‘Agents of SHIELD’ Actor Chloe Bennet is Proud of Her Controversial Stage Name
Bennet, who plays Daisy Johnson, was born Chloe Wang, but she changed it because of Hollywood’s racist tendencies, she says.
How did Chloe Bennet get famous?
Bennet, 28, was born in Chicago to a Chinese father and American mother. When she was 15, Bennet moved to her father’s homeland to pursue a singing career. She eventually released two singles in the United States, 2011’s “Uh Oh” and “Every Day in Between” She moved back to the US in 2010 to turn her attention to acting.
From 2012 to 2013, she starred in a recurring role in Nashville as Hailey, and she landed a role as a regular on Agents of SHIELD, playing a hacker called Skye who turned out to be Daisy Johnson / Quake.
More recently, she was the lead in the DreamWorks animated movie Abominable, and she starred a musical remake of the 1983 movie Valley Girl, which was released only last month after having sat on the shelf for more than a year due to controversy surrounding star Logan Paul.
Although Bennet has been fortunate enough to find strong roles, including one in Hollywood’s top franchise, she has spoken out on more than one occasion about how her heritage made it hard for her to find work.
What does Chloe Bennet say about her name change?
Back in 2017, Bennet gave an interview to NPR talking about how she wanted to “change the narrative” for Asian American actors in Hollywood.
Actors have had to change their names throughout Hollywood history — for instance, Cary Grant was born Archie Leach and Judy Garland was born Frances Gumm — but they changed their names to appeal to Hollywood glamour. Bennet found she had to change her name just to get work.
She told NPR:
“An uncomfortable amount of my feedback had to do with the fact that I didn’t look like what they expected me to look like. I had a casting director tell me ‘You’re not quite white enough for the role, but you’re not quite Asian enough for the best friend role.’ And I remember genuinely thinking ‘Oh yeah, yeah she’s right.’ Like, I’m not fully white so I couldn’t possibly be the lead even though there was no limitation on the breakdown of the character saying that this character needed to be any ethnicity. “
She made similar points when she spoke on social media last year about her fans questioning her choice to change her name because that supposedly hides or diminishes her ethnicity, which would be the opposite of what she wanted.
Per Variety, she responded, “Changing my last name doesn’t change the fact that my BLOOD is half Chinese, that I lived in China, speak Mandarin or that I was culturally raised both American and Chinese …It means I had to pay my rent, and Hollywood is racist and wouldn’t cast me with a last name that made them uncomfortable.”
Bennet comments on the ending for Daisy Johnson
Befitting Bennet’s character’s name, Quake, her character has the ability to create earthquakes. She is an Inhuman whose genetic abilities were activated by her father’s unstable DNA.
Although her show deals in the fantastic, it took a natural approach to representation, Bennet told Entertainment Tonight. Agents of SHIELD also happened to have an Asian showrunner.
“I didn’t get cast as an Asian character, but once they knew I was Asian, they played into that,” Bennet recalled. “And all it did was bring a depth and a richness to the character into the storyline.”
Bennet also told Playboy that she’s happy with the way her character wrapped the show. She said they “did a really sweet and wonderful job at giving the actors and the fans some closure for each character.”