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Crazy Rich Asians: Movie Review From Asian Women Panel

With Patrice Tanaka, Wendy Kim, Abby Cubey, and Larissa Lam

Published on: Oct 5, 2018

The movie Crazy Rich Asians ranks number one in America right now. The plot follows Rachel Chu, an Asian-American woman who accompanies her boyfriend to Singapore for his childhood best friend’s wedding. Of course, when she agrees to go with him to meet his friends and family, she has no idea that in his home country he is The Nicholas Young, Asia’s most eligible and wealthy bachelor. Listen to the Asian women’s perspective as Patrice Tanaka, Wendy Kim, Abby Cubey, and Larissa Lam talk about how the movie impacted the Asian Americans and how different their view is compared to the Asians who still live in their own country.

Crazy Rich Asians: Movie Review From Asian Women Panel with Patrice Tanaka, Wendy Kim, Abby Cubey, and Larissa Lam

This is another special episode about the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, which is ranking number one in America. In the last episode, you heard from the Asian men’s perspective. In this episode, you will hear from the Asian women’s perspective. We are going to talk about how this movie impacted us as Asian-Americans and how different our view is compared to the Asians who still live in their own country. The plot of the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, follows Rachel Chu, an Asian-American woman who accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young, to Singapore for his childhood best friend’s wedding. This is the first time Rachel will meet Nick’s family. Like most Asian-Americans, she does not expect much. What happens during this trip will open her eyes, test her heart and challenge her identity. We are not going to reveal too much about the movie, but we are going to talk about a few scenes in this movie. Let’s welcome our women’s panel.

Kimchi: Please introduce yourself, your name, your ethnicity, generation, marital status, occupation and your age. Let’s start out with Patrice.

Patrice: I’m Patrice Tanaka. I’m Japanese-American. I was born and raised in Hawaii. I’m third generation sansei. I live in New York City. I’m a consultant. My company is called Joyful Planet because that’s my vision for the planet if 7.6 billion people are living their purpose and contributing their talents, their expertise and their passion to making the world a more joyful place.

Kimchi: Next, Wendy. 

Wendy: My name is Wendy Kim. I am half-German, half-Korean. I am second generation. I am a business and executive coach for people who want to level up their business and their lives. I am 41. I am married with two beautiful children. I have a daughter who is eight and a son who is ten.

Kimchi: Larissa? 

Larissa: My name is Larissa Lam. I live in Pasadena, California with my husband, Baldwin, also known as Only Won Chiu. We have a five-year-old daughter. I am a recording artist and music composer as well as a TV/radio host and documentary filmmaker. I did a film called Finding Cleveland. That is about the early Chinese in Mississippi and my husband’s family tracing his roots there. I’m second generation Chinese-American. My parents came over as graduate students in the 1960s. They were born in Shanghai and came via Hong Kong, grew up there and then came to the US and had me. Glad to be here.

Kimchi: Abby?

Abby: I’m Abby Cubey. I am a fashion, beauty and wellness entrepreneur. I live in Bel Air, California. I’m single and available.

Kimchi: If you have seen this movie more than once, tell us your reason to see it the second time. Who has seen it the second time?

Patrice: I’ve seen it twice. I saw it first before it opened and it was with a panel afterwards comprised of the actors in the movie. I saw it immediately a few days later because I wanted my ticket sales to count in the opening weekend box office so we could make it a big hit. It’s reached $207 million in terms of sales. I hope this movie gets to be $300 million or $400 million and there will be many other movies with all Asian, Asian-American casts.

Kimchi: What is your most memorable scene that triggered one of these emotions like sadness, happiness, anger, shame or humor?

Patrice: The saddest scene in the movie, it was filled with love as well, it was the scene in which Nick Young’s mother was helping him fix his collar and tie when he had to change his shirt at his party. You could tell there was so much love that she had for her son. I can’t remember if we learned before that scene that she allowed his grandmother to raise him. She wanted to make sure that he would be a preferred grandson because she herself was not approved of by the grandmother who was the matriarch of the family. Michelle Yeoh looks great in the movie and that scene was powerful. It spoke of sacrifice. A lot of times when I think of Asian-Americans, I think of sacrifice. When I think of Asian-American women, including my mother, I think of sacrifice, what they do for their families and for their children.

