My friend Kristal happened to have a copy of this book on her at the exact moment I was writing this blog. So I snapped a shot on the fake grass at the Americana in Glendale.
My experience with diversity in media is three-fold: as a woman of color, an actress, and a sometimes media critic.
As a woman of color, I know the power of seeing the intimate details of your real life on the screen for the first time. (Cecily Tyson combing Viola Davis’s natural hair on How To Get Away With Murder was one such moment.) I know the familiarity of these maternal moments, the simultaneous exhale and inhale that happen in seeing them on screen. I know too what it’s like to see a black woman portrayed on TV and think “That’s not realistic. A white person wrote that.”
As an actor, I’m too familiar with the pain and rejection of reading casting notices that shamelessly state “sorry, no black girls,” or “light-skinned black girls only.” I know the internal strength necessary to not internalize the constant anti-black sentiment spewed in every part in our culture. I also know the sometimes boldness that prompts me to submit anyway because I know I could rock the project.
As an actor, I can also attest to the lack of opportunities for Asian Americans in Hollywood. I see it at casting sessions. It’s such an uncommon occurrence for me to see Asian American actors at casting sessions that every time it happens, I am very cognizant of the fact that it is happening.
When I learned that Crazy Rich Asians was the first Hollywood film with a predominately Asian American cast in 25 years, (the first was 1993’s The Joy Luck Club), my mouth dropped open.
This is unacceptable.
I knew that I had to support the film, even if just to support diversity in film. I did so, though, with the full expectation that the movie would rock.
It did not disappoint.
I won’t review the film, mostly because I feel like I can’t do it justice. I know that some references flew over my head simply because I’m not Asian American, and I’m okay that. Actually, I’m thrilled by that. Since I’m not not an insider, I’d dare not try to review a film that was made about a group of people for that group of people, while still being accessible to the masses. Folks have tried and consequently have been dragged through the Twitter streets for their culturally clueless reviews.
I will say this: I loved seeing the generational and class conflicts. I loved the digs on American culture. I loved the mahjong game at the end of the movie. I loved that so many songs were in Mandarin, even though I was clueless as to what was being communicated.
I didn’t love my response at the end of the film. I thought: I wanted it to have more depth.
Then I realized that the movie delivered on its promise to be a funny romantic comedy.
What I longed for was a drama featuring an Asian American cast; perhaps even a dramedy. What I longed for was more Asian Americans in film, for the entertainment industry to reflect the diversity of the US and the lived experiences of all of its citizens, especially those of Asian descent.
A sequel’s reportedly on the way, and I’m here for it. But in the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to rewatch The Joy Luck Club and episodes of Fresh Off The Boat.
Did you see Crazy Rich Asians? If so, what did you think?