Why Is It Considered Shameful for Asian Women To Go Into Entertainment?

As an Asian woman, I am sure that many of us have heard that the only three career choices for an Asian is to be a doctor, lawyer, and engineer. On top of that, we also deal with the Model Minority, a myth that perpetuates a narrative where Asian Americans are perfect in the things they do along with the Tiger parents forcing children to work and study harder and this heavy weight of expectations to be “good enough.” This creates this toxic, shameful culture that Asian women shouldn’t go into the entertainment field, because they won’t be “successful.” We see how Asian women can be under-represented in the entertainment business with always being depicted as the “foreigner”, “nerd and sidekick”, or “the one with the ching-chong accent.”

But we must ask ourselves, how did it become so shameful for an Asian American to pursue a career in the arts and entertainment? Some Asian immigrant parents can frame their success very narrowly, because they originated from countries where education is essential to a stable and sustainable life. In addition, they may fear that their children will face discrimination in their career, so they priortize into high-status and merit based professions that may most protect them from discrimination by employers and clients. Asian American parents may believe that careers in acting, fashion, writing, or art are risky careers that can never offer you stability and more subjective to be racialized. While, careers in STEM, medicine, and law have this assumption of “a prosperous concrete path” that rely on higher academics and merit and less discriminatory towards Asian Americans. Although this toxic culture still exists, we are dismantling these stigmas and seeing more representation of Asian Americans amongst the entertainment field. Constance Wu was casted in ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” as Chinese-American matriarch, Jessica Huang. To which was 20 years ever since a show was casting predominantly Asian-Americans! “It changed me,” Constance Wu said. Through the show, it gave her not only a steady job, but a new transition of focus “from self-interest to Asian-American interests.”

Constance and numerous other Asian actors rose as powerful and inspirational proponents, calling out the industry for its lack of representation in Asian Americans and perpetuating a whitewashing culture for appropriating Asian roles and experiences through giving them to white actors to play. The road down a career in entertainment is no doubt never easy. “The harsh reality of being an actor is that it’s hard to make a living, and that puts actors of color in a very difficult position,” said Daniel Dae Kim, who starred in “Hawaii Five-0”, “Lost”, and “Hellboy.” But over the recent years, we see a growing increase in Asian American representation in entertainment! In 2018, Crazy Rich Asians premiered with an all Asian cast in 25 years, Vietnamese American Lana Condor was casted in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” and BTS, worldwide famous Kpop boy group, winning Top Social Artist Award. Recognizing that there is representation of Asians is significant, but we should also be celebrating more than that they are Asian. Asians are still perceived through Western American standards which can make it difficult for Asian actors to be cast without being viewed as a token of diversity. A study found out that although Asian actors are gaining more roles, the majority are marginalized to playing stereotypes, like the child prodigy, nerd, or the “token Asian.” Yes, Asian women are gaining many roles in TV shows, films, media, et cetera, but no, it doesn’t mean we stop here. We must continuously dismantle these stereotypes, stigmas, and toxicities against Asian women, so that not only do we see the representation, but have our stories and experiences being voiced to the world!

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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