Rising Number of Chinese and Asian Faces in Hollywood

By VOA News |

Henry Golding, from left, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong and Constance Wu, nominated for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, introduce a clip from their film “Crazy Rich Asians” at the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shri (AP)

One of the first stops for a visitor to Los Angeles is the TCL Chinese Theatre. You can find the old building right next to the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame.

It opened in 1927 and, at first, was known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It is a sign of the American film industry’s interest in Asia in the early days of Hollywood.

“When film was first invented — and we’re talking about the late 1800s, early 1900s — it expanded the visual minds of its audiences,” notes Arthur Dong. He added that movie-goers could actually see images of far-away places, like China, and that fueled interest in the area.

Dong, a Chinese American, is a filmmaker and writer. On the day he spoke with VOA, he was hanging old pictures of Chinese American actors on the walls of the Formosa Café, a once famous Hollywood nightclub and bar. The business opened in 1939.

Now, the back room of the Formosa Café looks like a museum that honors the work of Chinese Americans and their work in Hollywood.

“I was always curious about the Chinese or Asian actress I saw on screen, whether films from the early part of cinema history up to today,” Dong said. But the men were always playing servants or unskilled laborers. And if they were women, he added, they were either servants or sex workers.

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