The casting of actor Ed Skrein as Japanese-American character Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot film — and his subsequent departure from the role — has reignited the debate over whitewashing in Hollywood, specifically in genre-based film and TV. Chloe Bennet, the star of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has entered the discussion, and she’s not holding back her feelings on industry biases, stating, “Hollywood is racist.”
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Bennet shared Skrein’s statement on why he chose to leave Hellboy, in which the actor stated “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.” In Bennet’s post, she wrote, “Thank you @edskrein for standing up against hollywoods continuous insensitivity and flippant behavior towards the Asian American community,” and expressed hope that his actions would lead to more of the same in the industry.
In a rare example of reading comments being worthwhile, Bennet responded to a user who criticized the fact that she changed her last name upon starting her Hollywood career — her birth surname is Wang, as her father is Chinese. Bennet replied, “changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in china, speak mandarin, or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese. 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.”
Bennet continued, “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, who plays Daisy Johnson/Quake on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has been a vocal proponent of Asian-American issues in Hollywood. In April 2016, she told CBR, “Even when I got here, which was about six years ago… I was told that I wasn’t Asian enough to be the best friend, but wasn’t white enough to be the lead. I truly was like, ‘Well, yeah. That makes sense.’ I truly believed that! And just that that’s something I believed and I nodded my head in agreement — that’s some kind of brainwashing!”
Earlier this year, Bennet spoke out after a video of model Gigi Hadid seemingly mocking Asian eyes surfaced, writing on Instagram, “To the young Asian men and women who are used to laughing off others ignorance, even though deep down you are hurting. I HEAR YOU. You are badass. You are awesome. Who you are is not ‘funny.’ YOU determine your self worth. Be proud of who you are.”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is scheduled to return for its fifth season on ABC in late 2017.
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