Asian-American TV star Chloe Bennet says she understands how tough it can be trying to be successful as an Asian actor in Hollywood. She says she changed her name to help her success, but she’s not about to admit to being a “sellout.”
After critics and fair weather fans called Bennet out on Twitter for changing her last name, the actress fired back with an all guns social media assault:
“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… 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.”
Not too subtle there. Soon enough, critics were blasting back, listing the names of Asian actors who had made it in Hollywood, but Bennet (nee, Wang) would not back down. She doubled down on her comments, as well as her support for actor Ed Skrein, who recently announced he would not participate in the upcoming Hellboy movie due to “whitewashing.”
Here, in part, is what Skrein had to say: “Last week it was announced I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming HELLBOY reboot. I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comic was of mixed Asian heritage. It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people … I feel it is important to honor and respect that. Therefore, I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately … I am sad to leave Hellboy but … I hope it makes a difference.”
Bennet used that message as a jumping off point for her own message of solidarity and personal affirmation. To Skrein, she replied: “Thank you for standing up against Hollywood’s continuous insensitivity and flippant behavior toward 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/film makers to do the same.”
While speaking out on this issue might cost Bennet some fans and earn her some blistering on social media, it’s not a first for the actress. Last year, in an interview with The Daily Beast, Bennet talked about changing her name and immediately being cast after her next audition. That event made an impression on her: “That’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works…” she said at the time.