by Joe Berkowitz
Originally published: July 22, 2016
It was like a tiny drizzle before the downpour.
First, John Cho got a text from a friend asking whether he'd checked Twitter yet that day. Then he got another, and another. Suddenly, it was a full-on typhoon of texts and tweets that turned his phone into a malfunctioning buzzer. By then, he'd already seen what everyone was messaging him about.
A digital strategist named William Yu had begun flooding Twitter with movie posters featuring Cho seamlessly photoshopped into juicy leading roles. #StarringJohnCho depicted a parallel universe where the actor who plays Sulu in the rebooted Star Trek series also anchored romantic comedies, Marvel movies, and maybe even the James Bond franchise—despite the apparent Hollywood handicap of being Asian. The hashtag was trending, and it was about to ride a cresting wave of unrest on behalf of Asian-Americans into further awareness.