After the movie debuted in May, there was a ton of controversy surrounding her playing Allison Ng – a woman of Hawaiian Asian heritage – because Emma isn't part Asian (or Hawaiian) at all in real life.
While people slammed the casting (seriously, some were outraged) and director Cameron Crowe apologized for it last month, Emma kept quiet about the whole thing. But, now she's speaking out.
"I've become the butt of many jokes," she told news.com.au. "I've learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It's ignited a conversation that's very important."
Emma did, however, defend Cameron's choice to cast her, adding, "The character was not supposed to look like her background which was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese." The Aloha director echoed those sentiments in his apology, writing on his blog, "As far back as 2007, Captain Allison Ng was written to be a super-proud ¼ Hawaiian who was frustrated that, by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one."
"A half-Chinese father was meant to show the surprising mix of cultures often prevalent in Hawaii," he continued. "Extremely proud of her unlikely heritage, she feels personally compelled to over-explain every chance she gets. The character was based on a real-life, red-headed local who did just that."
Emma hasn't only caught flack for that, though. She also has received criticism for starring in films where her love interests are significantly older men (can she live?).
Still the star is taking everything in stride, saying, "There's a lot of conversation about how we want to see people represented on screen and what we need to change as a business to reflect culture in a clearer way and not in an idealized way. There are some flaws in the system. My eyes have been opened in many ways this year." That honesty is just one more reason we love her.