In the pre-talkie early years of Hollywood, two of the biggest silent movie stars, Sessue Hayakawa and Anna May Wong were Asian and Asian American. Portrayed as exotic and inscrutable, these stars graced the silver screen with great success. But suddenly and within a short period of time, all the major Hollywood movie studios began hiring white actors with taped-back eyes and makeup. Fast-forward to today, and more Asians and Asian American actors have achieved stardom and success both on TV and the big screen. How, when and why did all those cultural shifts come about? This presentation covers more than a century of how Asians have been portrayed in Hollywood, in commercials, and on stage.
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About the Presenter:
Gil Asakawa is a journalist, editor, author and blogger who covers Japan, Japanese American, Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural and social justice issues, with a blog, The Nikkei View. He's a nationally-known speaker, panelist and expert on Japanese American history and Asian American identity. Having written for publications including Rolling Stone and Newsweek Japan, he has authored books including "The Toy Book" (a history of baby boomer toys, Knopf, 1991) and "Being Japanese American" (a history of Japanese in the U.S., Stone Bridge Press, 2014) and has been a consultant for organizations focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion within their institutions. Because of his extensive and pioneering work he has received the “Voice Award” from the Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA). His latest book “Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!,” a history of Japanese food in America will be published by Stone Bridge Press this fall.
We are partnering with the Ashland Public Library, Cary Library (Lexington), and the Wayland Library to bring this program to our community. This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Somerville Public Library.