You probably know her as Daisy from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
But you might not remember her career as a Shanghai pop star, when actress Chloe Bennet went by Chloe Wang. The transition to Hollywood was less than inviting, until she changed her name. “Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked.” (Via). Suddenly rejection turned into success, and she's been the protagonist in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for three seasons. Doesn't exactly bode well for inclusivity in Hollywood, does it?
How many other Asian-American women are on television right now?
Let alone playing series regulars and HEROES? Joan Watson on Elementary, Kira Yukimura on Teen Wolf, Mindy Lahiri on the Mindy Project.... seriously that might be it. And this is supposedly from a "good" year! Said Bennet: "I want to be clear because some of my Asian-American fans seem to think I [changed last names] because I didn’t want to known as Chinese, but it’s so the opposite. I just wanted to be known as me and let my personality define who I was, rather than my ethnicity.” And that's a completely valid thing to want! To be treated like everyone else. But wouldn't it be even better if instead of ignoring the things that make use different, people in her position were given the opportunity to celebrate them? Wouldn't it be so much better if ALL of us could?
Yeah... ok we're clearly not there yet.
Bennet was also asked about the Marvel fans calling for the upcoming character Danny Rand to be played by an Asian-American (while traditionally white, the character has obviously Asian influences). Her response? “One-hundred percent. I actually saw that [casting] news and I can’t lie, I was a little [disappointed]. I love Marvel, but...” She went on to add: “I know they want to stay true to their characters but, you know, every female character in Marvel comics also has, like, triple-Z-sized boobs. So if they cast actors based on the way characters look on the page, I don’t think even Scarlett Johansson—well, maybe Scarlett Johansson—would be in the movies.”
Here's a solution:
Don't carry on the tradition of the Iron Fist comics and "celebrate" another culture if we're not prepared to celebrate the PEOPLE the culture belongs to. We need to strive to do better when it comes to inclusion. It won't happen if we sit here and wait, or if the only kind of 'colorblindness' we engage in requires people of color to hide parts of their identity. And, I'm looking at you Marvel, this isn't just a rallying cry for indie companies and small projects. Big companies need to set an example.
Said Bennet: “I think they could do better. You know, there are a lot of white guys named Chris. But I think they will, because it’s important. It’s the right thing to do. Marvel’s a smart company and I think they will represent their fans from around the world. They can take note from the way we’re going on the show, ‘cause we’re doing a pretty good job.”