Growing up I lived in a really exclusive area called the North Shore of Chicago. Since I grew up in the 70's and 80's calling my neighborhood exclusive is really just a euphemism for "white". People were either (self identified) WASPY or Jewish. Seriously, it is not a surprise that all my sisters and I married Jewish men. As with many neighborhoods, it has become a lot more diversified, but that didn't help me much as I was growing up.
Here's the deal: I guess I identify as mixed race. My dad is second generation Japanese American (born in America) and my mom is American born of German ancestry. Even though growing up a lot of adults repeatedly told me I looked just like my mom (who had blonde hair and blue eyes), the kids I grew up with told me I looked very Asian. I was reminded about this a lot and it was almost always done in a way that was intended to hurt me or make me feel bad about myself.
When I was growing up models like Paulina Porizkova, Christie Brinkley, Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Tiegs, Jerry Hall, and Kim Alexis were super popular.
So, what's a non white girl who grew up in the 70's and 80's to do when looking for a role model who is 1/2 Asian? I guess the short answer is not much.
It's not a huge surprise that there were few famous people or role models I could look to and say "hey, that person actually kind of looks like me..that's cool."
I'm happy to report that a bit of progress has been made in Hollywood!
Here are a few of my favorite female Hollywood actors/personalities who are 1/2 Asian:
(above: Meg Tily)
(above: Jennifer Tily...yes, they are sisters)
(above: Shannyn Sossamon)
(above: Alexa Chung)
(above: China Chow--we both graduated from Scripps College)
(above: Charlotte Lewis--technically not Asian, but she looks it, so I included her)
I know who my favorites are--Shannyn Sossamon (she looks a lot like a young Lisa Bonet) and Phoebe Cates. For anyone under 30, Phoebe Cates was basically the star of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (she had an iconic bikini scene), Gremlins, and Drop Dead Fred. She left the Hollywood scene in the 90's to raise a family with her husband, Kevin Kline.
It would be lovely to see more people of color entering the field of sexuality. Almost all the well known people in sexuality are Caucasian. This fact hadn't even occurred to me until it was brought up in a presentation, and now I can't get it out of my head. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, it's merely an observation that many people make. It's also one of the reasons why I am so passionate about promoting the work of other people who don't fit into the status quo. This is a shout out to Becca Brewer and Sandra Daugherty!