With recent high-profile examples like Ghost in the Shell and Dr. Strange drawing the ire of movie fans, the ugly practice of Hollywood whitewashing and yellowface has received renewed scrutiny. But the plain fact is, Asian performers have been regularly scrubbed out of the picture since the beginnings of cinema.
For blogger/actor Michelle Villemaire, enough was enough. Inspired and provoked by "a fit of frustration over the history of Hollywood whitewashing," she recently created her own do-it-yourself photography project to subvert historical Hollywood yellowface and reclaim the image of Asian women in movies.
"Growing up, I didn't see many faces like mine on television and film," Villemaire writes on her blog. "And because I wanted to be an actor it was really hard to believe that I could ever be one. Only women who had a certain skin color and eye shape were really allowed on screen, right? To this day white people are cast as Asians, deepening the message that Asians just aren't wanted."
Villemaire shares a series of photos she took of herself as various Asian characters that were played by non-Asian women in film, from The Good Earth to The King and I to Aloha. As she puts it, these photos are her own unique way of correcting the yellowface. "And it felt sooooo good," she admits.
Take a look:
Luise Rainer in The Good Earth (1937)
Katharine Hepburn in Dragon Seed (1944)
Myrna Loy in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
Rita Moreno in The King and I (1956)
Emma Stone in Aloha (2015)
A vast improvement, if you ask me.
See more and read more here: Get in the Picture: My Adventures in Correcting Yellowface