Written by Kaylee Duong
For the longest time, there’s been a lack of racial representation in Hollywood and traditional media. However, with the rise of social media such as YouTube and Instagram, many Asian influencers have taken advantage of these platforms to establish their presence within this rising community. YouTubers such as Michelle Phan, Nigahiga, and Wong Fu Productions are just some of the few that have actively established their place online. Not only have Asians established their place on social media, but they’ve also made efforts to have more presence in the film industry. The 2018 film, Crazy Rich Asians was a hit and grossed 238.5 million in the box office. It did well to open everyone’s eyes to new roles for Asians in movies and featured an all Asian cast. Although it wasn’t a perfect representation of all Asians, it still did well to establish visibility for the Asian community in Hollywood.
What many don’t understand is the importance of Asian representation in the media. Lack of proper representation results in unfair stereotyping that damages people’s perception of Asians in society. Stereotypes of Asians, such as being the model minority or nerds, are harmful because they box Asians into a specific role and these perceptions can easily bleed into reality. No single race is simply one “character” that the media portrays. In some films, the races of characters who were originally Asian were changed, and in the cases they do keep an Asian role, they don’t represent the background of the character properly.
There’s plenty of room for improvement but there have been many feats for the Asian community in media. There are plenty of Asian influencers that are making strides within the beauty industry by using media to expand their outreach. Fashion and beauty YouTuber Jenn Im has used her following on social media to launch her own fashion line Eggie and the business has seen successful results. In movies and shows, there has been a gradual emergence of more Asian actors in popular films. Lana Condor is a Vietnamese-born actor and featured in the hit Netflix series, To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Awkwafina, known for her role in Crazy Rich Asians, found many more acting opportunities in big movies such as Jumanji and Ocean's Eight.
Nowadays, social media makes it immensely easier to build representation for Asians within the community and it’s important for both teens and older adults to use social media wisely so that everyone can have a more racially diverse and equal platform.