Not So (Crazy Rich) British East Asians – BBC Stories
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Not So (Crazy Rich) British East Asians – BBC Stories

October 8, 2019

People just forget that we exist, I don’t
know why, I really don’t. Everybody eats Chinese food and then they keep on making out as if
we’re brand new in this country and it’s like, “Guys, you’ve been drinking tea and
wearing silk for a long time.” It’s just great seeing you guys all like this. When I was growing up it was just me and my mum. “So, where are you from?” And I say, “I’m from
Northern Ireland, I’m British.” Sometimes I make that point. Don’t you want to see where I grew up?
Meet my family? My Ama? The amount of people that don’t know where
Singapore is and it’s like, “Guys, you owned this country.” My name’s Mia Foo.
I am born and bred in London. My mum’s Irish.
My dad’s Chinese Singaporean ethnically and I’m an actor. My name is Emma. I’m from Northern Ireland. I live in London
and I’m a policy advisor. I was the only Chinese girl; the only East Asian; the only Asian girl in my primary school class. I always felt a bit like an outsider growing up.
Especially in a small community. Other kids would point out, “Oh, where
are you from? Are you Chinese? Are you Japanese? Are you Korean? Do you eat dog?”
And I’m kind of like, “Oh, OK.” I didn’t speak English on my first day of school so that really hindered me fitting in and making friends. I can remember once I had a whole bunch
of kids sticking little bits of you know like stickers that you
put on your exercise book? They’d written on it “Chink go home” and things like that and they stuck it all in my hair
because my hair was quite long. I didn’t go to church. So that was kind of a
major thing that people do back home that I wasn’t a part of and things like
Brownies, Girl Guides, things like that. At the time I was sort of like,
“Ugh, God this is horrible” and I told the teacher and they were like, “They’re just bullying you,
they’ll stop at some point.” And it wasn’t until I got quite a bit older
that I realised that was really bad. So I feel definitely in the UK when
they talk about Asian they mean a kind of specific Asian and
it’s not my kind of Asian. So I’m not half Irish and half Chinese.
I am both Irish and Chinese. I shouldn’t feel like I’m lacking in either side and I
shouldn’t feel like I’m not included in both halves. My accent doesn’t fit what they think
my accent should be based on what I look like. That’s a huge issue that I think a lot of second
and third generation Asians face in the UK. – Where is she?
– We tried to advise her that is wasn’t in her interests. I felt like the world had moved on a lot more
than it necessarily had. I felt like actually these days we are more
open to different ethnicities, we’re more open to different voices
being spoken but I feel like I didn’t realise that East Asian voices
were at the bottom of the pecking order. I was told that I wouldn’t be able
to be in a period drama and the things that we mostly produce in the UK
or the thing we mostly export in the UK is period dramas and the reason they gave
me was because of my ethnicity and that did put me off for
quite a long time. It’s an interesting thing where people
think that it’s a new phenomenon, that people like me could be brand new and it’s
like there’s quite a lot of history there that we just don’t know about.
So, that’s kind of one of my goals, I’m going to be in a period drama.
I might have to write it myself but I’m going to be in a period drama. Talks, meetings, meeting new people, I’m
talking away and they’re looking at me and I think they’re interested in what I’m saying.
Then they ask, “So, where are you from?” And my heart always sinks a little because
I know where this is going and I say, “I’m from Northern Ireland, I’m British.”
Sometimes I make that point and then they’ll say, “OK but where are your parents from?”
and that really annoys me because that shouldn’t matter in the conversation you
and I are having as individuals. It’s something I’ve never seen before in London.
I’ve never seen a full East Asian cast made by a Western studio,
in the cinema. The only other time I’ve ever seen that
kind of thing is if it is a film from Hong Kong like the kind of VHSs that my dad used to
show me or, more lately, Korean films that are coming over because they’re amazing. Before all the fuss about Crazy Rich Asians
I hadn’t really thought about how East Asians and people who look like me are represented
in Western cinema in particular. It’s always been sitcoms, TV shows,
things like Gilmore Girls. You want to get pork buns in the East Village.
That’s what is it, isn’t it? I was actually thinking of further east. Like Queens? Like Singapore. I think it’ll make East Asians in the UK
realise it’s OK to be visible. I think we’ve always had this, “Well we’re
here and we’re not going to make a fuss.” We haven’t been as vocal as say
the black community and I think when Black Panther came out and people
really made a huge fuss about it it definitely made my friends think,
“Well, what about us?” Often when we see East Asians in Hollywood
films it can be a bit of a stereotype. I’ve even been asked to put on an
“East Asian accent” and I’ve asked to specify what kind and they’ve
said it doesn’t matter. These people aren’t just rich OK, they’re crazy rich. Look, there’s new money all over Asia.
We’ve got the Beijing Billionaires, the Taiwan Tycoons but the Young family, they’re old money rich. They had
money when they left China in the 1800s and they went all the way down here.
Not there. Here. Little touches like the aunties selling the tissues
at the hawker centre and little things that no one would ever really notice or care about
but actually means quite a lot to us so that’s really nice. I think the movie makers tried really hard
and did a great job with representing Asian communities all over the world. It was a fun, funny romcom. Like, really Hollywood,
super glamour. It’s all about the earrings. As a third generation Asian I really related to
a lot of the little odd quirks of our culture like the elderly relative coming to read your face and
seeing if your nose and earlobe is particularly “auspicious.” It made a big difference or it will make a big difference
for the future as well just being able to see people playing characters that have complex lives
and an actual storyline and an arc and go through things and they’re not just there to facilitate the story
and then disappear again.

