Diversity in Hollywood is an important issue. As America becomes increasingly diverse, it is only logical that this be reflected movie casting decisions. With that in mind, let’s talk about seven actresses of Asian persuasion who have made a huge impact both on the big screen and off it.
1. Arden Cho
A Korean-American born in Texas and spending her teenage years in Minnesota, Cho encountered a lot of bullying, even being hospitalized twice as a result of physical assaults. As a college student at the University of Illinois, she began to connect with her Asian heritage for the first time, winning Miss Korea Chicago and competing in the Miss Korean Pageant in Seoul. Upon graduation, she pursued an acting career, landing bit roles on TV shows and commercials before finally making it big on the MTV series Teen Wolf. Her most recent role was in the movie The Honor List, in which she plays the main character Honor Liang. In discussing her role, she has stated that the emphasis was on her aspirations and needs as a human as opposed to just being a token Asian character.
2. Liu Yifei
Although Yifei introduced herself to American audiences when it was announced that she would play the titular character in the upcoming live action remake of Mulan, this Chinese actress who spent her middle and high school years in New York has been a relatively popular star in China for more than a decade. Add to this a singing career, and an endorsement deal with luxury brands like Dior, and you’re looking at somebody who has the potential to become a legitimate international star.
3. Shiva Kalaiselvan
Born in Malaysia and residing in New York City, Kalaiselvan got her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and her master’s from Columbia while pursuing her dream of becoming an actress. She reportedly spent 18 months auditioning for roles before getting her break, but all the hard work paid off when she was cast as a recurring character Ivy on the Netflix series The Originals and Lelia on the hit FOX show Gotham.
4. Chloe Bennet
This Chicago native – born to a Chinese father and American mother – has firsthand experience dealing with discrimination in Hollywood. After struggling to get auditions under her birth name (Chloe Wang) and not wanting to be cast exclusively in Asian roles, she changed her last name to Bennet (her father’s first name). Today she is best known for playing Daisy Johnson on the popular ABC show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for which she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award. She also helped launch R.U.N. (Represent us now), an organization that advocates for Asian America Pacific Islanders.
5. Michele Selene Ang
This California actress – the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants – has made a name of herself as Courtney Crimsen on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, but she’s also an outspoken advocate for greater diversity in Hollywood, using Instagram as a platform for raising awareness.
6. Kelly Marie Tran
Born in San Diego to Vietnamese refugees, Tram made history within the Star Wars universe when she was the first female minority to be cast in a major role, playing the heroic mechanic Tico Rose in Episode VII: The Last Jedi. Sadly, the choice to cast her led to a lot of hate amongst Star Wars “fans,” which Tran discussed in an essay she wrote for the New York Times. Fortunately, she’s got a lot of people on her side, including us at Brainberry!
7. Sonoya Mizuno
Born in Tokyo and raised in London to a Japanese father and British-Argentinian mother, Mizuno’s big breakout came as the lovable airhead Araminta Lee in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians. But in real life, she is anything but a materialistic heiress; she devotes a lot of time and money to helping causes related to homeless children.
Chicky-Poos: 6. I’ve awarded her an extra Chicky-Poo because why not?