March 24, 2011

MANAA/APAMC Supports Concerns Over Lack of Asian Casting In Akira

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Written by: MANAA

March 25, sale 2011-The Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAMC) agrees to sign on to Racebending’s letter to Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures concerning their upcoming movie Akira, sovaldi sale which is based on an anime (Japanese comic book) property.

March co-founder Marissa Lee emails the letter to Jeff Robinov (President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group), Thomas Tull (Chairman & CEO, Legendary Pictures), and Rick Ramirez (Senior VP, Targeted Marketing, Warner Brothers).  Lee asks “that Warner Bros give Asian American actors fair and equal consideration for first-billed roles in” three of their upcoming films, all based on Japanese properties: Akira, All You Need is Kill, and Death Note.”

The letter notes:  “In the United States, Asian Americans represent over 15 million media consumers and counting. Our spending power will grow to more than $700 billion by the time Akira is released in 2013.   Last week, the Asian American community was appalled to see entertainment media outlets report that all of the actors currently being considered for lead roles in Akira are white…  Because Asian Americans are present in every major city in the United States, there is no need to change the ethnicity of the main characters while resetting this story to Manhattan. One out of ten Manhattan residents are Asian American and at 41% of the population, Asian Americans are the largest racial group in Lower Manhattan. Casting white actors for Asian lead characters will reinforce a glass ceiling and reduce opportunities for Asian American actors.

Acknowledging that the studio, through New Line Cinema, has distributed  the successful Harold and Kumar movies, and has otherwise “continually reached out to Asian Pacific Americans by consistently casting American actors of Asian descent in supporting film roles,” Racebending hopes Warner Brothers “will continue this dedication to diversity” and that the aforementioned three upcoming projects “may be the first Warner Bros. produced action movies since 2003 to feature an American actor of Asian descent in a first-billed role.”

The letter asks for an April meeting with Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures, and the producers of the three films.  Signing onto the letter are the APAMC, Asian American Justice Center, MANAA, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, OCA-Greater Los Angeles, and Taiwanese American Citizens League.

July 19, 2011-Marilyn Tokuda (East West Players), Bill Imada, Floyd Mori (both JACL), Marissa Lee, and Michael Le (both Racebending) attend a meeting at Warner Brothers with several executives to talk about how the community can collaborate with the company to serve as a resource.  There’s a commitment to continue discussions in the future, but all parties agree to not speak about specifics of what was discussed.

January 5, 2012-The production, filming in Vancouver, is shut down due to script, casting, and production budget issues.

January 9-Tokuda reports there was a second meeting with Warner Brothers.  Advocates were given an update of Akira, but most of the time was spent talking about diversity issues.  Tokuda gave the head of casting the APAMC’s actor/directors list (see “Asian American Actors/Directors List” article) so Warner Brothers can consider using some of them in their films.

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