Yes, Hollywood is racist against Chinese, says actor Chloe Bennet, who couldn’t find work as Chloe Wang

The Agents of SHIELD actor, who is half Chinese, says her original name made Hollywood ‘uncomfortable’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 9:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 8:48pm

The row over whitewashing in Hollywood has taken a new turn after the actor Chloe Bennet said she had changed her name from Chloe Wang because Hollywood is “racist” and would not cast her in roles because of her Chinese surname.

Bennet, who stars in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, said her original surname made Hollywood “uncomfortable”.

Earlier this week the British actor Ed Skrein pulled out of his role in a forthcoming film reboot of Hellboy because the character he was playing has Asian heritage.

Bennet made her comments on Instagram in response to a follower asking why she had changed her name.

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
Chloe Bennet

“Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my blood is half-Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Putonghua, or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese,” she wrote.

“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.”

Bennet praised Skrein for pulling out of Hellboy and “standing up against Hollywood’s continuous insensitivity and flippant behaviour towards the Asian American community”.

She added: “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.”

Skrein has said he was unaware his character, Major Ben Daimio, was Japanese American, and he pulled out of the role after claims that it was another example of Hollywood whitewashing.

“There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement and I must do what I feel is right,” he said in a statement.

“It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people and to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that.”

The producers of the film, Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin, subsequently made a joint statement with backers Lionsgate and Millennium to add their support to his decision. They have committed to recasting the role “with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material”.

Other recent castings that sparked accusations of whitewashing in Hollywood were the choice of Tilda Swinton to play a Tibetan mentor, the Ancient One, in Doctor Strange, and Scarlett Johansson starring in Ghost in the Shell, which was based on a Japanese animated film and set in a futuristic version of East Asia.