In the legacy of Yellowstone star Kelsey Asbille

The “Yellowstone” star Kelsey Asbille’s ethnicity debate is a controversy nobody saw coming and has been a bone of contention for years. Asbille has landed her Hollywood start in projects such as Disney’s “Pair of Kings” and MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” and portrays a Native American woman in Paramount+’s western family drama.

Herein lies the rub: Despite Asbille’s claims, many doubts have been raised about the reality of her Indigenous heritage. An August 2017 New York Times article even praised “Yellowstone” for its portrayal of Native Americans, describing Asbille as a descendant of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally recognized Native American tribe based in western North Carolina.

However, an enrollment specialist for the Eastern Band Cherokee denied this, saying in a statement shortly thereafter: “Kelsey Asbille (Chow) is not now and ever will be an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. No documentation has been found in our records to support any claim that she is descended from the “Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians” (via Pechanga.net). A public outcry ensued, particularly among Hollywood’s Native Americans — a group who is notoriously underrepresented in the industry. “Suicide Squad” star Adam Beach implored fellow local actors to “stay away from this project,” writing in an Instagram post in 2017 that Asbille’s casting in “Yellowstone” was a “diversity failure.” be.

So what’s the truth about Asbille’s legacy?

Kelsey Asbille doesn’t want to be pigeonholed by her race

In a 2018 W profile, Kelsey Asbille ethnically identified as Chinese, English and Cherokee. However, many question the timing of Asbille’s claim to their Native American heritage. A poll by her IMDb shows that she was credited as “Kelsey Chow” until 2017. That same year, she debuted her first Native American role in Jeremy Renner’s Wind River, for which she was credited as Kelsey Asbille. When TMZ asked about the change in 2018, Asbille revealed it happened “about a year” before she was cast in Wind River. “It’s difficult when you’re mixed race,” Asbille explained her reasoning. “You feel like people put you in a box a little bit … It was a nice way of giving me a blank slate.” She also brushed aside any controversy surrounding her “Yellowstone” role, telling TMZ, ” I come from that heritage too, so there’s nothing wrong of me playing something from my background.”

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In the same W piece, Asbille also revealed that she majored in Aboriginal rights as part of her undergraduate degree at Columbia University. “It was a blessing to explore the local culture,” said Asbille. “As a person of mixed race, as you get older, it becomes more important to you who you are and where you come from. So it was amazing to get in touch with that side of my heritage.”

Kelsey Asbille is close to her Chinese father

While the status of Kelsey Asbille’s Native American heritage remains unclear, she appears to be strongly connected to her Southern and Chinese roots. In an interview with the LA Teen Festival in 2010, Asbille revealed that she was working on her Mandarin Chinese. “My father is Chinese and I’m not fluent in Chinese, it’s a very, very difficult language but I’m very happy to learn it,” Asbille shared, adding with a laugh, “Of course my father thinks that I’m speaking everything wrong.” .”

Asbille also shared the impact her heritage is having on her culinary styles in an Esquire profile in February. Raised in South Carolina, Asbille’s maternal grandmother owned a catering business, while her father’s mother, who lived next door, regularly served her traditional Chinese dishes. “We got their food on Mondays and Wednesdays. It was like northern Chinese home cooking,” Asbille described. “Alongside my Maw Maw’s fried catfish, you would have this lovely Chinese dish.”

As for many, food is inseparable from Asbille’s ethnic and cultural heritage. “Southern food is so important to me … It was a way of bringing me home,” she said, adding that food overall “has always been something emotional, something nostalgic for me.” Well, we are what we are, after all meal.

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