Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Actress from Newton hopes games alleviate cultural tensions in China

Newton South graduate Kerry Brogan has appeared in about 40 Chinese films and television shows. At 28 and fluent in Mandarin, she is described by a local magazine as "the hottest western face in China."

But five years into her career as a full-time actress in Beijing, she still struggles with roles that play off Asian stereotypes of Western women (pampered, promiscuous, or pious), or that cast her as the "foil" to a heroic or virtuous Chinese lead.

She sees herself as working against something like the racial typecasting that affected Sidney Poitier and Bruce Lee decades ago in the United States.

And she hopes the Beijing Olympics can do something about that.

If the games do not go well?

"The country could become more closed off," said Brogan, sitting on a pink couch in her living room last weekend in one of Beijing's high-rise buildings. "Actresses like me might be asked to play more stereotyped roles."