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  1. I like chinese people, but pleeeease dont sign up for the oppression olympics. East asian people are a shining example of how the system isnt racist as they achieve so highly.

  2. Gemma Chan is in Mary Queen of Scots so I'm sure the eurasian girl will get her shot.

    One of my best friends at school was Vietnamese… but that was it! she was literally the only south east asian person I knew and probably the only one at my school. I never met any Chinese, Japanese, Koreans etc growing up and I live in London! So think how bad it is for people who live outside of the big cities?

    Yeah, we go to Chinese restaurants but the people there are immigrants! I never usually meet british born east asians. London is african, carribean & South asian.
    Only recently have I seen an influx of Chinese & Phillipino etc but they are but mostly tourists.

    With tv shows like killing eve and strangers things seem to be getting better on the exposure front.

  3. who cares… everyone knows that their are asian people in the uk, and its normal. don't see why theyre making a big deal out of it

  4. CORRECTION: Crazy Rich Asians isn’t the first Hollywood film to feature a majority Asians – the Joy Luck Club in 1993 also had an all-Asian cast. Crazy Rich Asians is the first Hollywood film with an Asian cast in 25 years.

  5. I know it's annoying bcoz I have been subjected these questions too, but I feel people are usually curious not racist or something. People are weird at this times but most are not racist.

  6. Like Mia, I gave up on being in any film of the Old West because the Chinese at the time were largely railroad workers and were not typically featured a major characters in those films. Fortunately, the Old West is not a major film export from the States. And yes, writing yourself into a feature is an option. I wish Mia all the best of luck in her acting journey!

  7. It's in the Chinese culture to not complain and keep quiet. The British Chinese haven't done anything significant enough to attract attention, besides from acing exams and building Chinese restaurants there isn't much more that comes to mind, and there quickly getting overrided by the rich Chinese from China who are starting to create new business in the UK as opposed to just canton restaurans

  8. Now people understand why there is a Chinatown in most Western countries. We Chinese at least feel much like home away from home. If they were making fun of me…I would make fun of them like….."Me no speak English….F…U.."

  9. I'm asian muslim and I live in Denmark. For me personally , It doesn't really bother me when people asking me where I came from. Actually It's quite good for me I think . Because I can explain myself as representative of my community which they usually only heard on media. Now they can get to know me personally and knowing that maybe I am not that kind of person that media portraying me.

  10. Chinese in Latin America assimilate and amalgamate much quicker than Chinese in Anglo sphere nations. A pure unmixed 3rd generation would be an oddity in Latin America but apparently not so in England and America. Host society racism is a big factor how groups are able to assimilate or not

  11. CRA is not an all “east asian” cast.

    I am really quite reluctant to believe this “east asians” are at the bottom of the pecking order/are oppressed bit… east asians are racist with other asians too especially with SE Asians… so… if you really want to fight for Asian representation, then fight for all Asians like others do, not just a specific region of Asia— Not just EAST Asia. Their statements just says so much about them and proves this point.

  12. My experience every day:

    "Where are you from?"
    -"From Germany"
    "No i mean where were you born?"
    -"oh my bad. in southern Germany"
    "No i mean where are your parents from?"
    -"Oh my bad. From Vietnam"

  13. At least you (BBC) got the British East Asian part right. I hate it when British South Asians refer to themselves as British Asians like they’re the only ones that exist in the UK. The UK has a diverse ethnicity. South Asians should realize that they’re not the only Asians in the UK.

