The Straits Times
Published on Jan 22, 2013

Breaking stereotypes on MTV show Underemployed


Sophia from MTV's new comedic drama Underemployed is book-smart and virginal.

The character seems to be playing into the laziest Asian stereotypes but Michelle Ang, the actress in the role, throws a curveball in a phone interview with Life!: "Sophia was originally written to be a redhead." In the final round of auditions, she was up against an actual redhead and an African-American girl. Score one for colour-blind casting.

Underemployed is about five young friends trying to make it big in Chicago after graduating from college and that momentous, yet nebulous, transition to adulthood. Think of it as the popular 1990s sitcom Friends reimagined for the MTV generation. It premieres on MTV SEA (StarHub Channel 533) on Jan 27.

Given her heritage, she has been always described as an Asian actress or ethnic actress, a pigeon-holing she would rather do without. "Why can't I just be known as a New Zealand actress?" she asks.