Wendy: The scene that got to me was when Eleanor is talking to Rachel. At least I thought, “She’s warming up to her. Maybe she’ll accept her into the family. Maybe she’ll understand because she herself wasn’t accepted into the family,” and then she ends up telling Rachel, “You’ll never be good enough.” That was pretty horrifying. It stands out to me because a lot of times in the Asian culture, people feel they’re not good enough. My experience of the Asian culture growing up, people weren’t like, “You’re doing such a great job. You’re doing so well.” It was more like, “Do this. Why aren’t you doing that? Get better grades and be better at this.” It was coming from a heart of love but at times didn’t feel that way. It reminded me of that from my own upbringing. Now that I’m a mom myself, an Asian-American raising my kids, I want to show them they are good enough, that they are lovable and that they are doing enough. That scene really stood out to me.

Larissa: My favorite scene was the Mahjong scene on many levels. I was taught Mahjong by my grandfather at a young age. Growing up, my mom would chastise my grandfather because she’d say, “You never let me near the Mahjong table because it was gambling.” My mom never got taught by my grandfather but my grandfather taught me. Seeing that piece of my own culture and my family brought a lot of emotion to me. Rachel gave a lot of respect to Eleanor. I was expecting it to go the way of a lot of romantic comedies or soap operas where it’s going to get catty. They’re one-upping each other and sabotaging each other, and it wasn’t. Rachel did a noble thing. She sacrificed her happiness so that Nick would still retain his relationship with his mother, which is sacred in Asian culture. To show that sign of respect for an elder, for a parent is not normally something you see in these types of movies. From a cultural standpoint, it played beautifully on so many levels with the setting of the Mahjong but also the significance for allowing her to win. I did know how to read the cards. My brother-in-law didn’t know what happened if she won or not. I said, “She had the winning card. She chose not to throw it out and to let Eleanor win,” which was symbolic.

Abby: My favorite scene as well is the Mahjong scene. It shows class. It shows power. It shows all other emotions. All sacrificed coming here, our parents. The Mahjong scene shows a lot of class with Rachel. I could be Rachel. I could see myself in that scene. That’s my favorite scene. It triggers all kinds of emotions in me.

Kimchi: The scene where Eleanor told Rachel by the stairs that Rachel will never be enough, I feel that she said it from her heart that she was not enough and therefore nobody will be enough. No other woman will be enough in this household because of the status, because of the power, because of where they’re coming from. This is a powerful rich family and as a woman, they come in. There’s a lot of expectation from the grandmother. The mom passed it down to her and now she’s a mom who will look down on the future daughter-in-law. No matter what you do, no matter how many degrees you got, you will never be enough to meet the expectation of the family, to be the perfect woman in this household. I felt sad when I saw that. I cried during that time. What scenes are important and significant in this movie and why? What do you think about the beginning scene? The Young family was treated poorly at the hotel where they did not look like they’re wealthy. They looked like somebody from the street and they’re Asian. They might not be able to speak English and things like that. How did you feel when you saw that scene? 

Larissa: Seeing that scene was a good entry point where it’s something that I don’t think is rarely portrayed in the film where you see an Asian family discriminated against. With many of you out there, you know that there’s a history of discrimination in this country against Asian-Americans. There is also a history of discrimination in the UK. It’s not limited to the US and in Canada as well in other countries. I don’t think they were even seen as poor. They were seen from a racial point where it’s that adage like, “We don’t serve your kind based on your skin.” I love that she told her husband, “Let’s buy the hotel. Get rid of this problem right then and there.” That shows that she had power and she exercised that power to rectify an injustice. Furthermore, with even the theme of Crazy Rich Asians, I know not all Asians are crazy rich. I know I’m not. The fact is we’re not the boat people. We’re not the best friend. We’re not the maid or the prostitute, the nail salon lady in the situation. We’re someone who is a business owner of a wealthy enterprise.

Patrice: It set the movie off on a right note, a different note than what people are used to seeing Asian people in a movie. I love that she was able to rectify this wrong within minutes. It got people’s attention that, “Is that what this movie is about? The Asians are in-charge.” I liked that immediate scene-setter.

Abby: I liked it when they came in and they’re all wet. These people were judging them basing on their looks. Next thing you know, they own the hotel. It’s a cool factor. It’s a takeoff of the movie.

