7 Asian Actors Who Actually Play More Than a Sidekick Role on Disney Channel

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Think of all your favorite Disney Channel television series from the early ’00s, like Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire. Now, compare those to some of your faves from today, like Bizaardvark and Bunk’d. Can you spot the obvious difference between the shows? If you’ll notice, the aforementioned two feature young, white talents, while the latter two feature people of color.

It’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with programs that have Caucasian stars — like, we love Liv and Maddie — but it’s awesome to see that there’s progress being made when it comes to diversity on television, especially on a network that’s as influential as Disney Channel. And these minorities aren’t only playing background characters, either — no no, there are at least eight black stars who are the leading actors on their respective Disney Channel shows. Upon researching, we noticed that there are at least seven Asian actors who are doing the same.

We’re talking young stars from Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Indian backgrounds. How awesome is that?! Nicole Gale Anderson could’ve been a contender, as her mother is of Filipino ethnicity, but she wasn’t on every single episode of JONAS nor was she on all the promo posters — Chelsea Kane made more poster appearances — and she definitely played a sidekick to the Jonas Brothers. None of these Asian actors can say the same… ’cause they’re all front and center:

Olivia Rodrigo

Though Olivia's mother is of Western European descent (mostly Irish and German), her father is Filipino, hence, Olivia's olive-toned complexion and darker features. And she just so happens to be one of the two main stars on Disney Channel's Bizaardvark!

"It's really amazing because we're on Disney Channel and we get to show young kids that you can be whoever you want to be," she exclaimed to Shine On Media. "I feel very lucky to be in a position where I can be that for kids."

Photo: Disney Channel

Madison Hu

Bizaardvark's other leading lady, Madison, is a proud Chinese-American.

"I think it's really cool that we're having more diversity in television," she told Shine On Media. "I think it's important for girls and boys growing up to see someone who looks like them on TV."

"I remember growing up, I never really saw a lot of Asian actors on TV," she recalled. "Because of that, I thought I wouldn't get cast on TV or movies. I'm really glad I will be able to show girls and boys they can be on TV and they can be in movies, no matter their race or ethnicity."

Photo: Disney Channel

Karan Brar

Karan broke down a major barrier when he was cast on Jessie: He became the first-ever Indian-American actor to star on a primetime show on Disney Channel! To that, he said, "I think it's both cool and exciting to be able to help further introduce my culture on Disney Channel, as well as be able to expand the audience's cultural boundaries."

"A few times families have told me how they really appreciate the Indian culture and community being represented on Disney Channel," Karan added. 'It means a lot to parents and their kids that they can watch the channel and have a character to relate to... Hearing these stories makes my job ten times better."

Of course, you can argue that his character took more of a backseat to Debby Ryan's on the series. BUT, he plays a far more important role on Jessie's spin-off, Bunk'd, so props to Kar!

Photo: Disney Channel

Nina Lu

Like her fellow Bunk'd co-star, Nina's bringing more diversity to the network. The 13-year-old, who was cast as Tiffany on the show despite having no other professional roles on her resume, is of Chinese descent.

Photo: Disney Channel

Piper Curda

The 19-year-old actress, who you know as Jasmine Kang on Disney's I Didn't Do It, is reportedly Caucasian on her mother's side and Korean on her father's. (Her dad was actually adopted from Korea.)

Photo: Disney Channel

Peyton Elizabeth Lee

After the success of Fresh Off the Boat and the premiere of Dr. Ken a couple years back, Disney decided to introduce an Asian-American family TV series of its own.

In 2016, Disney Channel picked up the show Andi Mack, starring young (& Asian) newcomer Peyton as the title character. Here's the official synopsis: "The story introduces Andi as she's about to celebrate her 13th birthday. She's eager to have just a little teenage fun and adventure, but that may never happen because her strict mother is doing everything in her power to keep her from turning out like her older sister, Bex, who dropped out of school as a teenager and left home and now, in her late 20s, still doesn't know what she wants out of life."

Photo: Disney Channel

Brenda Song

Brenda is the OG!

For years, Brenda, who's the daughter of a Hmong father and a Thai mother, proved to be a great sidekick on Disney Channel faves, like Get a Clue and Phil of the Future, but she had her bright, shining moment when The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (and then The Suite Life on Deck) hit the air. You could say that she's not THE lead, considering the show focused on the Sprouse twins' antics, but, LBR, was London Tipton ever a sidekick? Pshh.

Photo: Disney Channel

You can reach this post’s author, Kaitlin Cubria, on Twitter and Instagram!

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