Malala Calls Out Hollywood For Severe Lack Of Asian Representation On-Screen

Malala Calls Out Hollywood Asian Representation
Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban almost ten years ago on her school bus in Pakistan because she was vocal about education and pursued it despite constant threats. The 25-year-old has never backed out from speaking up against issues that concern human rights, and her efforts to work towards seeking justice fetched her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Recently, Malala Yousafzai highlighted the severe lack of Asian representation in Hollywood and called out the industry for its failed attempts at bringing talented actors from the Asian community to global cinema.

The Nobel Laureate, honoured as an influential advocate at the women creative leaders event in Los Angeles, took the opportunity to call out Hollywood for a severe lack of Asian Representation. She condemned the lack of diversity in the industry mentioning that Asian actors make up less than four per cent of lead actors in the industry despite harbouring some great talent.

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Malala Calls Out Hollywood Asian Representation

The Power of Women event that took place in Los Angeles, United States, had creative female representatives and leaders from across the world. Yousafzai heads her film and TV production company called Extracurricular and has signed a multiyear pact of programming with Apple TV+. While receiving her honour as one of the most influential advocates of our time, Yousafzai spoke at length about the lack of diversity that persists in Hollywood.

Yousafzai is making it a point to build her first project that is diverse and inclusive. She said it’s her attempt at making sure that stories which need representation are out there, and people who fit those roles are given that opportunity, something that Hollywood looks away from. “You are sometimes told in Hollywood in one way or another that characters are either too young or too brown or too Muslim and that if they’ve already made one show about people of colour they don’t need to make another. We need to change that,” she said at the event.

“Sometimes it just feels like they are saying that we don’t belong here”

Yousafzai further added that she has learned how Asian people make much less than four per cent of the main leads in the industry. She highlighted the Muslim community representation mentioning a shocking representation of just one per cent leads among the twenty-five per cent Muslim actors in the industry. “I’m a woman, a Muslim, a Pashtun and a person of colour, and having watched shows like Ted Lasso and Succession where all leads are white men, I realised that if we can happily watch such shows, the audience can also watch shows made by people of colour featuring people of colour as well. I will make that happen.”
Yousafzai revealed that among her many projects, a feature documentary highlighting the South Korean matriarchal Haenyeo society of fisherwomen is currently under production. She expressed at the event how she is working hard to create projects through storytelling and activism to represent underrepresented communities in the entertainment industry. “I am aware that executives have passed on and given up projects that had quality just because the characters and the creators were too Brown or too poor, it feels like they’re indicating we don’t belong here. But we do, and we will change these perspectives,” she said.
Photo credit: Variety Women of Power Event