henry golding

We’d Love to See a Full Asian Lead For Once

No, this isn’t an article about Ghost in the Shell, though it definitely could be about Ghost in the Shell, the Scarlett Johansson-led sci-fi action flick out this Friday that inspired major backlash last year for its casting of a Caucasian actress in a Japanese role. (At this week’s New York screening of the film, there were reports of press members getting kicked out by Paramount reps for simply uttering the word “whitewashing.”) And no, this isn’t an article about Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, or hell, Emma Stone in Aloha—I could go in on the long history of Hollywood’s racist traditions.

But there are levels to this whitewashing, and it’s not always a white person playing someone of Asian heritage. The screen adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling book Crazy Rich Asians—which is currently in development—announced itself as a beacon of hope earlier this year. Director Jon M. Chu made a casting call for his all-Asian cast, an almost unprecedented line-up from an American movie studio (it hasn’t happened since 1993’s Joy Luck Club). What Crazy Rich Asians accomplishes that Joy Luck Club didn’t is that this will be the very first Hollywood rom-com with an Asian cast, a huge milestone considering Asian actors are rarely cast in a romantic light—especially actors of the male variety. It’s a little bit better on TV (we’ve seen Kimmy SchmidtSelfie, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend tackle Asian male stereotypes), but we’ve yet to really see it on film.

When Fresh Off the Boat‘s Constance Wu (who is very vocal about diversity casting) and all-timer Michelle Yeoh joined the project, Crazy Rich Asians really seemed like a revelation. And the director was very adamant about having an all-Asian cast, a process that’s been time-consuming from the mere lack of readily available Asian actors.

But after a lengthy search for an Asian male lead, The Hollywood Reporter broke news this week that the role of Nick Young will go to Singapore-based Henry Golding, who will be making his silver screen debut. And boy, is he handsome. The only catch? The actor, who is of Malaysian descent, is also half-white. The casting choice was entirely Chu’s, and we’ve gotta respect that, but it’s also kind of a bummer because it’s reminiscent of past casting blunders, like Katie Chang, who is part white, playing a full-Asian person in The Bling Ring. Or the controversy around light-skinned actress Zoe Saldana playing the dark-skinned Nina Simone in the singer/activist’s biopic. It’s a reminder that many of the Asian actresses who break out in the industry have white blood or white features (see: Keanu Reeves, Olivia Munn, Maggie Q).

I’m sure Golding killed it in his audition and will be great in the film, but this decision speaks to an even bigger problem than a sole director’s choice: There just aren’t very many Asian actors who are given the same kind of exposure—through managers or talent agents—as white actors. Still, despite the minor complaint, Crazy Rich Asians is a huge leap in Hollywood casting. Now, let’s remake Ghost in the Shell with proper casting.

Related Posts


PREMIERE: Rich Iyala Flexes with Future Sounds on “Medusa”

Music Video
Music Video

PREMIERE: Rich Lou “No Plug” Video


PREMIERE: Saucelord Rich Celebrates Himself with ‘Know Me: Rey Lobos’


Rich the Kid Takes All the “Cookies and Sherbert” in New Video


Ghostface Killah and Pouya Join Rich Chigga for “Dat $tick” Remix


Latest News

nas-rapture Film


Mass Appeal’s new Netflix series premieres this weekend at SXSW
same Hot Takes

It Was a Type Beat Year

The search for something new in a year of sameness
shea serrano Features

Shea Serrano Quit His Teaching Job, Now He Has Two Best Sellers and Two TV Shows

"It is funny to just walk in and just be a Mexican, because I’m usually the only one there"
mf doom Features

The 10 Best DOOM Songs of 2017, Ranked

Even after 'The Missing Notebook Rhymes' went missing, the masked villain still caused havoc
worst cops Features

The Worst Cops of 2017

The hall of shame
donald trump Features

32 Songs That Dissed Donald Trump in 2017

The "F.D.T." wave
lil peep News

R.I.P. Gus, Long Live Lil Peep

Resisting nostalgia at the speed of the internet
88 rising Features

Sean Miyashiro of 88rising Connected the Cultures

With 1.25 million YouTube subscribers and a gang of talent, 88rising controlled the new East-West flow
eminem Video

Eminem By the Numbers

You may know how many f*cks he gives, but what about the other crucial figures from Slim Shady's career?
tape Features

Why 2017 Was Rap’s Year of the Tape

Seven labels explain why they're still rewinding cassettes back
safdie brothers Features

The Safdie Brothers Got Gritty as 2017’s Filmmakers to Watch

"You might not like the feeling that you're feeling, but you can still be entertained by that feeling."
best albums Features

The 25 Best Albums of 2017

The essential sounds that defined one very strange year
hey arnold Humor

Everything About Christmas is Awful, Except the ‘Hey Arnold!’ Special

The one redeeming thing about this trash holiday
combat-jack Features

Knowledge Darts Vol. 32: Winter Solstice

I never got to say thank you
jeezy Video

Open Space: Jeezy

"You can’t just crush a diamond with a rock. It’s hard, it’s tough. But it’s bright."

Rhythm Roulette: Boi-1da

The wait is over