Chloe Bennet is proud of her Chinese heritage, and she won’t let the haters deny that.
Bennet, whose dad is Chinese and mother is Caucasian, didn’t always use her chosen stage name over her original surname. She previously pursued a singing career in China using her real name Chloe Wang.
But as a white-passing Chinese-American woman in Hollywood, it makes sense that Bennet would feel forced to market herself as a Caucasian. The film and media industries have historically treated Asian talent unfairly, whether it be casting Asian actors in stereotypical or racially insensitive roles, white-washing Asian characters by using white actors, paying them less than their white colleagues or not casting them at all.
For example, a 2016 study of diversity in the film industry showed that there are extremely few Hollywood movies with Asian characters, roles and storylines. When Asian characters or storylines are considered for a film or show, roles are often tweaked so that a white actor can fill it (see: Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell,” Tilda Swinton in “Doctor Strange” and Finn Jones in “Iron Fist”).
Even Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park ― two of the most prominent actors in the hit show “Hawaii Five-0” ― reportedly left the crime show this year because of pay discrimination.
Not everyone agrees with Bennet’s choice to use a “white-sounding” surname, which also happens to be her Chinese father’s first name, claiming that Bennet is taking advantage of her privilege as a woman who can pass as a white actress. Some people argued that Bennet should fight against the systematic oppression of minorities in Hollywood, instead of conforming her name to fit within the dominant culture’s standards.
“Chloe, you’re lucky that you’re white-passing and that going by the surname “Bennet” is even possible for u. Please check ur privilege. ”
Many people, however, support Bennet’s decision to use her fame and speak out against racism in Hollywood.
This summer the actress founded a nonprofit organization aimed at boosting representation in all industries for those in the Asian-American, Pacific Islander communities. It’s called Represent Us Now.
“You shouldn’t have to hide who you are to get a job. This upsets me deeply. I’m so glad there are people like you fighting for a fair chance.” Twitter followers.
Speaking with The Daily Beast in 2016, Bennet said that she was proud to be half-Chinese and she wanted her fans to know she only changed her name so she could be seen in the industry more ― not to hide the Chinese part of her.
“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” Bennet told The Daily Beast. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”
She later added, “I want to be clear because some of my Asian-American fans seem to think I did that [name change] because I didn’t want to be known as Chinese, but it’s so the opposite.”
“I just wanted to be known as me and let my personality define who I was, rather than my ethnicity.”