Gemma Chan is an English actress and former fashion model born in London and raised in Kent. Gemma Chan attended the Newstead Wood School for Girls and studied jurisprudence at Worcester College, Oxford. She portrayed the role of Bess of Hardwick in Mary Queen of Scots just recently and sparked whitewashing to an end — in Hollywood and in history Books.
Gemma Chan who happens to be of Asian descent said recently in an exclusive interview, “If we portray a pure white past, people start to believe that’s how it was, and that’s not how it was. If people understood that, my parents might not have been told, ‘Go home, go back to where you came from’ multiple times.”
Based on her statement, it is not just for purely Asian representation. She also speaks out for justice and equality in every role.
Gemma Chan made her stand on Whitewashing in the film industry. She is fully Chinese by heritage, but Gemma Chan describes her identity as “compound. I feel British, and European, and English, and Chinese, and Asian.” She also brings up the Internet trolls who brought up the issue with her playing Queen Elizabeth’s confidante, Bess of Hardwick, in Mary Queen of Scots because she isn’t white.
“Why are actors of color, who have fewer opportunities anyway, only allowed to play their own race? And sometimes they’re not even allowed to play their own race,” Gemma Chan says. “In the past, the role would be given to a white actor who would tape up their eyes and do the role in yellowface. John Wayne played Genghis Khan. If John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick.”
General public films are exposed to history and they play an important role in forming public perceptions about the past and set aside whitewashing in films. Every actor’s physical appearance and giving them the standard to portray such roles help the audience to be immerse in the story and the time period. We are living in a society where actors and actresses, regardless of their ethnicity and race have that background who can actually portray their role in films. As Gemma Chan says, “If we portray a pure white past, people start to believe that’s how it was, and that’s not how it was.”