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The Afterparty's John Cho says Hollywood is opening up to Asian actors as 'part of a larger trend'

The Star Trek actor says Hollywood has changed a lot over recent years

Watch: The Afterparty cast discuss representation on screen

The Afterparty star John Cho says that Hollywood has started opening up to Asia actors as “part of a larger trend of globalisation”.

Back in 2016, Cho was at the centre of the online campaign #StarringJohnCho which saw social media users photoshop the Star Trek actor’s face onto various movie posters, raising awareness of how few Asians were leading blockbusters.

Since then, a lot has changed, with the likes of Crazy Rich Asians and Shang-Chi making millions of dollars at the box office, Everything Everywhere All At Once cleaning up at the Oscars, and Beef dominating the Netflix streaming charts.

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“I think it’s part of a larger trend of globalisation, of access to entertainment,” Cho tells Yahoo UK of why the film industry has increased the number of Asian-led movies reaching cinemas.

Ken Jeong and John Cho at the season two premiere of The Afterparty in June 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)
Ken Jeong and John Cho at the season two premiere of The Afterparty in June 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

“The fact that everyone's seeing entertainment as not necessarily just a domestic product, but an international product, then you are really going ‘Well, this is really stupid – of course, there are people from all walks of life that we can photograph into stories.’

“It seems a lot simpler when you are seeing these economic ties go all over the world.”

Cho will next appear in the second season of Apple TV+’s streaming series The Afterparty, a comedic murder mystery produced by Spider-Verse’s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

Anna Konkle, Jack Whitehall and John Cho in The Afterparty S2. (Apple TV+)
Anna Konkle, Jack Whitehall and John Cho in The Afterparty S2. (Apple TV+)

The new season sees Tiffany Haddish’s Detective Danner return to investigate the death of a groom on the night of his wedding.

The scenario involves an Asian-American family, Cho playing a distant uncle, Ken Jeong (The Hangover trilogy) portraying a hustling patriarch, Vivian Wu (The Last Emperor) as a stingy matriarch, and Poppy Liu (Hacks) as the bride and the chief suspect of her husband’s murder.

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“I feel really excited that there's an entire intergenerational Asian family and we're just living our lives,” says Liu.

Zach Woods, John Cho, Zoë Chao, Paul Walter Hauser, Ken Jeong, Poppy Liu and Vivian Wu in The Afterparty S2. (Apple TV+)
Zach Woods, John Cho, Zoë Chao, Paul Walter Hauser, Ken Jeong, Poppy Liu and Vivian Wu in The Afterparty S2. (Apple TV+)

“We're not necessarily unpacking race or being Asian, although that's also really important to do in storytelling too. But I feel oftentimes that ends up being what is tokenising about an experience, like you have to talk about your marginalised identities, to unpack and talk about the trauma.

“We also deserve to be able to just be an Asian family in a comedy murder-mystery, an escape-room, Clue-esque show, and not have to go into unpacking our identities in that way.”

Jeong adds that the fact that The Afterparty spotlights an Asian American was an important part of what made him want to sign onto the series.

John Cho, Paul Walter Hauser, Ken Jeong and Vivian Wu in The Afterparty S2. (Apple TV+)
John Cho, Paul Walter Hauser, Ken Jeong and Vivian Wu in The Afterparty S2. (Apple TV+)

“The stakes in this particular season were a bit more personal,” he says. “Season one, that was about a high school reunion, where not everybody had as deep a friendship bond.

“[This time] there's a deep familial bond and everybody has an empathetic point of view I feel like in season two, that was it was a bit more emotional. That's what stuck out to me as a fan of season one [which was] my favourite me and my wife's favourite show last year.”

The Afterparty Season 2 starts streaming on Apple TV+ from July 12 with new episodes released weekly on Wednesdays.

Watch a trailer for The Afterparty