Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
Deadline.com reports that the script for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ American live-action adaptation of the manga Akira has been sent to a short list of actors. Although the characters will retain their original names — Kaneda and Tetsuo– from the Japanese graphic novels, the story will be set in “Neo-Manhattan.”
Deadline reports the names of actors currently being courted with the script:
“I’m guessing, but I suspect the American group most under-represented in modern Hollywood is young Asian-American males.” – film critic Roger Ebert, 2010
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. Last year, a Racebending.com volunteer ran a count of the 241 Warner Bros movies from 2000 to 2009 and found that only 2% had an Asian first-billed lead. Aside from The Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves, the majority of films with Asian leads starred Asian nationals like Jet Li and Rain.
Although Asian American actors are sometimes cast as supporting actors in films like this month’s Sucker Punch, they still struggle for representation in leading roles in Warner Bros. films. If not in a film called Akira, for characters named Kaneda and Tetsuo, when will Asian Americans get to star in a Warner Bros film?
In contrast, even though 40% of movie tickets are purchased by people of color, 90% of the films released by Warner Bros between 2000 and 2009 featured a white lead.
Because one out of every 10 modern-day Manhattanites are Asian American (Lower Manhattan is 41% Asian,) it would make just as much sense–if not more sense, given the names “Kaneda” and “Tetsuo”–for the leads to be Asian American as it would for the leads to be white. Tetsuo and Kaneda should be cast with Asian American leads.
Racebending.com will be following up on this issue. Stay tuned for more updates.
1. Retweet our Tweet about the situation to help get the word out. Earlier today we were featured on the front page of Twitter.
2. Join the Facebook Petition and tell your friends so we can get an exact number of people who are upset about the decision to whitewash this film.
3. Blog about the situation on your own blog and/or encourage your favorite bloggers to do the same.
Questions? Please read our Frequently Asked Questions about AKIRA for more information.