The Times has a lengthy piece interviewing the biggest Asian-American actors working today about how they
have emerged as fierce advocates for their own visibility‚ and frank critics of their industry. The issue has crystallized in a word‚ whitewashing‚ that calls out Hollywood for taking Asian roles and stories and filling them with white actors.
This is still an issue because mainstream media companies (production studios, broadcast networks, etc) act as gatekeepers, deciding which audiences are valuable and what shows are worth pursuing. As television moves online, becoming less subject to this control and filtering, we will naturally see content that is more diverse and better geared to smaller communities. Asian Americans are 5% of the US population. Should 5% of television be produced for them? It doesn't seem unreasonable. Mitu, a digital video companies focusing on the historically under-served Latino community, has seen rapid growth, demonstrating a clear demand for this sort of content.
the real change will be driven by upstarts that clearly demonstrate that it isn't necessary to work within the studio system to achieve success
It's nice to see some change within the mainstream industry as actors like Aziz Ansari and Constance Wu gain visibility. But ultimately, the real change will be driven by upstarts that clearly demonstrate that it isn't necessary to work within the studio system to achieve success.