Golden Globes a sign of value of Asian in­clu­sion

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Obituaries/News -

The Golden Globe Awards is set to feel like a ma­jor evo­lu­tion from its 2015 broad­cast, when co­me­dian Mar­garet Cho’s ap­pear­ance as a North Korean film jour­nal­ist who spoke in heav­ily ac­cented English was slammed by some as awk­ward and racist.

Cho was the only Asian on stage the en­tire evening. Sun­day’s show will have a de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent feel, with San­dra Oh as co- host and the rom- com “Crazy Rich Asians” up for two nom­i­na­tions. The recog­ni­tion feels like a seis­mic shift for Asians and Asian- Amer­i­cans in Hol­ly­wood af­ter decades of strug­gling to get star­ring roles while deal­ing with stereo­types and “white­wash­ing.”

The last time the Globes hon­ored an all- Asian film at that level was the 1961 mu­si­cal “Flower Drum Song,” which was nom­i­nated in the same cat­e­gories as “Crazy Rich Asians”: best com­edy or mu­si­cal and best per­for­mance by an ac­tress in a mu­si­cal or com­edy. The Globes has doled out nearly 1,000 film and TV act­ing tro­phies in its 76- year his­tory, in­clud­ing for now de­funct cat­e­gories like best ju­ve­nile per­for­mance and “new star of the year.” Of all those wins, 10 have gone to per­form­ers of Asian de­scent, in­clud­ing Oh.

The Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press As­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced that Oh and Andy Sam­berg will share em­cee du­ties for the cer­e­mony. Oh, who earned a TV sup­port­ing ac­tress Globe in 2006 for “Grey’s Anatomy,” will be the Globes’ first ever Asian — not to men­tion Cana­dian — host. She is also up for best ac­tress in a tele­vi­sion drama for “Killing Eve.” She, Con­stance Wu and Dar­ren Criss, who is halfFilipino, are the Asian act­ing nom­i­nees this year.

Wu, nom­i­nated for “Crazy Rich Asians,” be­lieves the film won Globes recog­ni­tion in part be­cause so many movie­go­ers turned it into a block­buster.

“The fact that Hol­ly­wood made this story and peo­ple showed up for this story and now it’s be­ing rec­og­nized by the Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press — that shows our coun­try val­ues our story and wants to see more of it,” Wu told The As­so­ci­ated Press shortly af­ter find­ing out she was nom­i­nated.

The last time an Asian woman was nom­i­nated in Wu’s cat­e­gory was 1974 when Yvonne El­li­man was nom­i­nated for “Je­sus Christ Su­per­star.” Be­fore her, only two other Asian ac­tresses were nom­i­nated, in­clud­ing Miyoshi Umeki, the first Asian en­ter­tainer to win an act­ing Os­car.

Chris Tashima, a mem­ber of the Academy Asians Ac­tion Com­mit­tee, an in­for­mal group of Asian and Pa­cific Is­lan­der mem­bers of the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences, be­lieves the recog­ni­tion has made more peo­ple aware that the suc­cess of “Crazy Rich Asians” wasn’t a fluke.

“Just to be nom­i­nated, to es­tab­lish that sort of foothold, ev­ery­thing is prov­ing what we’ve al­ways said: ` Give us a shot,“’ Tashima said. “We can be com­mer­cial. It doesn’t have to be a white, male lead all the time.”

Ellen Huang, se­nior di­rec­tor of di­ver­sity for the SAG- AFTRA, said it’s clear that there’s a mar­ket value for mak­ing movies and shows that are di­verse and well- crafted.

“While the in­dus­try is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion, there is room for im- prove­ment - par­tic­u­larly in the cast­ing of lead­ing roles,” Huang said in a state­ment.

Oh’s host­ing gig for the Globes seems al­most karmic. She, Tashima and other Asian Academy mem­bers met with the Academy about jokes host Chris Rock told at the 2016 Os­cars at the ex­pense of Asians. For one bit, he pa­raded three Asian chil­dren as the ac­coun­tants who tally the bal­lots, re­ly­ing on the stereo­type that Asians are good at math. Tashima re­mem­bers how Oh spoke pas­sion­ately about it.

“She just wanted to hit home that the re­sponse to it was com­pletely emo­tional, how it hit her per­son­ally,” he said.

The 58- year- old ac­tor and di­rec­tor, who won an Os­car in 1998 for best live ac­tion short, said an­other sign of a page turn­ing is what he’s hear­ing from fel­low ac­tors and writ­ers.

“Ev­ery­one now is like ` Oh, where’s that Asian project you had that we re­jected? Let’s read that script,“’ Tashima said.

Does this mean Hol­ly­wood will fi­nally leave be­hind cringe- wor­thy car­i­ca­tures like ex­change stu­dent Long Duk Dong from “Six­teen Can­dles” or white­washed cast­ing like Scar­lett Jo­hans­son in the Ja­pan- set “Ghost in the Shell?” Not so fast, Tashima says.

“Those are still gonna hap­pen be­cause ev­ery white, male film­maker that hasn’t specif­i­cally ben­e­fited or been touched by what I’m talk­ing about … they’re still clue­less,” Tashima said. “They’re still gonna do what they think they should do.”

Willy San­juan / As­so­ci­ated Press

San­dra Oh, left, and Andy Sam­berg smile at the Golden Globe Awards Pre­view Day on Thurs­day at The Bev­erly Hil­ton in Bev­erly Hills, Calif. The awards show tele­cast Sun­day on NBC will have a de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent feel with co- host Oh as the first ever Asian em­cee and rom- com “Crazy Rich Asians” up for two nom­i­na­tions, in­clud­ing best com­edy or mu­si­cal.

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