I’ve been writing about TV a pretty long time.
But I can’t recall any moment on Australian mainstream television quite like MasterChef Australia last night: here were 5 Asian-Australians all competing for a Reality TV goal.
Brendan Pang, Jess Liemantara, Khanh Ong, Poh Ling Yeow and Reynold Poernomo were all in the fight for Immunity.
This speaks to the diversity of 10 and Endemol Shine’s casting. Watching on were judge Melissa Leong and contestant Sarah Tiong, plus the remaining 6 contestants Callum Hann, Emelia Jackson, Laura Sharrad, Reece Hignell, Simon Toohey, Tessa Boersma and judges Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo.
While the Reality genre broadly embraces diversity better than Scripted, this was a compelling moment for representation.
As Poh Ling Yeow explained, “When I came to Australia all I wanted to do was fit in. I hated the way I looked. I hated the fact I came to school with fried rice instead of a sandwich. And as I grew I realised how much of these experiences of feeling on the outside fed me to become a stronger person and celebrate all the things that make me different.”
The diversity also didn’t end there. Khanh also told the judges his “Beauty & the Beast” dish had been something he had served up for his gay friends in the past (years ago a comment like that would probably have been edited out). Brendan Pang has also recently acknowledged he is in a same sex relationship.
Melissa Leong wrote on Instagram that it was a ground-breaking moment.
“Diversity and representation does not come at the detriment of others, it is for the inclusivity of us all. I am proud to be Australian. To be part of a nation whose identity is indigenous and multicultural, we are richer because of ancient and recent.
“To every person who never felt seen, this is for you, may it give you hope. To every person who is yet to feel seen, you are valued and your moment is on its way. We rise together.”