Growing up as an Asian-American, racial insecurity was something I dealt with from the start. I was always the one Asian in class, the one that stood out because my eyes were shaped differently. Because my skin was a different color. Because my lunch from home was dumplings and not a PB&J. I was always afraid to make the wrong move because I didn't want to be seen as that "weird Asian girl." With home life being so culturally different from my surroundings, I never really knew where to look. That's why when movies starring Asian leads comes out a decade later, it's momentous.
We have become accustomed to seeing Asians in the media as the sidekick, the nerd, the weird one, etc. (if they are even cast). You never see an Asian person as the main character or the star. Because of the rarity of Asians in the media, I never really understood the importance of ethnic representation until now. Seeing movies like "Crazy Rich Asians" and "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" made me recognize how proud I am to be Asian. To see people that looked like me on the big screen, it was heartwarming and frankly, overwhelming.
My whole life I've dealt with the insecurity of living through stereotypes about my race. I hated how different I felt compared to my peers. I wanted to be white, to be like the girls I was seeing on television or in movies. It is so empowering to finally see Asian leads in movies.
It made me appreciate and embrace my culture and who I am.
In an interview with Netflix, Lana Condor, the star of "To All The Boys I've Loved Before," says, "...the lead is written as an Asian American girl — that blew my mind because I'm telling you I never see that...I hope that this film inspires Asian American girls and show them that they can absolutely star in their own rom-com!" I cannot emphasize how important representation is. If I had seen Asians on television and in movies growing up, I definitely would not have been so ethnically conscious and insecure.
I needed this growing up.
I cried tears of joy and pride whilst watching "Crazy Rich Asians" and am so proud of the needed growing diversity in Hollywood. A quote by actor Aziz Ansari says, "Everyone seems to be becoming slowly aware of how overwhelmingly white everything is..."
Slowly but surely, we're getting there. People are starting to realize how significant it is to have diversity and representation in the media.
The show "Fresh Off The Boat" is the first Asian-American sitcom in more than 20 years. "Crazy Rich Asians" is the first movie with an all-Asian cast and an Asian-American lead in 25 years. Seeing Lana Condor being the Asian-American lead in a Netflix rom-com is also something new. Asian culture has been progressively familiarizing itself with the Western audience. K-Pop group, BTS, topped the charts, exploding with sales and an upcoming tour in the States. It's amazing to see all this happen and feel nothing but pride and happiness for your culture.