Alison Brie regrets taking her role in Bojack Horseman. Diane Nguyen has come up a lot in the past week as many different actors have been reflecting about playing characters that weren’t their race. Bojack’s place in this debate has been a constant in the conversation about white actors portraying characters who don’t match their experience. Things have only gotten louder this week as Family Guy, The Simpsons, Central Park, and Big Mouth have all had people step down from roles with similar problems. For Brie, it’s been a time to reflect and talk about it with honesty.
“In hindsight, I wish that I didn’t voice the character of Diane Nguyen. I now understand that people of color, should always voice people of color,” Brie typed. “We missed a great opportunity to represent the Vietnamese-American community accurately and respectfully, and for that I am truly sorry. I applaud all those who stepped away from their voiceover roles in recent days. I have learned a lot from them.
The show’s creator posted a long thread on Twitter about the decision to cast Brie as Diane. Raphael Bob-Waksberg had the time to show fans what the thought process was.
Bob-Waksberg begins, “This is something I am happy to talk about! I can tense up when asked about my mistakes (because I'm worried I'll say the wrong thing) but it's good for me to reflect on them and I hope others seeing me do so will help them not make the same mistakes!”
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“In the first few seasons of BoJack, I was asked about the casting of Diane a few times on twitter and reddit but I evaded the question, mostly because my own understanding of the issue was evolving (it still is!) and I didn't want to give a defensive or half-thought-out answer,” he continued. “I thought when I was ready I'd write something - like a blog post or twitter thread - explaining why I had cast a white actress to voice an Asian character and why it was okay, but the more I thought about it (and listened to other people) the more I felt like it WASN'T okay.”
“Even in the small ways we wrote to Diane's experience as a woman of color, or more specifically an Asian woman, we rarely got specific enough to think about what it meant to be SPECIFICALLY VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN and that was a huge (racist!) error on my part.”
The creator continued, “The intention behind the character is I wanted to write AWAY from stereotypes and create an Asian American character who wasn't defined solely by her race. But I went too far in the other direction. We are all defined SOMEWHAT by our race! Of course we are! It is part of us!”
“We should have hired a Vietnamese writer, and a Vietnamese actress to play Diane - or if not that, changed the character to match who we did hire,” Waksberg concluded.
What do you think of the decision? Let us know in the comments!
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