Sherry Cola Wants Asians to 'Be Taken Seriously' in Hollywood: 'We're Sexy, Funny, Dangerous'
The Good Trouble star says that while the Asian community has made progress in Hollywood, there is still work to do
Comedian and actress Sherry Cola is using her voice to advocate for the Asian community, both on and off screen.
On Monday's episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, hosted by Janine Rubenstein, the Good Trouble star, 31, spoke about Asian representation in Hollywood and noted that while "we're making a bit of progress for sure, there's still so much work to be done."
"At the end of the day, there's still just only one Asian film or TV show here and there, right?" says Cola. "I [can] name the amount on one hand, probably, the movies that I saw [with Asian actors] growing up. And now to be part of that impact and that shift is really cool and I hope to see more and more representation."
But Cola, whose acting credits also include TNT's Claws and the upcoming animated film The Tiger's Apprentice, knows that there is still a way to go until Asian actors are given full exposure on the big and small screens.
"Hopefully Hollywood does wake up a little bit in that regard and just stops seeing us as just a trend or just foreign," she tells Rubenstein. "I mean, let's be real, Minari in the foreign category already says so much [about] American film, and it's just like, What do we have to do to be taken seriously as people who are layered?"
"We are not a monolith," Cola adds. "We are sexy, funny, dangerous sometimes; we can be bad, whatever. We're not the 'model minority' by any means. So I'm hoping that Hollywood and this country will realize that. Obviously it's not overnight, but I think we're all doing what we can to be a part of the change."
In the aftermath of last week's deadly Atlanta spa shootings, which left 8 people dead, six of which were Asian women, people from around the globe have been protesting against the rise of anti-Asian violence.
And Cola, along with stars like Olivia Munn, Daniel Dae Kim and Jamie Chung, has used her large social media following to speak out against the violence and show support for the AAPI community.
"We're so unapologetic, we've never been stronger as a community —for good reason, because at this point we're at our wits' end," Cola explains. "And we have to raise awareness and spread the word that this is not okay. We've earned our place in this country for years and years and yet we're still seen as foreigners."
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Cola also explained to Rubenstein that she believes society views Asians as "fragile" and "vulnerable" due to the way they're portrayed onscreen.
"The representation on screen did not help how society views us," she says. "It has not helped just being the punchline and just being the tiny character. That just makes us more and more invisible. So it goes hand in hand, the way we're represented on the screen and the way we're represented in the country."
She adds, "So there's so much work to be done and I think the work doesn't end for all communities. It's just very important to be aware and see every single community's experience because we're all in this together. It's like love versus hate."
Despite all the challenges facing the Asian community, Cola says the support she and others have received recently has been a bright light in these dark times.
"I have to talk the talk and walk the walk," she says. "It's very important for me to just show up in every way and it's been really cool to see all the allies show up for the Asian community this week. It's a beautiful thing."
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