While browsing xojane.com, I found an article entitled, Lucy Liu Talks Candidly About Racism and Stereotypes in Hollywood. The author, S.E. Smith, asserts that she is not only an acclaimed Asian American actress, but also someone who “would be a lot of fun to hang out with.” Her roles in the past are indicative of the racist issues that occur time and time again in Hollywood; for example, she has been cast as a Dragon Lady (Ling Woo in “Alley McBeal”), a martial arts star (“Charlie’s Angels” and “Kill Bill”), and, the infamous “mysterious sex worker with links to the Chinese mafia” (“Payback”) (1).
Liu explains that she would like to be acknowledged simply as an actress, not only as an Asian actress, and there in fact is an inevitable distinction in Hollywood. She says, “People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me” (1). She also continues expressing that there also is some sort of balance between ‘too Asian’ and ‘too American’. She explains that she never really fit in either category, which became a “frustrating” process even as an accomplished actress. Despite establishing herself as a talented actress, once she was cast as Sherlock Holmes’ therapist, ‘Joan Watson’, in Elementary, there was an uproar of controversy. As a Chinese American woman cast in a role typically thought to be played by a white male, she faced the criticism for breaking “boundaries for an old and much-beloved classic” (1). As a fan of all the Sherlock Holmes-inspired novels and shows (particularly, Sherlock! If you haven’t seen it, you should make it a summer project! You won’t regret it!), I was excited to see a new spin on the original Holmes/Watson dynamic.
Sherlock Holmes, played by Jonny Lee Miller, is a former consultant to Scotland Yard, and also a substance abuser. He moves to New York City, where he stays at a rehab facility, and then lives with Watson, “who becomes his sober companion and eventually his apprentice” (2). The anger that emerged from the fans was explosive and drove Liu to respond, “If I didn’t try anything different, I’d still be doing a Calgon ad. You have to be a pioneer, which means doing things that are not scheduled and different. When you do stuff, it’s not always to please other people–it’s to please yourself. For me, the more individual you make something, the more universal it can be. You have to be a pioneer” (1). And, I would agree with Smith that Liu is indeed a pioneer for the Asian American community through enduring, withstanding, and confronting the racism of Hollywood. This, however, is not only applicable to Hollywood, but also to real life, which there is the drive for minority women, like Asian Americans women, to go against the grain and declare themselves as equals to their white counterparts.