it sometimes.

            To your first point, that’s really the main issue: if white actors can play colored characters, can colored actors play white characters? The plain truth is I would NEVER be seen for a character that was SUPPOSED to be white, who’s whiteness is part of the story. I would never be cast as a son in a white family without the story being that I was adopted. So why should a white actor be allowed to play a character of color, whose color-ness is part of the story?

            It doesn’t go both ways, and that’s a double-standard by definition.

            To your second point, I understand what you are saying about this being a fictional tribe. I’m not a tribal chief, so it’s not like I’m saying I WAS the role! And hey, none of the people in the cast are actually British explorers either! It’s not about exactitude, I don’t think. It’s about PROXIMITY. I don’t think all actors of color are the same, but it’s about casting people that may bring in a certain cultural understanding. For example, if a play had Cuban characters, I would try to cast Cuban actors. But I would also consider other Latino actors, as they may share the same cultural world, and are in closer PROXIMITY to the character, than say an actor from China. And the Cuban or Latin actor may bring with them a wealth of information/experience/knowledge that would infuse the character and hopefully the production. I would consider that to be an artistic advantage.

            And let’s look at the reverse. If the character was white and the play was set in a “fictional” American Midwest town, wouldn’t you try to cast a white actor? Sure, not all white people are the same, but there may be something that a white American actor can bring to the table that hue closer to the character than say, a black actor from Nigeria. Of course, that’s not to say a black actor from Nigeria couldn’t PLAY a white Midwesterner, but a white American actor would be in closer PROXIMITY to the role, and that would be an artistic advantage.

            Finally, in a play ABOUT imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, and really every other kind of -ism, wouldn’t it have been funnier/smarter/sharper/more relevant/more thought-provoking/more insightful/more exciting to cast the part of the colonized tribal person as NOT the same color as the colonizer? In a play about difference, wouldn’t it make sense to have someone . . . different? Or am I just crazy?

  5. #9 made me laugh out loud. but why’dya have to throw in some asian stereotype with the math, yo?

    But seriously. That SUCKS. The irony is my friend who is half Japanese, half Caucasian who spent 10 years doing time trying to be an actor in NYC theatres once told me, ‘I get casted for Asian parts than I do for White.’ And the even more ironic thing is, she looks more white. You’d never guess she was half Japanese.

    I wish I had words of wisdom, my Asian brother…I’m sure you could kick the white guys’ ass if that is any consolation 😛

  6. Way to be an Asian role model! Really! Little Asian boys and girls need Asian adults to look up to. Once upon a time, all they had was Bruce Lee. That’s a start. But not every Asian kid wants to be a martial arts expert. These days we have sports stars, actors, politicians, and representatives of so many different fields that are Asian. Asian children NEED that:


    I don’t know if you’ll ever become a big-name actor. I hope you do. But even if you don’t, keep on keepin’ on. Filipino kids need somebody to look up to.

  7. Look at Hollywood. Run by a bunch of racist pedophiles. You’ve probably got some of them running the show for BNYT.

  8. Did anyone else cringe when ROB SCHNEIDER was cast in the role of the Hawaiian in 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler? I was repulsed, even though I think Schneider is hilarious, but they couldn’t find someone closer to the ethnicity of a native Islander instead of choosing him? And I am a 100% white guy, but this issue really does suck. No different than black face which fortunately we’ve mostly given up these days (although one of the things I totally LOVED was Kander/Ebb’s Scottsboro boys in which actual black actors put on black face to do a minstrel show – a true tour de force).

  9. Johnny Depp as Tonto in “The Lone Ranger”. I feel like they probably could have found a very talented Native American actor if they wanted to. Then again, Johnny Depp has lots of credits…

  10. Thank you for writing this and revealing it. However, despite reading this post when it first came out in May, I somehow unwittingly managed to buy tickets to the play in question, and saw a preview of it last week. (Your post had made me think that I’d probably boycott this show if I ever had a chance to see it. Unfortunately, I did not do my due diligence before buying tickets.)

    I write for a theater blog in San Francisco, and my latest post is about the questions you raise here, and the questions that I had after seeing this show for myself. My piece is at http://sftheaterpub.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/hi-ho-the-glamorous-life-an-exploration-of-race/. Once again, thank you for writing this, and I hope you do not mind my effort to continue the conversation.

  11. I still remember when they cast Johnathan Price in Miss Saigon. As a kid, I couldn’t figure out why a white man was a pimp in Vietnam. Unfortunately, stuff like this will continue to happen unless more people speak up. Good for you for doing so.

  12. Bottom line: we’ve got to write/produce our own stuff for us, like the Wayans family. Good luck and keep on truckin!

  13. I’m a filmmaker in training, and I’m so glad I found this. Asian actors are so underrated and never get the leading parts in either Film or TV series, which is nothing but ridiculous. I hope to be a part of the change in the future. I would never do what the casting director/producer/director did to you. I hope to make a lot of great films with Asian actors in the leads.

    • Thanks for your thoughts!

      It’s great to know that as a filmmaker in training, you’re at least aware of some of the challenges we Asian actors face, and that you hope to be part of change in the future.

      I do want to mention though, that the creative team didn’t DO anything specific to me, other than not give me the part. That’s something you’re going to have to do as a director/producer: cast someone in a project, and disappoint others.

      I’m not upset about not getting the part per se; that’s part of every actor’s life. I’m not even upset about getting so close and not getting the part. But I do question who they ultimately chose, and why they made that choice, and where the state of American theater stands when a choice like that is okay.

