UPDATE: HENRY GOLDING has since replied to JAMIE CHUNG’S apology. Here it is:
It may sound like a blast from the past, but just a few hours ago, JAMIE CHUNG wrote a series of tweets apologising to HENRY GOLDING (who plays the lead NICK YOUNG) for comments she made in April on the casting choices for CRAZY RICH ASIANS.
This all started in an interview by CBS News Reporter ANDREA PARK when Chung was asked questions on the casting for JON M. CHU’s CRAZY RICH ASIANS. It led on when Chung told Park that she really wanted to be cast in the film but was told that they wanted actors who were ethnically Chinese:
I really, really wanted a role in “Crazy Rich Asians,” but they wanted someone who’s ethnically Chinese. I love Jon [Chu, director of “Crazy Rich Asians”], but I get they wanted Chinese actors.
It then led on to these questions which Park asked from her comment:
That’s strange because the star [Henry Golding] is half-white.
What? Does he look Asian?
I think to white people he looks Asian, but to Asian people he looks half-white.
What? Are you serious?
It sounds like I made you mad.
OK. I’m going to say it. That is some bulls**t. Where do you draw the line to be ethnically conscious? But there’s so many loopholes so I kind of get screwed. I don’t mean to sound jaded. There are plenty of roles for me. Originally Blink was Clarice Ferguson in comic books, but she’s a mutant so she can be whatever she wants to be. It can be to my advantage sometimes, but it’s so frustrating. I can talk on and on.
We wrote a post on this when it all transpired, so click on it to refresh your memory. After that interview, the online world exploded and reacted negatively to the comments made by Chung. To her credit, Chung went online and clarified her the comments she made in the interview.
Since her comments were very specific and targeted at Golding for his lack of “Asianess”, and this has opened up a broader debate about “purity’ and questioning what is considered Asian and not Asian. My 2 cents worth is that I have met Golding personally and he is every bit Asian as anyone else who claims to be “pure” Asian – whatever that means. I share the same heritage as Golding in terms of having my parents being from Malaysia ( his mother is Malaysian). I can safely say that casting Golding is not a far stretch as many Malaysians who have Chinese heritage do not always look what many deem as a typical Chinese look. This has got to do with environment, the mixing which goes on as there are a few different cultural and indigenous communities in Malaysia and the nature of colonialism which happened in Malaysia. Singapore is no different in that regard ( historically was part of Malaysia).
To attack Golding for not being “Asian” enough is in actual fact being racist and discriminative towards him and denying his Asian heritage. In addition, Golding actually lives in Singapore and has for a very long time, so in actual fact it can be argued that he is more Asian than many of us who were born and/or raised in the West. He gets all the cultural nuances and sensitivities that many of us in the West may not. Nancy Wang Yuen, chair of Biola University’s sociology department summed this point up best when she spoke to Huffington Post about this debate recently:
By deeming Golding “not Asian enough,” she said, people are choosing to ignore his Asian heritage.
That’s the opposite of the way people view Barack Obama, Yuen noted. “The world sees President Obama as black, but his mother is white,” she said, calling it “contradictory to erase Golding’s Asian ancestry while obliterating Obama’s white ancestry.”
“I don’t think that should be a necessity for casting since Asian-American actors experience enough barriers to success in Hollywood.”
I will end it here, but let us know what y’all think of this issue…