‘Agents of SHIELD’ Star Says She Changed Her Last Name Because ‘Hollywood Is Racist’

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Courtesy of ABC

“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” star Chloe Bennet defended her last name change after a fan questioned her about it on social media this week, saying that the cause was Hollywood racism.


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“Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Mandarin or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese,” she wrote. “It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable.”

Bennet, whose birth name is Chloe Wang, posted a statement to her Instagram account in support of Ed Skrein’s recent stepping down from his “Hellboy” role after being hit with accusations of whitewashing, as the original character he was set to play was of mixed Asian heritage.

The actress has spoken out about her name change before.

“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” Bennet told the Daily Beast last year. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”

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  1. Bodie says:

    Why isn’t it important to be “culturally accurate” in casting an African-American actor to portray a Caucasian character such as Nick Fury? Seems like another Hollywood double-standard.

  2. Alex says:

    For there to be diversity in Hollywood, a LOT of Jews would need to lose their jobs.

  3. redpoll says:

    Chloe, Chloe… you’re in an industry where people lie about how who they are for a living, speaking lines written by other people, and have their charade shown to others for entertainment. You changed your name in an industry where it’s a common practice. If you want to claim “racism” for that, you might be right, but you’re not one of the Scottsboro boys, either. It’s pretty thin gruel. And, frankly, it’s a “clear little snippet” about the way an accusation of racism has been reduced from identifying a real social problem to a whining complaint. Good for you that you have ancestors around the world. A lot of us are born that way. The most important concern I see for you is how you can move a mountain in one season of the program, but don’t have the strength to keep an I-beam from crushing Jeffery Mace in the virtual universe. In any case… be thankful you have a job in your industry instead of spitting on those who will hire you.

  4. Dreaded Parakeet says:

    Yes we know. It is racist, homophobic, misogynist, all the things they accused others of being. It’s called projection. They cast blondes like Johansson and red headed Emma Stone to play asian characters. We feel ya. Maybe when China finishes buying up all of Hollywood actresses like yourself will have a better shot at things.

  5. WineDine69 says:

    Hey Chloe! Having your name changed is pretty messed up, but unfortunately the Chinese govt and their puppet N. Korea aren’t exactly on the best terms with your viewership right now. Thanks to our Constitution, feel free to bite the hand that feeds; knowing your spineless “fans” won’t give you the back of it. I’m sure Hollywood pays better than China, and everyone knows how racist Hong Kong cinema can be, especially if you’re black. Go ahead and whine, then take the f**kin’ money and do as you’re told, like EVERYBODY ELSE.

  6. bob oratip says:

    Bravery is NOT changing your name. The word bravery is often confused with stupidity.

  7. greatful says:

    Thanks Chloe and Ed for standing up to racism.

    And for all those who disagree and believe that these are just privileged people crying wolf here is my 2 senses, take it or leave it:

    Yes, there have been successful actor of minority decent, but they are few and far between. For the most part they’re usually cast because the role calls for a specific ethnicity to be played and to fill a particular stereo type. For example cast an African American to play a gang banger, or a Hispanic to play a cartel member, or a Chinese to perform some kick as kung fu. But when a role that can be ethically ambiguous comes along Hollywood usually, not always, but usually leans toward a Caucasian male or female (if the role demands for a female). And unless you walk a mile in these actors shoe’s you cannot say with 100% certainty that there is no racism, sexism etc. in Hollywood. We, as audiences, only see the final polished product and not the hundreds of possible actors that auditioned. Maybe there was an actor that was just as competent except he/she was asian and therefore was not cast. We don’t know what happens behind the scenes and the reasoning to chose 1 actor over another, we just trust that they are bias free. Which in reality may not always holed true.

    • Metaphone says:

      Hollywood is incredibly left-leaning, with over 90% voting democrat, so this would reflects badly on the left, if true. Well, according to Morgan Freeman it isn’t.

      • moldyremains says:

        I would say the talent is left leaning, But those that control who gets paid are probably less so, as they have to pander to an audience in a racist country.

      • James says:

        Left, right, up and down. Down the corner and all around the roundabout.

