It was just yesterday…err last month…that Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan discussed narrowly avoiding white-washing of his novel, after a Hollywood producer sought to change the race of the main character for an adaptation. While Kwan declined the change, preserving the cultural representation he clearly sought, the issue has arisen yet again.
After the cast of the upcoming adaptation was announced, fans took issue with the inclusion of actor Henry Golding whose half-British half-Malaysian heritage was seen as too diverse (and not quite Asian enough) for the role.
Image Via Henry Golding
One of his critics happened to be Hollywood actress Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time) who called his casting “bullshit”.
In an interview with CBS Chung complained about her inability to book a role in Crazy Rich Asians because director Jon Chu wanted someone ethnically Chinese. When she learned that Henry Golding is half-white, Chung called out the “loopholes” in which actresses like her “get screwed”.
Image Via Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Considering the fact that Golding is half-Malaysian, and has been cast for the role of a character born in Singapore, fans are perplexed by the reaction. Golding is no exception.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Golding expressed the “hurt” the criticism caused him, particularly coming from the Asian community.
For me, it was almost like being kind of stabbed in the back. I was like, ‘Aren’t we meant to be in this boat together? Aren’t we meant to strive together for something bigger than these boundaries that we’re putting on ourselves instead of bullying each other?’
Golding also told Variety:
There are many arguments, for and against. Am I Asian enough? I was born here, I have lived 17 years of my life here, so for me, I feel more Asian than anything. I was proud to be able to represent Asia. There are some sour people out there, but we should be getting together and fighting for something bigger, rather than Asians against Asians.
He called to attention the unfair nature of this criticism considering the production crew were ultimately responsible for signing him on and wouldn’t have cast him if they thought it inappropriate. “Everybody has their own opinion, but John [Penotti], Warner Bros., and producer Nina Jacobson chose the actor they thought could portray Nick Young best,” he said.
Golding was born in Singapore, and has lived there for a considerable amount of time, do the negative reaction from fans seems undeserving. Being of a mixed-race background doesn’t dilute the cultural background and/or identification of an individual, nor does it make him any less qualified to represent a character of the same race on film.
Fans and critics alike can catch Golding’s performance in Crazy Rich Asians when it hits theaters in August 2018.
Featured Image Via Joel Low Photography