Wendy: Piggybacking off of what you were all saying, I think in characterizing movies, especially American movies, Asians are the dry-cleaning owner. Especially women, they’re some type of sexual object or they’re a doctor or very stereotypical roles. They’re never considered front and center, let alone powerful. I can see unless it’s a Kung-Fu movie, Asians are never portrayed as powerful in the American or in the Western culture. Even with that scene, that’s completely changing now.

Patrice: What I love about this movie is there are so many powerful women in this film. It starts off with a powerful woman, Michelle Yeoh, righting this wrong immediately and setting that hotel manager straight. For this whole movie, women came to the fore and turned the tide in every situation. They righted the wrong and put the world back spinning on its axis. I love this movie for all of the powerful Asian and Asian-American women in it.

Abby: In the beginning, I liked it because it’s like, “Don’t judge the book by its cover.” All the way through, it was all exciting.

Larissa: It was also important to pay Eleanor in a little bit of a sympathetic light because she could have easily gone the way of dragon lady or the difficult mother-in-law that you see so typical. Whether it’s Asian or not, that role and the fact that you see it inside that she’s faced discrimination, even the scenes where she revealed she had the same issue with Nick’s grandmother, Ah Ma, who’s played by Lisa Lu. She’s a close family friend of mine. She still, even to this day, has to seek the approval of her mother-in-law. She was multi-dimensional. She wasn’t the mean mother-in-law. I love that about her and the way the movie was constructed.

Kimchi: What do you think about the scene where they gathered together to make the dumplings? Does your family have a similar tradition? Do you gather together? Do you cook, you make something together, you eat and share the same pot or something like that?

Wendy: I would say in our culture, no. My mom moved here when she was eighteen. She was pretty young and she’s quite Americanized. She wanted me to be very American. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Korean. I don’t know a lot about it. When I got older, I visited Korea. I learned about the culture by reading books, talking to people and going there myself. Unfortunately, she never taught me those things. That’s a shame that in some cases, Asians coming to the US felt they couldn’t celebrate their culture because they wanted the children to assimilate. Thankfully, I can now learn about it by talking to people and Google on things like that. I can share some of those things with my children, but it would have been great if I could have gotten that.

Crazy Rich Asians: Hollywood should produce more movies featuring an all-Asian cast.

Larissa: I remember my grandmother making more wantons than dumplings. It was something we sat around the kitchen table and I would help put the meat in it. She would teach me how to fold them and wrap it. At the time when you’re growing up, you don’t realize that’s unique to your culture. You just think, “Doesn’t everybody do this with their family?” Then you start talking to people and I’ve had conversations with people that are not Chinese who were like, “What’s going on with the dumplings?” It’s like, “It’s something that a lot of families do whether it’s dumplings, wantons or something similar during holidays that brings the family together and shows this unity.” Once people learn that, they’re like, “That’s cool.” Maybe I’ll have to sit around and make dumplings with my daughter someday. My grandmother has passed on so I’ll have to get a recipe from my mother or on YouTube. I hope it’s something that we can continue to keep in our family going forward.

Abby: In my culture, I’m Filipino. I don’t know if you’ve heard of lechon, it’s a big pig. Whenever I come home, there’s always two or three of them waiting for me to eat with all of my people in the whole barrio. I really enjoy it. I do this every year. I go there because my foundation’s also there. I do a feeding program. It’s almost like a family tradition now since my family is in politics. That scene reminds me of those. My people in my barrio are my family pretty much. They support me all the way. Even here, they always post good comments or something nice or if I post something that is inspirational, they’re always there. It’s nice to get that support.

Patrice: Growing up in Hawaii, my extended family observed Japanese traditions more so around New Year’s where we all gather and we spent New Year’s Day together. Everybody brought the same dishes every year that were eaten on New Year’s Day and were supposed to bring you good health and good fortune. You were supposed to have your house cleaned for the New Year. You’re supposed to wear new clothes so this could set the tone for the New Year. I remember years and years of that tradition as our family has aged and people have moved away. We’re celebrating these time-honored traditions less and less, which is sad. Rituals and traditions are a good thing.

Kimchi: I want to find out about you personally that you behave or you do the same thing as Ah Ma did to Rachel. She checked Rachel’s facial feature out. She said, “You have a good feature. Your nose, your eyes, your face, is prosperity.” Does your culture do that? Did any elder do that to you when you come to meet the future mother-in-law or something like that? Did it ever happen to you, Patrice, Larissa, Wendy and Abby?

