Hong Kong actor Franchesca Wong apologized after receiving backlash for using “brownface” to portray a Filipino character in a Hong Kong TV show.
“I sincerely apologize to all who have been negatively affected in any way by the 7th chapter ‘Jei Jei’ of the Barrack ‘Karma 1968 drama series, and my role in it,” Wong wrote in an apology to her Instagram followers on Wednesday. “I have learned through this incident that professionally trying my best to analyze, interpret and act a given role to fulfill the storyline, is only part of the job.”
“I genuinely have no intention to disrespect or racially discriminate any ethnic group, please forgive me for getting it wrong,” she added. “It has been a challenging experience to be at the center of a lesson that art reflects deeply entrenched social attitudes. Open sharing, if handled well, can surely only be good in raising awareness of issues that need to be discussed.”
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The Calgary-born factor and the TVB horror series “Barrack O’Karma” sparked outrage when a video showing Wong applying dark makeup while mocking a Filipino accent circulated online.
While the network and some local news outlets praised Wong for her performance as a Filipino domestic worker in the episode, titled “Jie Jie Part 1,” the show drew criticism of Hong Kong media’s portrayals of minorities.
The Filipino character portrayal also prompted a reaction from Raly Tejada, the Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong.
“The show is downright ignorant, insensitive and totally disgusting,” Tejada said in a Facebook post on April 13. “It cannot be denied that the portrayal of the Filipino helper and use of brown face reinforces negative stereotypes that characterize the ‘Bun Mui’ – an offensive Cantonese slang (look it up).”
“Recent world events should have taught TVB that it is unacceptable to assign a corresponding social value to a particular race,” he added. “You have no right to mock and ridicule people based on their race and ethnicity.”
“Jie Jie Part 2,” which was expected to air on Wednesday, will not be released. TVB removed the two-part subseries from its website but said that it will drop the episodes “after further content amendment.”
In a statement last week, the network said, “TVB has always strived to provide top-notch entertainment experience for our viewers and we wish to emphasize that it was never our intention to show disrespect or to discriminate any nationality in any of our programme. We would like to express our concern to anyone who might be affected in this matter.”