Actor Charles Melton, best known for playing Reggie Mantle in The CW’s Riverdale, has penned a column opening up about his Korean heritage and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
The article comes days after the tragic attacks in Atlanta which saw eight people killed, including six Asian women. A suspect was taken into custody and has been charged with eight counts of murder.
Asian hate crimes in the United States have been on the rise over the past year.
In his Variety column, Melton recalls his experience as a Korean-American, and sheds light on the discrimination that his family has faced and the pressure he has felt to remain silent about his past experiences.
What did Melton say in his article?
“In light of the recent horrors, I am compelled to share my story,” the actor began, before revealing that he feels “conflicted” by his racial identities, as an Asian American, and “the trauma that comes with that.”
Being transparent about his upbringing, Melton discussed his experience growing up in a military family. He recounted the norms of his upbringing; living on military bases, his father’s deployments, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. This led him to the question, “What could be more American than having a father who risked his life to serve and protect my country?”
However, he quickly transitioned to speaking about the verbal harassment his Korean mother faced and how the pressure to blend in led to him “suppressing his Asian identity.”
His genuineness shined through as he recollected his very personal and oppressive past, and the guilt he felt for allowing his peers to preserve these Asian stereotypes and microaggressions. As a coping mechanism, he recalled “beating them [his classmates] to the punch” by making jokes about Asian stereotypes himself.
All of this built up to Melton writing, “I will no longer remain silent about my lived experience.” He adds, “The hate crimes that have swept the country have forced me to realize how important the platform I have is and the responsibility that comes with it.”
Melton ended his article by writing that he’s “a proud Korean American” and made the promise to “uplift the AAPI experience through storytelling.”
Who is Charles Melton?
Charles Melton has been an actor and model for years. Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, he found success as a model in NYC and was photographed for high-end brands Dolce & Gabbana, Kenneth Cole, and MAC.
During his transition to acting, he booked a small role in the television show Glee where he played a model in a Season 5 episode. Then, he starred as Mr. Wu in two episodes of American Horror Story: Hotel. The two series share the same director, Ryan Murphy.
Making his big break, he replaced the actor Ross Butler in The CW’s Riverdale, joining the cast as jock Reggie Mantle. After Season 2, he began being considered as a main character in the series.
Melton has also starred in a few movies, one being the screen adaptation of the novel The Sun Is Also A Star where he played opposite of Black-ish’s Yara Shahidi.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.