Sections Development

Improving API Representation in Development

In Summer 2021, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in partnership with CAPE and Gold House, released the report: I Am Not a Fetish or Model Minority: Redefining What it Means to Be API in the Entertainment Industry.

This comprehensive report examined the portrayal of Asian people and Pacific Islanders within the film industry – both on screen and behind the scenes.

Graphic titled 'I Am Not a Fetish or Model Minority' also noted 'Redefining what is means to be API in the entertainment industry'
"This study is unique because it combines content analysis of on-screen representation of API characters in film and a survey of members of API communities in the entertainment industry about representation. "
McTaggart, Ninochka, Michele Meyer, Meredith Conroy, Romeo Perez, Cameron Espinoza, Sarah Trinh, Pamela Campos, Emma Burrows, Jenna Virgo, Camryn Brennan, Isabel Dolan, Cris Ackel, and Sofie Christensen. 2021. “I Am Not a Fetish or Model Minority: Redefining What it Means to Be API in the Entertainment Industry.” Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Still from "Everything Everywhere All at Once"

In addition to informative insights on representation and casting, the Geena Davis Institute partnered with CAPE and Gold House to design a series of interventions. We encourage visitors to the ReSource to read the full study, and have highlighted the interventions related to the Development process below.

Read the Report

Recommended Interventions

  • Recognize the difference between representation and tokenization. One respondent highlighted that, “there is a fine line between tokenization and representation.”
  • When telling API stories, show the good and the bad. Let API characters be dynamic, funny, flawed, and messy, and avoid reinforcing common tropes or stereotypes. Humanizing API characters begins with multidimensional portrayals.
  • Recognize that racism is unfortunately real and that pretending it does not exist contributes to the problem. The cultural assumption that Asians don’t face racism in this country because they are stereotyped as being “successful” is harmful and contributes to violence against Asian people.
  • Center API characters and experiences. Move APIs to the center of the frame rather than keeping them on the margins as a sidekick or un/underdeveloped character supporting a white protagonist.
  • Tell more varied stories and be mindful of overrepresented stories. There is a danger in the single story.

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