Lucy Liu Reflects on How Her Charlie's Angels Role "Normalized Asian Identity" for Fans

Lucy Liu reflects on her "iconic" role as Alex Munday in Charlie's Angels in an op-ed about the importance of having the AAPI community reflected in TV and movies.

By Cydney Contreras Apr 29, 2021 9:52 PMTags
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Lucy Liu's role as Alex Munday in Charlie's Angels is legendary for more reasons than one.

Firstly, the Charlie's Angels franchise put women like Lucy in positions of power, while also acknowledging the strength in femininity. And secondly, as Lucy writes in an op-ed column for The Washington Post, her "success" in the role "helped move the needle" for the Asian community.

"Hollywood frequently imagines a more progressive world than our reality; it's one of the reasons Charlie's Angels was so important to me," she explains. "As part of something so iconic, my character Alex Munday normalized Asian identity for a mainstream audience and made a piece of Americana a little more inclusive."

The 52-year-old actress continues, "Asians in America have made incredible contributions, yet we're still thought of as Other. We are still categorized and viewed as dragon ladies or new iterations of delicate, domestic geishas—modern toile. These stereotypes can be not only constricting but also deadly."

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She adds that after being cast in Kill Bill as O-Ren Ishii, she was referred to by the media as a "dragon lady," but ponders why her other co-stars weren't given the same descriptor.

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"Why not call Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox or Daryl Hannah a dragon lady?" she says. "I can only conclude that it's because they are not Asian. I could have been wearing a tuxedo and a blond wig, but I still would have been labeled a dragon lady because of my ethnicity."

The actress notes that this harmful description has prevented her from taking certain roles because she doesn't want to "reinforce stereotypes" of the AAPI community.

It's for this reason that she has particular pride in Charlie's Angels, explaining that while she didn't see many Asian actors on TV throughout her childhood, AAPI women and men are seeing themselves represented in mainstream media at a higher rate. She says, "I feel fortunate to have 'moved the needle' a little with some mainstream success, but it is circumscribed, and there is still much further to go."

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