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#StarringJohnCho challenges whitewashing in Hollywood movies

Mock-up movie posters as part of the #StarringJohnCho campaign. Source:

A social media hashtag is tackling Hollywood whitewashing head-on and showing that Asian actors can take leading roles.

South Korean-born American actor John Cho has unwittingly become the face of a new new movement to tackle the whitewashing of Hollywood movies.

A website, Twitter account and social media tag #StarringJohnCho has placed him in the starring role of popular movies to prove Asian actors were leading role material.

The brain child of William Yu, a 25-year-old digital strategist, the campaign arose out of recent movies that saw white actors, including Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone and Jim Stugress, cast in roles that were supposed to be Asian.

"#StarringJohnCho is a social movement that show you what it would look like if today's Hollywood blockbusters case an Asian-American actor as their leading man," the website says.

"If studies show that films with diverse casts result in higher box office numbers and returns on investments, why doesn't Hollywood cast lead actors to reflect this fact?"

The site also quotes a leaked email from director Aaron Sorkin saying it was difficult to cast Asian actors because "there aren't any Asian movie stars".

Mr Yu, who told the BBC Cho was not involved in the campaign, used Photoshop to place the actor's face in movie posters to show what the movies would look like with an Asian-American leading man.

"I'm tired of hearing from people that they can't 'see' an Asian American actor playing the romantic lead or the hero, so I created #StarringJohnCho to literally show you," he told the BBC.

"As much as the campaign is about John Cho, #StarringJohnCho is also about the greater conversation of how Asian Americans are represented in film.

"But I would love to hear from him!"

The campaign has been well received on social media.

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