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Asian Actors Discuss Barriers Still Exist for Asians At The Vancouver Asian Film Festival
by Staff Writer

Diana's grateful and angry speech at VAFF wakes up the audience.

Diana’s grateful and angry speech at VAFF wakes up the audience.


Special To Wisertraveller.org

This was definitely not your normal panel discussion about Asians working in the film industry.

Indeed, when it was time for Diana Bang’s turn to speak during a packed panel discussion, she let her anger fly –boy, she sure did in a big way. Bang, who has appeared in film and television roles in The Killing, Bates Motel, Entanglement and Master Cleanse, presented a slide show that including words like “Thank You,” and the swear word, “F#** You!”

She started off by saying how grateful she is to be working in the film industry, which brought about a “Thank You” slide. About her former acting professor who told her she wasn’t suited to work as an actor, she yelled out an expletive and showed the “F**** You, ” slide.

She continued her lively presentation, alternating from saying “Thank You” to “F**** You” when she reminisced about her encounters with facing roles that involved stereotypes: playing an Asian fortune-teller, sex worker, etc. She says she felt like a “yellow-faced puppet” and often had to choose roles that involved a Chinese accent.

Another actor, Agam Darshi echoed a similar sentiment. She explained that when she was first starting out, when no one would cast her, she wrote and produce her own films. She wrote and directed Fade Out (2014) and Bollywood Beckons (2008) which screened at numerous festivals. Despite the hardships, she is now a busy actor who advises beginning Asian actors to create their own opportunities by creating their own works.

More encouragement came from the likes of William Yu, who launched the viral online campaign, #StarringJohnCho. He wanted to show what Hollywood movies would be like if they cast actor, John Cho as their leading man. His project has lead to a whirlwind 1 billion web impressions world-wide and has opened up the debate over the lack of Asian-American representation in film.
He advised Asian creators to try to stand out and “don’t be humble.” If good fortune does arise, he tells creators to be proud of themselves and “don’t say it happened by accident.”

Kevin Li took the stand to defend his successful online creation, “Ultra Rich Asian Girls.” While he acknowledged facing criticism over the show, he stated that the young women in his show are hardworking, career-oriented, educated and definitely not rich Asian stereotypes.

The panel discussion, which featured several other people in the industry, was part of the schedule for the 20th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Nov 3-6.

If you haven’t checked out any of the films yet, there’s still a little bit of time to a catch some films and participate in a contest. Check out the website, http://www.vaff.org.

And don’t forget to catch some great Asian comedy on TV. Watch Kim’s Convenience on CBC. Diana Bang would like that. After all, her sister, Andrea Bang, plays a recurring role as the daughter in the show.

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