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Director Jon M. Chu on Asian portrayal in Hollywood: ‘I think the doors are opening now’

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Perhaps best known for his work on 2018’s ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, Jon M. Chu has worked as a director in Hollywood since 2008.

His films span several genres, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to action films and, more recently, musicals. Chu’s latest release, a filmed version of Tony Award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit “In the Heights”, will be released this summer.

Then he will face “Wicked” by Stephen Schwartz.

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“I think we have a lot to say and therefore a lot to do,” Chu said on UKTN’s “Race and Opportunity in America” ​​special on Wednesday. “I think the doors are opening now.”

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However, the journey to the director’s chair was not easy for Chu.

“I would say one of the biggest obstacles for me growing up was the fact that people didn’t think Hollywood was a place for an Asian-American director,” Chu said. “There were Asian directors from other countries, but an Asian-American director, the voice of that, who we are and what we have to say, I think, wasn’t quite there yet. “

In recent years, Asian representation in Hollywood has increased, but there is still room for improvement.

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Chu, for his part, was instrumental in 2018 in bringing the first Hollywood release to feature a predominantly Asian cast on the big screen since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993.

“Crazy Rich Asians” totaled $ 238 million worldwide and was widely adopted by critics and the public.

“Representation shows the world who you are, on its most intimate levels,” Chu said. “Show your languages, not just the languages ​​of words, but the language of love of food, the language of love of insults, of class in terms of self-worth, not just the value of your car . “

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“Crazy Rich Asians” focused heavily on how it feels for an Asian American to go through a cultural identity crisis when they first visit Asia, Chu said. The realization being that Asian Americans belong to both worlds.

“I think sharing our culture on the big screen where people have to pay money or subscribe, saying we’re worth your time and space to hear our stories is huge,” he said.

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