Hollywood has made considerable strides in Asian representation this year, with noteworthy accomplishments such as “Everything Everywhere All at Once” historic Oscar wins, Netflix’s “Beef,” and the upcoming “American Born Chinese” on Disney+.
The show features a nuanced portrayal of Asian American identity in a phantasmagorical world of Chinese mythology. However, Ke Huy Quan, who plays the character of Freddy Wong in the series, initially hesitated to join the Asian-led ensemble due to the portrayal of several stereotypical Asian tropes.
Hollywood’s Asian representation is on the rise with the upcoming release of “American Born Chinese” on Disney+ on May 24
Quan, during a post-screening Q&A at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night, shared that he passed on the role initially. He expressed concerns that the portrayal of Asians should not continue in the same vein in 2023. However, after discussing the creative vision of the show with the team and understanding the struggles that the character goes through and what it means to have such a stereotypical portrayal of Asians, he agreed to play the role.
Based on Gene Luen Yang’s 2006 graphic novel of the same name, “American Born Chinese” is about an average teenager, Jin Wang, who becomes embroiled in a battle between Chinese mythological gods after befriending a new student, Wei-Chen. The series features a star-studded Asian ensemble cast, including Michelle Yeoh, Daniel Wu, Stephanie Hsu, Ronny Chieng, Poppy Liu, Lisa Lu, James Hong, and the talented up-and-coming actors Jimmy Liu and Ben Wang.
The show’s creative team members, including VFX supervisor Kaitlyn Yang, costume consultant Phillip Lim, and cast members Chin Han, Yeo Yann Yann, Rosalie Chiang, Sydney Taylor, and Leonard Wu, attended the Q&A session. Yang was stunned by the presence of veteran actors like Yeoh and Wu in the series adaptation of his novel. Still, he praised the young talent in the show, especially Wang and Liu, for embodying their characters so well.
Daniel Wu, who plays the Monkey King in the show, noted that the series is nothing like the ones he watched growing up, such as “Sixteen Candles” and Long Duk Dong, which portrayed Asian Americans as caricatures. The show, in contrast, knows the intricacies of what it means to be Asian American and is a story from the Asian community, for everyone else.
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You should know that “American Born Chinese” is an important milestone for Asian representation in Hollywood, featuring a nuanced portrayal of Asian American identity in a phantasmagorical world of Chinese mythology. With a talented ensemble cast and an excellent creative team, the show promises to be a hit among viewers when it premieres on Disney+ on May 24.