Actress Chloe Bennet claims she was forced to change her surname because “Hollywood is racist” and producers “wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable”.
The 25-year-old, best known for her role in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, changed her surname from Wang to Bennet after struggling to secure roles in the early part of her career.
Bennet spoke of her experiences in an Instagram post about British actor Ed Skrein, who has stepped down from his role in Hellboy after his casting prompted claims of whitewashing.
Replying to a fan’s comment, Bennet said: “Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Mandarin, or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese.
“It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable.”
She added: “I’m doing everything I can, with the platform I have, to make sure no one has to change their name again, just so they can get work.”
Skrein was cast in Hellboy as Major Ben Daimio, who is of Asian heritage in the comics that inspired the film.
Following criticism from some who thought the role should have gone to someone with Asian background, Skrein said he “must do what I feel is right”.
He added: “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.”
Paying tribute to Skrein, Bennet posted a screengrab of his statement on Instagram and thanked him for “standing up against Hollywood’s continuous insensitivity and flippant behaviour towards the Asian-American community”.
She added: “There is no way this decision came lightly on your part, so thank-you for your bravery and genuinely impactful step forward.”
Speaking previously about her decision to change her surname, Bennet said that within days of doing so she landed her first big acting role on TV series Nashville.
“I was having trouble booking things with my last name,” she told the Toronto Star.
“I think it was hard for people to cast me as an ethnic, as an Asian American woman. I still wanted to keep my dad’s name, and I wanted to respect him, so I used his first name.”