#StarringJohnCho - Reimagining Hollywood Without the Whitewashing

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You might know John Cho from his time playing Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, or you might know him from his time playing FBI agent Demetri Noh in the short lived but excellent TV seriesFlashFoward. Most people, however, will know him best as Harold, one half of the reliably amusing Harold & Kumar stoner comedies.

Early in his career though, Cho starred in a string of well received Asian American films, and after he started getting work in Hollywood, had to contend with an endless string of job offers which would have forced him to play grotesquely stereotypical Asian roles. He avoided this kind of work with a passion, which likely made life more difficult for him in the beginning, until Harold came along. He went on to be one of the first Asian American actors to be granted a leading role in a romantic TV comedy, acting opposite Karen Gillan in Selfie.


His success highlights the difficulties faced by Asian Americans in Hollywood, something which was recently brought into the conversation in the wake of Scarlett Johansson's casting in the Ghost in the Shell live action adaptation. Now, a digital strategist named William Yu has made Cho the figurehead of a new awareness campaign on Twitter - #StarringJohnCho.

Search for the hashtag and you'll find a whole range of posters for popular films with the original male lead plucked out and Cho neatly photoshopped in. The idea is to exemplify the fact that an Asian American in a starring role has just as much credibility as anyone else. Cho doesn't look even remotely out of place in any of the posters, nor would he have been out of place had he actually played the roles in question.

Cho himself has no direct involvement in this, but he has followed the Twitter page, as have other notable Asian Americans including comedienne Margaret Cho, author Ellen Oh and The Maze Runner star Ki Hong Lee. More to the point, other people have started applying the Cho effect to even more movie posters, and the trend seems to have started a much wider conversation about Asian representation in Hollywood.


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