Olivia Munn, Chloe Bennet, and Dianne Doan speak out about the lack of support for Asian actresses
During EW's Around the Table conversation with Asian entertainers that also included Daniel Dae Kim, George Takei, and Hari Kondabolu, the stars spoke to EW on Sunday about a lack of support in the industry for Asian actresses.
"When you are a minority and person of color, I just think that the criticism is harder, and there is not much of a filter on it," Munn says, explaining that she'll see all the Marvel stars rally for each other, but when someone comes after a woman of color, they don't receive the same public support. "Whenever anybody comes after a minority woman, a lot of times we're left to fight our own battle and usually, it's a lot of times just like weathering the storm. And so I find that that happens more than anything. It's not so much like an active hate that's coming at us when we get a role, but it's more that we don't get that huge amount of support."
Bennet, who played Quake in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., agrees. "You don't have to have an opinion when you're in this situation. When you are a minority, when you are a woman, you have to have an opinion. There's no support," she says, adding, "It's like these in-between moments where you're thrown out to the wolves."
Doan says that she hasn't necessarily received backlash for being cast in roles, but she does feel that her characters are judged differently. "Something that I find really interesting is working on my show Warrior, an Asian woman in a position of power or wanting power automatically becomes the villain," she says. "Experiencing those comments from the audience of, 'Well, she's a bitch, or she's power hungry, or she's evil.' Why is that? I feel like in media, Asian women, we always played the supporting role or behind someone or less than."
Hawaii Five-0 and Lost star Kim pointed out that what Doan, Munn, and Bennet were describing sounded like what happened to Kelly Marie Tran, who received an onslaught of online hate and bullying aimed at her appearance and ethnicity after being cast as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
"It goes back to the psyche of people that it's okay to go after Asians, that it's okay to make fun of us," Munn explains. "The hate crimes that are perpetrated against us are okay. It happens so much to our people, and we have to keep swallowing it."
She continues, "And what happened to her was devastating to watch, and it was devastating to hear how quiet people were about it. It felt like non-Asians were very quiet about it. What we've been hearing a lot lately, what I've been seeing a lot lately, which I really appreciate, is people saying your anti-racist activism has to be inclusive. If you are anti-racist, then you need to be also upset about what's happening to Asian Americans. It doesn't make sense if you're doing it just when it's trendy."
EW's full Around the Table conversation — which was recorded just two days before a gunman in Atlanta killed 8 people, a majority of whom were Asian women — also centered on ongoing racist attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, how people can help protect and amplify the voices of Asians, and what representation means during such a difficult time.
Rachel Yang contributed to this report.