“Would I necessarily make the same choices now? Maybe not.”
Gemma Chan might have done a few things differently when it came to decisions she made early in her career.
As an aspiring actor, Gemma chose to stay in Britain, despite the few roles available to Asian actors.
She hoped that she could help bring more diversity to British productions, which meant years of taking on “every job going – bit parts, one line parts, anything.”
Unfortunately, that also meant taking some roles she may not necessarily agree to nowadays, like her part in a 2010 episode of Sherlock.
Critics of the episode, which was set in Chinatown, said that Gemma’s role as the stereotypical damsel in distress was a racially tone-deaf exercise in orientalism.
“Would I necessarily make the same choices now, if given the choice? Maybe not. I think I would speak up more if I felt that a role was leaning into an orientalist trope of some sort,” Gemma recently told British Vogue.
She continued, “I’m much more aware. And I think I’m in more of a position where I could say something.”
Gemma went on to say that while she has “complete respect” for everyone involved, she did understand what the critics had to say.
“I don’t look down on anyone doing any position or in any job on set. The industry has really shifted, even in just the time that I’ve been working. Changing the actual culture — changing in practice — takes longer,” Gemma concluded.
Going forward, Gemma hopes to help open doors for other Asian actors so that they have even more opportunities than she has been given.
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