Film Forward

This Actress’ Revelation About Changing Her Last Name Highlights A Problem Facing Many Minorities In Hollywood

"I’m doing everything I can, with the platform I have, to make sure no one has to change their name again, just so they can get work."

You may know Chloé Wang, star of the Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — or do you? The answer here is no because this actress now goes by Chloe Bennet, having dropped the accent in her first name but most importantly her entire last name, and now she is opening up about why — and it highlights Hollywood's problem with diversity.

Turns out the 25-year-old — who plays Daisy "Skye" Johnson on the ABC show — revealed on Instagram how she decided to go by a different surname in show business in order to advance her career, getting brutally honest in response to a user who seems to have deleted their account.

"Changing my last name doesn't change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Mandarin, or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese," Bennet responded to one fan. "It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood is racist and wouldn't cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable. I'm doing everything I can, with the platform I have, to make sure no one has to change their name again, just so they can get work."

Celebrities have praised Bennet for her comment, proving that what she experienced is something others also face.

Though she didn't provide specifics, what Bennet is describing here is something we would assume other actors and actresses of Asian descent have either been confronted with or can at least relate to. Representation for Asian characters in Hollywood, be it on TV or on the big screen, is still lacking.

A 2017 study titled Inequality in 900 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT, and Disability from 2007-2016 from USC finds that in the top 100 films of 2016, there were 44 films without any Asian characters at all and, of all the speaking roles, they made up only 5.7 percent. A 2017 study titled 2017 Hollywood Diversity Report: Setting the Record Straight from UCLA finds for the 2014-2015 season, Asian roles on scripted shows broke down to being 4 percent for broadcast, 3 percent on cable, and 7 percent on digital.

This discussion on diversity involving Bennet began in the comments of a post about former Deadpool actor Ed Skrein dropping out of the Hellboy reboot after discovering the character he was cast for, Major Ben Daimio, was of Asian descent in the original comic — something the 34-year-old Brit is not. Given the whitewashing that has been going on in entertainment as of late, Bennet thanked Skrein for leaving the project.

"DAMN, that's a man. Thank you @edskrein for standing up against Hollywood's continuous insensitivity and flippant behavior towards the Asian American community. There is no way this decision came lightly on your part, so thank you for your bravery and genuinely impactful step forward. I hope this inspires other actors/filmmakers to do the same. Also, dayum cute af AND a pioneer for social justice?! Fellas, take note. That's how it's done."

(H/T: E! Online)

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

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