LOS ANGELES — In a Beverly Hills hotel near the end of February, the cast of Crazy Rich Asians has been trading stories about auditions — both the good ones that have led to successful roles, and the bad ones filled with exaggerated stereotypes.
“I’m very new to the whole auditioning thing,” admitted Henry Golding, the Malaysian-born Hollywood newcomer who will make his film debut in Crazy Rich Asians this August. “I’ve seen some notices for ‘ethnic’ roles, but…”
“They just need you to not be white,” Awkwafina explained.
There’s a sarcasm to their conversation, but beyond that are numbers to back up a well-documented truth: A report released earlier this year by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA found that 1.4 out of 10 lead actors in film are people of color. Of the 174 theatrical films released in 2016 that the report looked at, Asian actors and actresses made up 3.1 percent of top film roles.