One woman’s story perfectly demonstrates the importance of a movie like Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians opened in theaters across the country this week, and it’s an important film for many reasons. Primarily because it’s the first major motion picture to feature an all-Asian cast and an Asian-American lead in 25 years.
And that fact, while disheartening because it should have happened so much sooner, is why the representation in this film matters so much. A beautiful, emotional viral thread written by HuffPost editor Kimberly Yam shows just how much.
Not since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club has Hollywood made a big movie featuring an all-Asian cast. Crazy Rich Asians is based on author Kevin Kwan’s bestselling book — and the romantic comedy is already a huge bestseller with movie audiences just days after its release.
Yam took to her Twitter account to share her lifelong struggles with her Chinese identity, and what this film means to her. Warning: her story is beautiful, heartbreaking, and will make you cry.
You’re 8 years old.
Your 3rd grade class orders chinese food & your father delivers it. You are so excited to see your pops in school. He’s your hero. But apparently other kids don’t think he’s so cool. They laugh at him and mimic his accent. You don’t want to be Chinese anymore. pic.twitter.com/6vW9DXZK6x
— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
You’re 9 years old.— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
You attend ballet camp. Someone tells you that another girl *hates* you. She thinks your eyes are an “ugly shape.” You don’t have the vocabulary to describe why that’s hurtful. But now, you hate your distinctly Asian face. You don’t want to be Chinese anymore.
You’re 16 years old.— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
It’s Halloween & 2 students come to class dressed as “Asian tourists.” They’ve taped their eyes back, strapped cameras around their necks and chucked up peace signs. You feel uncomfortable. When a teacher asks if you find the costumes offensive, you say no.
Yam says after the Halloween incident, she was afraid of being seen as “uptight,” so she pretended the incredibly offensive costumes didn’t offend her.
She says her perspective began shifting once she went to college.
You’re 17 years old.— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
You’re off to college & you meet other Asians. They have pride that you never had. You meet a boy & he wonders why you don’t speak your family’s tongue. Why your favorite food is grilled cheese, not xiao long bao. You say your family doesn’t live that way.
But you know you rejected your culture a long time ago. You know you refused to speak Chinese & you remember calling your mother’s food “disgusting.” It’s fucked. It clicks. It’s a race to reclaim everything you’ve hated about yourself. For the 1st time, you want to be Chinese.— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
While in college, Yam says she spent time “repatriating” herself. She tattooed her family’s name into her skin and says she refused to allow anyone to make her feel the way she did when she was a child. She says that’s when she began to “love” being Chinese.
And she shares why a movie like Crazy Rich Asians matters so very much to her.
You’re 25 years old.— Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
You see a movie with an all-asian cast at a screening and for some reason you’re crying and you can’t stop. You’ve never seen a cast like this in Hollywood. Everyone is beautiful.
You’re so happy you’re Chinese. #CrazyRichAsians #RepresentationMatters
Kimberly Yam’s story, her experience, and her feelings are why representation is so powerful and matters so very much. When people tell us these things, we need to believe them (Hollywood, I’m looking directly at you first). And many people are telling the world just that.
— Akane Otani (@akaneotani) August 18, 2018
Great thread 👇👇👇. And feel free to interchange Chinese with your ethnic minority and understand what pop culture representation means to so many https://t.co/GwCUIO0RuS
— Cary Chow (@CaryChow_) August 18, 2018
This is beautiful. Agents, publishers, producers — take heed. There are so many valuable, life-changing and necessary stories out here like this that deserve to be developed in some way. https://t.co/YYPKcEiUfX
— Rebecca Shuri She Ready Carroll (@rebel19) August 18, 2018
Constance Wu, the Taiwanese-American actor (also known for Fresh Off The Boat on ABC) is the leading lady in Crazy Rich Asians. In a recent interview with TIME, she perfectly nails why this film matters so much to Asians and Asian actors in particular.
“We are not supporting roles,” Wu says. “We are stars on our own journeys.”