Kim’s Convenience Actors Reveal Lack of Korean Writers Led to Behind-The-Scenes Cultural Insensitivity and Racism

The cast of Kim's Convenience. From left to right: Simu Liu, Jean Yoon, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Andrea Bang.

Just days after Season 5 of Kim’s Convenience dropped for American audiences, actors Simu Liu (Jung) and Jean Yoon (Umma) have revealed serious behind-the-scenes problems that plagued the making of the Asian Canadian sitcom.

Most notably, Yoon tweeted that for most of the show’s five seasons, there were no Asian female or Korean writers involved in crafting the show’s scripts, which made the experience of working on the show “painful” for her.

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Actor Brian Tee Reflects on 100 Episodes as Dr. Ethan Choi in Chicago Med

Actor Brian Tee as Dr. Ethan Choi in NBC's 'Chicago Med'. (Photo credit: NBC)

According to studies, Asian Americans remain significantly underrepresented in American media, and when visible primarily relegated to flattened and stereotypical roles in support of a white lead’s personal journey.

It was therefore noteworthy when in 2015, Chicago Med — a spinoff of the popular Chicago Fire series situated in Dick Wolf’s Chicago universe — premiered with a multiracial cast of characters that included Korean American Dr. Ethan Choi (played by actor Brian Tee) as a series regular. Although it was possible to write Ethan Choi as stereotype — he is a doctor, after all — series writers chose instead to write a character that defied conventional stereotypes: Ethan Choi is presented as a principled military veteran and a National Guard reservist, and a dashing romantic love interest.

Chicago Med is airing its 100th episode this eveing, in a storyline that features Dr. Choi. To mark the occasion, I asked actor Brian Tee to reflect on his time playing Dr. Ethan Choi on Chicago Med.

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What I Want From Chester Tam’s Upcoming Rom-Com Film

Photo credit: Monique Jones

By Guest Contributor: Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet)

Note: A version of this article originally appeared last year in Just Add Color.

A few months ago, during one of my shifts for Shadow and Act, I reported on Gabrielle Union’s upcoming starring role in a new Screen Gems rom-com. The film is unique among Screen Gems’ repertoire: it’s about an interracial relationship between an Asian man and a Black woman, and is written by Chester Tam.

The film is based on Tam’s real-life relationship experiences. Currently, no actor has yet to be cast opposite Union as her romantic interest.

From my article:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chester Tam will direct a rom-com for Screen Gems starring Gabrielle Union. The film, based on Tam’s own script, will be semi-autobiographical and follow “a newly single African-American woman who begins dating a recently divorced Asian-American man,” per the article’s description.

The logline, the article states, hasn’t been fully revealed, but will focus on “how a drunken one-night stand leads to a secret relationship that eventually becomes public, surprising both friends and family of the couple given that neither is typically the other’s type.”

While the plot of this upcoming film sounds interesting, I’m hesitant. Given this backdrop, how will this film present heterosexual interracial relationships between Asian men and Black women — and might it do more damage than good?

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Watchmen breaks the promise of Lady Trieu’s naming

Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) from HBO's Watchmen. (Photo Credit: HBO)

By Guest Contributor: Mai Nguyen Do

The reveal of Watchmen’s Lady Trieu began as a promise of innovative retelling and reinvention. The numerous tweets referencing this mysterious woman compelled me to start watching the show, and her enigmatic character led me to believe that perhaps she would, like her namesake, ride storms for the sake of liberation. Instead of working towards reclamation and freedom for others, however, Trieu seeks to conquer the world only for herself.

Note: This post contains spoilers for the first season of HBO’s Watchmen.

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Orange is the New Black and Recidivism: The Need for Accurate Media Representations of the Many Causes of Incarceration

Actor Danielle Brooks as Taystee in Netflix's Orange Is The New Black (Photo credit: Netflix / Orange is the New Black)

By Guest Contributor:Rachel Ko

About 50,000 people a year exit incarceration only to enter immediately into homeless shelters; legal restrictions and discrimination against individuals with criminal records are often to blame. As has been well-documented, the incarceration rate for African Americans is more than six times the incarceration rate for white Americans. African Americans also make up more than 40 percent of the homeless population, despite representing only 13 percent of the general population.

Even though general statistics don’t simultaneously track the effects of race on incarceration and homelessness, anti-Black racial stigma amplifies the measurable social impacts of both. Individuals released from prisons are more likely to be re-arrested for misdemeanor offense they commit in order to survive on the streets, but many scholars have failed to sufficiently connect recidivism, homelessness and incarceration.

A more successful representation of these connections is the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black. Through Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, a compassionate, intelligent, and likeable African American character, Orange is the New Black sheds light on the lack of rehabilitative resources and support systems that cause re-incarceration of individuals suffering from poverty. Taystee’s story shows us that crime is not a single action; rather, it is a series of events and complex social factors.

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