Actress Kat Ahn appeared in the season three episode of The Office, “A Benihana Christmas,” as one of the waitresses that Michael (Steve Carell) and Andy (Ed Helms) bring to Dunder Mifflin’s Christmas party. She was initially excited to appear on the NBC sitcom before realizing, as she told the Washington Post about how Hollywood has failed Asian women, that she was “just there to be the joke.” There’s a recurring bit in the episode about how Michael can’t tell the waitresses apart. “Which one is she?” Roy asks Michael after he brags about his date. “It’s… it’s one of those two,” he replies.
Ahn said she was “told to shut up and be grateful. Actors have no power until they become a star.” She previously discussed her experience on TikTok. “I actually understood why BIPOC actors play racist roles. You know, sometimes, you gotta pay your rent. Sometimes you want to join the union. Sometimes you just don’t want your agent to drop you,” she said. “Also, this episode was before, you know, wokeness.”
She continued, “The storyline with myself and the other Asian American actress [played by Kulap Vilaysack] is that we were the ‘uglier’ version of the actresses at the Benihana. Also that all Asian people look alike, we’re one big monolith, and we’re just one big walking stereotype without any personality or individuality. Which is problematic”:
Her experience mirrors the kind of roles actors of Asian descent have been offered for decades in an industry that still suffers from a dearth of opportunity for them. Underrepresentation persists among the decision-makers as well — UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report found that 91 percent of the executives at major and mid-level studios were White, while the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reported that just 3.3 percent of those who directed the 1,300 most popular films released between 2007 and 2019 were of Asian descent.
You can watch one of her TikTok videos about The Office below.
(Via Washington Post)