How Many Asian Actors Have Been Nominated for Oscars?

Yul Brynner in 'The King and I,' 1956 (Gold Derby)

Yul Brynner in ‘The King and I,’ 1956 (Gold Derby)

The Oscars are this weekend (Sunday, Feb. 28th), and the big controversy this year has centered around the lack of non-white acting nominees (and continues last year’s #OscarsSoWhite hashtag). But when talked about in detail, the conversation has seemed to focus more on including Black nominees and narratives. And that’s great! But there are a wealth of other races and ethnicities that need to be included in the conversation and given a place at the table.

This led me to wonder: how many Asian acting nominees and winners have there been in the history of the Academy Awards? Spoiler alert: not all that many, sadly.

The Best Actor category has seen the most Asian men win the award: Yul Brynner in 1956, and Ben Kingsley in 1982. These two men comprise two-thirds of the category’s Asian nominees.

Actress Merle Oberon was the first Asian nominated for any Oscar, and the first nominated for Best Actress. (The category was called “Best Lead Actress” when she was nominated in 1935.) She remains the sole Asian woman nominee of the category.

Of the seven Asian men who received Best Supporting Actor nominations spanning 1957 to 2003, only one has won: Haing S. Ngor in 1984. Six Asian women have received Best Supporting Actress nominations, but only one has won: Miyoshi Umeki in 1957.

Considering that these categories have five nominees each, and the Academy Awards have been occurring since 1930, this nominations/wins-to-visibility ratio is…fucking pathetic.

I really hope this year teaches the Academy a lesson, and we’ll begin to see more diverse characters and stories not just on screen, but materially validated by the old guard as well.

 

Idris Elba Makes History at the 2016 SAG Awards

Idris Elba at the 2016 SAG Awards (LA Times)

Idris Elba at the 2016 SAG Awards (LA Times)

The world’s hottest man (not editorializing, this is a fact and everyone agrees) made history Saturday night at the annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.

Idris Elba (you know him as Stringer Bell from “The Wire”) not only became the first man to win two SAG awards in one night; he became the first African-American man to do so. Elba won for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for “Beasts of No Nation,” and for Best Male Actor in a Television Movie or Mini Series for “Luther.” This is especially impressive as it’s the first year he was nominated for a solo acting award. Go Idris!

But Elba’s wins made a splash for another, more sobering reason: He’s the only film winner that wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. His fellow winners (Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant,” Brie Larson for “Room,” and Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl“) are all nominated. With the conversation around the Oscars’ diversity occurring for the second year in a row (#OscarsSoWhiteRedux), it’s worth noting for the future.

With Queen Latifah (“Bessie“), Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black“), and Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder“) also winning awards, Elba welcomed us all into the future with the following words:

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to diverse TV.”

I, for one, cannot wait to see how things progress.

Ariana Miyamoto is the First Mixed-Race Miss Japan

Ariana Miyamoto, Miss Japan 2015 (We Are Wakanda)

Ariana Miyamoto, Miss Japan 2015 (We Are Wakanda)

The newly-crowned Miss Japan Ariana Miyamoto has made history: She’s the first mixed-race woman to win the title. She had previously won the Miss Nagasaki title.

The 20-year-old Miyamoto, born to a Japanese mother and an African-American father, will go on to represent Japan at the Miss Universe 2015 pageant.

This is huge for Japan, as the country is known being very racially homogenous. According to a July 2014 estimate, those who self-identify as Japanese comprise 98.5% of the total population. By contrast, “other” races (under which African-American falls) holds onto only .6%. The estimate puts the country’s population at 127M+, so that would mean “other” races would number around 762K+. (To put that in context, self-identifying Japanese would number around 125M+.)

“Hafu” (mixed-race) marriages have grown steadily since 1980, when the Japanese government recorded 5K+ “international” marriages. In 2004, mixed-race marriages numbered 39K+, which represented 5%+ of all marriages within the country.

Though it’s clear that the number of interracial marriages, and multi-racial citizens, are rising, it’s difficult to find because racial data isn’t collected in Japan (only nationality is acknowledged). But Japanese filmmaker Megumi Nishikura found that “20K+ half-Japanese are born in Japan each year, including both multiethnic and multiracial people” through her documentary “Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan.”

Though Miyamoto is already getting backlash for “not being Japanese enough,” she’ll now be seen by the world as the new face of Japan.

Lucy and Maria Aylmer: How Many Twins Look Racially Different?

Twin sisters Lucy and Maria Aylmer (BoredPanda)

Twin sisters Lucy and Maria Aylmer (BoredPanda)

This week, the Internet has been fascinated by a set of English fraternal twins Lucy and Maria Aylmer. But there’s something special about them: Lucy has pale skin and red hair, while Maria has brown skin and brown curly hair.

In other words, one twin looks white, and the other twin looks black.

Their parents have a mixed racial background: their mother is half Jamaican, and their father is white.

Occasionally, stories like theirs pop up every now and again. In 2009, another British mixed-race couple produced not one, but two, sets of identical twins who each looked very racially different from their sibling.

But how common is this?

Unfortunately, there are no statistics that track this. From “The Associated Press:”

The phenomenon is so uncommon that there are no statistics to illustrate its probability, although it is thought likely to become more common because of the growing number of mixed-race couples.

To give you an idea on exactly how uncommon this is (using numbers!), Dr. Sarah Jarvis of Britain’s Royal College of General Pracitioners, said in 2009 (though it still applies today):

“Even non-identical twins aren’t that common. Non-identical twins from mixed parents, of different races, less common still. To have two eggs fertilized and come out different colors, less common still. So, to have it happen twice must be one in millions.”

But that’s just a guess, though the BBC reported chances closer to 1 in 500 in 2011. We won’t know until we actually start tracking the numbers.

Gallup’s 2013 Interracial Marriage Approval Rates

Gallup 2013 Interracial Marriage Results

Gallup 2013 Interracial Marriage Results

Within the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about the changing face of America (as “National Geographic” called it last year), in terms of racial demographics. It’ll change a lot more in the coming generations. In 2013, Gallup conducted a poll to find how Americans felt about interracial marriage.

The 2013 Minority Rights and Relations poll found that 87% of American adults approve of interracial marriage, with 84% of whites and 96% of non-Hispanic blacks approving. (This latter distinction is important because Hispanics were counted 1968-2003.) The survey comprised 4K+ Americans, with 1K+ identifying as non-Hispanic blacks. Interracial marriage was defined as one between “whites and non-whites.”

Since the 2011 poll taken two years prior, whites’ approval crept up one percentage point to 84%, while non-Hispanic blacks’ approval held steady at 96%.

The study also examined how the approval broke down by age and geographic location. Unsurprisingly, the Millennials and Generation Z (18-29 age range) lead the charge, approving by 96%. The 30-49-year-olds approval rate tracks closely behind at 93%. For the older groups, there’s less approval (which makes sense as they reflect the times in which they grew up): Ages 50-64 approve at 84%, and ages 65+ approve at 70%.

In terms of geographic region, the West wins out with approval ratings of 93%. Next up, the East and Midwest tie with 86%. With the South, old habits die hard, and it brings up the rear with approval ratings of 83%.

I’m now interested to see how approval of other interracial relationships shake out, such Caucasian/Hispanic, Asian/Black, etc. I think Gallup needs to examine these next.

But it’s very interesting to see how things have changed over almost 60 years: When the study was first produced in 1958, only 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriage. Now, the percentage is heading that way for those who disapprove. The trends are positive for Team Love!