In the blockbuster 2018 romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, we watched the swoon-worthy romance of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Prince Charming in the flesh, Henry Golding) unfold on the silver screen. The film, adapted from Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel of the same name, was a major Hollywood breakthrough.
Aside from breaking industry records as the highest-grossing romantic comedy to hit theaters in years, Crazy Rich Asians presented mainstream audiences with their first Asian-American lead in 25 years (since The Joy Luck Club) as well as the first all-Asian ensemble cast. One Asian-American actress, however, missed out on the opportunity to be part of the experience and is speaking up about the shocking reason why.
Brenda Song sat down with Teen Vogue to talk about her colorful career path. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody actress, who fans can catch up with on the new Hulu series Dollface, also shared one of her most painful career rejections — being denied the chance to audition for Crazy Rich Asians because of her cultural background.
“A lot of people don't know this, but I never got to read for Crazy Rich Asians, ever,” she revealed in the interview. “Their reasoning behind that, what they said was that my image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words. It broke my heart.”
Song, who is of Thai and Hmong descent, was thrilled at the prospect of starring in a film with other Asian actors. Throughout her career, many of her most famous roles had been earned as the result of colorblind casting, and Crazy Rich Asians was an opportunity for her to be herself. Being passed up for an audition made her feel isolated and unsure of herself. “I was like, ‘Where do I fit?’”
Crazy Rich Asians director Jon Chu quickly jumped on Twitter to respond to Song’s claims. “Would these words ever come out of my mouth? Nope. Makes no sense,” Chu tweeted. “I feel horrible she thinks this is the reason. The fact is I love Brenda Song and am a fan. I didn't need her to audition because I already knew who she was!"
🤷🏻♂️would these words ever come out of my mouth? Nope makes no sense. I feel horrible she thinks this is the reason. The fact is I love Brenda Song and am a fan. I didn’t need her to audition because I already knew who she was!— Jon M. Chu (@jonmchu) November 20, 2019
Development for the second and third movies in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is reportedly underway. We may have met many of the characters who will continue in the films, if the rumor that the sequel will follow the complicated relationship between Astrid Teo (Gemma Chan) and Charlie Wu (Harry Shum, Jr.) is correct, there is still a plethora of crazy rich Asians left to explore in Kwan's stories. Just saying!