Hong Kong's TVB removes drama ep with Chinese actress in brownface playing Filipina

·Senior Editor
·2 min read
Canadian-born Hong Kong actress Franchesca Wong donned brownface to play a Filipina helper in TVB drama series Barrack O'Karma (SCREENGRAB: TVB)
Canadian-born Hong Kong actress Franchesca Wong donned brownface to play a Filipina helper in TVB drama series Barrack O'Karma (SCREENGRAB: TVB)

Hong Kong broadcaster TVB has removed the seventh episode of a TV series, after controversy erupted over the casting of a Chinese actress in brownface playing a Filippina domestic worker.

According to reports, the removal was to facilitate amendments to the episode's contents. It will be uploaded again once this is completed.

TVB series Barrack O'Karma 1968, a sequel to the popular 2019 series, showcases 10 different short stories, each one involving mysterious happenings at Twilight Mansion.

The leads are played by Joel Chan and Selena Lee. Canadian-born Franchesca Wong, 32, plays a Filipina helper suffering from depression who comes under supernatural influences.

Co-star King Lam posted an Instagram video of Wong applying make up on her legs. Wong can be heard remarking in a Filipino accent, "I am transforming into another person. I am sun-tanning right now."

Canadian-born Hong Kong actress Franchesca Wong, who plays a Filippina maid in TVB series Barrack O'Karma 1968, was filmed applying brown make up to her legs (SCREENGRAB: @iamkingching)
Canadian-born Hong Kong actress Franchesca Wong, who plays a Filippina maid in TVB series Barrack O'Karma 1968, was filmed applying brown make up to her legs (SCREENGRAB: @iamkingching)

Journalist Vivienne Chow tweeted in response, "The Hong Kong media is raving the performance of a local actress painting her face dark to play the role of a Filipina in a TVB series. I didn’t watch the show (not planning to) but this just feels so wrong. Why does this still exist in this day and age?"

Chow pointed out that it was not the first instance of brownface in Hong Kong television, with veteran actress Elvina Kong becoming a household name thanks to her role as domestic worker Maria in the 1990s.

Chow's tweet drew hundreds of comments and retweets. "Good lord, not surprised because racism in China is nothing new but I thought HK is better than this," said one.

Chinese-Filipino model Sabrina Man added, "I actually will put myself out there! I'm literally half Filipino, and I was an actress in the Philippines before. Couldn't they have found an actual Filipino?"

There are some 340,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with the TVB's removal of the drama series's controversial episode in the first paragraph.

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