Crazy rich representation

Emily Zhu, Staff Writer

Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story.

When Constance Wu, the heroine of “Crazy Rich Asians,” reflected on the concept of her role and how it elevates minority representation in film she said: “I mean, it kind of makes me want to cry right now…because I didn’t see that growing up.”
She continued, “I think every child should feel worthy and feel loved.”

Like most children coming from an immigrant family, I constantly felt a cultural duality growing up. Besides “Suite Life’s” iconic London Tipton, I rarely saw people on screen who looked like me. In traditional Hollywood media, Asian actors frequently portrayed the stereotypical standoffish, meek, secondary characters in the background: the piano prodigy, the math wizard, the martial arts instructor with exaggerated accents. Never have I seen an Asian person as the lead, influential role – until “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Seeing the film with my family, I was reminded that representation matters. Seeing your culture on the big screen matters. We could relate to Rachel Chu wearing the lucky color red to impress Nick Young’s parents; we could relate to the Young family gathering around the dinner table collectively folding dumplings. My parents were elated to recognize the background music being played, to recognize some of the actors from their childhood films.

It made me realize I should celebrate and be proud of my Asian heritage rather than dissociate myself.
As the first film in 25 years with an all Asian cast, and the first film in history with an Asian-American cast and director, the representation on screen was monumental. I was mesmerized to see Asians from all around the world, with different accents, ethnicities, and backgrounds brought together by a single project. It was truly heartwarming and empowering.

According to the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb, the movie earned approximately $76.8 million domestically by just the second weekend, more than doubling the reported $30 million it cost to make the film.

Admittedly, the film is overpowered by the “glitz and glam” and falls short in the rom-com plot, but the film’s major success gives me hope for further representation of minority groups in the Hollywood industry.

Every child should grow up feeling their story matters. Seeing idols on screen that look like them inspires them, for that could be them. The authentic stories portrayed in the cinematic world are the tickets of validity for anyone who ever feels underrepresented, unappreciated or excluded in the real world. Representation is the spark of societal unity, and this is only the beginning.