No Longer the Sidekick: The importance of diversifying in the media


The personas of a math genius or a martial arts master are stock characters found in movies and television shows. These stereotypes are examples of roles that Asian actors and actresses receive. They are casted as sidekicks and never star as the leading protagonist. Fresh off the Boat is the first sitcom to star an Asian-American family since All-American Girl in 1994, and it has become a hit. Jessica Huang (Constance Wu)  plays the role of a loving and strict mother, but she is also two dimensional; she enjoys reading Stephen King novels and dislikes singing duets. The hip hop loving protagonist, Eddie, feels like an outsider as he adjusts to a new school and tries to avoid schoolwork as much as possible. This show connects to Asian American viewers like myself because it illustrates the story of being a young Asian American. Eddie’s stories resembles those who have felt different because of their interests and ethnicity.

It is rare to see Asian Americans on TV and this is harmful to young Asian American children. It is important for kids to have role models who share similar backgrounds with them because we seek others who also struggle with self-identity. If a young Asian actor can star in a zombie apocalypse drama, then I think I can too. If an Asian makeup guru can upload tutorials and start her own business, then I think I can too. Diversifying the media will positively impact young people of all backgrounds by defying stereotypes, and breaking gender barriers.

My dream job is to become a journalist and cover stories about people and places around the world. My heart skips a beat when I imagine myself interacting with people in post-war Libya, exploring the night markets in Thailand, or riding camels in Egypt. This dream can sometimes seem far-fetched to me because there aren’t that many well-known Asian American female journalists. I discovered an Asian American journalist and instantly fell in love with her work. She defies prejudices and tells the story of a diverse group of people. This woman is Lisa Ling, a journalist and writer. I could write a whole paragraph to why Ling inspires me, but instead I will list a few reasons why she is awesome:



-At the age of 18, she became one of the youngest reporters on Channel One News. This news program was seen in middle schools and high schools. The opportunity sent her to places like China and Afghanistan. She worked with Anderson Cooper on the show. They look so adorable!

– She beat 12,000 applicants to become one of the hosts for The View.

She hosted a documentary series called Our America with Lisa Ling. One of my favorite episodes is called “3 A.M. Girls” and it’s about sex trafficking in Washington, D.C. I was shocked when Ling filmed an area known for trafficking which was a few blocks away from The White House.

-She covered a story on China’s lost girls on National Geographic. The Chinese government allowed them to be the first television cameras to document an American couple adopting a baby girl.

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