The actress who portrayed an Asian girl speaking broken English while riding her bike through rice paddies in a Super Bowl campaign ad for Rep. Pete Hoekstra is now apologizing for the ad, which has been deemed “racist” and “offensive” by people from both parties.
“It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven,” actress Lisa Chan wrote on her Facebook page. “I feel horrible about my participation, and I am determined to resolve my actions.”
Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan, is challenging Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow for her U.S. Senate seat.
Chan, a 21-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident, said she was “deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities.
“As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am,” Chan said on her Facebook page.
Besides her part-time acting gigs, Chan is also the founder of a nonprofit organization that works toward improving education for underprivileged youth. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in sociology and competed in the Miss California pageant this year after assuming the Miss Napa Valley title in December.
The blog Angry Asian Man was the first to identify Chan as the actress in the Hoekstra ad.
The 30-second Hoekstra ad begins with the resounding sound of a gong as Chan bicycles down a narrow dirt path bordered by rice paddies. A pointed straw hat hangs on her back as she thanks Hoekstra’s Michigan Senate race opponent, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, for supporting policies that send American jobs to China.
“Debbie spend so much American money, you borrow more and more from us,” Chan says in broken English. ”Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you Debbie. Spend It Now.”
Hoekstra’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the ad or Chan’s remorse over participating in it.