A Colorless Industry


Courtesy of FOX

Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) was a main character on the popular hit tv show “Glee.”

Lilly Ball , Editor in Chief

The 2015 Academy Awards succeeded in bringing to light a topic much more important than the nominee’s fashion choices, one that in fact, has bothered me for a long time. While the discussion on the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry may have reached its acme with the awards show, it is far from over.

From my point of view, as someone who has dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to watching and blogging about movies, the most famous members of the film industry are unreasonably white. Some of the most interesting films that I have ever had the privilege to witness were the creations of Asian directors, yet they receive less recognition than others by white men. Directed by Kar-Wai Wong, the 1995 film “Fallen Angels” is quite similar to “Pulp Fiction,” but no one seems to have heard of it. I only stumbled upon it by chance, and such an amazing film deserves more recognition, regardless of the ethnicities of its leading actors and production team.

Once I came to the realization that every time I walked into a theater I was only seeing white actors, I started counting the number of minority actors in every film, television show, and commercial. Many of them featured POC as only extras, while the others seemed to have placed them in roles specifically written for nonwhites.

During my “Glee” phase, circa 2009, I was constantly irritated with the fact that Tina, played by Jenna Ushkowitz, was defined primarily by her Asian heritage. It took a few seasons before she was given a full solo, and she seemed to only be a member of the cast to fill the Asian character requirement. Even in a TV show that has been praised for its diverse cast, Tina still was still pushed out of the spotlight by white characters who were able to showcase their talent within every episode.

Though the industry has come a long way from the shamelessly inaccurate interpretations of minority cultures of the 1980’s, such as with the character Long Duk Dong from “Sixteen Candles,” minority performers are still recognized more for their ethnicity than their talent. They have become a novelty, with “progressive” directors and producers featuring a handful of minorities per film, just for the sake of diversity. We may be on our way, but true racial equality in Hollywood will not be reached until roles that do not require a certain ethnicity are awarded to minority actors.