  8. Your little factoi is something I am well aware of and has no relevance to my comment. I guess it was just something you needed to say despite the fact it in no way addresses my comment. My comment addressed the fact that the Asian actors given as examples that her claims are bogus did not achieve anywhere near as successful as that of their Caucasian counterparts so yes her concern was legitimate. Maybe you’re the one who needs to do more thorough research. And work on your comprehension skills while you’re at it.

    • Metaphone says:

      Asian Americans are more successful on average than whites. Do you think we should do something against that? Jews are also vastly more successful than whites according to studies, especially in Hollywood. If the presumed decrepency here bothers you, these decrepencies should bother you as well. I’m kind of under the impression they don’t, though.

  9. Ron says:

    First World problems.

  10. From personal experience as an engineer, you must have a last name associated with engineering superiority to be considered for engineering jobs in the fortune 500. Most engineering firms, you can go thru and find no last names middle east.

  11. Chris says:

    Oh yeah and I kept my original Chinese/Taiwanese first name on my resume cuz the tech industry is racist (actually, reverse racism as they would prefer to initiate phone interviews to those with native Asian names).

    • Metaphone says:

      “Reverse racism” is a flawed term because it makes it seem like racism only happens one way on average, which isn’t true by any measurement.

  12. Dan H. says:

    I wonder if she posted anything on the roles that were written in comics that were white and now have been changed to another ethnicity in movies or TV for the political correctness of Hollywood. Somehow I doubt that she did.

  13. Kip Russell says:

    Chloe Bennet is a rather privileged little rich girl from a wealthy family. Her father is Chinese, an investment banker, her mother a doctor (internist). She grew up in mighty high-falutin private school environs, then dropped out to become a pop star in Japan with her real last name — Wang. No mention of how that little expedition got funded, huh, Chloe? What will you do when you want a movie gig in Israel? Use your mother’s last name?

    • Doesn’t change the facts of this particular issue. You seem to have a personal grievance concerning this actress which shows a distinct prejudice against someone with established financial security. That’s kinda immature. Her issue is valid whether she comes from wealth or from poverty. And just because she was fortunate enough to be born into a wealthy environment doesn’t mean that as an adult she doesn’t need make her own way.

      • Kip Russell – I think the thing is that you use what you have at your disposal to get a shot. Women in general get criticized for using their sex to advance their careers. So, the fact that men have maintained an ‘old BOYS club’ forever doesn’t amount to the same thing? No, of course not. (That’s sarcasm right there, just FYI). If race or ethnicity is a problem, you minimize it. If it’s a plus, you emphasize it. Whatever it takes to get your talent seen. And that’s when you clinch the deal. If you can’t ever get to that point, what chance do you have, no matter how good you are?

  14. Kathleen Burns Griggs says:

    Really?! H’mm, perhaps Ms. Bennet should pass along that “necessity” to her co-star Ming-Na Wen, or Daniel Dae Kim, or Grace Park, or Lucy Liu, or Joan Chen, or Russell Wong, or James Hong, or Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, or the late greats Mako, Jack Soo, James Shigeta, and Myoshi Umeki, or Nancy Kwan and the amazing France Nuyen (who, I’m guessing, merely slightly altered her surname for pronunciation need because, unlike Chinese, Japanese, and Korean names, Vietnamese names can very difficult to pronounce correctly), just to name a few. Obviously, they had no chance at a career because of their distinctively Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Korean surnames. Seriously, if you’re going to whine, please, at least find something valid to whine about.
    Ms. Bennet is a wonderful actress and, let’s face facts, she has no verifiable proof that she was not hired for certain jobs early in her career for the same simple reason that scores upon scores of actors and actresses don’t get hired – she wasn’t what the casting directors were looking for, talent aside. Some of the most famous Asian actors come from an era when non-WASP names were not commonly known to the American public but they managed to have full, dynamic, incredible careers using their Asian names because of their talent… and because they met the casting needs for the job.
    Has Hollywood, chronically, miscast Asian, et al., actors? Oh, heck, yes, and it used to drive me nuts because even I knew it was because they couldn’t see the physiological differences and assumed that the viewing public were likewise as dense and stupid. Most notable for me is one of my most loved films, “Flower Drum Song” (1961), and, if I’m not mistaken, of the four young lead characters, only Nancy Kwan was actually Chinese; the other three, Miyoshi Umeki, Jimmy Shigeta, and Jack Soo were all Japanese. That aside, Ms. Bennet could easily have chosen any Asian surname that “sang” in connection with her given name of Chloe if she was that genuinely distressed about it at the beginning of her career. Please, with all the legitimate things that actresses DO have to complain about in Hollywood, this ain’t one of them!

