By Selena Razo
In a recent New York Times column, Jenny Han stated that some potential producers of the film adaption of her book To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before planned on whitewashing the characters.
“One producer said to me, as long as the actress captures the spirit of the character, age and race don’t matter.” Han responded, “I said, well, her spirit is Asian American.”
This suggestion was not new; author Kevin Kwan also had to deal with this same issue when casting for Crazy Rich Asians.
While I applaud Han for not giving into whitewashing the role of Lara Jean, the incident had me thinking about the words the producer said: the spirit of the character.
Many people will take this phrase and think of how it was the producer’s way of insinuating whitewashing without using the word “whitewashing”. This is most probably true, but what if the producer had found “the spirit of the character” in a Black actress? A Latina actress? Would it have been so bad if Lara Jean were Black or Latina?
No, but it wouldn’t have been great either.
While it is true that people of color have been underrepresented in many forms of media, Asian Americans are one of the groups that are most severely lacking representation among minority groups in media.
I mean, it’s literally been 25 years since a major studio film featured an all Asian/Asian American cast.
Many people will think that whitewashing is the issue, and while it is, it should be noted that it’s not the only issue regarding the representation of Asian Americans in media.
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