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Headline About Asian Actors 'Breaking The Bamboo Ceiling' With Oscar Nods Sparks Debate

Headline About Asian Actors 'Breaking The Bamboo Ceiling' With Oscar Nods Sparks Debate
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images; Rich Fury/Getty Images for PRADA

An article in the Hollywood Reporter highlighting more Oscar nominees of Asian actors in films than ever before appeared to have hit a sour note on social media with a headline that has since been modified.

The original title of the article read:

"Diverse Field Sees Asian Actors Shatter a Bamboo Ceiling."

The entertainment news outlet's headline—which now reads, "Oscars: Diverse Field Sees Asian Actors Finally Break Through"—meant to celebrate this year's Oscar nomination roster featuring more actors of Asian descent than ever—including Korean-born and Michigan-raised actor Steven Yeun and South Korean actress Youn Yuh-Jung for Minari; British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed for The Sound of Metal; and Chinese director Chloé Zhao for Nomadland.

Additionally, among the nominees were South Korean-American screenwriter Lee Isaac Chung and producer Christina Oh for their work in Minari.

Many saw the Hollywood Reporter's headline as "cringeworthy" for the use of the term "Bamboo Ceiling"—a derivative of the term "glass ceiling," used to describe invisible barriers through which minorities and women struggle to break through to attain higher social or corporate positions usually held by White men.

Some believed the use of "Bamboo Ceiling" was not racist, arguing the term was originally coined in 2005 by executive coach and Asian American author Jane Hyun in her book Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians in which she described the struggles many Asian Americans face in professional fields overcoming barriers like stereotypes and racism.

Many still argued the term originated at a time when the discourse around diversity was not as prevalent as it is today.

Hollywood Reporter writer Rebecca Sun—who is Asian—wrote the article in question and responded to the backlash and the influx of calls for her to amend the title.

"Hi! I wrote that headline (and the story). My editor, who is not Asian, was worried about it, but it's a conscious choice I made to reference the phrase's usage in the corporate world (the difficulty Asian executives have in breaking through to upper management)."
"It's definitely not meant to be a cheeky pun or anything like that."

Despite clarifying her intentions, her defense did not convince everybody the use of the term was still the best decision.

The 93rd Academy Awards will air live on April 25 on ABC.