It goes without saying that we live in a very fragile political ecosystem (though for the sake of being a completionist, we'll go ahead and say it anyway). On one end you have folks who are quick to offend at every little thing, and on the other end, you have folks who want to be able to say whatever they feel like without thinking about the impact it may have on others’ lives. In our increasingly global world, however, the former is an inevitability, as it brings us closer together than ever to people who are different from ourselves. It’s made folks more aware than ever of other races that have perhaps been misrepresented in Hollywood, and you only need to look as far as the controversies surrounding Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell to see that our awareness is ever-increasing.
This whole political idea makes things a bit difficult for actors, and many actors of color are sometimes left with the impossible question of whether or not they should play a stereotypical character, or if playing a character different from that could be perceived as “whitewashing” the culture. This wasn’t an idea that was lost in actress Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing in the upcoming Netflix series Iron Fist.
“For me, when they approached me about Colleen, I was a little bit like, huh, do I want to play an Asian woman who does martial arts who’s a love interest? Do I want to do those three things? Because I’ve always shied away from it. In fact, I’ve shied away from playing Asian characters, if you look back I’m playing characters that have no relevance to my ethnicity. But I reached a stage last year where I said, I want to start telling Asian stories, I want a young Asian girl to go, oh my god, that reminds me of my relationship with my mom. So I had some concerns, and Jeph Loeb rang me and he said, “We’re going to take the stereotype, and we’re going to – we’re not going to avoid it, we’re going to inspect it.” For example, she is, I don’t know how many episodes you’ve seen, she’s a martial artist, she fights in fight cages, we’ve seen that before. What happens when you become addicted to that? What happens when you can only talk with your fists and you struggle to communicate on any other level and you’ve become addicted to fighting? So we’ve taken this stereotype and we’ve said, okay, what is the actual realism in it? You know? Which was interesting to me.”
Of course, Iron Fist is no stranger to race controversy. Prior to the casting of Finn Jones, there were many who saw the character of Danny Rand as an opportunity for an Asian actor to take center stage, in spite of the source material.
Controversies aside, however, what we’ve seen of Iron Fist so far has been promising, and we can’t wait to see how all of it turns out.
The synopsis for Iron Fist is as follows:
“Returning to New York City after being missing for years, Daniel Rand fights against the criminal element corrupting New York City with his incredible kung-fu mastery and ability to summon the awesome power of the fiery Iron Fist.”
Iron Fist hits Netflix on March 17, 2017!
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