    • First, you can only sight a dozen of exceptions over decades of time without any evidence of how much they endured in order to achieve the modicum of success afforded them. None achieved star status and only played leads in projects where the leads were Asian by necessity. None had prolific career success but did enjoy some stability but only in supporting roles in projects that featured Caucasian leads. Your defense is incredibly narrow and shortsighted.

  15. Quaking says:

    Let’s be honest. A name like Chloe Wang was never going to make it big in Hollywood and the reason is not racism. While Wang is a common Chinese surname, in the U.S. it’s slang for penis. It may sound like a juvenile reason but there it is.

  16. Nils says:

    Funny coming from someone who is playing a character who is supposed to be white. I guess it only goes one way.

    • retartacus says:

      Is she though? Her mother was most definitely an Asian woman in season 2, which would make her character a half Asian, like the actress herself.

      • Joe says:

        Additionally, her character’s birth in China is a relatively major plot point established early in the first season .

  17. Pop Quiz Hotshot says:

    Ed Skrien is Nicholas Holt’s hench alter ego

  18. Pop Quiz Hotshot says:

    Come on, the Wochowskis (probably spelt wrong) had enough away that they’re have got him cast. (their love of Japanese anime and the huge influence of Chinese martial arts and martial arts films on “the Matrix” suggests they’re not exactly against displaying Asian influence front and centre – I’d say that for them, his mixed Asian heritage was probably a plus for the lead given that the film itself is crossing cultural influences all over the place)

    In fact getting they guy from “Bill & Ted” past the studios was likely more of a trick – probably only possible thanks to “Speed”.

    • Pop Quiz Hotshot says:

      Silly thought though:

      Given her character in her main TV role also used a pseudonym, then changed it after meeting her estranged Chinese mother, there’s a sort of reverse symmetry between her role and her life…

      (coincidentally, there’s some unfortunate slang synonyms – Wang/Johnson going on here too)

  19. Kudos to Chloe & Ed. Way to stand up!

  20. d nola says:

    was her last name “LEE” ?

  21. treyros says:

    I cry for you Chloe. With your looks, and acting ability, you could always get work. If your Chinese heritage is soooooo important to you, now that you are established, why not change your name back? Hmmmmmm, I wonder. Guess it’s not that important to you after all.

    • It’s like you just wanted to snipe at her. Once you establish yourself it is never advantageous to alter the known entity. I guess you would have had Cary Grant change his name back to his real name, Archibald McLeach.

    • Samit Basu says:

      I doubt Keanu would have gotten to play Neo if people knew he was Chinese American.

      Same with Dean Cain, aka Dean Tanaka. No way a Japanese American Superman would have been acceptable.

      • Pop Quiz Hotshot says:

        Come on, the Wochowskis (probably spelt wrong) had enough away that they’re have got him cast. (their love of Japanese anime and the huge influence of Chinese martial arts and martial arts films on “the Matrix” suggests they’re not exactly against displaying Asian influence front and centre – I’d say that for them, his mixed Asian heritage was probably a plus for the lead given that the film itself is crossing cultural influences all over the place)

        In fact getting they guy from “Bill & Ted” past the studios was likely more of a trick – probably only possible thanks to “Speed”.

  22. F Hollywood says:

    Pretty much that Hollywood and most of its head honchos are Hypocrites who push the PC BS but then do the exact thing they protest about.
    Any wonder why people in mainstream America and the world don’t like Hollywood?

    • Cass says:

      Actually no. Globally, our product in the States is beloved. That won’t go away any time soon. Domestically yes, you’re right. Racism, sexism is rampant in Hwood.

  23. FuzzmanX says:

    You are WRONG. She’s a WONG.

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