September 15, 2017
by Suzanne Kai
The controversial practice of whitewashing movies has been going on for nearly a century in Hollywood.
In the 1930's even the starring role of the Charlie Chan movies, scripted to be a Chinese man, was given to white actors pretending to play Chinese men.
Fast forward to 2017 - Ed Skrein, an English actor and rapper, wins the "Hellboy" movie role of Major Ben Saimio, a character of Japanese heritage in the original comic books.
Social media erupted negatively to his casting.
Unlike actors who won and defended their roles which were originally written as Asian characters, such as Scarlett Johansspn (Ghost in the Shell), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange), Matt Damon (The Great Wall), and Emma Stone (Aloha) Ed Skrein gave his role back.
Ed received favorable social media reaction, and Daniel York, writer for Time Magazine wrote this commentary Skrein is setting an example other actors should follow. If only more people in the industry had his integrity, courage and common humanity.
Ed Skrein issued the message below.
Skrein is best known in America for his role as Daario Naharis in the third season of Game of Thrones, and his roles in The Transporter Refueled, and Deadpool. Now he is known for
"It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voice in the Arts.
I feel it is important to honour and respect that.
Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately," the British actor wrote in a statement.
"Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family.
It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.