To all the Asian-Americans in Hollywood: Stepping into the spotlight

Emma Williams

Going from a background character with no lines to a lead role that carries a movie is a radical transition, one that many minorities are making as people have started to realize the lack of representation in Hollywood. In 2018, there are finally stories being told on the big screen that represent more people than just the average white person. Obviously, there are still strides to go until everyone feels represented in movies, but this year, Hollywood has taken a big step. This past August alone was an immense success for Asian-American led movies.

Starting off strong, “Crazy Rich Asians” was released in U.S. theaters on Aug. 15 with an all-Asian cast, directed by Jon M. Chu and based off of a book by the same name written by Kevin Kwan. This movie was a huge success at the U.S. box office and in the minds of fans. Many supporters of “Crazy Rich Asians” believe it single-handedly revived the rom-com, a genre that was slowly dying out after many years without a highly successful movie.

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) finally gets to visit Asia with her rich boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) after dreaming of one day traveling there to connect with her family’s culture after growing up in the United States. Rachel suddenly finds herself entering unfamiliar territory creating experiences in a new country and a higher social class. She embraces everything from the exhilarating food market to the lingo she had not learned.

Following, on Aug. 17, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” made its debut on Netflix instead of theaters. Unlike “Crazy Rich Asians,” this movie seamlessly intertwined representation with the plot that didn’t necessarily require an Asian-American lead. While the movie could stay relatively the same with a white lead, there is an Asian-American one. This is important because it proves representation does not mean creating more movies with stereotypical Asian leads; representation means representing a race or ethnicity as a human with human characteristics. Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor) loves her Korean smoothies, but she also loves her romance novels. Teenage girls of any race can relate to her life.

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With easy access for anyone with a Netflix account, the movie instantly blew up. Jenny Han wrote the trilogy that the movie is based on, and it was highly anticipated by readers of the books. To say the least, fans were not disappointed. Anyone with a Twitter account could tell readers, and those who had never heard of it before, were eating up every adorable moment of the rom-com. The chemistry between Lara Jean and love interest Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) is undeniable, and people all around the world want a Peter of their own. If that isn’t enough to show the support, this movie even started a new meme that lets people relate the title to their own love-life experiences.

Finally, on Aug. 31, “Searching” was released in all U.S. theaters after a limited release the weekend before. Director Aneesh Chaganty used an interesting point-of-view to tell this story. Surprisingly, this movie is not the first to be shot from the perspective of a computer screen. However, it is making history as the first Hollywood thriller to ever have an Asian-American in the lead role. Main character David Kim (John Cho) is distressed over his daughter’s disappearance (as any parent would be) and takes matters into his own hands with access to her laptop that leads his quest to find her (as many parents probably would not do).

As much as these movies have made an impact, not everyone can relate to a woman thrown into her elite boyfriend’s family, a teenage girl falling in love with her fake boyfriend or a dad on a mission to recover his daughter. But each movie is entertaining, interesting, and taking a step in the right direction. With these movies to pave the way, more can be made without the stereotypes that Asian-Americans have faced in the past. Many white people do not understand what it feels like to be underrepresented; there’s a surplus of movies in every genre showcasing all-white casts or white lead characters. But, by simply looking around, people can see that not everyone is white, so it leads viewers to question why it has taken this long for Hollywood to represent America as it is.

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