Shirley Li of Entertainment Weekly discusses this weird proposal:
They wanted to change the heroine into a white girl. I was like, ‘Well, you’ve missed the point completely.’ I said, ‘No, thank you.’”
The idea wasn’t surprising to Kwan, of course. Hollywood has tended to whitewash Asian roles in the past. But in this case, to whitewash Rachel would take away an integral part of the character’s identity and also be a detriment to the story itself. Crazy Rich Asians is about a Chinese-American woman’s journey back to Asia, a quintessentially Asian immigrant experience. Rachel goes through reverse culture shock as part of her journey; to remove that aspect of the character by making her a white woman would have made it a completely different story.
When Kwan shared the tale of this early meeting while on his first book tour, he says the reactions he heard wound up convincing him that a film version of the story would — against typical Hollywood thinking — appeal to audiences who weren’t Asian. He recalls one stop in Texas at a book club made up of white women who were just as appalled as he was at the prospect of whitewashing Rachel. “You should’ve heard them scream,” he says. “They were like, ‘Nooo!’ I remember one woman saying, ‘What makes these people think that all we want to do is see the same white actors or actresses on screen?’ To hear that reaction really confirmed for me what the audience wanted.”
Is Hollywood that daft? A book written about Asians which is about identity, culture and the blending of Western Asians with Asian Asians, whitewashed? Give me a break. I am so glad Kwan stuck to his guns and waited out till a better proposal came, and I think the film CRAZY RICH ASIANS will be one to watch for 2018! I certainly can’t wait!
Images via Entertainment Weekly
To read the full article, please click on: Hollywood wanted to whitewash Crazy Rich Asians