Director Jon M. Chu on Asian illustration in Hollywood
Jon M. Chu is perhaps best known for his work on “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018 and has been a director in Hollywood since 2008.
His films span multiple genres, from romantic comedies and dramas to action films and musicals. Chu’s latest release, a filmed version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award winning Broadway hit, In the Heights, is out this summer.
He will next take on Stephen Schwartz’s “Wicked”.
“I think we have a lot to say and therefore a lot to do,” Chu said during the CNBC Race and Opportunity in America special on Wednesday. “I think the doors are opening now.”
However, the journey to the director’s chair was not easy for Chu.
“I would say one of the biggest obstacles for me as an adult was that people didn’t think Hollywood was a place for an Asian-American director,” Chu said. “There were Asian directors from other places, but an Asian-American director whose voice, who we are and what we have to say, I think, wasn’t quite there.”
In recent years, Asian representation in Hollywood has increased, but there is still room for improvement.
For his part, Chu helped bring the first Hollywood release with a predominantly Asian cast since 1993 to “The Joy Luck Club” in 2018.
“Crazy Rich Asians” was valued at $ 238 million worldwide and was welcomed by critics and audiences alike.
“Representation shows the world you are in at its most intimate level,” said Chu. “Show your languages, not just the actual verbal languages, but also the love language of food, the love language of insults, class in terms of self-worth, not just the value of your car.”
“Crazy Rich Asians” have been heavily focused on what it feels like for an Asian-American person to go through a cultural identity crisis when they first travel to Asia, Chu said. The realization is that Asian Americans belong to both worlds.
“I think sharing our culture on the big screen where people have to pay or subscribe and saying that we are worth your time and space to hear our stories is huge,” he said.