More Than #StarringJohnCho

You’ve seen #OscarsSoWhite. Last week it was #TonysSoDiverse. This week it’s #StarringJohnCho. Diversity in entertainment has been an even bigger topic than ever over the past couple of years, mainly because people are starting to speak up about how there isn’t any.

Recently, there was a lot of hullabaloo about whitewashing in two upcoming movies, with Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One in Doctor Strange and Scarlett Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the Shell, both characters that were Asian in the original comic books. And you may remember that horrible film Aloha, in which she played Chinese-Hawaiian soldier Allison Ng. If you weren’t aware – all these ladies are white.

In response, a social media project called #StarringJohnCho was started, in an attempt to prove that Asian-Americans can be lead actors in movies too. The movement places John, arguably one of the biggest Asian actors who could actually carry a film (see: all the Star Treks), Photoshopped into other blockbuster movie posters.

You might be thinking, ok, that’s great and all, but John Cho’s not a “movie star”. Well, a recent study from USC shows that only 1% of lead roles in Hollywood films go to Asians, while 1 out of 20 speaking roles go to Asians. Statistics for John to even get a chance to be a bonafide movie star are slim.

One of my favorite quotes regarding diversity in entertainment comes from Viola Davis’ Emmys speech last year, when she straight up spit the truth in front of all of Hollywood.

“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. Hollywood execs are refusing to even consider POC, because the only color they really see is green. “We can’t cast Harry Shum Jr. in the lead role because he doesn’t have a successful box office track record.” Studio execs need only look at the numbers yet again – for example, the Fast and Furious movies (while albeit a bit tedious), feature a diverse cast AND crew, and its seven movies have grossed nearly $4 billion globally. Moreover, a UCLA study even noted that films with diverse leads not only result in higher box office numbers but also higher returns of investment for studios and producers.

Not to mention the mere impact casting POC would have culturally – I talked about it when I wrote about Fresh Off The Boat, but growing up, it was slim pickings when it came to idolizing Asian-American actresses. White ladies? Sure, I can name you minimum 240. Not so much with the Asians.

ALL THIS TO SAY is that Asian actors just need to be given the chance to be in the lead. It’s not just #StarringJohnCho, it’s #StarringINSERTANYOTHERASIANACTORHERE. So in the spirit of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (yes, that’s a real thing every May), here are just a few picks for younger actors and actresses who deserve to be in the lead just as much as any white person.

Constance Wu

If you’re not watching Fresh Off The Boat, what is wrong with you? Like, legit what kind of ailment is prohibiting you from watching one of the best, well-written, funniest, culturally important programs on the air right now? Here is just one reason why you should watch it – the matriarch of the family, Jessica Huang played by Constance Wu. Constance plays Jessica as a bit of a tiger mom, but one who also truly cares for her kids and can sit and play Mario Kart with them. This clip is just a fraction of Constance’s brilliance on the show.

Conrad Ricamora

Conrad be representing for my fellow Filipinos! He’s best known for his work in theater, including Imelda Marcos musical Here Lies Love and is currently on Broadway in the revival of The King and I. However, you might know him best as a member of Shondaland in How to Get Away With Murder. He’s only half of the best couple on the show, #Coliver. Honestly, they’re the best. Anyways, Conrad is super talented (as seen above) and has leading man good looks, so what more can you ask for?

Kimiko Glenn

You probs know Kimiko as Brooke Soso from Orange Is The New Black or her current stint on Broadway’s Waitress. However, I know her from being a creep. Fact: I saw the first national tour of Spring Awakening years ago in Boston and saw it thrice during its entire run in the city (I’ve mentioned this before but it doesn’t make it any less true). I became slightly obsessed with the show and music, of course, but also weirdly followed the touring cast on social media? It’s fine. Anyways, Kimiko was part of that cast, and during their stops across the country, the cast would hold benefit concerts, usually covering popular songs. Here’s one of those concerts and one in which Kimiko covers Jason Mraz. I’ve listened to this too many times to mention over the past few years.

Phillipa Soo

If you’re a member of Hamiltrash, I don’t even have to explain why Phillipa needs to continue being a leading lady. If you haven’t seen this precious cinnamon roll sing Copland in this Ham4Ham, drop everything you’re doing and watch it now.

