for the purposes of this blog I define ethnicity specifically, eg, Korean as opposed to Asian, New Zealander as opposed to Caucasian (as a side note, I did not grow up with the word Caucasian, I tend it associate the word with white Americans coz I only ever heard it on American tv/movies, in NZ generally the terms New Zealand European or Pakeha are used, personally I prefer Pakeha but that is a whole other blog).
When I came through Hong Kong last year and met up with the AnD crew (such an awesome bunch) and for some reason was talking about Cliff Curtis and Temuera Morrison (I think it's coz Patrick bought up the movie Once Were Warriors). I mentioned that they often played other ethnicities (not Maori), for instance Cliff often plays Arabs or Hispanics. Patrick mentioned that Asian American's faced the same problem - being cast as ethnicities other than their own. I was actally taken aback and didn't know what to say - simply because I have never seen it as a problem.
We Kiwi's are very proud of Cliff (and other NZ actors working in Hollywood) and see their acting as other ethnicities as a mark of their talent and versatility. It never occured to us that this was a problem (I say us, coz I have never heard another Kiwi speak of it in a negative light). Maybe it is because we are a small nation (5 million people in a world population of 8 billion) at the bottom of the world on the edge of all things, that we don't really expect there to be roles for Maori or NZers in general or we just view certain things differently. I don't know. shrugs
Take for instance Karl Urban, he played Eomer in the Lord of the Rings and has been in various NZ movies and tv shows. His international roles include a Russian assassin in the Bourne Supremacy, a viking and more recently Bones - the American doctor in Star Trek. While we are on Star Trek, in the latest movie Simon Peg, an Englishman, played Scotty (who is supposed to be Scottish) but even the original Scotty was played by a Canadian (James Doohan), WTF does it matter.
Martin Csokas, another Kiwi actor in Hollywood often plays East Eurpean villans (Triple X, The Bourne Supremacy, Evilenko) as well as other non New Zealander roles...
I'm not trying to be insensitive, I'm just trying to understand why it is seen as a negative when it can be viewed in a positive way....
To be clear, I'm not talking about the stereotyping of ethnicities (Asians alway being cast as martial artists or fast food delivery guys) - where the I agree the problem is serious and I can understand folk getting pissed off. Neither am I talking about whites playing black people or Asian people, like they did in the past which was clearly a racist practice.
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