Chin Han on Hollywood's Asian Inclusion Problem

July 10, 2018

By Max Godnick

Asian and Asian-American actors find themselves on the front lines in the fight for more inclusion and diversity in Hollywood.

Whitewashing scandals continue to emerge as producers cast actors of other races in roles written for Asian people. According to one study, people of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage made up just 4.3 percent of TV series regulars in 2017. While the success of shows such as "Fresh Off the Boat" and "Master of None" prove progress is possible, there is still a lot of work to be done.

"I think it has to come from top down," said Chin Han, the Singaporean actor of Chinese descent, in an interview with Cheddar on Tuesday.

"If we had more producers, more Asian financiers, more writers, more Asian directors, then we'd be able to tell a story that's authentic to the Asian experience," he said.

Han stars alongside Dwayne Johnson in the new action movie, "Skyscraper." The film focuses on a terrorist attack in the fictional world's tallest building in Hong Kong. It's the latest in a series of movies including "Pacific Rim," "The Martian," and "The Great Wall," to take place in and/or prominently feature China in its plot.

"There's no denying that [China] is a very very huge market that can be tapped," Han said about the country's role in American storytelling.

Hollywood's powers-that-be are beginning to take notice of the shifting international entertainment landscape. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the governing body of the Oscars, just invited a record 928 new members to its ranks in an effort to increase diversity.

Han is one of those new invitees.

"It's a huge honor," he said. "To be now in a community of actors who I respect and adore, from Meryl Streep to Al Pacino, it's still very surreal to me."

Han quoted the character he plays in "Skyscraper" when offering advice to the next generation of Asian artists hoping to follow in his footsteps.

"You're only limited by the scope of your imagination."

For the full segment, click here.