  14. What is the point of this?! I live in London and I'm aware of all the different types of people we have in this country including East Asians.

  15. Crazy Rich Asians still casts a half white lead actor, why????? Full Asian person can also be good looking. Another point: why does this video only talks about East Asian and relating it back to Crazy Rich Asians, which was shot in Spore so SE Asia, not East yes

  16. I am also Asian but I don’t care when people ask me where I am from. I understand that not everyone is like me tho. But don’t I get it, they are just trying to get to know you and you being Asian is a part of you. I also ask other people where they are from it doesn’t matter if they are black or white.

  17. In the last two hundred centuries, only the landless poor Chinese from South China who migrated to SEA, Asia Pacific and the States. The recent rich are the mainland Chinese.

  18. About FUCKING time too!!!!!! Massive props to you brave Mia, sharing those same scars as you and Emma I know full well being born in London about this, luckily unlike some I know you didn't lose your mind let alone take your life…There's been a shift (never thought I'd witness it) and with Brexit round the corner expect more 🙂 Last few months we had Skyscraper, Meg, Searching, Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor not to mention Killing Eve and Strangers on terrestrial TV at 9pm, all featuring non kung fu east Asians!!! Loving it. I'll be looking out for you on the bigger screen one day Mia, you've forged a stronger spirit with the energy your past has created. Mmmm let me check todays London Metro, oh todays feature is on Katie Leung, yep roll on the shift 😉

  19. Mixed white and asian babies are just british people. they don't follow asian culture, they don't speak their asian language, there's nothing exotic about them

  20. Umm…Say a German national moves to Japan and somehow gets citizenship, which does happen, it wouldn't be out of place if a Japanese person ask, 'but where are your parents from', or what is your ethnicity, after the ethnically German person says they're Japanese. Why would that be a weird thing? So an East Asian person living in a predominantly white European community shouldn't be too offended if someone ask the same, unless they blatantly say you're somehow a lesser being for looking different.

  21. East Asian British people only exist in restaurants and universities, once they leave those areas they fade away and become myths

  22. people are ignorant- get over it. if they ask if u eat dog just say u dont, or u do.
    if they ask where r u from, just answer where ur roots are from. ffs its not illegal to ask!!
    stop being so petty.
    im white non english and based on my accent they also ask me where im from- i just answer, and move on.

    yes, make a yellow panther movie, set in a period era!! maybe it will make u feel good about urselves.

  23. If you don’t look like the native population of the country you live in, then people are bound to ask you where your originally from. It’s not offensive you snowflakes

  24. I relate to Mia so much it hurts. For the people wondering what’s the fuss of asking where you’re from, it’s because when I got asked when I was little my ethnicity became a point of bullying and isolation. So that’s why I’m guarded when I get asked bc people will either say reaaaally offensive things or hit me. Being brought up in both Thailand and England, I get that twice all over. 2 questions, 2 punches.

  25. I didn't knew there were people who got offended when I say Half asian and half *from another ethnicity*, English is not my native language but I always thought using the word 'half' was to identify which part of Asia that individual came from or their parents came from.

  26. in every country other than the UK, asian means east asian. In the uk, in means south asian. Its like Burma Myanmar all over, so out with the times

  27. Unfortunately I think we hugely overestimate the place that massively commercial enterprises like Hollywood have in our lives. As an Afro-Caribbean I am frustrated hearing people talk about Black Panther as a project that was significant in some meaningful way to people of African descent when in reality even a cursory attempt at critical thinking would reveal this to be untrue. Simply having a majority of black people in front and behind the camera on this one film does not qualify it as being representative of the black experience. In fact Black Panther is the complete opposite; it is one of the most ethnically offensive films made in recent years. There are many intelligent black people in that industry who know this but can't talk about it openly because so many black people's careers have come to depend on Black Panther. I won't attempt a critical analysis of BP here because there is too much to talk about. Black Panther was much more commercially significant than it was ethnically.

  28. There will be more Asians eventually but it has to be based on merit not race. This is how we have always operated. Please remember your Asian values and don't start whining about everything. It will take time but it will be worth it.

  29. Don't be stupid.. The born in "where ever" Chinese Overseas are just Chinese. Don't even think that just because u are born in the west that makes you just "Irish or English". Don't even feel bad about that. U ain't white. And u never will be.

