The MANAA Video Guide features works from Western countries with prominent Asian characters, often played by Asian American actors (both U.S.-born and immigrant). But we particularly want to emphasize those Asian characters who challenge stereotypes. This means different things for different eras.
For example, the character played by Sessue Hayakawa in “The Cheat” (1915) would certainly strike us today as a stereotype. But having an Asian actor play such a major Asian role in a Hollywood movie was unusual for the time, and Hayakawa’s part in that film enabled his subsequent Hollywood stardom. The same can be said for Anna May Wong’s early roles. What’s more, some South Asian viewers have problems with the character of Mowgli, played by Sabu and Jason Scott Lee in their respective versions of “The Jungle Book” (1942, 1994). But in order to acknowledge the pioneering efforts of Asian American actors, even some of their more problematic portrayals are listed in the guide.
Each year, MANAA presents its Media Achievement Awards to recognize those who have helped to advance the Asian image in the mainstream U.S. media: film, theatre, broadcast, print, etc. Past awards have recognized such films as “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “Picture Bride,” “Rumble in the Bronx,” and others. The guide mentions those works that have received Media Achievement Awards in the entry for each title.