Actress Julia Cho on Asian-American Representation, Diversity and Self-Care

Consider skipping Aloha, Cameron Crowe’s latest film–someone made the dreadful decision to cast Emma Stone as an Asian character, despite a multitude of talented Asian-American actresses. It’s not news that equal representation in the media has a long way to go. As Nicole S. Chung put it, “I wanted to know what this lack of representation — and the slow but (one hopes) steady ascent to better representation — looks like to someone inside the industry.” So Chung sat down with Julia Cho, actress and co-founder of Artists at Play.

What do you tell people who ask you why visibility is so important … people who say, “Why can’t it just be good art?” or “Why can’t it just be entertaining?”

The show might be good, the acting might be great, but at some point, even if I’m enjoying it, I will wonder — why are all these characters white? Is there any reason? You feel there’s some power being taken away from you. As an audience member, you also want to feel like you’re part of the story, part of the world where it’s set. And as an artist, you want to express common truths; explore and examine and present a version of humanity. How can you do that when there’s still distance and displacement for people of color? When you’re not even trying to meet their basic human need for connection?

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