Mom blogger Michelle Villemaire (a.k.a. home*made mimi) embarked on a new DIY project on her blog last week: correcting the “yellowface” of white American actresses in Asian roles. The project stemmed from, as most projects do, a lifelong frustration that finally came to a head.
Actors in film and television don’t look the way normal people do; for the most part, they look better. It’s their job. However, casting white actors in Asian roles turns that narrative into something (even more) insidious and damaging. Villemaire writes:
Growing up, I didn’t see many faces like mine on television and film. 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.
So to the prop store she went. The characters picked for the “makeover” range from classic Katharine Hepburn in Dragon Seed to modern Emma Stone in Aloha. Sadly there was no shortage of source material for Villemaire, but now the result of her effort is not going unsung.
She looks comfortable in each pose, despite the anxiety she felt throughout the process.
Maybe I can’t do this, I thought. Maybe there’s a legit reason they don’t cast us. Maybe I’m not a good actor. Maybe I’m not beautiful enough.
Beyond the impeccable production of the pictures, the most striking thing about every single one is the glimmer of pride on Villemaire’s face.