Michelle Villemaire Reclaims 'Yellowface' By Re-imagining Iconic Asian Roles Played By White Women

Posted: Updated:
Print

It's no secret there's a lack of Asian-American actors and actresses in Hollywood. Lucy Liu and Jamie Chung may be household names, but aside from that, Asian women in film are few and far between.

Part of the problem is that white actors are cast to play Asian roles in television and film — take Emma Stone's portrayal as a "half-Asian character" in "Aloha," for example. This history of "yellowfacing" is not only racist and offensive, but also something that should have been corrected a long time ago.

Enter mother and YouTube star, Michelle Villemaire. The DIY blogger behind Home Made Mimi was fed up with the "whitewashing" of Asian characters and decided to "correct yellowface" by re-imagining iconic Asian roles played by white women.


"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," Villemaire writes in a blog post titled, "Get in the Picture: My Adventures in Correcting Yellowface."

"Only women who had a certain skin colour and eye shape were really allowed on screen, right?" she writes. "To this day white people are cast as Asians, deepening the message that Asians just aren’t wanted."

According to Buzzfeed, the mother-of-two used an assortment of purchased and homemade props to transform herself into characters such as Katharine Hepburn in the 1944 film "Dragon Seed" and Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming flick, "Ghost in the Shell."

And though she had doubts about whether or not she could pull it off, the results of her work are pretty impressive.



On her blog, Villemaire says her Hepburn recreation was the most difficult to shoot as she "didn't want to disrespect the queen" and "trying to recreate one of our greatest actors’ expressions while that actress’s face has been tampered with [tape to make her eyes look more Chinese] is just some crazy gymnastics."

"I considered calling this post Wictor Wictoria because it occurred to me that I was an Asian woman trying to be a white woman trying to be an Asian woman," she writes.

But, by the time she shot the last image in the series (she as Stone in "Aloha"), she felt a sense of accomplishment.

"In my own way, I’d rewritten these stories adding an element of authenticity that was missing. It felt really good," writes Villemaire.

She concludes her post by saying, "This photographic journey is a love letter to all my Asian brothers and sisters out there trying to break into a tough business. I feel your struggle. But please keep fighting the fight. You are talented. You are beautiful. And goddammit, we belong in the picture."

You can check out the full "Correcting Yellowface" series on Villemaire's blog.

Follow Huffington Post Canada Style on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter!

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Asian Actresses With Incredible Style
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction