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The Office Actress Calls Out ‘Problematic’ Asian Stereotypes in “A Benihana Christmas”

March 31, 2021 | Posted by Ashish
The Office

Korean American actress Kat Ahn, who appeared in the season season three episode of The Office titled “A Benihana Christmas,” recently told The Washington Post (h/t Uproxx) that while she was initially excited to be on the show, she quickly realized that she was “just there to be the joke.” In the episode, Ahn plays a Benihana waitress who, along with her friend (also an Asian American actress), get picked up by Michael (Steve Carell) and Andy (Ed Helms) and brought to the Dunder Mifflin Christmas party. In one bit from the episode, Michael struggles to tell the two Asian women apart and eventually marks one of them with a marker so he can tell one from the other.

Ahn says that a co-worker at her current job marked her arm like Michael did in The Office, and when she got upset by it, told her it was just a reference to her appearance on The Office.

Ahn says that Asians in Hollywood are told be be grateful for whatever role they get.

“You’re told to shut up and be grateful,” she says. “Actors have no power until they become a star.”

She also discussed her experience as an actress on a recent TikTok video, saying she understood why actors of color often have to play racist roles.

“I actually understood why BIPOC actors play racist roles. You know, sometimes, you gotta pay your rent. Sometimes you want to join the union. Sometimes you just don’t want your agent to drop you,” she said. “Also, this episode was before, you know, wokeness.”

She went on about how the jokes on her episode of The Office were problematic to her.

“The storyline with myself and the other Asian American actress [played by Kulap Vilaysack] is that we were the ‘uglier’ version of the actresses at the Benihana. Also that all Asian people look alike, we’re one big monolith, and we’re just one big walking stereotype without any personality or individuality. Which is problematic.”

One of her TikTok videos about The Office is below.

@phillykat5

Things I Learned as an Asian American actress on the #benihanaxmas episode of #theoffice #theofficeparody #theofficetiktok #theofficememes

♬ original sound – Kat Ahn

article topics :

The Office, Ashish