By Daniel Nelson


Julie Cheung-Inhin is wittily engaging about the stereotyping of “Chinese” actors – even when, like her, they are British – but it’s exasperating that the issue still has to be raised.

Black Face is frowned on but Yellow Face is apparently fine, she points out in No More Lotus Flower!

Julie Cheung-Inhin

Julie Cheung-Inhin

Image by No More Lotus Flower!

, citing examples of white actors in recent Asian roles. East Asian women, on the other hand, seem stuck with prostitutes and pliant geishas, or, in a recent TV hit, robots.

She runs through the stereotypes, starting with being told at her drama school that obviously she wouldn’t qualify for an award because it was for people who spoke with Received Pronunciation. Like her. Fortunately, the buffer imparting this information was subsequently able to help out by passing on an acting opportunity as a Chinese swordfighter.

Did this grotesque incident happen or was it woven from several experiences? It doesn’t matter, because her sincerity blazes through and her quiet talent gently but tellingly skewers the dodos who can’t see the individual standing in front of them (“If I was white I would be an individual”), or is unaware that colour blind casting is often just an excuse for dressing up as Asians.

Cheung-Inhin’s 45-minute monologue is a rebuke and an education and she clearly needs to get it off her chest. The frustration is controlled but the sense of injustice is real: “Do I belong here as an actor at all?”

This is no harangue, however. It’s entertaining and she ends, rather suddenly, on a positive note – by describing the response to performances for children: “They don’t care. I’m just a person.”

But it’s shocking that our continuing stereotyping and racism mean that it takes children to recognise her training and talent and see her for what she is.


·         No More Lotus Flower!, £7/£5, is at the Camden Peoples Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Rd, London NW1 2PY,until 30 August. Info: 020 7419 4841. 

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