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I Am Not a Fetish or Model Minority: Redefining What it Means to Be API in the Entertainment Industry


Executive Summary

In the past two years, the United States has seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes,1 particularly surrounding COVID-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities.2 At the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media,
we believe that it is imperative that we investigate our cultural messaging surrounding marginalized groups. Therefore, we examined the portrayal of Asian people and Pacific Islanders within the film industry – both on screen and behind the scenes. Authentic representation should be informed by the API people who contribute to its creation, and it is important to ask whether they feel heard and seen.

In order to assess inclusion and representation of Asians and Pacific Islanders in entertainment as well as their experiences in the industry, we conducted three complementary studies:

This study is unique because it combines content analysis of on-screen representation of API characters in film and a survey of members of API communities in the entertainment industry about representation. Therefore, our study contributes to an ongoing dialogue about the state of API representation and inclusion by not only assessing whether members of these communities are portrayed on screen, but also the nature of that portrayal, and speaking directly to API creators and industry members about their experiences and ideas about representation.

Key Findings

Survey Analysis

Content Analysis

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