Asian Americans

Lucy Liu Reflects on How Her ‘Charlie's Angels' Role ‘Normalized Asian Identity' for Fans

Lucy Liu reflects on her "iconic" role as Alex Munday in "Charlie's Angels" in an op-ed about the importance of having the AAPI community reflected in TV and movies

Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Lucy Liu's role as Alex Munday in "Charlie's Angels" is legendary for more reasons than one.

Firstly, the "Charlie's Angels" franchise put women like Liu in positions of power, while also acknowledging the strength in femininity. And secondly, as Liu writes in an op-ed column for The Washington Post, her "success" in the role "helped move the needle" for the Asian community.

"Hollywood frequently imagines a more progressive world than our reality; it's one of the reasons Charlie's Angels was so important to me," the 52-year-old actress writes. "As part of something so iconic, my character Alex Munday normalized Asian identity for a mainstream audience and made a piece of Americana a little more inclusive.

"Asians in America have made incredible contributions, yet we're still thought of as Other. We are still categorized and viewed as dragon ladies or new iterations of delicate, domestic geishas-modern toile. These stereotypes can be not only constricting but also deadly."

Lucy Liu's Best Looks

She adds that after being cast in "Kill Bill" as O-Ren Ishii, she was referred to by the media as a "dragon lady," but ponders why her other co-stars weren't given the same descriptor.

"Why not call Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox or Daryl Hannah a dragon lady?" she wrote. "I can only conclude that it's because they are not Asian. I could have been wearing a tuxedo and a blond wig, but I still would have been labeled a dragon lady because of my ethnicity."

The actress notes that this harmful description has prevented her from taking certain roles because she doesn't want to "reinforce stereotypes" of the AAPI community.

It's for this reason that she has particular pride in "Charlie's Angels," explaining that while she didn't see many Asian actors on TV throughout her childhood, AAPI women and men are seeing themselves represented in mainstream media at a higher rate.

"I feel fortunate to have 'moved the needle' a little with some mainstream success, but it is circumscribed, and there is still much further to go," she said.

Copyright E! Online
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