Actor Charles Melton says he'll no longer 'suppress Asian identity'

Riverdale star Charles Melton says he will no longer ‘remain silent’ on his experiences as a Korean American after admitting to ‘suppressing’ his racial identity for years. 

The 30-year-old to a white American father and Korean immigrant mother who met while his dad was stationed at a US Army base in Korea.  

Melton admitted to ignoring his Asian background for years growing up by instead trying to identify as a ‘proud American citizen.’ 

He recalled feeling ‘shame’ when friends made comments about his house ‘smelling funny’ because of his mother’s home-cooked Korean meals and kimchi.   

‘At school, I never learned about my Korean American history – or Asian American history at all. If you never learn about your own history, how can you really exist?

‘Trying to fit in at school, I chased the American dream by being a star athlete, all the while suppressing my Asian identity,’ he continued. 

‘I remember even beating everyone to the punch by making Asian jokes before anyone else would.’ 

The actor is known for his role as Reggie Mantle in the hit CW series Riverdale. Above he is pictured with co-stars KJ Apa (left), Casey Cott (second from right) and Cole Sprouse (far right) in 2018

Melton described coming to terms with his Korean heritage after trying to suppress his roots growing up. He is pictured above with his mother from a 2017 Instagram post

Melton (pictured with co-stars Camila Mendes and KJ Apa) shared his struggle to reconcile both sides of his racial identity, having often been told he is not ‘white’ or ‘Asian enough’.

Charles Melton, third from the left, is known for playing Reggie on the hit show Riverdale

Charles, in a scene from Riverdale, says he’ll now embrace his Asian heritage. ‘What was I afraid of?’ he asked in a recent essay that came in the wake of anti-Asian violence in the US

Melton said his reckoning amid the recent violent acts against the Asian American community has led him to wonder if he helped contribute to such crimes.     

‘Could I have done more for my community? Could I have spoken out more? What was I afraid of?

‘Today, that all changes,’ he wrote. ‘I will no longer remain silent about my lived experience. The hate crimes that have swept the country have forced me to realize how important the platform I have is and the responsibility that comes with it.

He continued: ‘I want to reconcile my identity and come to terms with who I am, despite the pain. I want to uplift the AAPI experience through storytelling, caring, understanding, and kindness that I can share with the world.’  

Charles Melton, who has an Instagram following, where he posted a recent hiking excursion, said: ‘The hate crimes that have swept the country have forced me to realize how important the platform I have.’ He said he’d use it for good, including standing up for other Asians

Melton, seen at right in Riverdale, said he wants to ‘reconcile my identity and come to terms with who I am’

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