Actress in controversial ad for Pete Hoekstra’s Senate campaign is ‘deeply sorry’

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

An Asian-American actress who starred in the controversial ad produced by Michigan Republican Pete Hoekstra's U.S. Senate campaign has apologized for her participation.

"I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities," Lisa Chan, the actress, wrote in a statement on her Facebook page. "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. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions."

In the ad, which ran in Michigan during the Super Bowl, Chan portrays a young Asian woman riding a bike through a field of rice paddies and speaking broken English while thanking Hoekstra's opponent, Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, for her "reckless spending."

"Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow," the woman says. "Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."

The spot sparked outrage in the Asian American community. "It is very disturbing that Mr. Hoekstra's campaign chose to use harmful negative stereotypes that intrinsically encourage anti-Asian sentiment," the Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote group said in a statement.

In 2010, Chan, who studied sociology at the University of California Berkeley, launched The Strive, a 501 c(3) charity organization "geared towards empowering at-risk youth through inspiration and improved public education."

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, which profiled her in 2007, Chan won Miss San Francisco's Outstanding Teen pageant that year with a platform of "empowering the youth toward an educational revolution" while maintaining a 4.2 grade-point average.

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