You must’ve wondered what it would be like to read a group text of sorts with all your favorite heroes? Well, for South Asian-Americans, some of our beloved stars are giving us a glimpse of an important conversation they’re having. Actor Ravi Patel (“Meet the Patels”) tweeted about the Indian character from the Freeform comedy “Grownish.”
The show, a spin-off of the hit comedy “Blackish,” centers on Zoeey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) as she begins her life at California University. Jordan Buhat plays the character in question, Indian-American character Vivek Shah, a drug dealer whose parents are Indian immigrants.
In his tweet, Patel asks Kenya Barris, the creator of both shows whether its true that Buhat plays a South Asian character but isn’t actually a South Asian.
— Ravi V. Patel (@showmetheravi) February 2, 2021
First of all, how cool is it that there’s this powerful thread with Indian actors partaking in discussions like this? I know I’m not the only one wondering this, but where do I apply to be a part of this group?! Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he brings up a really great point. Diversity on television matters and we need to see ourselves portrayed accurately.
Fellow South Asian actors chimed in on the conversation on Twitter, bringing up even more vital questions about accurate representation. “The Resident” actor Manish Dayal, “Blindspotting”s Utkarsh Ambudkar, and “Castle” actor Sunkrish Bala all responded to Patel.
It’s great to be having this discussion. How the community is represented on-screen is important. Often it’s difficult for minority artists to speak up out of fear. If South-Asians are played by non South-Asians, we are at risk.
— Manish Dayal (@TheManishDayal) February 2, 2021
Raises some good questions-how did this get through casting? were you aware your actor wasn’t of Indian descent? If so-why choose to keep him as such instead of changing the character to Filipino? Especially given the shows’ focus on cultural inclusion, awareness and education?
— Utkarsh Ambudkar (@UTKtheINC) February 2, 2021
I’m sure you’ve cast a talented young actor. But, especially in these times, the notions of inclusion and proper representation are paramount, no? Why not write a character that reflects the actor’s own background? Or cast an actual South Asian if that is important to your show?
— Sunkrish Bala (@sunkrishbala) February 2, 2021
Patel ended this by saying he’ll wait for Barris to respond before making any wrong assumptions. Buhat is a fairly unknown newcomer who does a good job on “Grownish” but we all know there certainly isn’t a lack of South Asain talent. “Blackish” is a hilarious, barrier-breaking show highlighting the African-American community. Here’s hoping if and when Barris responds, what he has to say will make things clearer.
In the meantime, I’m going to still try to figure out how to join that dang thread.