Within the last decade, Asian stories that decorate the silver screen have expanded past the international film category and have instead been celebrated across a variety of themes and stories. In the past, Asian representation was only present in ‘foreign language’ films and Asian-Americans in Hollywood were always cast as the ruthless warrior or the exotic dragon lady. However, Asian-Americans have climbed the steep ladder that the past has mounted, restoring representation and hope for young audiences.
By telling the honest cinematic stories of Asian-Americans, stereotypes are being erased and heartfelt characters are being formed. These four collected pieces narrate the successes and growth of Asian-American cinema and document how representation has changed the lives of today’s Asian Youth.
– Aubrey Meiling
Evolution of Asian Representation in Western Media
By Leila Wickliffe
An opinion piece presenting the history of Asian representation in Western media and how characterization of Asian characters has changed— from the exotic foreigner character of Mickey Rooney to the dashing prince charming of Henry Golding.
“The history of accurate and nuanced stories of Asian people has had its ups and downs, and progress is beginning to show. Mainstream media has reached a point where simply having an Asian person on screen is not enough. There is a difference between being on screen and being seen.”
The Academy's Baby Steps
By Yanitta Iew
A personal essay recounting how the 2021 Academy Award nominations took big steps into diversifying the playing field, with many historical firsts for both Asians and women.
“The moment I heard the nominees for the first category, Actress in a Supporting Role, I knew that this was going to be another year for us Asians in film. No, not only for us. I have a feeling this could be the most diverse Oscars in the history of the Academy Awards.”
The American Narrative and Minari
By Chris Fong Chew
A deep dive into the meaning and background of the 2020 film Minari and how its story, background, and reception defines what it means to be (Asian) American.
“As we are living through a particularly divisive and violent time in American history, we need stories like Minari that remind us of what it means to be American, and it was an absolute failure of the Golden Globes to say otherwise.”
Michelle Yeoh Receives an AFI Honorary Degree
By Amber Ting
This collection would be incomplete without mentioning Michelle Yeoh– the Malaysian actress who has represented Asians in Hollywood for the past 26 years. An empowering piece about how Michelle Yeoh earned her well deserved Honorary Degree from the American Film Institute.
“In the past, Yeoh has been vocal about the need for diversity and inclusion in the film industry, and she has paved a path for representation by bringing to life complex Asian characters on screen. Her role as Evelyn Wang is merely another demonstrative example. To this day, her flourishing career is one of the best examples of Asian excellence in Hollywood, and the doctorate is a deserved recognition of her talent.”