Utkarsh Ambudkar

Yes, this is the dude from Pitch Perfect. However, he’s also Mindy’s brother Rishi on The Mindy Project, a role I think he’s perfectly cast in. Every time he comes on screen, I can’t wait to see what ridiculous thing he’ll say and it’s Utk’s delivery is always spot on. Also as a bonus, he’s BFFZ with Lin-Manuel Miranda since they used to do Freestyle Love Surpreme (improv rap group) together. *sigh*

Ki Hong Lee

Dong!!! Ki is probs one of the millennial-era actors who’s the closest to leading man role, having not only starred in Kimmy Schmidt but also in all The Maze Runner films. And if you’re wondering, his real accent is American.

Albert Tsai

Next to Happy Endings, Trophy Wife will always go down as one of the most tragic cancellations in TV history. We were big fans of it here, and one of the main reasons was the nugget, Bert, played by Albert Tsai. He’s a natural comedian and has potential for greatness in the future. He’s already got a role on Ken Jeong’s Dr. Ken, so hopefully there’s nowhere to go but up.

Keiko Agena

Ah Lane Kim. If you’re only familiar with her work on Gilmore Girls, check out her other work in shows like Scandal and Shameless. Keiko also has a podcast called Drunk Monk, in which she and her co-host Will discuss episodes of Monk – you guessed it – while drunk. Also, she does a lot of improv in LA at Upright Citizens Brigade and is really good at it. I’m not just saying that. My friend and I accidentally saw her do improv at UCB on a total whim. And she was fantastic.

#FBF: Stuck in the Suburbs

Last month, I revisited The Color of Friendship, a groundbreaking, Emmy award-winning Disney Channel Original Movie about racism both during Apartheid in South Africa and here in the U.S.

And this is something that couldn’t be more different.

Stuck_in_the_Suburbs

Stuck in the Suburbs is a DCom that came out in July 2004, so right after we graduated high school. I would say that it’s because I was a “college kid” when this was released and why I didn’t watch it. But that doesn’t explain why I was into all of the High School Musicals and Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place, etc. The point is is that I never saw this. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I found out this even existed, because the one and only SNL great Taran Killam apparently plays a pop star in it? I’m not really sure, but I’m about to find out. Here are some of the most important things I missed out on in 2004 that I am happy to share with all of you 11 years later.

  • Taran Killam is the type of celebrity who is talented and cute but also is funny above all other things that the best job he can be is a comedian. Kinda like how Jimmy Fallon is like a “heartthrob” of SNL, Taran falls under the same category. What I’m saying is that Taran’s role as teen idol Jordan Cahill is completely believable but you know that he’s better than playing a pop star on the Disney Channel.

STARBURST ON THE COVER OF A TEEN BEAT-LIKE MAG!

  • Let’s just say I’m watching this not on a DVD, and I’m 97% sure someone uploaded it off their VHS tape.
  • Danielle Panabaker is in this. Still don’t know the which name belongs to her and her sister.
  • You know you’re old when you relate more to the suburban mom driving the mini-van than the four tween girls she’s driving home from soccer. Although I relate to them rushing home to sit in front of the TV to watch a TRL-esque  show with their favorite pop star Jordan.

Jordan is really singing his heart out, you guys.

 

  • Oh god pop music wasn’t THIS bad back then, guys. I promise.

  • BEYONCE WAS MENTIONED SHE IS STILL RELAVANT. REMEMBER THESE ARE THE DESTINY’S CHILD DAYS.
  • The girls find out Jordan’s coming to town and there’s a screen shot of both four-way calling on land lines AND 10 million IMs trying to get Brittany’s attention. Ah, nostalgia.

*puts up away message. is actually still sitting in front of computer*

 

  • Brittany and her friends all have their lockers lined with pictures of Jordan, and say, “Good morning Jordan!” to it before blowing him a kiss. Ugh.
  • Enter Brenda Song, who looks EXACTLY the same

Drinking that Bianca Lawson potion.

