Ross Butler is speaking out about why representing the Asian American community on television is so important to him. In a recent interview, the star explained that he wants to show the next generation that race should never define what you can pursue in life.
"I am not afraid to stand up and represent who I am. I also want to be that role model for the next generation who can teach these young Asian American boys and girls that they can do the same thing and not buy into these stereotypes," Ross said to Rogue Magazine. "I want to teach them that they can be whoever they want to be."
However, Ross explained he didn't always think this way.
"Growing up I did everything to avoid it [his Asian heritage] and then it evolved into me buying into the jokes and even making the jokes myself. It was all this fake owning it, buying into the stereotypes. It was something I did to overcompensate, but it really stemmed from an insecurity," he said.
Aside from how Ross feels about representing his hertitage, he also noted that his 13 Reasons Why character Zach isn't someone whose race defines them.
"I put a lot of myself in Zach, he's this hopeless romantic and sensitive guy, and you're going to see that. That's what I love about him, he's not just this jock, but he struggles with being popular and if he wants to follow his heart. One of my favorite parts about Zach is that he's not defined by his race," Ross continued.
This isn't the first time Ross has talked about Asian American representation on TV. He previously spoke out about why he stopped auditioning for Asian-specific roles. Ross had a short run on Riverdale playing Reggie Mantle in Season 1 too before getting replaced by Charles Melton due to conflicting filming schedules, and both roles didn't have to go to someone of Asian decent – but they did and he wants to see more of that.
"As a community, we're fighting for Asians to play Asian roles," he told Mashable. "And then there's the other battle which is Asian Americans playing roles that aren't written for Asians, and I think that's something that completely should happen."
Way to go, Ross!