  14. Hey,

    Great post! Sorry for what you had to go through. I’m a Filipino looking to becoming an actor and saw your site as part of my research to foresee what obstacles are in the way.

    Well, I don’t know your reaction to this but Johnny Depp is Tonto. So, yeah…I guess a real aboriginal person was just too Indian.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s theatre or film. Splash some paint on the actor and TADA! A new race!

    Is the acting business really that hard for Asians? If so, I may dive right in and really make a splash!

    • Thanks for your thoughts.

      I can’t speak generally for how difficult all Asian actors find the acting business. I think it’s safe to say that, like actors of all ethnicities, there are very few who are very successful, many who are somewhat successful, and still more who may find only limited success.

      Turn on the TV, or take a look at what’s playing at the movies or in the theater and observe the diversity that currently exists. That should give you an idea of what’s currently out there. If you’re looking simply at the number of roles out there for Asian actors, it’s not very encouraging.

      But acting isn’t about the numbers. At least it shouldn’t be. And as hard as my recent experience was, I can’t discourage anyone from pursuing their dream. If you feel passionate about acting, nothing should stop you from making a go of it.

  15. I’m not an actor. I just happened upon this looking up Asian actors to prove a point to my husband. There is a new show starting called Bitten. It’s based off of a series of books called Women of the Otherworld. One of the main characters is supposed to be half Japanese.They cast a blue eyed white actor. I was like wtf? From personal experience I know half Japanese ppl show Japanese characteristics. I’m half Japanese. So is my sister and all my cousins. Nobody in my family married Japanese. My kids are only quarter Japanese but they all look it. When the author of the books told them how the fans were freaking out about their casting choice they told her they couldn’t find an Asian actor. With all the Asian actors out there it’s hard to believe that they couldn’t find an Asian actor. Sure it’s great that all the actors they cast are Canadian but Canada has a fairly large Asian community and if my guess is right they will be filming in British Columbia. BC has the largest Japanese community in Canada. So instead of using the characters back story about being half Japanese they are just going to omit it. This really pisses me off. Asians should play Asians just like Johnny Depp shouldn’t have played Tonto in that crappy remake of The Lone Ranger.

    • Thanks for your thoughts!

      Sounds like another missed opportunity. Not only for casting, but for the original series; that a character that was written as half-Japanese will be ‘whited’ out.

      I can sense from your comment that as a half-Japanese person, you were looking forward to seeing this character on the screen, and maybe feel a little bit like you were represented. That’s really at the heart of this debate for me. When can we see people that look like ourselves?

      I don’t know if you ever caught Linsanity up there, but when Jeremy Lin rose to the spotlight in those few amazing NBA games a season ago, the best part about it for me was seeing someone that looked somewhat like me, playing with the big guys and kicking butt. If I squinted, I could almost see MYSELF making those shots in Madison Square Garden. That is powerful. Imagine an Asian kid seeing Jeremy Lin on that court: I can do that, I can BE that, because look, there’s a guy just like me who’s already doing it.

      We want representation. We want to see ourselves in the stories we watch. And if possible, we want our stories to be told by us.

  16. Thank your for sharing, Alexis. Your frustration resonates with me tremendously, as I am also an Asian-American actor looking to right these wrongs; it is what motivates me to work harder. And to encounter such a recent example of this injustice is difficult to digest. Ironically, I am currently studying at the same MFA program from which the said white actor graduated.

    • Thanks for your thoughts.

      I am ALSO from the same MFA program as said white actor, which I found both ironic . . . and completely unrelated. It’s hard to blame an actor for taking a job he’s been offered. Something bigger is at work here, bigger than a decision by one actor to take one part.

      However, there is hope. I’m currently in a show a few blocks from where you are studying, at La Mama, and as a reviewer recently said:

      “The color-blind, ethnically diverse casting of this play reflects (the playwright Chiori Miyagawa’s) sensibility beautifully and her longtime mission (I believe) to find commonality among people in the world–what makes us alike rather than what makes us different.”

      Come check out and see the kind of theater and casting that is possible. There’s also another actor from 721 Bway in the show!


      • Hahaha. This world will never cease to amaze me how small it is. I, in fact, have already purchased tickets to see Chiori’s play. Alice Reagan directed me at Barnard undergrad, and I participated in the first table read of “I Came To Look For You On Tuesday” in the spring.

        And I completely agree with you. I would not lose sight of the fact that this issue is so far from the hands of actors–who just need work! I’m coming to see the show on the 12th. Looking forward to meeting you, Alexis.

  17. This is the best response to the issue I’ve ever read , thank you for sharing this enlightening insight. At present, being a minority actor in a Western country is like having walls on your every side, and furthermore, casting someone who doesn’t look the part, makes zero sense.

    I’m creating a campaign for a uni project, I’m hoping that it will gather enough attention so to establish a major play at the Sydney Theatre Company with a multi-racial cast, please have a read of my posts, they’re quite short. I’m also optimistic that one day we’ll have a minority the lead of a huge successful production, setting a precedent for many years to come. One play at a time.

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  19. Fortunately I never had to deal with anything like this yet. I believe they have done this in movie casting before too such as for the movie Dragon Ball. I was reading a lot of comments from people such as if the reverse would ever happen where a studio would cast an Asian to play as say Captain America.

  20. Pingback: Why this Asian American never pursued acting. | Life, the Universe and Lani

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