January 7th, 2018 marked the 75th annual Golden Globes awards presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press. The Golden Globes this year emphasized the power of women in the midst of Hollywood’s sexual assault scandals with notable people like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and even Asian American advocate George Takei. Among the award winners were personal favorites of mine like Sterling K. Brown, Rachel Brosnahan, Oprah Winfrey, Gary Oldman, and especially Aziz Ansari; yes, there were a few upsets that SHOULD have won but I digress.
The 75th Golden Globes not only was a platform for women, but it also shared its platform for many people of color like Sterling Brown (This is Us), Hong Chau (Downsizing (2017)), Aziz Ansari (Master of None), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out (2017)), Mary J. Blige (Mudwater (2017)), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water (2017)), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water (2017)), Issa Rae (Insecure (2017)), and Oprah Winfrey (Cecil B. DeMille Award). The highlight for many Asian Americans, including myself, was nominee and award winner Aziz Ansari for being the first Asian American to win best actor in TV comedy and musical. Aziz’s win was a win for all Asian Americans that night and represents progress in Asian representation in Hollywood. Aziz joins Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) and Yoko Shimada (Shogun (1980) ) are the only three Asians to win Golden Globes in television since 1980. Also nominated, was Hong Chau from Downsizing (2017) who plays an immigrant from Vietnam, one of three actress since 1970 to be nominated for best supporting actress in any motion picture; the other two are Tina Chen from The Hawaiians (1970), and Rinko Kikuchi in Babel (2006). When interviewed about her nomination Hong says,
“I hope filmmakers will go back and take a look at people whom they thought they couldn’t mine drama or entertainment from. There are a lot of characters that have been underdeveloped because people aren’t interested or are afraid of attempting to tell their stories. Take another look at them: that’s what I hope for”
Sterling K. Brown also made history with being the first African American to win best actor in television and in his acceptance speech he says
"I’m being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me”.
His words radiate with me and with so many other minorities who plan on tackling change. This is what Asian Americans in Hollywood today fight for, to be recognized and appreciated. If iconic directors like Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg could cast leading roles for people of color and gave them a chance, I think it would bring a world of change. Don’t get me wrong, change is happening. It is slow but it is happening. Movies like The Big Sick (2017) starring Kumail Nanjiani and Columbus (2017) starring John Cho made it to the big screens and are hailed by many critics and I hope we get to see them in the upcoming Oscars because these are movies that should not be taken lightly.
Another person who captivated the room with her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award was the inspiring and lovely Oprah Winfrey. In it she talked about how as a child she was inspired by Sidney Poitier, an African American who made history for being awarded best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. Oprah says
“I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney’s performance in Lilies of the Field: “Amen, amen, amen, amen.”
How many of us can relate? How many of us can see our representation in the career or profession of our choice? How many of us were amazed Aziz Ansari beat out Kevin Bacon, Anthony Anderson, William H. Mercy, and Eric McCormack? How many of us were inspired by someone who looked just like you? How many of us would one day want to be an inspiration?
Oprah continued her speech with acknowledging that out there, there were little girls watching as she made history by being the first black woman to receive the same award. Oprah ended her speech with many thank yous and reminded all of us that we should use our platform and our position to bring positive change into the world. In the case of the 75th Golden Globes, it’s about women standing up to a world dominated by cis white men and how men and women can ensure no one ever says “me too” again.