Diversity in Hollywood

Ananya Vasireddy, Contributing Writer

Recently, diversity in Hollywood has been a hot topic. In 2018, several movies starring Asian actors and actresses (including Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching) were released and garnered incredible success. The most notable among these films, Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians, sparked an important conversation about Hollywood’s serious underrepresentation of Asians in film. Unlike most Hollywood productions, Crazy Rich Asians features mainly people of color in its cast and crew, giving viewers around the world a chance to see their cultures depicted in Hollywood. Now, people are calling for more representation of diverse cultures in Hollywood movies, demonstrating the revolutionary impact this film has had on the industry.

Directed by Jon M. Chu, Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a Chinese-American economics professor who is invited by her boyfriend, Nicholas Young (Henry Golding), to attend a wedding in Singapore. When Rachel meets Nicholas’ relatives and friends, she is thrust into the luxurious world of the Singaporean elite, filled with complex social customs and traditions that are nearly impossible for Rachel to navigate. While some of Rachel’s experiences may seem crazy, they are true for many of the extremely wealthy socialites in Singapore. The film does an amazing job showcasing the incredibly glamorous lives these people live, including visuals of beautiful dresses, elaborate parties, and gorgeous jewelry. Even more importantly, Crazy Rich Asians skillfully represents many of the diverse cultures of Singapore.

For instance, several times throughout the movie, Rachel and the other characters engage in conversations fully in Cantonese and Mandarin. Much of the soundtrack consists of East Asian music and ancient traditions dating back millenia are represented in several scenes throughout the film. Additionally, unlike other Hollywood productions that portray Asians, this one does not reduce its characters to racist stereotypes. Instead, the characters are shown as human beings with thoughts and concerns that many Asians can relate to today.

As a result, given the much-needed representation Crazy Rich Asians offers and its artful execution of a fairytale-esque storyline, it should have come as no surprise that the movie would become such a hit. However, there were those who were skeptical when the movie first started production. After all, it is the first movie to have an all-Asian cast since the release of Joy Luck Club in 1993. Yet, the phenomenal success of Crazy Rich Asians should be proof to those in Hollywood that creating movies with diverse characters and inclusive storylines is not just what is right, but an effective way to achieve success at the box office.