Margaret Cho Goes Public With Emails To Tilda Swinton On Whitewashing
This week, Margaret Cho and Tilda Swinton were in the news because of correspondence between the two regarding Holywood’s practice of “whitewashing” – giving roles minorities role to white actors.
Cho was a guest on Bobby Lee‘s popular TigerBelly podcast, where she revealed she had numerous private email correspondences with Swinton regarding to the new Doctor Strange movie. Swinton played The Ancient One, a character that is a TIbetian male in the comic books.
“Tilda eventually emailed me and she said that she didn’t understand why people were so mad about Doctor Strange and she wanted to talk about it, and wanted to get my take on why all the Asian people were mad,” Cho said.
“It was so weird. It was a long fight about why the part should not have gone to her,” said Cho, adding that Swinton defended herself by saying she recently produced a film by a famous South Korean director.
Swinton seemed to suggest that Asian people had no reason to be offended, Cho said. In the end, Swinton told her not to “tell anybody” about their discussion.
“I felt like a house Asian, like I’m her servant,” said Cho. “Like the ones when they have in the [British] raj, they would have the house servant who was your confidante … The servant that was close to you. That’s sort of what I felt like, like I was following her with an umbrella. I had a weird feeling about the entire exchange, especially the part of Don’t tell anybody.”
Previously, director Scott Derrickson said he was trying avoid stereotypes by choosing Swinton for the role. “The first decision that I made was to make it a woman,” Derrickson said, adding, “but when I envisioned that character being played by an Asian actress, it was a straight-up Dragon Lady.”
Swinton responded to the controversy by releasing the entirety of the emails publicly.
Cho released a statement through her publicist on Friday night following Swinton’s email release.
The statement read: “Asian actors should play Asian roles. I believe my emails stand on their own and should be taken for the spirit in which they were intended. I am grateful that the debate has now entered the national discussion and remain a huge fan of Tilda’s. Now I’m going to go fall asleep at a museum.”