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Hollywood, the Emmys, and Being Asian


Race has become such a big part of my life. Not necessarily because I want it to be, but because I am a woman of color, working (or trying to work) in Hollywood, who lives in the United States in 2018.

I have such ambivalence about the Emmys last week. Barriers were broken – Amy Sherman-Palladino became the first woman to win for comedy writing ever. But her show is so, so white. Sandra Oh was the first Asian woman ever nominated for Best Actress, but she lost to Claire Foy on another show that is so, so white. I was upset. I think something like 22 of 26 awards went to white people – even after a big opening number pat on the back that the Emmys were super diverse this year. But here’s the thing – I like most of the white people who won and I like their shows! But I still feel disappointed in the homogeneity of the winners. Darren Criss, who is half Filipino, won — but I feel weird celebrating it as a win for Asians because he passes for (and has long played) white. I feel like I’m being an asshole. I myself am a half Asian who thinks another half Asian isn’t Asian enough. I’m doing exactly what I hate that people often do to me. Why is race so strange? So important? Even, strangely, so subjective?

At dinner a few weeks ago, I was with my boyfriend Tyler (white), my dad (Chinese), and my mom (Portuguese). Tyler asked my mom if she considers herself white. She does. Tyler doesn’t. Next, my dad said to me, “So you’re doing this whole Asian thing now, huh?” Tyler looked confused. I explained to him that my dad doesn’t really think I’m Asian. And I’m not, compared to my dad. But I am, compared to Tyler. See? Strangely subjective.

Yesterday, I watched a short film called “June” that is about an Asian woman in the 1950’s. She is at a party and has to use the restroom, but is faced with two doors – “White only” and “Colored”. She is unsure which one to choose, and it turns out, she is not accepted in either restroom. I really identified with her and it made me want to cry.

Anyway, these are just some of my musings on race. I wish I had a “lesson” to end with. But I don’t. I just wanted to open up the door for conversation if anyone would like to participate. No arguing. Just constructive thoughts, please. Tweet me at @thatelaineloh.

Elaine Loh

About Elaine Loh

Elaine Loh is a writer/director who has had films screen at Academy-qualifying festivals, along with placing in competitions including NBCUniversal/YOMYOMF’s Interpretations contest and New Filmmakers LA (winning the Grand Prize, a $60k value). Elaine has had scripts place in Final Draft Big Break (Top Ten), PAGE Awards, Austin Film Festival, Scriptapalooza, and ISA’s Fast Track (Top 50) and Table Read My Screenplay (Grand Prize winner). She is currently directing a short form series about online shaming called “Doxxed”, featuring Jerrika Hinton, Josh Kelly, Clyde Kusatsu, Eve Gordon, Tim Chiou, and Patrick Fabian.