WHERE ARE THE ASIANS
This week’s blog prompt is for us to talk about Black History or other African American or minority artists who have impacted or currently inspire us. Last year, I have looked up to Aziz Ansari in his work in Master of None (Netflix) as a source of inspiration and hope on how South Asians like me can have agency in telling our stories in an acute away on television. Early this year, Ansari had been accused of sexual harassment so I feel embarrassed to speak about him and disappointed that the only South Asian man in Hollywood whose work I like is suffering from bad press. There is Mindy Kaling, who was the creator and star of her own TV show, The Mindy Project. And though I like that she is making headway into the film business and is helping expand the notion of what it means to be beautiful other than being white and skinny, I don’t see myself doing the same work she is doing (i.e. writing my own romantic comedy TV show). I am sure there are several other Asians and South Asians making head way around the world, I still need to find them. It’s true that my current schedule as a graduate drama student doesn’t allow me to watch all the shows and international films I want, so I am bound to have a blind side. But this is a long way of me saying that there are no Asian artists whom I feel inspired by as of the moment.
There are a few black women in Hollywood whose work makes sense to me. They are Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o specifically. Both actresses have had acting training, as I have. Both are working actively to redefine the predominant narratives that have beset their people. They know how to use their voice to speak up to reinforce the change they want and to call out the specifics of what needs to change. Both actresses also work actively, it seems, to gather and give opportunities to other black artists in their community. They seem to be aware of something bigger than they are and they are serving that bigger thing in their work. Both women are also beautiful and seem to work out regularly. They know how to take care of themselves and their bodies and see their clothing and hair choices as political choices that serve their causes and highlight the diversity of beauty that coexists with those that fit into what is historically perceived as “traditional” notions of beauty.
As the only person from the Philippines currently training at Juilliard Drama, I find myself mostly looking towards certain black women as emblems of strength. I wish there were more Asian and South Asian people I could look up to as well. I understand that it is also a matter of time when more of us get to share our narratives in powerful mediums that would give young artists a variety of options to reference from.
REGINA DE VERA
QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES