2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was the kind of Hollywood phenomenon actors want to be a part of. The romantic comedy was not only the first big hit for the genre in a decade, but the first major studio production featuring an all Asian-American cast in a generation. Former Disney Channel star Brenda Song recalls being hopeful to audition for the Warner Bros. comedy before she was reportedly denied for “not being Asian enough."
Now, the film’s director Jon M. Chu has responded to Song’s recent confession. Check out his response:
Sometimes words get lost in translation? The 31-year-old actress, who is known best as London Tipton in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, is a fan of the Kevin Kwan book series Crazy Rich Asians is based upon. So, when she heard about the production, she jumped at the opportunity to audition to be a part of it. However, what she heard from her managers was they wouldn’t even consider her to audition. In Song’s recent words to Teen Vogue:
What they said was that my image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words. It broke my heart… I said, ‘This character is in her late to mid-20s, an Asian American, and I can't even audition for it? I've auditioned for Caucasian roles my entire career, but this specific role, you're not going to let me do it? You're going to fault me for having worked my whole life?’ I was like, ‘Where do I fit?’
The Asian-American actress has been working in an industry where inclusive movies such as Crazy Rich Asians just don’t come around everyday. It doesn’t seem like she expected to get the role that went to Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu – just the chance to audition -- but the reason she was told she couldn't would be understandably frustrating, if that's what happened.
However, Jon M. Chu isn’t accepting Brenda Song’s words about her rough Crazy Rich Asians experience as fact. He continued with:
It seems as though Jon M. Chu is actually a fan of Brenda Song and now seems to be indicating he is just as disappointed at the way she was communicated to about the role as she was. Because the director was aware of her talents, he didn’t need her to audition. Somehow, it was translated to her that this was because she wasn’t Asian enough. Perhaps, he wanted to focus on cultivating new talent or had other reasons he didn't need the actress to audition. Song is well known for uttering “Yay me!” as “Crazy Rich Asian”-type hotel heiress London on Disney Channel (avaliable to stream on Disney+).
After the upset, Brenda Song took some time off to travel before returning to Hollywood in a big way to star in popular Netflix movie Secret Obsession and Hulu’s new original comedy series produced by Margot Robbie, Dollface alongside Kat Dennings and Shay Mitchell.
Maybe Brenda Song can still find a place in one of Crazy Rich Asians upcoming sequels? Only time will tell.