When white actors play other races

This week Pan, the story of Peter Pan's origins opens in the US. Already there has been controversy. The film-makers caused an outcry when it was announced that Rooney Mara, a white actress, had been cast in the role of Tiger Lily, a character widely viewed as being Native American.

An online petition that now has 94,000 signatories has a crystal clear message to the studio: "Stop Casting White Actors to Play People of Color!"

The furore over Pan is one of several where studios have cast a white actor in a non-white role, which include the romantic comedy Aloha, written and directed by Cameron Crowe, where there were complaints that roles in the picture were 'whitewashed'.

"There was not one Asian or Pacific Islander actor who had much to say in the whole film," says Guy Aoki, head and co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA). Aoki was also dismayed to see a white actress, Emma Stone, cast as a woman who has Hawaiian and Chinese heritage.

Cameron Crowe wrote an apology on his blog. "I have heard your words and your disappointment”, he said, “and I offer you a heart-felt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice.”

Read the full article here.