Weary of the whitewashing in Hollywood, blogger Michelle "Mimi" Villemaire attempts to put the red light on yellowface by transforming herself into a long list of Hollywood's portrayals of Asian characters played by non-Asian actresses. And the result? "It felt sooooo good." In Get the Picture: My Adventure in Correcting Yellowface, Villemaire not only pays attention to race but takes into consideration what the characters have gone through and what they would look like. When transforming into Olan, a character from The Good Earth who was controversially played by Luise Rainer, Mimi went makeup-less and writes "Olan was a Chinese farmer. She birthed her babies in the fields and got right back to plowing. I wanted my sun spots to show."
So why did Villemaire decide to do this? Aside from the obvious need to bring attention to the situation, Villemaire writes "Growing up, I didn’t see many faces like mine on television and film. And because I wanted to be an actor it was really hard to believe that I could ever be one. Only women who had a certain skin color and eye shape were really allowed on screen, right? To this day white people are cast as Asians, deepening the message that Asians just aren’t wanted."
The improved versions of the characters show just how much Hollywood execs are missing out by not hiring the appropriate race. Villemaire, we applaud you.
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Courtney Bissonette is a New York based writer and improv comedienne. She writes primarily about movies, pop cultures and feminist heroes. She gets along best with old people. She has seen more old movies than your grandma, probably. Salt from Salt n Pepa once took her Trick'r Treating. You can follow her on instagram at @gddamnitcourtney or twitter @courttette