James Hong reflects on Hollywood’s ‘terrible’ history of Asia-Pacific representation: White actors would ‘tape their eyes shut’ – Variety | Episode Movies

From racial tropes to cultural landmarks, James Hong has witnessed the evolution of Hollywood’s representation of Asian and Pacific Islanders throughout his 70-year career.

“I started in 1953, so the industry didn’t take us seriously back then. They just said, ‘Oh, Asians don’t qualify to be the best actors,'” Hong said diversity. “You would have the white actors tape their eyes shut. It was awful – I had to endure it for maybe 20 years or so. And eventually I formed East West Players and that’s how it started.”

On Friday night, Hong, 93, received the Icon Award at the Critics Choice Association Asia Pacific Cinema and Television Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles.

“Now look where we are. We’re in Hollywood and there are people getting Oscars — and even ‘Squid Game,'” he said diversity with a laugh. “So there are a lot of options that we can take now.”

The Celebration of Asian Pacific Cinema and Television highlights the work of established and emerging talent on screen and behind the camera. While several honorees praised the opening event on the red carpet, most emphasized that there is still work to be done in terms of API representation in Hollywood.

“I find it incredible that the Critics Choice Association is hosting this. But there’s also a part of me that’s like that, I wish we’d had that 20 years ago. I wish we had had this 40 years ago,” said Frank Chi, who received the Short Documentary Award for 38 at the Garden. “There was so much incredible Asian American and Pacific Islander talent that hasn’t been highlighted in Hollywood history, and now that we finally do it feels like we’re a part of the culture.”

“There needs to be more storytellers – more people from the API communities sharing their personal stories and bringing them out into the open,” said David Siev, Social Justice Award winner for Bad Axe. “So we see more representation. This is how we are changing the industry.”

Meeting and working with other API creatives in the industry, many attendees cited notable achievements for representation in Asia Pacific over the past decade.

“I definitely haven’t seen many Hawaiian Pacific Islanders on screen [growing up], so to be able to work with Dwayne Johnson, who – I read something that he was somewhere between 70 or 80% of all the Polynesian representations in the film,” Auli’i Cravalho explained while discussing 2016’s Moana . “Being able to meet this Goliath of a man – both literally and figuratively – I think brought out the best in me because I knew I could bring my heritage and the Aloha spirit to these carpets and events and to the workplace.” could bring.”

“I think one of my favorite things was that we didn’t have to explain our culture — we just slipped into it,” said Stephanie Hsu diversity on working with the cast of Everything Everywhere All at Once. “We would speak Chinese to each other, speak Mandarin — we would get Asian food. It felt like family very quickly and it felt so nice to be on set where you don’t feel like ‘the only one’ and you can actually spread your culture and get other people involved too.”

Below is the full list of award winners for the Asia Pacific Cinema and Television Opening Ceremony:

Icon Award

James Hong

Trailblazer Award

Karen Kusama

director (movie)

Park Chan-wook (MUBI’s “Decision to Leave”)

director (television)

Hwang Dong-hyuk (Netflix’s “Squid Game”)

Animated Film Award

Domee Shi (Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red”)


Soo Hugh (Apple TV+ series “Pachinko”)

Social Justice Award

David Siev (IFC Films “Bad Axe”)

actor (movie)

John Cho (Prime Videos “Don’t Make Me Go”)

actor (television)

Nick Mohammed (Apple TV series “Ted Lasso”)

actress (television)

Zoë Chao (Apple TV+’s “The Afterparty”)

Breakthrough Actor (Movie)

Joel Kim Booster (Searchlights “Fire Island”)

Breakthrough Actress (Movie)

Li Jun Li (Paramount’s Babylon)

Breakthrough Actress (TV)

Élodie Yung (Fox/Warner Bros. Television’s “The Cleaning Lady”)

Ensemble Prize (TV)

Cast of Disney+’s Ms. Wonder”

Rising Star (Movie), presented by IMDbPro

Auli’i Cravalho (Hulus “Crush”)

Rising Star (TV) presented by IMDbPro

Park Eun-bin (Netflix’s “Attorney Extraordinary Woo”)

Short Documentary Award

Frank Chi

Comedy Award

Hasan Minhaj

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