An actor's response to 'whitewashing' backlash shows the rest of Hollywood how it's done.

It's time to put an end to whitewashing in Hollywood.

On Aug. 21, actor Ed Skrein announced that he had accepted a role in the upcoming "Hellboy" reboot. A week later, he dropped out — for a very good reason.

Skrein had been cast as Ben Daimio, an employee of the fictional Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Best known for his role as Ajax in 2016's "Deadpool," Skrein seems like he'd be a great fit for what will likely be a high-energy, action-packed "Hellboy."

There was just one problem: The character, Daimio, is Japanese-American. Skrein is not. And Daimio's heritage plays a pretty huge role in his story.


Hollywood has a decades-long pattern of whitewashing Asian characters. Opting not to contribute to it, Skrein dropped out of the role.

Whether it's Matt Damon's bland performance in "The Great Wall," Emma Stone's confusing portrayal of a half-Asian woman in "Aloha," Scarlett Johansson's starring role in the recent "Ghost in the Shell" film, or any number of other examples of white actors being cast to play Asian roles, this isn't a new phenomenon.

It's the ugly cousin of "yellowface," the practice of casting white actors as Asian characters with prosthetics, makeup, and over-the-top bad accents.

Skrein announced via Twitter that after getting feedback from "Hellboy" fans, it would be best if he dropped out "so the role can be cast appropriately."

"It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts," he wrote. "I feel it is important to honor and respect that."

He added, "Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family."

A 2014 photo of Skrein. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for ZFF.

Turning down that role wasn't an easy decision. Hopefully, however, it'll inspire other actors and directors to do the same.

It would have probably been pretty easy for Skrein to shrug off the criticism as simple oversensitivity, but instead, he decided to listen, show some empathy, and break the cycle.

Small acts of compassion have the potential to make a big impact on the world. Thanks to fans, diversity advocates, outspoken Asian actors, and Skrein, Hollywood now has a great opportunity to vocally pivot away from its history of Asian caricature and erasure, putting whitewashing behind us. Whether that will happen is anybody's guess, but sometimes it's worth celebrating life's little victories. Hopefully, the decision will pay dividends for Skrein, and he'll land something even bigger.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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Culture
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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