Osric Chau might not have been “Kevin” from Supernatural for very long, but he became a fan favorite in those few episodes. His fan following continues to grow, as Chau makes the rounds at conventions, interacts with fans online, and takes part in popular shows like The 100.
Chau’s YouTube channel is the place most of us go when we aren’t able to attend conventions but want to hear from him about his trips, or what he’s been thinking about lately. Last week, he put up a video called “I Am Proud To Be Unique” which detailed his experiences working as an actor of color.
It’s a hard truth to hear. Chau’s story explores the difficulties of finding parts that aren’t stereotypes, of having to move across the globe to get work (he went to China because his parents are from Hong Kong and Malaysia), and then working through feeling like he couldn’t do what he loved because of his skin tone and features.
This highlights the issue of diversity that has continued to be a problem in Hollywood and in the film and television industries of North America in general. It’s a complicated puzzle, and there are many moving parts. Who is to blame? How can we be more inclusive? What needs to change?
While I do see that there are concerned people willing to tell stories that are more diverse, there’s not a lot of public pressure to see stories reflect our reality. The industry has become a sort of club that elevates a limited few, most of whom are white males. People have begun to turn to other outlets, such as theater, podcasts, and the web series format to ensure that everyone is represented. Think about what stories have impacted your life. What if they had no one with whom you could identify?
Chau’s honest, emotional talk makes this issue very real. Diversity isn’t some political talking point. It isn’t a box to be checked off when marketing a new show. Diversity is about showing people themselves on screen, holding up a mirror to society in order to reflect on what matters. We all matter. We all deserve our stories to be told. We all deserve to see ourselves onscreen.
Finding our own identities is a lifelong process, a journey through relationships, culture, stories, and experience. We are the stories we tell ourselves. And without stories that include us, we don’t have stories to tell ourselves. With no voice, we become silent, unable to share our lives with others. We cannot learn if we can’t see each other.
I am hopeful that Chau’s video will raise questions from his audience about what can be done to solve the issue of diversity on screen as well as off. Diversity is a beautiful thing, one that is needed if we are to survive. Without the diversity of humanity, our world would be a very dull, uninspiring, and stagnant place.
Here’s hoping that soon Osric Chau will get a fantastic opportunity to act for screen again, in a role worthy of his extraordinary talent. We need to see more kind, inspiring people like him in the industry, and in our stories.
Osric Chau’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBaV5yd0Iu8