  30. Its simple. U can be born in the west, speak like a white person and be as white washed as much as u want and even live your entire life in the west. But you never ever be white or fit in main stream society.

    Flip side of that token. If you move back to Asia. Live there are for a few years and get acquainted again with your roots and culture. You then become just Chinese or Asian. And no one will be stereotyping you.

  31. its a fact that east asians in UK population has been rapidly growing because of mostly chinese coming to uni. Its a education assumption to assume an east asian wasn't raised in Britain its not an intentional attack on your identity.

  32. People are naturally curious to ask where you or your parents are from if you are Asian. People will be equally annoyed if you tried to hide the information.

  33. As a BBC, people are more fascinated about our backgrounds, but that doesn’t entitle them to ask stupid questions, if they do, I will give them a stupid answer and deflect their stupidity back to them. It’s fun…

  34. I have people shouted at me to go back to China all the time when I lived in York, UK. When I told them that I need to have visa to go to China because I am from Taiwan. They are all puzzled….

  35. I don't know why but in our school children had a song in front of asians. It went like

    Chinese Japanese dirty knees wash your face in lemon squeeze

    The point is you pull your eyes up at the Chinese part and pull your eyes down at the Japanese part

  36. exactly hahaha…;crazy rich asians should be changed to just CRAZY RICH EAST ASIANS… coz really, its just to celebrate china and being chinese…it doesnt really represent the whole asia but just china

  37. Asian Americans do well in the US – best educated ethnic group, highest paid ethnic group (even more than White men), least crime, least segregated. Most Asians I know are making $200k+, grew up in the burbs, have a nice apartment, family etc. Probably the LEAST oppressed race including White people.

  38. I can't wait to tell everyone I'm 35% English, 55% Irish and 10% German, because apparently you have to specify every fucking bit of ancestry you have.

  39. I’m also Asian. I’m sorry but what’s the big deal if people ask me where I am from, my ethnicity, etc ?
    Unless they’re trying to provoke me then both my actions and answers wouldn’t be irrefutable. Just saying

  40. I am just grateful that us East Asians generally don't have any major negative stereotypes in British society. So I shall let people off when they ask me which oriental country I am from. ?

  41. The hafu girl doesn't even look Asian at all. If she just curls her hair she won't look it at all would look white. Also Asians need to stop getting mad at being asked where they are from.if you are a visible minority IT MAKES SENSE WHY ONE WOULD BE CURIOUS. If you are a tall blonde swede in Phillipines even if you were born and bred there your obviously not Filipino. So I don't get all these visible minority people getting mad at this q

  42. It doesn’t really bother me too much when people ask where I’m from. It’s the comments they make afterwards that irk me. They start to suddenly make their own opinions on how I should live my life, what I should look and act like. Can’t I just be me?

  43. As a Brit abroad, I always wondered why East Asians are not so represented in the media, tv etc. I personally love the cultures of the East and was always attracted to being friends with those of Asian heritage, simply because they are more often than not (stereotypes sometimes do exist!) lovely people who are now it’s been mentioned, never in a period drama! Well that needs to change doesn’t it? I have to admit I never noticed this and it surprises me! 2019 and they still didn’t make a period drama based on the history of Asia?! I would also say that for beauty ideals, Asians are on top for me! It also makes me sad to think that so many british people whatever background, have such a worms eye view of the world…. really interesting documentary from the BBC. Good to finally see some culture back on screen. However please don’t minimise or exaggerate topics. We need truth in these programmes in order to facilitate changes in mentality.

  44. I've recently discovered the fantastic content from BBC stories about East Asians. Keep up the good work! So relatable.

  45. there is a china town in asian countries outside china where there are chinese. and many of them treat chinese or other asians not of their ethnicity/ nationality worse than how western countries treat chinese and still see chinese descend people as foreign despite chinese people living there for hundreds of years. western countries are actually the most tolerant to and give non western people equal and even more rights (affirmative action) than non- western countries do to their minorities.

  46. East Asians haven’t been represented in the UK media enough or at all. You can hardly see any East Asian characters on TV. Hopefully that can be changed some day. (I’m not british tho)

  47. Northern irish ain't british.
    That's why the UK stands for The United kingdom of great Britain AND northern Ireland.

  48. Why would a western film company make films about east Asia?
    Take a leaf from south Asia and Indians bollywood. Make your own studio and stories.
    You don't want westerners making asian movies because they will make it into a stereotype.

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