"Whitewashing is alive and on fire in social media"
The Good Doctor‘s Tamlyn Tomita has discussed her experience and views on stereotype casting.
Although Asian Americans such as Tomita have made great strides in Hollywood, she still feels that progress is slow. “It does feel like we take ten steps forward and nine steps back sometimes, but that’s human nature and people are resistant to change,” she said. “I remember that were not that many roles, and I didn’t want to be on TV shows where I had to play a maid with an accent, or a hooker who is the bad guy, or as a woman playing a sex toy.”
“We called it ‘gooks, gangsters, and geishas’ back then and we had a group of actors who bonded around together and started speaking out against those kinds of roles, and we demanded a little more opportunity and access to roles that didn’t have to make a statement or prejudicial portrayal of ethnic Americans.”
Tomita said she always makes an effort to play ensure that an Asian American is playing the protagonist if the antagonist is also Asian American. “If I played a role that played an antagonist, I had to make sure that were was an Asian American playing a good guy, so that there would be a balance somewhere in the show,” Tomita said. “I think I’ve always encouraged other actors to do the same but that is their prerogative and artistic choice. But to make sure they go beyond stereotypical or racist portrayal, and that’s where we find ourselves today, fighting the fight.”
The 52-year-old believes that fighting whitewashing has become easier with social media. “The fight has gotten easier with the advent of social media and the intelligent voices we’re hearing because of it,” Tomita said. “We are able to learn a little bit more democratically and I think we’re seeing with white washing and racist roles that we have voices that speak against it and that is where we find ourselves today.”
Discussing The Good Doctor, Tomita said she is proud of her character and the diversity triumphed by the show. “I was gifted with [a character] who is very present, even though she is not present in every scene, because there are decisions made in the hospital that affect its reputation and Allegra represents that,” Tomita said. “She is different because she is very mature and very respected. Those are traits I have played around with in previous projects, but right now she is very special because she is on a very special show.”
“It’s a show that embraces diversity and prides itself on inclusion and learning how to take care of each other,” Tomita continued. “We are literally in a hospital and doctors are taking care of their patients.”