As the title makes clear, the movie Crazy Rich Asians is full of glitz, glamour, and an all-Asian cast. On Tuesday, star Constance Wu tweeted about Crazy Rich Asians making history for Asian Americans, along with her TV show Fresh Off The Boat. While the film has faced some criticism, Wu spoke about why this movie is making history in its depiction of Asian Americans. And her post noted just how important that representation is since portrayals of Asian Americans have been shockingly lacking in Hollywood.
Crazy Rich Asians will hit U.S. movie theaters on Aug. 15 and is based on the bestselling 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan. Wu stars as the Chinese-American Rachel who doesn't realize that her boyfriend Nick is one of the richest most eligible bachelors in Asia until she travels to Singapore with him for a wedding. Because of some of the film's casting and its depiction of an extremely wealthy family, Crazy Rich Asians has faced a bit of controversy. As ABC News reported, some people criticized the casting of Henry Golding as Nick, saying he wasn't Asian enough to play the role because the actor is half-British. In her tweet, Wu acknowledged that the film won't represent everyone, but she stressed that Crazy Rich Asians is a positive step forward when it comes to representing Asians and, in particular, Asian Americans in Hollywood.
As Wu noted, she already stars in the "first network TV show in over 20 years to center an Asian American story" with Fresh Off The Boat. The last show to do this was Margaret Cho's All American Girl, which was canceled after one season. Now, Wu said she is experiencing "déjà vu" since she is in "the first Hollywood Studio film in over 25 years to center an Asian American's story," which is a reference to 1993's The Joy Luck Club. Wu wrote:
"Before CRA, I hadn't even done a tiny part in a studio film ... I never dreamed I would get to star in one ... because I had never seen that happen to someone who looked like me. CRA is changing that, just like FOTB did. CRA not only centers an Asian American story, it is also filled with a talented, dynamic, unique all-Asian cast."
Wu has spoken out about the representation of Asian American in Crazy Rich Asians before. Prior to her lengthy statement, she tweeted a clarification that Crazy Rich Asians is the first film in a quarter of a century to feature Asian Americans in the lead roles, but not the first to have Asian leads — Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Memoirs of A Geisha (2005) come to mind. At CinemaCon2018, Wu said, as reported by Vulture, "What's special about this film is it differentiates Asians from the Asian-American experience. A lot of times they think putting in a face of color and filling a quota. Our culture is more than skin deep."
She also told Entertainment Weekly how Crazy Rich Asians is rare in that it features a contemporary story about Asian Americans. "Crazy Rich Asians is very special in that it is, I believe, the first American studio movie to star all Asians that is set entirely in a contemporary setting," she said. "I mean, we had Joy Luck Club, which was many decades ago, but [in] Joy Luck Club, half of that is a period piece, and that's the immigrant story. It's about these women who came here and are immigrants, and Crazy Rich Asians is the opposite. Yes, Rachel is an immigrant, and she's going back to Asia, but she's not going back in time."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 17 million Asian Americans. Pew Research Center reports an even higher number of Americans of Asian descent at 20.4 million in 2015. Yet, to Wu's point, Hollywood rarely produces films or TV shows that show Asian-American experiences. So while the actor understands that not every Asian American will be able to relate to Crazy Rich Asians, it's still a major win when it comes to representation on screen.
"I hope Asian American kids watch CRA and realize that they can be heroes of their own stories," Wu wrote. "I know CRA won't represent every Asian American. So for those who don't feel seen, I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We're not all the same, but we all have a story."
Most people will never be "crazy rich" or date someone who is that wealthy, and not all Asian Americans have connections to anybody in Asia. But for Wu, that doesn't make her character in Crazy Rich Asians any less historic.