Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians has been a best-selling book, not only prompting two sequels but also inspiring a film—which is set to premiere on August 15th. Kwan’s book is loosely based off of his own experiences growing up in Singapore, and after selling millions of copies after its release in 2013, the book was quickly picked up by Nina Jacobson for production.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, the film centers around Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her relationship with her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding) as they venture to Singapore for what Rachel expects to be a normal “meet-the-family” event. As it turns out, Nick’s family is extravagantly rich—one of the most influential families in Asian society.
Although the film Crazy Rich Asians is sure to follow the book’s satire and humor, that is not the only aspect of the film that has gained notoriety.
Crazy Rich Asians has an all-Asian cast, making it one of the first films to have Asian actors play every role. As stated in the NYTimes, “Forget a few token parts here and there; in this one film, Asian actors…play everything: the romantic leads and sympathetic sidekicks, the comic foils and cads, the faces in the crowd.”
In a culture where whitewashing is normalized, even expected at times, an all-Asian cast is revolutionary and momentous. As the Crazy Rich Asians actress Sonoya Mizuno said, “It was such a pleasure to feel like I wasn’t there for a tokenistic reason.”
Despite the strides Crazy Rich Asians has taken towards racial representation, the opposition still existed throughout production and casting. For instance, during an early meeting with a producer, Kwan was asked to change the protagonist to a white female.
Even though there were difficulties in achieving an Asian cast, Crazy Rich Asians has sparked more conversations about the necessity of diversity in film, and it is sure to be a funny romantic comedy.