Amanda Pendolino
May 13, 2013

Hollywood Racism: Lucy Liu Talks Being ‘Too Asian’

Lucy Liu has faced a lot of racism in her career.

“I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion,” the Elementary star revealed in a new interview with Net-a-Porter.

“People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well, she’s too Asian’, or, ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.”

Lucy says she’s a little wary of chalking any disappointments up to racism, but says she had to “push a lot just to get in the room.” She continued: “I can’t say that there is no racism – there’s definitely something there that’s not easy, which makes [an acting career] much more difficult.”

To keep her career fulfilling, Lucy says she tries to get gigs “that aren’t specifically Asian roles.”

“We strive toward something that’s not as obvious,” she says of her team.

That’s how she landed the role of Dr. Watson in CBS’ modern re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, Elementary.

“It was a challenge,” Lucy says of playing the iconic character. “It’s so steeped in history, you want to keep that temperature, but acclimatise people to something new you’re shifting them towards.”

I love that Lucy is making viewers see the character — and her — in a new way. Keep fighting the good fight!