Lucy Liu On Charlie’s Angels Normalizing Asian Identity


“It’s one of the reasons Charlie’s Angels was so important to me.”

The Charlie’s Angels movie from 2000: A classic. No question.

Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Actor Lucy Liu — who starred in the film as well as the 2003 sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle along with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore — recently wrote an essay for the Washington Post about how proud she was to be part of the film.

Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

In the piece, Liu says that her presence in the film helped “move the needle” for onscreen representation in the Asian community.

Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

“As part of something so iconic, my character Alex Munday normalized Asian identity for a mainstream audience and made a piece of Americana a little more inclusive,” she wrote.

Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

In the essay, Liu also discussed her iconic role as O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill, noting that she would sometimes be referred to in the media as a “dragon lady.”

Miramax / courtesy Everett Collection

Kill Bill features three other female professional killers in addition to Ishii,” she wrote. “Why not call Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox or Daryl Hannah a dragon lady? I can only conclude that it’s because they are not Asian.”

Miramax / courtesy Everett Collection

“I could have been wearing a tuxedo and a blond wig, but I still would have been labeled a dragon lady because of my ethnicity.”

“If I can’t play certain roles because mainstream Americans still see me as Other, and I don’t want to be cast only in ‘typically Asian’ roles because they reinforce stereotypes, I start to feel the walls of the metaphorical box we AAPI women stand in,” she continued.


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