Crazy Rich Asians


Film poster for Crazy Rich Asians (from PopSugar)

Priya Mukhi, Managing Editor

Two weeks after its debut in the United States, Crazy Rich Asians remains at the top of the box office, projected to rake in at least $23 million this Labor Day weekend. The film, based off of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel, is the first Hollywood production in 25 years (since The Joy Luck Club) to feature a predominantly Asian American cast.

Crazy Rich Asians follows the sweet and intelligent NYU economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to meet his family and attend a wedding. Little does Rachel know that her boyfriend’s family is one of the most respected and wealthy families in Singapore, and she is in for a whirlwind adventure facing the harsh prejudices and obstacles that come with falling in love with one of Singapore’s most elite.

The shocking levels of wealth and grandeur in this movie may seem unreal, but author Kevin Kwan claims that the book and movie are based on some of his own experiences. In an interview with Vanity Fair back in 2013, Kwan explained, “I was born in Singapore, and I lived there until I was 12. I had a very fortunate upbringing. This book really is, in many ways, inspired by my childhood… I used my family as a very loose inspiration for the lineage you see in the book.”

The romantic comedy has received tremendous praise for its revolutionary levels of representation. In the past, Hollywood has been accused of white-washing many Asian characters, including popular movies such as Doctor Strange and Aloha. Having a principally Asian-American cast is a sign that  Hollywood may be finally becoming more inclusive, and gives hope to many aspiring actors of color.

The actors of this movie are also quite passionate about the new level of representation displayed in the movie. In a recent interview with the TODAY show, Michelle Yeoh, who plays Nick’s mother, mentioned: “We’re [Asians] not just a token for diversity. Real representation means that you have a meaningful character with hopes and dreams, and in Crazy Rich Asians, that’s what we all have. It’s so diverse, but at the same time it’s about love, it’s about family. I think it really shows another side of Asians to our friends around the world, and it will be very impactful.”

It is important to note, however, that Crazy Rich Asians doesn’t represent all Asians. The cast is made up of mostly East-Asians, and the only South-Asians represented in the movie are servants to the main characters. This is indicative that further work must be done in improving representation in Hollywood. Nevertheless, Crazy Rich Asians is still a great step in the right direction toward inclusivity.