An Asian actress plunged herself into a contorted argument about racial purity by complaining that somebody chosen over her for a movie role was only half-Chinese.
Jamie Chung, who will star in the upcoming X-Men TV series, was turned down for a lead role in feature film Crazy Rich Asians – apparently on the grounds that she wasn’t ethnically Chinese (Chung has Korean heritage).
Upon learning that the male lead for the show was only half-Chinese – and also half white – she lashed out at the “bullshit” decision, made by “hypocrites”.
In an interview with CBS News, Chung said that the decision to cast Henry Golding, who has a Chinese parent and a white parent, was “bullshit” and an unfair “loophole”.
She said: “I really, really wanted a role in Crazy Rich Asians, but they wanted someone who’s ethnically Chinese. I love [director Jon M Chu], but I get they wanted Chinese actors.”
Though she initially accepted the casting decision, Chung changed tack halfway through the interview when she was told that Golding was half-white.
She said: “OK. I’m going to say it. That is some bullshit. Where do you draw the line to be ethnically conscious? But there’s so many loopholes so I kind of get screwed.”
This remark drew the ire of social media users, who believed Chung to be questioning the legitimacy of mixed-race actors to play Asian roles.
“Being half Asian doesn’t make you any less Asian.” said one Twitter user. “U complain about it being cast as nonkorean?! How many half Asian roles you read for?”
“uhh jamie chung sounds soooo bitter ….” wrote another, “how does being half chinese & half white illegitimize someone as chinese ?”
uhh jamie chung sounds soooo bitter …. how does being half chinese & half white illegitimize someone as chinese ? 🙄😒
— 言泰娜 (@starlaaaaaaa) April 25, 2017
Chung herself tweeted: “‘She’s not Asian enough. She’s Korean, not Chinese. She’s too Asian we need someone more American.’ STOP Trying to put me in a box.”
But this seemed further invitation for Twitter users to see her original comment as a slur against biracial actors.
“You ‘get they wanted Chinese actors’ but then are upset upon hearing that Henry Golding is half white. So, your problem is he’s hapa”, said one.
Hapa is a Hawaiian pidgin word used to describe mixed-race people – mainly those of white and East-Asian ethnicities. Chung denied the charge.
The actress later tried to defuse the argument. In an Instagram post she said her “bullshit” outburst was because she was frustrated, and not meant as an attack on Golding:
When I said bullshit I wasn’t dissing on the actor they hired. I said that’s bullshit bc they are hypocrites. I took it personally and it’s so silly… I give credit to the casting directors bc hey’ve got a tough job. Can’t make everyone happy. It goes both ways. It just frustrating to lose a job or not have a shot at it bc of your race.