Larissa: My mother-in-law didn’t do that but I do have an uncle who is a palm reader. He’s fairly accurate apparently. He’s a strong Christian man too and somehow the two go together. He said I had a good palm but I know my dad would always say, “If there was something bad, he would never say it.” He did say something to me so that meant that I had something good. In general, I find it interesting whether it’s from Feng Shui or some of those other things. The double knots in the hair, that’s something my daughter has. Some people’s hair grows straight out. My daughter is knotted where it grows in opposite directions. Apparently, the double knot thing is supposed to mean that she’s smart. At least that’s all the Chinese aunties told me, so we’ll see. She’s only five. We’ve got a few years to go.

Wendy: Fortunately, I have the amazing mother-in-law and she didn’t do anything unusual like that. In the Korean culture and I would imagine in a lot of Asian cultures, there was a heavy emphasis on physical appearance and beauty. People would be like, “You have big eyes,” or they would say things like that and, “You’re tall.” There was a lot of emphasis on physical appearance. That’s something that I definitely was aware of. If there was someone who was not pretty, then there would be comments about that person. Growing up, it was something I was very much aware of as a girl.

Abby: My grandma used to look at the profile of my face. Growing up, I remember when she would read my palms and she was like, “You’re going to be very successful in your life. You’re going to do this.” If you have diamonds in your palm, you have chances of getting successful. That’s what she said. I was like, “Okay, cool.” To this day, I always still think about it. I was like, “Maybe. No, I worked hard that’s why I got here.” I remember I was seven then she would look at me and she’d tell me, “You’re going to be very pretty when you’re grown up.” I don’t believe in that stuff. Now, I think I’m good-looking. I remember my grandma on that scene.

Patrice: I don’t know if it’s specific to being Japanese-American and I don’t know that all of my aunties or grandmothers commented that way. My grandmothers on both sides only spoke Japanese and I don’t speak Japanese. I didn’t know what they were saying other than to their gestures. I don’t know if it’s specific to my mother or all mothers but I was always aware at times that I was too outspoken, too stubborn or too clumsy. Those seem to be major sins. I seem to be guilty of all of them growing up. That’s all I remember. That’s why I had to leave Hawaii. There are many Asians in Hawaii and because of that, they’re notoriously indirect. You’d never know where you stand. I would much rather have somebody tell me, “I don’t like that idea. I’m angry at you,” or whatever because that’s an efficient way to deal with and get beyond the situation. In Hawaii, nobody ever confronts anyone because everyone has to get along and because 40% of the population is Asian, everybody tries to get along. That’s why I live in New York because I always liked the idea. In New York, people tell it like it is and that works for me in business and in life. It’s the most efficient and honest way to get through both.

Wendy: Even though I’m not Japanese, I’m heavily influenced by Japan because I grew up in Hawaii. I also lived in Japan for five years and speak the language. I lived there in my twenties and I worked with a lot of Japanese people. That was one of the most frustrating things coming from America working with Japanese people and trying to get everybody on the same page and trying to understand what people felt and thought about things because they wouldn’t share that directly. You bringing that up reminded me of those long meetings.

Larissa: My in-laws are notoriously withdrawn with their comments. My parents are atypical for Chinese parents. They tell me exactly how they feel. No opinion is held back. My in-laws, I can never get a read on them. Everything is so passive. We have to fish it out of them. If they like something or they hate something, they will not say.

Wendy: I don’t mean to be negative.

Larissa: That is so Asian of you to say, “I don’t mean to be negative.”

Patrice: I’m the one who started it. I’m Japanese-American. For many years I had a problem with the country and culture of my ancestors because of that need for ethno purity. If you’re not 100% Japanese, then you’re not even second-class. You are third, fourth or fifth-class citizen. That is totally against what I believe. It was hard for me to embrace that country and that culture. I do love the aesthetics and the design sensibility of Japan and Japanese culture. I don’t like the non-direct, indirect. You think everybody’s agreeing but they’re in a wild disagreement, they’re just not saying it in public. That’s why you have endless meetings, which inefficiency is probably the thing that makes me the craziest. The meeting has to be longer than it has to be to get something accomplished.

Crazy Rich Asians: In all Asian culture, we tend to pass down or teach the young children our favorite family dish.

