The sequel to the “Crazy Rich Asians” film has been delayed because of a pay dispute. Adele Lim, a female Asian writer, was offered 1/8 the pay as her male (white) co-writer. This is an enormous disparity and even more egregious when you consider what she brings to the table (which he cannot): an Asian perspective to an Asian film.
Here are some of her words on the matter:
“Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions,” Lim said. She also feels women and people of color are used as “soy sauce.” In other words, they’re only there to add a cultural flavor to the project.
I’m playing with form, color and inspiration. No great art here, just having a lot of fun. For the last one, I didn’t know I was going to write my name in Korean until I did it. It might have something to do with recently reading about Bruce Lee and how proud of he was of his Chinese ethnicity and because I’m so happy that Sandra Oh is the first Asian-American actress nominated for a best lead actress Emmy award. Who knows?
I started with acrylics, but it’s so hard to clean up (requires rubbing alcohol) and gouache is more forgiving. I’m sticking with gouache and watercolor for the near term.
Artists are powerful because they appeal to people’s hearts and minds. Painters, sculptors, writers, musicians and other artists are changemakers. Writers, for example, can be drivers for social equity.
Two Asian actors in “Hawaii Five-O” just left the show. When they signed on, they were the big names. No one really knew the two white lead actors (Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan). Daniel Dae Kim was coming from “Lost” and Grace Park was famous for her work in “Battlestar Galactica.” The Asian actors were really the draw for the show. Now, seven years later, the Asian actors are still not making as much money as the lesser known leads.
NPR had an intriguing and informative interview with writer Rick Najera and Jeff Yang (podcast host). Najera made the assertion that the power lies in the hands of the writers:
NAJERA: The writers’ room can decide whether that actor is a supporting actor or a leading actor. So it’s very easy to make that decision. So you can sit there and say, well, we have two Asian actors on a show set in Hawaii, which is predominately very Asian, let’s make them leads. They can make that decision early on. I think Hollywood’s kind of catching up to that thought and wants to. It’s just everyone in Hollywood wants to be second, no one wants to be first.
I believe artists outside of Hollywood – the independent filmmakers and artists – are the people who will make (are making) this happen.