Avatar: The Last Airbender is an American children’s cartoon.
In 2010, Paramount will release a live-action adaptation.
The cartoon stars
Asian heroes in
an Asian world.
…but Paramount decided
Asians aren’t good enough.
Fire Nation Terrorists
A show lik H
h like Heroes l k for th b t
looks f the best
actors for the role.
[ AGENT 1 & 2 ]
28 – 45. PLEASE SUBMIT MEN AND WOMEN OF
ALL ETHNICITIES. MUST BE IN GREAT PHYSICAL SHAPE.
EXPERIENCE HANDLING WEAPONS A PLUS. These men/women are FBI agents
taking part in a top-secret military operation…
What did Paramount look for with The
[ AANG ]
12-15 years-old, Male, Caucasian or any
other ethnicity. We are looking for a young man to play the lead role in
a motion picture franchise. He must be athletic and graceful with an ability in Martial
You get what you ask for.
• Pointing to his “eyes” ignores context.
– His eyes are part of the Art Style.
– His eyes match the Mythology.
• His food dress culture tribe elders and
food, dress, culture, elders,
language point to his Asian Heritage.
People think Aang is white because of the
ANIME ART STYLE.
His eyes aren’t “chink” enough.
So let’s look at his eyes.
Aang’s eye shape varies with emotion.
Color is linked to the show’s different nations:
Air is GRAY
Fire is GOLD
Water is BLUE
Earth is GREEN
Caucasians do not have a monopoly on
blue green and round eyes
"I think it's one of those things where I
pull my hair up, shave th sides,
h the id
and I definitely need a tan. It's one
of those things where, hopefully, the
audience will suspend disbelief a
Jackson Rathbone, “Sokka”
Deedee Ricketts, Casting Director
“It doesn't mean you're at a
disadvantage if you didn't come in a To extras:
big African thing. But guys, "We want you to dress in
even if you came with a scarf today
today, traditional cultural ethnic
put it over your head so you'll look attire. If you're Korean,
like a Ukrainian villager or wear a kimono."
• Asian Americans are underrepresented in
Hollywood by 40% (Screen Actors Guild, 2005)
Most roles are supporting and 2/3 of the roles go to women
Asian Americans are >8% of the population of
California, Texas, New York, Florida
(the 4 most populous states)
African Americans are 10 9% of the same four states
And for children, such as the actors who star in Avatar:
• 40% of American children are ethnic minorities.
• In 10 years, that number will be 50%.
Still think Asian Americans are fairly
Would Caucasians really be “robbed”
“Bl k are t treated th same
t d the
as whites in my community.”
How many Caucasians agreed with that statement?
Almost 2 out of 3.
That was the fraction in 1963 and that number is virtually
h dt d statistics via Tim Wise
1969: (one year after MLK Jr.’s assassination)
44% of whites think blacks have the advantage applying for jobs.
42% think blacks receive better education opportunities than whites.
67% think discrimination has nothing to do with high black
This is the difference between people who
understand racism exists and
people who have the privilege to
Children See Race
1940: Kenneth and Mamie Clark show
that black children prefer, by a
margin of 2 to 1, white dolls over
White dolls are “nice” and “good.”
Black dolls are “bad.”
2006: Kiri Davis repeats these experiments. With identical results.
“Can you show me the doll that looks bad?”
The child, a preschool-aged Black girl, quickly picks up and shows the Black
doll over a Whit one thatt is id ti l iin every respectt exceptt complexion.
White th i identical l i
“And why does that look bad?”
“Because she’s Black,” the little girl answers emphatically.
“And why is this the nice doll?” the voice continues.
“Because she’s White.”
“And can you give me the doll that looks like you?”
The little girl hesitates for a split second before handing over the Black doll that she has
just designated as the uglier one.
Intention of the Crew
Unfortunately the creators and much of the original series crew have
been forced to sign NDAs.
But some things get through anyway.
"I have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CASTING
WHATSOEVER for the feature film.“
-Brian Konietzko, co-creator
“We wanted to base it in Asian rather than European
background, and use the elements; to use martial arts as
kind of the basis for the … supernatural element of the show.”
-Mike DiMartino, co-creator
“Kinda like the Kung Fu TV Series when David Carradine
beat out Bruce Lee for the lead. I mean goodness
we all know David Carradine was by far superior in the martial
arts compared to Bruce Lee.”
Sif Kisu, M ti l A t C di t /C
Martial Arts Coordinator/Consultant
“The show was heavily influenced by Asian culture, some of the characters were even
modeled after Asian members of the crew. But now, with the pre-dominantly
white cast, it feels like all the Asian/Eastern influences, origins, what have you, were just a
, , g , y , j
backdrop for these characters. But I always believed they were Asian, or even
mixed Asian. And that belief added a little extra pride in working on such a great show.
The appreciation Mike and Bryan had for Asian culture, the interest it
generated in the fans, gave ME greater appreciation for my own culture.
So it's just hard to believe they couldn't find one Asian actor to hold any of
the lead parts. Not one? This film is going to feel like some other Avatar story.”
-Dao Le, Animatics Editor
We believe loving a show is about
more than blind faith in its perfection.
Just because we love a series does not
mean it can do no wrong.
Bryan and Mike willingly paid
homage (their own words) to
g ( )
Asian culture and philosophy.
They’re amazing creators and
we will always love their series.
Bryan and Mike
earned our loyalty.
Paramount and M. Night Shyamalan have not.
They believe PREJUDICE means PROFIT.
Prove them wrong.
Want to Act
For every five-second walk-on Asian role
you see on television, there are scores of
actors who vied for the part. The media
underrepresents Asians by 40%.
For each of the three heroic lead roles the
film will have dozens of Asian American
and minority actors as extras.
All but one of the stunt doubles for the
main cast are Asian or Asian American.
Asian American performers are here.
You see them everywhere.
You just don’t hear them.