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‘One Day’: The South Asian Representation We’ve Been Waiting For.

Representation for women of colour has always been of importance to me, but I never felt like many attempts resonated. Then came ‘One Day’s’ Emma in the latest limited series adaptation. She’s a South Asian woman, but the choice to have her be South Asian seemed unintentional and instead the result of pure acting merit. Too often, films and TV shows offer a ‘token brown character.’ Sometimes they are made to be the butt of a joke (try Apu from The Simpsons). Sometimes they are merely there to tick a box for ‘diversity’. But the casting of Emma in ‘One Day’ was authentic and gave me the representation I had long been craving.

 

One Day was different. Emma’s universal struggles, lost in her 20’s and questioning self-worth, resonated deeply with my experiences as a South Asian woman who grew up in a predominantly white area. You feel alienated and you question yourself a hundred times a day. Am I doing enough? Am I saying enough? Am I enough? In many instances I was made to feel that I wasn’t. 

 

 Watching the show in my final year at university, I realised these voices still echo within me. I found it astounding that whilst this character was originally written as a white woman, everything she was feeling was painfully real to me. It took her being played by and as woman of colour for me to truly feel seen. I’ve watched the 2014 film adaptation and although I loved it, the character felt so far from my reality. This is what representation does. It’s crucial to showcase South Asian women beyond narratives solely focussed on racial issues. Whilst, sharing their unique experiences on these matters is important, I also just want to see a woman of colour play a woman. That’s it. A woman of colour sharing the universal feelings and experiences of being a woman. That’s when I feel seen. Because we are that too. I don’t need a Marvel superhero movie where we get our first ‘Asian woman superhero’. One Day is enough. We’re shown 20 years of Emma’s life where she’s simply existing, as we all do.

 

 In the effort of not spoiling anything. In the last episode Emma reflects on her 20’s, “unappreciated at the time.” It’s a bittersweet truth. I realised negative attributes towards my race and external opinion were still fuelling my lack of self-love. The series allowed me to also reflect. I don’t want to reach my adulthood filled with regret that I didn’t appreciate my 20’s. Every woman deserves to be comfortable in their skin. I would hope that when I reflect later in life, I’m happy I grew to love myself regardless of anyone else.  


Words; Jessica Sansoa, she/her

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