representation matter,

  • sandra oh a5717

    This past weekend Golden Globe award winner Sandra Oh, star of the BBC’s Killing Eve, hosted Saturday Night Live. She is the third Asian woman (fifth Asian person overall, including Aziz Ansari and Kumail Nanjiani) to host in the show’s 44 year run. Following Awkwafina, who hosted back in October, Oh dazzled as the season’s second female Asian host last Saturday night, showing off her comedic chops in multiple skits. Both women follow Lucy Liu, who hosted 18 years ago back in 2000.  

    With an impressive resumé including a nine year long run as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy, supporting roles in films like The Princess Diaries, Sideways, and Hard Candy, as well as a recent turn as a leading lady in 2017’s Cat Fight, it’s a wonder why Oh hasn’t hosted yet.

    The episode highlighted Oh’s outstanding comedic skills, ones she employs as Eve Polastri in Killing Eve. From her satirical impression of a costume drama heroine caught in an ill-fated love triangle in the skit The Duelto her performance as a crass, over-the-top future girlfriend named Tishy of an insecure teenage boy in Future Self, Oh had audiences laughing (for all the right reasons) and applauding her work on the show. She and the other talented female cast members of SNL performed as femme fatales and suspicious widow archetypes in Cheques

    Oh’s turn as a host marks another great stride for Asian representation in western media. With last summer’s box office hitCrazy Rich Asians, the popular Netflix film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Ali Wong and Randall Park’s upcoming film Always Be My Maybe, Oscar-winning short film Bao, and Gemma Chan’s Jane Austen inspired short film Mr. Malcolm’s List (which has just been green-lit for a feature length adaptation), Asian representation is at an all time high in Hollywood history. SNL’s spotlight on Asian actresses and comediennes is another step forward for the community. 

    As SNL’s latest episode came to a close, Oh stood amongst the cast members with a wide smile, wearing a black t-shirt. On it read her incredible quote from the 2018 Emmys: “It’s an honor just to be Asian” - Sandra Oh. This past year has seen great progress for allpeople of color, possibly most notably for Asians in western media. With cemented star power, Oh is living proof of and leading the way to the bright future for all Asians in entertainment. 

    Image Header via Flickr 

     

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    Two weeks ago, The Whitney Museum of American Art cancelled its exhibition after obtaining Black artists work at a discounted price, which was initially indented to raise money for racial justice charities. The exhibition, “Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change,” planned to feature artists whose work focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of the work displayed was stolen from BIPOC artists, without their knowledge and without any credit given. As museums are beginning to reopen, artists and activists are fighting for a structural change in museum leadership and representation. The Whitney, one of New York City’s most renowned institutions, has become yet another example of the structural racism that continues to cohabitate within the art industry.

    Now, several youth programs are working with their local museums to foster inclusivity in the art world. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s (MCA) leadership program, Teen Creative Agency (TCA), came forward when they discovered MCA’s police funding initiative. In an open letter, TCA urged the museum to invest in BIPOC artists and change their security models.

    In an interview with Teen Vogue, Hashim Kysia, a TCA alum, said “The tactics of art museum security are discriminatory and taken from police tactics…I obviously look ‘other’ than the expected museumgoer, and I feel discrimination walking through exhibits and gift shops. It’s more than the MCA. I feel it at the Art Institute. When I went to MoMA, I was followed and told not to touch things when I wasn’t touching them.” Other initiatives such as NYC’s InterseXtions internship program with the Brooklyn Museum, explores gender expression and identity in the art industry, urging interns to speak with community leaders to push for a structural change. Akir Stuart, an InterseXtions intern, remarked on the program’s inclusivity, saying,

    “NYC museums in general, I don’t feel there’s space for me, being a Black and queer person… The department gives authority to kids who normally don’t feel they have power anywhere else. It’s crazy to me all the stuff we get to do.” 

    Amidst the pandemic and ongoing racial injustices, these teen councils are holding museums accountable when it comes to inclusivity and leadership, expressing the pertinence of identity representation in the art industry.

     

    Header image courtesy of Youth Teen Creative Agency website

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