Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Will Jay, who is of half Chinese and half German heritage, was only 11 years old the first time he experienced bias due to his race: He was told he didn’t get a musical part because he “looked too Asian.”
This experience helped him shape his latest single, “Leading Man,” which addresses an uncomfortable topic — but aims to start a conversation about Hollywood’s whitewashing of Asian-Americans, including in the music world. “Whitewashing” refers to the casting of a white performer in an Asian role. Current examples of this trend include Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell,” Matt Damon in “The Great Wall,” Tilda Swinton in “Doctor Strange,” and Finn Jones in “Iron Fist.”
Yahoo Music is pleased to premiere the video, which portrays the 20-year-old singer as an actor auditioning for a role and subsequently being ignored. However, after a “magical transformation” that turns him into a (highly exaggerated) blue-eyed blond … his fortune dramatically changes.
“I think every Asian American entertainer asks themselves, if they were white, would they have more opportunities?” muses Jay. “This video is me creating a visual for that thought. It’s not against white people at all; it’s simply a message to the entertainment industry. By making myself look white in a comical manner, I’m hoping that illustrates how bizarre it is that Hollywood still casts white actors and actresses in parts that belong to Asians in 2017.”
Jay has been working in the entertainment business since he was a pre-teen, and released a five-song EP this month. his To keep up with his schedule, check here.