Asian Representation in Hollywood – Serena Daya

The evening of September 18, 2016 brought television audiences together to enjoy the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards.  Host Jimmy Kimmel led the night into the ill advised attempts at comedic awards show hosting (although, that is a separate blog post, and considerably off topic).

One of the most salient topics of the night was the issue of Asian-American representation on the screen.  Randall Park and Constance Wu are actors on the show Fresh Off the Boat– a show about an Asian-American family living in Florida in the 1990s.  Rotten Tomatoes has the show rated at 91% and it is rated an 8 out of 10 on IMDB. The general population largely agrees the show is entertaining and thoughtful; yet, despite the overwhelming acceptance of the show, it failed to gain a single nomination at this year’s Emmy awards.

Both Randall Park and Constance Wu presented the award for Best Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series.  They hinted at the “elephant in the room”– where their show was not nominated for any award.

Why 'Justice for Constance Wu' was one of the biggest conversations during the Emmys

Pictured: Randall Park (left) and Constance Wu (right) presenting at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.  Image: Kevin Winter | Getty Images.

Many individuals took to twitter to express their disdain for the lack of awards nominations, with the trending hashtag #JusticeforConstanceWu.  Most people were outraged at the notion of representation without proper acclaim, where people of color have to give stellar performances to oust, or gain their place, among the stalwart nominees (white actors), who have dominated the nominations historically.

The seemingly singular redeeming moment for Asian-American representation of the evening came when Master of None won the award for Best Comedic Writing.  Co-writers Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang accepted the award.  Alan Yang best summarized the importance of Asian-American representation on screen with his parallel to Itialian-American representation on screen.  For the full quote, see the image below.

Why 'Justice for Constance Wu' was one of the biggest conversations during the Emmys

Pictured: Aziz Ansari (left) and Alan Yang (right) accepting the award for Best Comedic Writing.  Image: Kevin Winter | Getty Images.

Yes, the Asian-American representation that currently exists is a crucial step in the right direction to equitable treatment of diversity on television; but, it would be nice to be recognized for excellence in the field with equity as well.

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3 Responses to Asian Representation in Hollywood – Serena Daya

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that Asian representation on television is troubling, and I think part of that issue is elucidated well in the Master of None episode “Indians on TV.” I also think judging whether or not a person or a show gets nominated for an Emmy is difficult, as there are a lot of factors that go into it. The second year #OscarsSoWhite happened, it felt more like a symptom of the industry rather than the academy purposely setting out to exclude minorities. I’m not saying the academy is blameless, but the television industry (as seen by the Emmy nominees) is infinitely (hyperbolic) more diverse than the film industry. It’s also huge. There were over 409 scripted series last year. Many critics and execs are saying we’re at Peak TV. There’s just so much on television that it’s impossible for everyone deserving to get their due. It’s unfortunate, and I’m hoping that the nominees will continue to become more and more diverse, but when HBO, Netflix, and Amazon (with large awards campaigning budgets) are sucking all the air out of the room (with their predominantly white casts), it becomes harder for the smaller series with amazing performances (such as Constance Wu) to get their due. I may have sounded like I disagreed, but I agree. I just want shows like Fresh off the Boat to be watched so more like it will be made. – Max

  2. marymdalton says:

    Excellent post. At first, I was a little troubled by Fresh Off the Boat, but it is growing (though I’ve only dipped in and out of a few episodes).

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