Exclusive: Hollyoaks star Emma Lau responds to Serena and Becky's racism story

·3-min read

Note: This article contains discussion of racism and hate speech, which some readers may find upsetting.

Hollyoaks spoilers follow from Monday's E4 first look episode (January 24).

Hollyoaks star Emma Lau has spoken about the show's decision to explore racism in a new storyline for her character Serena Chen-Williams.

Serena featured in an upsetting scene in Monday's E4 first look episode, as conspiracy theorist Becky Quentin (Katie McGlynn) made offensive comments towards her.

Becky became aggressive after spotting Serena with a parcel that she had received from China. She then linked her shocking outburst to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing Serena to rush off in tears.

Becky's racism was immediately challenged by Cindy Cunningham (Stephanie Waring), who branded her a "nasty, bigoted little cow" and tried to support Serena.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

Speaking to Digital Spy about the emotional scene, Emma explained: "Becky's racist comment was to do with COVID-19, which I think is a really important issue that Hollyoaks are tackling and representing.

"It has been rampant during COVID. I know friends who've experienced it and it's horrible. It's great that Hollyoaks is delving into that issue.

"For Serena, she's had experience of this as it's happened to her before. I think it hits her quite badly, so she's going through a lot in upcoming episodes.

"It's all to do with her relationship with her culture, next week's Lunar New Year celebrations – and her relationship with Sid, of course!"

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

In October 2021, a study shared with ITV News revealed that hate crimes against East and Southeast Asian people in the UK had risen by 50% in the previous two years.

A separate study in November, published by I News, showed that instances of anti-Asian hate speech online had surged by 1662% in 2020 compared with the previous year. Both rises have been linked to the COVID pandemic.

Next week's episodes of Hollyoaks see the Chen-Williams family gather to celebrate Lunar New Year, but Becky's recent behaviour – along with various family dramas – could threaten to spoil the day.

Emma added: "It's so exciting that Hollyoaks have included Lunar New Year. Being part of the first East Asian family on a British soap is so exciting and it's a really important tradition to include and share with everyone.

"Every big city has a Chinatown and some sort of celebration during Lunar New Year, so it's nice to include it."

Hollyoaks airs new episodes from Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first-look screenings at 7pm on E4.

Read more Hollyoaks spoilers on our dedicated homepage

Readers can donate to besea.n (Britain's East and Southeast Asian Network), UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up to Racism, and End the Virus of Racism, which is committed to addressing racism against East and Southeast Asians.

Readers in the US can donate to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, AAPI Women Lead, and Stop AAPI Hate.

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