Why ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Star Chloe Bennet Stopped Using Her Chinese Last Name
When actress Chloe Bennet was just an up-and-comer in the entertainment industry about five years ago, she went by the name of Chloe Wang, her actual birth name.
In fact, in her brief stint as a pop star in China, she became quite well known as the singer Chloe Wang. For almost two years, she lived in Shanghai and was able to release a debut single “Uh Oh”.
She even released an English version of her first single, targeting the international audience.
However, back in the United States, being an aspiring actress of color — her father being Chinese and her mother, a Caucasian — was quite challenging for Bennet as Hollywood casting agents were not as welcoming as she’d hoped.
It was only after she simply changed her last name when things changed dramatically.
“I was having trouble booking things with my last name. I think it was hard for people to cast me as an ethnic, as an Asian American woman,” Bennet told the Star in 2014. “But I still wanted to keep my dad’s name, and I wanted to respect him, so I used his first name.”
Adopting her father’s given name — Bennet — as her new surname, she was able to land her first big acting role in less than a week.
“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” Bennet shared to The Daily Beast last year. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”
As Chloe Bennet, she landed a role on the TV series Nashville, where she played a recurring character of the record company assistant named Hailey.
“I want to be clear because some of my Asian-American fans seem to think I did that [changed last names] because I didn’t want to known as Chinese, but it’s so the opposite,” she added. “I just wanted to be known as me and let my personality define who I was, rather than my ethnicity.”
Bennet would later be cast as one of the leads in the superhero series Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. The top-rating show, created by director Joss Whedon, has spanned four seasons so far.
In the series, she plays Skye, a SHIELD hacker who turned out to be a super-powered half-Inhuman Daisy Johnson (aka Quake). Having both a female and Asian-American in a badass superhero role is a fresh welcome for many as it is still a rarity in modern TV.
“I wish people talked about that more,” Bennet was quoted as saying. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but when Supergirl came out, people were like, ‘This is the only superhero on TV that’s a female!’ And I was like, ‘Hold on! I’m pretty sure Daisy’s been here.’ And I also happen to be half-Chinese and I’m so proud of that.”
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