Growing up, my favorite Disney princess was always Jasmine from Aladdin. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the reason why I loved her and the movie so much was because of how much I could relate to the story.
Although the characters in Aladdin are not from the exact same culture as me, they were similar enough that I could feel somewhat represented. Even to this day, they are still the closest Disney characters to my culture.
Lilly Singh (aka Superwoman), a South Asian-Canadian with immigrant parents, was the first YouTuber I really got into. I felt I could relate to her in ways I couldn’t with other video creators on the platform. I still get excited every time I hear that a South Asian woman is being cast in a movie or TV show because it is so rare in western media.
As a child, I never saw main characters or dolls that looked like me. Even the artists of color I knew of that were rightfully dominating the industry were pushed to the side in favor of their white counterparts.
There is no reason to not encourage diversity in our media. Our world is naturally diverse and there are so many talented minority actors and singers who deserve the spotlight.
Time and time again, it is proven that movies with more diversity do better than movies with all white casts. Get Out was the most profitable movie in 2017 when it was released. Lion, starring Indian actors Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar is one of Australia’s highest grossing films. The movie Hidden Figures, which told the forgotten stories of three black women who helped NASA go to space in 1962, had a total worldwide gross of over $234 million.
Hollywood has had the idea that only white actors sell for the longest time. This idea isn’t true, and hasn’t been for a while. We want to feel represented.
For so long, people of color were taught that they were somehow inferior because of their culture or ethnic features. Seeing people on our screens that look like us can teach us that our features and cultures are beautiful: something that so many non-white, non-straight kids need. But, it goes further than that as well.
The stories of people of color have been ignored for years and years. Many of our people have powerful stories that deserve to be told. Seeing our stories come to life can be inspiring to watch both for us and for the general public.