Although it has been a slow process and one that has raised many issues amongst netizens, some finally felt as if there was a rise in Asian representation in mainstream television. Shows seemed to try and have more diversity in their cast and showcase different cultures.
One actress who showcased this was Arden Cho, who became the first Asian actor in the much-loved series Teen Wolf, where she played Kira Yukimura.
Arden Cho was born and raised in Texas, but her parents are American-Korean. According to articles, she felt the impact of being a person of color (POC) in a predominantly white state. She was even bullied and physically abused during her childhood.
Yet, as she grew up, she realized that she had an interest in acting and became more aware of the Korean culture as she moved and attended university in Illinois.
When she first joined the cast of Teen Wolf in 2014, viewers loved the sassy and powerful character of Kira. In particular, after she became a member of the main cast in season four, she showcased her immense talent and helped to add even more diversity to the show.
After it was confirmed that the series would be returning for a movie, fans couldn’t wait to see which cast members would be returning. However, many were disappointed when Arden Cho, Dylan O’Brien, and Tyler Hoechlin were not going to take part.
What seemed worse was a few days later, the alleged reason for Arden’s absence was revealed. According to sources, despite being a main cast and fan favorite, Arden was only offered half the salary compared to the others involved.
Arden Cho was reportedly only offered half the salary presented to other actors that are returning for the ‘Teen Wolf’ movie so she decided to pass on the project.
— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) February 15, 2022
At first, it seemed like a rumor, but when Dylan O’Brien liked the same tweet. Arden Cho replied to a fan who showed their love for O’Brien for supporting the actress, and she replied, “He’s a good one.”
He’s a good one
— Arden Cho (@arden_cho) February 16, 2022
For many, it seemed like an odd move from the production company as Arden’s character was as vital as the rest of the cast who signed up. Fans then started to speculate that it could’ve been due to the fact she was a POC. Although there are others in the cast, she is the only female main cast who isn’t white.
for 6 full seasons, arden cho was the only actress of color ever billed as a series regular and also dropped without notice. years later and it’s the same shit different day? how can you call that anything but racism
— 🍤 tenye wa chesh gut (@ninareels) February 15, 2022
In particular, in the main tweet about the controversy’s issue, fans shared their own thoughts. In particular, many Asian viewers voiced their anger that the producers tried to do this and didn’t fight to keep Arden Cho in the cast.
Even fellow American actress Elizabeth Cho shared her support for Arden, raising the issues that have been in the industry when it comes to equal pay.
Yet, it isn’t the first time the show has come under scrutiny for its treatment of Arden. Back in 2016, Arden released a video explaining that her character had been taken off the show.
Unfortunately, it looks like we are wrapped up with Kira’s storyline, and she won’t be coming back for season six.
— Arden Cho
Although it wasn’t rare, many pointed out that her tone and words showed that the end of Kira’s storyline wasn’t something she was aware of.
Sorry, there were some interviews where I said I was excited for season six. I think, at the time, we were assuming we were back. But, yeah, I think sometimes in a show where there are a lot characters, there isn’t always room for everyone.
— Arden Cho
Arden Cho has never shied away from her heritage and has posted beautiful images wearing hanboks to show her pride. In Teen Wolf, despite playing a Japanese character, she was still a glimmer of hope for Asian representation in the show.
Even though it is 2022, it is heartbreaking to know that Asians and POC are still being treated disrespectfully in the entertainment industry. Seeing Asian representation in huge shows like Teen Wolf gave many fans confidence and hope. Yet, it seems like there is still a long way to go until there is true equality.