Television networks show an increasing number of ethnic faces as
minorities are fast becoming the majority.
Among these minorities are Asian-Americans; yet TV continues to turn a
blind eye to this group.
This unfortunately doesn't apply only to the casting of
Asian-Americans but is also apparent in the lack of opportunities behind the
camera and in the executive suites.
A recent Directors Guild of America report on hiring at the top 40 prime
time shows revealed that Asian-American directors came in last at 1%.
Meanwhile, the on-air environment for Asians remains stale. While
My Wife & Kids and The George Lopez Show, among
others, provide some representation for black and Hispanic America,
Asian-Americans are still left out. Margaret Cho's All-American Girl, the first and only prime time
network series starring an Asian-American, lived a very brief life.
Moreover, the few series on mainstream television that have featured
Asian-American actors tend to portray two-dimensional characters, often
speaking with thick accents.
Asian male characters are often portrayed as emasculated figures of
comic relief. Asian females are cast either as submissive or as “dragon
Media have the power to control audience perceptions, tastes, opinions
and even actions.
As Asian-Americans, not only are we unable to see our own lives and
faces reflected on television devoid of flagrant stereotypes, but, perhaps even
more dangerous, the actions of other groups toward Asians can be affected as
well, resulting in everything from acts of hiring discrimination to violent
Asian-Americans are in dire need of a basic media platform, a mainstream
venue through which we can both shape the landscape of media and watch dynamic,
complex and diverse portrayals of ourselves.
We still lack the basic representation on the small screen that BET and
Univision offer black and Hispanic viewers.
Since advertising is the Holy Grail, perhaps the lure of increased
marketing dollars will lead the change.
While making up only a third of the U.S. minority population
collectively represented by Hispanic and African-Americans, some 12 million
Asian-Americans account for more than half of the total buying power—nearly
$300 billion. And the Asian population is also growing nearly as fast as the
I am an Asian-American who is part of the “1.5 generation”: someone
who was born in Korea but grew up in the U.S. I consider myself to be a
My peers and I would like to have our distinct cultural voices heard and
our faces seen, while contributing on a larger scale to the fabric of this
nation, the same as other minority groups.
It is now up to the rest of the media industry to answer this call to
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