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New Twitter Account, Hashtag Re-Imagines Films #StarringJohnCho

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /
Film posters digitally altered to star John Cho have sparked the hashtag #StarringJohnCho.Courtesy of William Yu / #StarringJohnCho

After a series of recent hashtag campaigns — #MyYellowfaceStory, #MyBrownfaceStory, #whitewashedOUT — in which Asian Americans and others spoke out against the lack of Asian and Asian-American representation in film, theater, and books, a new campaign launched Thursday which is propelling the conversation to the next level.

#StarringJohnCho is a social movement and social media campaign that features blockbuster movie posters altered to show what these films could look like with actor John Cho, of “Harold and Kumar” and “Star Trek” fame, cast as the lead.

“#StarringJohnCho is about igniting a conversation about how Asian-Americans are perceived in today's Hollywood landscape and our greater society,” William Yu, the 25-year-old digital strategist behind the hashtag, told NBC News. “Films with more diverse casts result in higher box office numbers and higher returns on investments for film companies, yet Hollywood won't cast lead actors to reflect this fact.

Yu added, “I'm tired of hearing that a role can't be played by an Asian actor because people ‘just don't see it. #StarringJohnCho is here to literally show you.”

The campaign is not restricting itself to the virtual world, but taking it out to New York City subways as well. (The creator, Yu, is based in New York City.)

Cho fans were so ready for this:

Fans also presented Cho as a counter to the often-used argument about Hollywood needing a "bankable" Asian-American star:

“In creating the ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ poster, I kept catching myself chuckling at the idea of John Cho starring as Captain America,” Yu said. “But then I started to ask myself why such a casting might seem so outrageous, and I realized I didn't have a good answer! Why can't an Asian-American actor take on that role? This project has definitely challenged my own perceptions of where I, as an Asian-American, fit in our society.”

And although John Cho is not directly involved in the hashtag project, he did follow it on Twitter.

Follow NBC Asian America on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

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