If you didn’t know the backstory of forthcoming film Crazy Rich Asians, you would think it was fiction. Based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 best-selling novel, the movie takes its inspiration from the writer’s elite upbringing in Singapore: his grandfather helped invent Chinese cure-all Tiger Balm; his cousin is Nancy Kwan, one of Hollywood’s first Asian stars; and as a kid he bred arowanas – exotic fish that now sell for up to $300,000 each. The “crazy” wealth is on an extreme scale: cruise ships with multiple pools, climate-controlled closets, and more private planes than cars. It also raises the stakes in Kwan’s story about a romantic relationship between two New York University professors. After dating for two years, Nick Young (Henry Golding) flies Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to his native Singapore to meet his family. Once there, Rachel learns that Nick is the highly sought-after heir to an enormous fortune, and any prospect of a future with Rachel in it sparks jealousy, sabotage and bullying that involves a bloody gutted fish.
But the film’s exotic flowers and million-dollar gems have been eclipsed by a far weightier conversation. There is a dearth of major Hollywood roles available to Asian-American actors – they are given less than 5% of speaking parts, according to a University of Southern California study – meaning director Jon M Chu’s film has already become a beacon for representation. For the film adaptation, he called for aspiring actors to submit audition tapes to get a chance to play a part. “We just really wanted to open up the process, because we know how hard it is to get in the door,” Chu said in his announcement, “especially for Asian characters of different shapes, sizes and talents.”
Actors - Visibility - United - States - Issue
Asian actors have struggled to gain visibility in the United States, an issue cemented...
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