Back in 2015, Emma Stone starred alongside Bradley Cooper in the rom-com Aloha as Allison Ng, a fighter pilot of Hawaiian and Chinese descent. Stone, who has Swedish, German, English, Scottish, and Irish roots—basically white, white, and whiter—got a lot of flak for the role at the time, with many critics calling out Hollywood’s whitewashing and Stone’s decision to accept the role. And at the 2019 Golden Globes, Sandra Oh offered another (excellent) takedown of the poor casting choice.
Reflecting on the historic significance of Crazy Rich Asians, the first film to feature an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993, Oh said, “[Crazy Rich Asians] is the first studio film with an Asian American lead since Ghost in the Shell and Aloha.” And out in the audience, Stone could be heard shouting back, “I’m sorry!” It’s a pretty perfect moment. (You’ll recall that Ghost in the Shell featured Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese manga character.)
In 2015, Stone spoke about what she’d learned from the backlash to her casting, telling news.com.au, “I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.”
Hollywood still has a hell of a long way to go before we see true representation, but at least we can all feel confident that Emma Stone won’t be taking any more roles from Asian American women.