Hi. I’m Filipino, nice to meet you. You may or may not know me, so allow me to introduce myself. I am one of the many underrepresented races in the media, and one of the many misconstrued and stereotyped cultures that have yet to have their debut in the world. And by debut, I just mean proper representation and clarification.
Clarification: I am not your nail salon lady.
I am not destined to be a doctor. But of course, if that were a path I wanted to go down, I would go down that path because it was what I felt passionate about; not because I was supposed to be one. And if I just so happen to become a doctor, that is most certainly not because of the stereotype that has been bestowed upon me. I am not a character on Fresh Off the Boat. I am not taking over your communities. But believe me, if I have the opportunity, it will be one that I will not let pass by; and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.
But besides the fact that I am wrongfully categorized, I am underrepresented. Now now, no need to throw me a pity party, just allow me to explain.
Seeing someone that is considered a “minority” doing something that the “majority” has easier access to, is one of the most inspiring and motivating things someone can have. We are lucky if we have someone that makes us believe we can do something big too.
For as long as I can remember, the Asian that landed a role on the big screen was either the nerd or the suburban princess. That is if there were anyone of Asian descent on the big screen at all. London Tipton for example, she was a rich, spoiled, and a not so bright lead role in what I considered one of my favorite tv shows; The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. My friends always told me that I could be like her, that I reminded them of her, but only because that’s the only celebrity we grew up with that was in a group I fell into.
Now that I am 17 years old with access to the world just by a few clicks, I can look for others of my race in the industry. But the thing is, I have to look. People think that just because there is one latina, one Asian, and one black woman, there’s such diversity. So much progress. But what people forget is that the roles that are given to most of these individuals are written in such a way that they are still trapped in the stereotype that everyone has created around them.
Race has never really been a huge contributing factor to the shows I watched or what roles those people played, but here I am in 2016, where people are the most sensitive they’ve ever been because they realize that they have every reason to be.
This conversation and harsh realization all stemmed from a Buzzfeed article that my friend sent me on Snapchat. It was “23 Reminders That Representation is Everything.” My friend is someone that I would consider, less emotional. She’s incredibly intelligent and aware of the world around her, but she hardly ever shows her emotions unless it is something that she finds worth it. This for example, was worth the extra breath at 2am.
For most of the article, it lists the “effects of thoughtless representation” and the “magic” that representation truly brings. She began to choke up within the 10 seconds that Snapchat allowed her to send me her thoughts.
After about 280 seconds of pure intellect, came a question. “Have you ever..or do you feel… underrepresented?”
It was then that I realized this article applies to me as well. There’s so many people of color that don’t have the representation they deserve that I always thought, who the hell am I to complain? But she got me thinking. I’m a young woman that has grown to love the film industry. I love to write because writing gives you the freedom to develop a story with the thoughts that cloud your mind. Being able to express thoughts through film, music, whatever, is beautiful. When my friend asked me that question, it made me question just about everything I have been wanting out of life for so long.Not only did the article remind me that proper representation and well-deserved representation is still not that far along, it reminded me that I’m not entirely sure who has been in my position before. Is there a Pacific Islander woman in the industry? What did she do to get to where she is today? Like I said before, we are lucky if we have someone that makes us believe we can do something big too. And come to think of it, I haven’t found her yet. Young women? Of course. I am inspired by the young women doing big things everywhere, every day.
My friend gave me another thought that night; she sees the potential in me to become someone to look up too, for the other little me’s that may come to the same realization. And if the young women I follow every day can do something about underrepresentation in media, then so can I.
We can run the world or something. You know how it goes.