After the Communist Party allowed more foreign films in China, Hollywood started hiring more light-skinned actors for lead movie roles to appeal to the Chinese audience.
Have the Chinese Had a Racist Effect on Hollywood Casting?
Axios reported that filmmakers in the US have been aware of the light skin preferences of Chinese movie-goers since 2012. According to a study from 2017, apart from the Chinese censors, Hollywood is now influenced by cultural preferences as well.
“Impacts of Chinese Colorism on Hollywood Castings” is a study published by Johns Hopkins University. Based on 3,000 films watched between 2009 and 2015, the researchers found that after 2012, the number of light-skinned actors in starring roles increased by 8%.
In other words, “for 1 of every 3 films in this category, the film went from having 2 out of 3 as very light-skinned actors to having 3 out of 3 very light-skinned actors,” which was called a “light-skin shift” by the study authors.
The change involved summer blockbusters and action movies created in Hollywood with the Chinese market’s preferences. Horror and comedy movies that aren’t produced according to these preferences in mind, didn’t show that change.
The author of the study said that it was prompted by a promotional poster for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, which minimized a black actor in the lead role and lead to racism allegations.