Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
Racebending.com engages fan communities, media consumers, community organizations, content creators, and studios to encourage diversity in entertainment media. Below are some of of the media projects where we’ve taken formal advocacy steps. Click on the project to learn more!
Hollywood is adapting the classic manga and anime AKIRA to the silver screen. Given the current lack of lead roles for actors of color in the science fiction genre, the complex characters of AKIRA would be a great opportunity for Asian American actors.
The latest draft script for Akira is reportedly set in “Neo-Manhattan” instead of Neo-Tokyo. Given the prominence and popularity of the original Akira, we know fans will be closely following the development of this Warner Bros. production.
Will directors Albert and Allen Hughes cast Asian American actors to play the iconic roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo?
Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s science fiction novel about a soldier caught in the time loop of his own death is being adapted to film by Warner Bros and director Doug Liman. In the film script, Kiriya’s name has been anglicized to “Billy Cage” and Liman has told interviewers the cast will be “totally American.”
Story changes are common in adaptations, such as setting a story in the United States instead of in Japan. Will the All You Need is Kill movie reflect America’s diversity, or will it exclude totally American actors of Asian descent from playing a lead heroic action role?
With so many characters of color, The Hunger Games, based on the dystopian young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, heralds an unprecedented opportunity for young actors of color to star in a tentpole film. We have received several emails from fans expressing their concerns about depictions of diversity in the film. The production’s casting call for Katniss, the dark-haired, olive-skinned heroine of The Hunger Games only asked for “Caucasian” actors.
We urge Lions Gate Entertainment to affirm its commitment to diversity, encourage the production of The Hunger Games to pursue a fair and open casting process, and hope that the final cast will reflect the author’s intent of diversity.
In August 2010, Marvel Studios released a casting breakdown for an upcoming film, Runaways, using a non-descript casting call to cast an Asian American character, Nico Minoru. With the support of several Asian American community organizations, Racebending.com successfully persuaded Marvel Studios to reissue the casting language and affirm that they will be casting an actor of Asian descent in the role.
Racebending.com will be tracking the production of Runaways, which is scheduled to go into production in 2012. Since 2003, the comic book series by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona has featured a diverse cast of characters.
The Last Airbender campaign is the film protest that launched Racebending.com. From March 2009 to July 2010, Racebending.com coordinated the protest against The Last Airbender (2010),a film that discriminated against actors of color and reinforced glass ceilings by casting white actors to play Asian and Inuit characters.
Fans of the original animated series organized to write letters to the production and alert journalists and film critics to the situation. We also exchanged correspondence with Paramount Pictures to discuss public concerns about the film, and organized live protests to protest the movie with Asian American community organizations.
In October 2009, Racebending.com mobilized hundreds of people from the Asian American community and fan community to send emails to Platinum Studios, decrying the casting of a white actor, David Henrie, to play a Chinese American comic book hero, Tommy Zhou, in The Weapon.
The casting of a white actor to represent a Asian American superhero was particularly egregious given the lack of representative opportunities currently available to Asian American actors.
Perhaps in part due to the negative press generated by Henrie’s casting, the production has not moved forward in production.
Nickelodeon purchased the rights to the successful Power Rangers franchise in 2010. In May 2010, despite the franchise’s past history of diversity and ‘colorblind’ casting, Nickelodeon restricted auditions for the lead role in the 18th season of Power Rangers (2011) to only white actors.
Racebending.com contacted Nickelodeon CEO Jeffery Dunn requesting that the casting call be re-released to allow all actors to audition. Although Racebending.com did not receive a direct response from Dunn, the casting call was re-opened to actors of any ethnicity in June 2010.