Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality


Statement from Dao Le, Animatic Editor

July 31, 2009

Racebending.com has received a statement from Dao Le, Animatic Editor of the Avatar: The Last Airbender original animated series.

It’s been a huge disappointment to hear about the casting for Avatar’s live-action movie. The show was heavily influenced by Asian culture, some of the characters were even modeled after Asian members of the crew. But now, with the pre-dominantly white cast, it feels like all the Asian/Eastern influences, origins, what have you, were just a backdrop for these characters. But I always believed they were Asian, or even mixed Asian. And that belief added a little extra pride in working on such a great show. The appreciation Mike & Bryan had for Asian culture, the interest it generated in the fans, gave ME greater appreciation for my own culture.

So it’s just hard to believe they couldn’t find one Asian actor to hold any of the lead protagonist parts. Not one? This film is going to feel like some other Avatar story.
– Dao Le, Animatic Editor, Avatar: The Last Airbender

As Animatic Editor of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Le was in charge of creating animatics, a type of moving storyboard created by mixing storyboards, stand in images, and other elements of a scene in sequence with the dialogue, to give animators an idea of what a final scene might look like. Examples of animatics used in Avatar can be found on the special features of many of the DVDs, so go check them out!

Ms. Le is not the first staff member of the animated series to comment on the live-action adaption and the casting controversy. Several people who worked on the original series have bravely taken the risk of speaking out on this issue.

Giancarlo Volpe, who directed 19 episodes of the series, and martial arts and cultural consultant Sifu Kisu of the Harmonious Fist Chinese Athletic Assn have both publicly commented on the casting controversy. East West Players–a theater troupefounded by the late Avatar actor Mako and comprised of several Asian American actors who starred or guest starred in the series–released a letter sent to Paramount expressing their disappointment with the casting. Earlier this month, series cultural consultant Siu-Leung Lee, PhD shared his views on the cast on a radio show, and shared that all East Asian and Chinese language and calligraphy elements will be removed in the live action adaption.

Categories: The Last Airbender

About the Author

Marissa Lee is one of the co-founders of Racebending.com

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