Having failed to include even one person of color in its list of nominated actors and actresses in the year 2015, despite there being a number of accomplished non-white actors who gave remarkable performances in films that year, the 87th Academy Awards triggered a wave of anger, causing the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to trend on Twitter. Unveiled racism wasn’t a new problem in Hollywood back in 2015 – it was a prevailing issue that dated back several centuries. The 2018 Hollywood Diversity Report shows that 78.1% of all film roles go to the whites and that only 1.3 out of 10 film directors are people of color – these findings helped to highlight the glaring issue that racism truly does exist in Hollywood.
However, over the past few years, there has been a cultural shift in the industry, giving rise to more varying representation in American movies and TV shows. The worldwide success of Crazy Rich Asians proves that Hollywood is slowly moving towards more inclusivity. The change can be observed in how we can now see a lot more of South Asian actors play important roles and not just the “sidekick” or the “best friend” or the “smart kid”.
And so, in this article, we have listed out some of the most popular Brown actors who made a significant mark in Hollywood.
Irfan Khan is now not only well known as an outstanding actor in Bollywood, but Hollywood as well. The world was mesmerized by his performance in Life of Pi – a movie which was one of the firsts to put a brown actor in the spotlight. Irfan was also seen joining Hollywood actor Tom Hanks in his quest to save the world on the silver screen in Oscar-winning director Ron Howard’s film, Inferno.
Dev Patel is one of the few highly acclaimed brown actors in the industry today. Patel debuted as an actor in the famous British show Skins and then went on to become the star he is now with his big break in Slumdog Millionaire. The movie star is soon to be seen playing the lead role in The Personal History of David Copperfield.
Priyanka Chopra is huge in both Bollywood and its western counterpart. She has made over 50 movies in India and is now taking America by storm. The Desi girl made headlines and won awards for her role in the TV show Quantico and appeared in Hollywood movies including Baywatch and Isn’t it Romantic? Priyanka is now a household name in America, appearing in several famous magazine covers and shows for Vogue, Vanity Fair and more. Her marriage to Nick Jonas only accelerated her rise to stardom.
Deepika Padukone won the hearts of millions in Hollywood after her debut movie, xXx: Return of Xander Cage and is also in the talks for its sequel, xXx-4. Not to mention, her bold and unconventional looks made splashes on various red carpets, gaining her more attention and recognition on an international level.
Kumail Nanjiani is a Pakistani-American who has gained a lot of popularity as a standup comedian in recent times. Later he went on to make the movie 'The Big Sick' with his wife at high personal risk which gained him a lot of well-deserved attention.
Hasan Minhaj is a Muslim-Indian-American who does stand-up comedy and social commentary on political issues in The Daily Show, a career that has caused him to be at the center of controversies time and again. But he has never held back. He embraced this persona and is now gaining a lot of popularity for his show The Patriot Act, which made waves in the digital platforms. He spoke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner of 2017 where he mocked the political forces of America before their very own eyes. He is quite the inspiration for every brown American trying to adapt to the western way of life because of how relatable he is.
Besides these impactful actors, several others in Hollywood are slowly breaking through racist barriers. The aforementioned actors now give hope to the young, mixed-raced generation, assuring them that they don’t have to conform to stereotypes to be accepted into Hollywood.