Our friend Randall Park returns tonight for the season four premiere of ABC’s FRESH OFF THE BOAT. The Huffington Post’s Kimberly Yam spoke to Randall about the show’s return and other issues ranging from Asian American representation to DACA. Here are some excerpts:
Let’s dive right in ― the Season 4 premiere is upon us. Asian-Americans are anxiously awaiting it. How are you feeling about it?
At this point, we’re in our fourth season, and it just feels like ― as far as the cast and the crew ― we’re a family. The pressure isn’t there as much as it [was] in the previous seasons. We have a really strong and passionate fanbase in the community and outside of the community, and it’s just a real positive time. I can’t wait for people to see this season, because it’s just so good.
Something that resonates with me and so many Asian-Americans are the insider references we see on the show. You guys have addressed how we just don’t use the dishwashers and Asian glow. Seriously, how much Pepcid have we all taken? Is it easier for you to act in these scenes because it’s something that’s familiar? Or is it difficult because these cultural markers haven’t necessarily been written before in Hollywood?
I wouldn’t say it’s easy or hard, but it’s definitely more fulfilling for me to explore those topics. It’s mind-blowing that you get to show these experiences that I’ve known for so long and have been a part of my life for so long but haven’t been shown on TV before. Whenever we do these really Asian scenes or topics, I feel like we’re doing something a little historic. It’s really added to the joy of being on this show…
We’re seeing a lot of audiences respond to diverse programs, and there was even a study that mentioned how diverse casts are very profitable. But Hollywood isn’t necessarily delivering ― they’ve made mistakes in recent years including a few instances of whitewashing. One of your show’s executive producers, Melvin Mar, mentioned in a previous interview that he believes Hollywood is racist. Would you agree?
For sure. In my experience, meeting with executives and working with casts and crews, I’ve rarely met anyone who’s an overt racist. They’re a lot of people trying to do their jobs with good intentions, but I do feel the institution is deeply racist. When people blindly do their jobs without taking a moment to think about the way they’re doing it and the traditions behind what they’re doing, they carry out these things that perpetuate racism, ultimately.
A lot of these producers who end up whitewashing these roles ― I don’t think a lot of them are these evil villains, knowing what they’re doing when they’re doing it. I think they’re trying to cast a movie the best way they think possible, but the best way to them is often to hire the white actor, and they don’t realize [the issue] until its called out to them. The good news is, we’re calling it out more and more and they’re listening more and more…
In the current political climate, there are a lot of events that affect Asian-Americans. Trump rescinding DACA is just one of many. The show has touched on the topic of immigration in the past with Jessica and her citizenship. Has tackling these subjects been difficult to do on a family program? Can we expect more of these addressed in the future?
The night we shot [Jessica’s] swearing-in scene, the emotional climax of the episode, was the night of the election. The entire family was there, Jessica was being sworn in and we were so emotional and proud and happy. And in between shots, we were watching this election unfold and it was the most surreal experience to realize that Trump was winning and to go back and shoot the scene. I think our show will continue to tackle those subjects. I wouldn’t say we’re speaking directly to the administration, but, in our ABC family sitcom way, we are going to be exploring topics that, in my opinion, are definitely progressive and counter a lot of the things the administration is doing.
To read the full interview, go to HuffPost: ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ Star Randall Park Expected More Lead Roles For Asian-Americans By Now