Yin Chang reflects on how his character is treated differently from the original Gossip Girl and the new incarnation of HBO Max, revealing that part of his character was rewritten into a stereotype for the pilot after reading sides that had “more complexity and nuance” for his character, Nelly Yuki.
In a new interview for Teen Vogue, the actress and founder of the 88 Cups of Tea storytelling platform explained the changes she has seen in her character, a student of Constance Billard trapped in various ways in the orbit of ‘Queen B’ from school, Blair Waldorf. When she first auditioned, Chang says she was impressed with the breakdown of her character, “the gist” of whom she says is “extremely confident”, “good looking” and brilliant.
“The audition for this role came at a time when there were so few characters written specifically for Asian American women and I felt, via the sides given for Nelly Yuki’s first episode, that the role had more complexity and nuance than most other auditions I’d seen, ”she told the magazine.“ It was 2008, and the initial feeling of the role gave me l hope that the industry was changing and moving in the right direction for Asian American representation. “
But before the shoot, Chang says the characterization went from “overperforming and effortlessly” confident “and” sexy, to overperforming and “shy” and “submissive.” reinforcing, a character who has perpetuated “cultural stereotypes of” the model minority “and that age-old idea of isolation that” there can only be one “Asian American individual in the same world.”
This change in writing also came with the addition of glasses for her character Nelly, but Chang reveals that she was “stunned” after learning the reasoning. “A comment was made about the production that didn’t want viewers to think they were replacing me with another Asian actor who was previously on the show,” she admitted.
She added: “I want to stress that there is nothing shameful about wearing glasses or having a shy personality, but it is of concern when a pair of glasses is used as an accessory to differentiate two Americans from. Asian origin and advance this point by changing the character of the character initial description / personality.
The actress said that screen portrayals of Asian Americans have “very tangible impacts on societal stereotypes” and that the portrayals can reinforce “harmful conceptions of race.” But she also said she didn’t necessarily have space on the show to voice her concerns.
“I was taken in a position where I felt both deeply grateful for the opportunity as a working actor and overwhelmed by the show making Nelly Yuki’s portrayal almost immediately reductive,” he said. she declared.
Although she was not in “a situation or space where I felt comfortable expressing these concerns,” the actress said she still made her own efforts to ensure that the character had more dimension than what she saw on the page. “Rather, I focused on finding ways to bring as much texture to the character as possible within the strict structure of a TV script by improvising character choices in the hope that they would maintain them in the final cut. “
Chang shared that she felt the CW show, which was co-directed by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, had made efforts in the right direction by the end of its broadcast “by bringing my character back for the final season with more nuance. ”She also has a very different take on the HBO Max sequel, which features a more diverse core cast and a different take on privilege. Directed by writer and original series producer Josh Safran, Chang thanks the showrunner for taking a more inclusive approach on and off screen, including with his character, who appeared in the August 5 episode, “Hope Sinks”, and is now the editor of new York magazine.
“I was so moved by what they shared, to know that Josh intentionally wanted to bring Nelly Yuki into the script and exercise his authority as the showrunner to make room for a more layered portrayal of the character meant. the world for me in as far as representation is concerned, ”she said.
Schwartz, Savage and Safran did not respond to Hollywood journalistrequest for comments.