If you've watched the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, you'll know that Michele Selene Ang is a force to be reckoned with. The actress, who plays Courtney in the series, is a formidable acting talent. And, as Mashable points out, she's just joined the great whitewashing debate of 2017.
Of course, when it comes to whitewashing, there's not really a debate. The prevailing opinion, at least among the liberal entertainment set, is that it shouldn't happen. Yet, despite most people agreeing that Asian-written roles should go to Asian actors, the industry continues to make movies like Ghost in the Shell, which cast the very white Scarlet Johansson as the titular "Ghost," who is an Asian character (or was written as such in the tale's original form). The same goes for the Netflix series Iron Fist, Tilda Swinton's recent turn in Doctor Strange, Matt Damon's recent turn in The Great Wall, and Emma Stone's part-Hawaiian character in Aloha. These are all instances in which Hollywood ought to have cast an Asian actor, and instead opted for white, white, white, and white.
Ang, who is Asian, posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a shirt that calls out almost every one of these instances of whitewashing. The shirt reads, "Scarlett & Emma & Tilda & Matt," in rapid succession. Ang calls herself "#AsianAF" in the caption.
Commenters can only agree with Ang, a Fordham University graduate. One commenter notes, "OMG!!!! I want this shirt so bad! I'm almost finishing 13 Reasons Why (I'm on tape 6), and I'm so happy that this show has asian representativeness, and not just that, but lesbian Asian representation, thanks do [sic] much!" Another notes that the tee-shirt is a "brave and selfless act of talking truth to power."
Take a quick glance through her Instagram feed, and you'll that Ang has been engaging with the issue of representation in Hollywood. In a post from five weeks ago, Ang shared an image from the movie Moonlight with the caption, "if this isn't stone cold proof that you don't need any white faces to make a successful or meaningful film, I don't know what is. Drenched in #moonlight, and hope. What a work of art. Let's keep it up."
Though the tee-shirt post was from a while ago, sleuthy fans of 13 Reasons Why have pulled it up from the Instagram backlog and are asking Ang where they can get it. Monday, Ang shared explicit instructions on Twitter as to how to obtain one.
13 Reasons Why is Ang's first major television role, although she's a theater veteran who just finished a run of the play Bull in a China Shop off-Broadway at the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York City. In the Netflix series, Ang plays Courtney, a go-getter with many a velvet headband who plays a significant role in Hannah Baker's death. (If none of that made sense to you, just go watch the show. You won't regret it.)