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It feels really good to be always breaking down walls and starting something new and trying something new. You never know – it’s hit and miss. It’s nice to be able to portray an Asian-American on camera without having an accent, or without having to be spoofy. And I think that’s a big step forward, because there are still representations of people that are more comedic. And that’s not what I’m playing. I’m just playing somebody who represents anyone else who would be living in America or outside of it, who is just a regular person.

By Lucy Liu on playing the genderbent and racebent Joan Watson in “Elementary.”
The gender-swapping role has generated some controversy among Holmes devotees, but for Liu, “changing it up is a good thing. … If you look at the percentage of ethnicities and the percentage of women on television now, it’s such a different time. That’s how you keep things current. You update and you change them accordingly. … People probably thought the same thing about the president of the United States, how is it possible that you have someone who’s not Caucasian, in that vision. I think things are shifting quite a bit.”

Casting an Asian-American actress for the role also goes against tradition, though Liu says she doesn’t think about what ethnic category she falls into. But she concedes that it’s nice she can represent a certain group of people.

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