  • Brittany thinks Brenda’s character Natasha (Kwon-Schwartz, because, diversity) is so cool because she used to live in Europe, so Brittany in turn attempts to be cool to be her friend, and subsequently takes down all her Jordan paraphernalia. She obviously can’t hide it.
  • This is especially troubling when Brittany and Natasha go watch Jordan film a music video, mostly to make fun of all the other girls. Meanwhile, Jordan thinks his director’s suggestion of looking at his reflection in a puddle of water then splashing it away is extremely *shallow* and not the kind of artist he wants to be. Uh oh – someone’s gonna crack.
  • Plot Point: After the music video, Brittany bumps into one of Jordan’s entourage, and all her stuff falls on the ground, and his assistant Eddie also falls to th eground with his belongings going everywhere, and he accidentally takes Britt’s pink Nokia cell phone instead of Jordan’s high tech palm pilot that has access to TV and internet.
  • They each go a little while without recognizing that they have each other’s phones. Unrelatedly, Brittany is a songwriter. Good to know for later.

She’s channelling Mandy Moore from the Candy vid

 

  • Side Note: Jesse McCartney’s Good Life started playing and I’m ashamed/not ashamed that I could identify it.
  • Brittany refuses to give Eddie Jordan’s cell phone back. Like in reality tho, this adult is negotiating with a teenager. Grow some balls and get the damn phone back. Madonna has already called and Britt and Natasha already messed it up by answering then screaming into the phone.
  • Britt and Natasha also decide to have some fun with it by helping Jordan become more famous, I guess? So they saw he had a hair appointment thanks to his phone calendar, and Natasha told the hairdresser to cut off his famous long locks, bow in front of him, and serve him only raisins (he hates raisins). Luckily, he ended up liking the hair.

    nice highlights

  • Oh and Britt’s mom is trying to save some old dilapidated house, which her mom calls the “only thing making their suburb unique”. Earlier, she went to the wrong house because everything looks the same in the suburbs. It’s like an ” an island of hope in a sea of sameness.”
  • So now this little teen is basically extorting Eddie and making him convince Jordan to play at her mom’s rally in order to get his phone back. Like how much time has passed since she’s had his phone – she’s intercepting calls from Jordan’s girlfriend!

Also, remember when trucker hats were in?

  • Anddddd they broke up.
  • So, turns out, Natasha had been lying about her living in Europe and her parents’ being divorce. Her dad actually does sales and was in Buffalo, and her folks aren’t even separated. Britt confronts her about it and they get in a fight, and what better way to show that by a montage of their like 4-day friendship.
  • I guess Jordan and Brittany are friends slash I stopped paying attention. I think he left to get away and be anonymous then ended up calling Brittany and now they’re phone friends??Screenshot 2015-03-21 23.24.55
  • Jordan’s director is chasing after him to finish the video the way they want to do it. Jordan and Britt (and third-wheel Natasha) are meeting to swap phones, and they end up in one of those huge industrial underground pipes, because, of course. In the pipe, Britt sneakily releases Jordan’s own version of the song he wanted to release – against his record label’s wishes.Screenshot 2015-03-21 23.31.48
  • Jordan agrees to sing for Britt’s mom’s fundraiser, mainly because he lived in a suburb just like the one Britt lives in, and HUMANITY! When he addresses the crowd, Jordan says, “It’s not what’s out there. It’s what’s in here,” pointing to his heart.AND OH LAWD another montage of Britt and Natasha’s friendship. Like, really, you need it that bad?
  • Taran’s singing (is it really him singing, tho?) is like him singing in a sketch in SNL, mainly because he keeps looking directly in the camera and making ridiculous faces and he’s not playing the guitar at all, like he doesn’t move his fingers for the entire scene {you should probs view the whole scene here}.
Screenshot 2015-03-21 23.40.07

He’s actually mentioned this exact scene during an interview with Jimmy Fallon before.

  • Ok, so now assistant Eddie is a pop star who took Jordan’s song and music video set???? And the girls are in the video? I’m so confused but I don’t even care. Also, I’m even more confused because the end of the movie went straight to a random British cartoon with a kid who said ‘Brilliant!’ and it’s obvious this was on the VHS before Stuck in the Suburbs.

British kid on a bike that powers the attached blender. Idk.