‘Blackface’ episode removed from Toggle

Singaporean-Chinese actor Shane Pow
Singaporean-Chinese actor Shane Pow

Mediacorp’s online streaming service Toggle has removed an episode of its original comedy series I Want To Be A Star from its site following a public outcry over the programme being racist.

In the episode, Singaporean-Chinese actor Shane Pow, 26, is seen wearing an Afro wig as well as blackface make-up after a casting director fails to find an African man for a role.

Earlier, Pow’s father in the series, played by veteran actor Chew Chor Meng, 47, had said Indians and Africans are “all the same”.

The episode, which was probably available online from late last month, was met with anger and disbelief on social media.

In a statement to The Straits Times, Mr Anil Nihalani, who heads Toggle, said: “We’re sorry for the blackface portrayal. We take race-related issues very seriously and that portrayal should not have happened. We’ve removed the offensive scenes from the programme and will ensure something like that doesn’t happen again.”

The Straits Times contacted Pow for a comment, but he did not reply at press time.

Last year, another Mediacorp actor, Desmond Tan, was criticised for being racially insensitive when he posted a selfie on his Instagram account in which he was wearing a turban and dark-skin make-up, along with a Deepavali greeting.

In response to the Pow incident, Twitter user @bxbyqueen wrote: “They fail to see that the reason why nobody cares about local tv is bc of their blatant discrimination masked as jokes”.

Another Twitter user @jan_ng posted: “And our country is considered advanced and racially harmonious???”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2016, with the headline '‘Blackface’ episode removed from Toggle'. Print Edition | Subscribe