Growth of Asian Actors

Sara Cao, Reporter

This past month, your social media feed has probably been flooded with pictures of Peter Kavinsky from “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and Nick Young from “Crazy Rich Asians.” Most likely, you’ve been too busy ogling at how great Peter’s dimples are to notice that these two films are a huge success for the Asian community because they have Asians in most of their leading roles.

“Crazy Rich Asians,” released on August 15, 2018, is the first major studio film since “The Joy Luck Club” (released in 1993) in which an Asian filmmaker has directed an Asian-American story starring Asians in all of the leading roles. This film has since gained major recognition and praise from all over the world, topping the box office on its opening weekend. Not only does “Crazy Rich Asians” have a cast full of Asians, including Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Henry Golding and Ken Jeong, but it also features a multicultural soundtrack with Chinese songs. Constance Wu, who plays leading woman Rachel Chu, also plays a prominent role on “Fresh Off The Boat,” a TV show that takes a humorous look on the lives of Asian immigrants in America. Ken Jeong remarked in an interview with Variety magazine that although “Crazy Rich Asians” is the first film with a primarily Asian cast in 25 years, Wu has been filling that gap for four years with her work on “Fresh Off The Boat,” and the hit TV show helped get the movie made. The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” is undoubtedly a historical moment in Hollywood history with its cast full of Asian actors. Teresa Jiang, a freshman, stated when asked her opinion on the movie, “I love that people are finally recognizing all that Asians can do and will continue to do. The entire production was amazing and I’m happy that everyone else seems to enjoy and acknowledge it.” Nina Zhu, a sophomore, also stated, “I think “Crazy Rich Asians” did an amazing job capturing the different aspects of what it’s like to be an Asian American. Lots of times it referenced parts of my Chinese culture and made me happy to see some of my own traditions on the big screen.”

Meanwhile, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” released just two days after “Crazy Rich Asians,” is a huge Netflix hit and stars three Asian actresses (Lana Condor, Janel Parrish and Anna Cathcart). The movie has attracted a different platform of viewers as teenagers have flooded social media promoting and praising the movie. “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” proves to be a successful film for the growth of Asian actors as the producers of the film were able to finally create another rom-com that teenergers throughroughly enjoy (as there has been a decline in the popularity of rom-coms) with Asian actors in lead roles.

Before “Crazy Rich Asians” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” hit the screens, most people probably could have named only a few big screen Asian actors, for example Sandra Oh (holler at me “Grey’s Anatomy” fans), Brenda Song (my whole childhood), Ross Butler, and Harry Shum Jr. The release of these two films this past month has provided film viewers a wider spectrum of knowledge towards the Asian community, and by now most people could probably name more than a few Asian actors. The importance of diversity in Hollywood is unquestionably highlighted by the growth of Asian actors in the casts of these films.