Kimchi: What did you learn about yourself after watching this movie? Are you proud to be an Asian-American? 

Larissa: What I enjoyed about the movie and I thought they nailed was the fact that they did make that distinction being the American versus someone born in Asia. I felt so much like Rachel in the film as she was going through all the paces and having that conversation with Eleanor and how she says, “You’ll always be American.” When I’ve gone to Asia, I still have a family in Hong Kong, I’ve been to mainland or Singapore, wherever in Asia, I’m looked at as the American. When we’re here, they look as though, “You’re the Chinese one.” Over there, I’m American and they can tell immediately that I’m American probably because of the way I hold myself or the way I dress. I’m always treated in that manner. I don’t want to say exactly second-class but maybe one-and-a-half-class.

Now I speak fluent Chinese but I don’t read or write. There’s a little bit of like, “You don’t speak completely fluent.” I speak Mandarin conversationally but it’s not good enough to hold in complete conversation or singing. I don’t sing all my music in Mandarin. I feel like I’m held to a different standard when I’m in Asia and then over here, I’m not American enough by being Asian. I don’t know if it’s necessarily that I learned but it reinforced those things. It hit home that this is what I wrestled with my whole life and now it’s finally on-screen. Other people can hopefully see that just because you look the same as someone else that’s Asian, there are so many different shades of gray. Patrice, you mentioned that too, being the third generation and being from Hawaii as opposed to being from Japan or even being from the mainland. There are all these different shades of gray that we have to navigate as Asians and the differences between Korean, Japanese, Cambodian and Filipino. The people don’t understand that. This movie at least in one way takes a step forward and is starting to open these conversations.

Patrice: What the movie reaffirmed for me is I’m comfortable with strong women. I’m comfortable and familiar with strong Asian and Asian-American women. I like seeing that on the big screen. In that movie, the men were almost the second-class citizens in the movie. Women were running the show in that movie. That’s why the movie was satisfying on that level because we, women, do what it takes to get the job done. Usually, our instincts are coming from a place of wanting to protect our families and loved ones and to make sure they survive and thrive in the future.

I love that Eleanor wasn’t a caricature. She wasn’t just a dragon woman. There’s a lot of nuance to her character. I’m glad Michelle Yeoh played that character because it could have gone into caricature territory and that would have done a disservice to Asian-American women and Asian-Americans. That movie was very affirming and reaffirming to me because sometimes in America, Asian-Americans certainly are not thought of as leaders. They’re thought of as strong managers, a model minority. Asian-American women aren’t thought of any more highly. To see strong women doing what it takes and being ruthless, if necessary to get the job done, was good to see on the big screen. We’re all of that. We can be docile but we can also roar like a lion and do whatever it takes. I like seeing that on the big screen.

Abby: I have to find my way here to where I am. I’m all about sacrifice. I’m all about fighting every day until the job is done. Just like Eleanor’s, she has the best role there because she’s very classy. It’s not a typical movie where normally we Asians are in bad roles. I like it.

Patrice: I like that it brought out the whole idea of sacrifice and delaying your own personal gratification for something bigger, like what Eleanor did for her son, Nick, by allowing his grandmother to raise her son. That’s got to be an impossible thing to allow someone else to raise your child. If you’re like her thinking about what’s best for your son, what’s best for his future and for the future of the family, that is a sacrifice that she was willing to make. Sometimes in our American immediate gratification society, we don’t see that sacrifice that is thinking in terms of the long-term and the bigger picture.

Abby: I can relate to that. I could fight for full custody but I didn’t. I don’t have much to offer with my daughter here because I’m here by myself. My family doesn’t want to come here because the culture is different. My daughter’s family has better to offer to her as to here, it’s just going to be me and her. We decided we’re doing 50/50. It’s hard in the beginning. She’s turning fifteen. I totally can relate as far as for a sacrifice. It’s tough. I have had so many nights that I cried to my sleep and I can’t call my parents about this because I don’t want them to be sad. If I didn’t have her, I would be living like a queen in my country. We all sacrifice. I don’t want to cry. I look very ugly when I cry.

Patrice: You are a beautiful mother and a beautiful person. You look beautiful even when you cry.

Larissa: You’re beautiful.

Wendy: In response to the original question, I was surprised at how empowered I felt seeing an all-Asian cast in a big screen Hollywood movie. I didn’t think it would affect me so much. I just thought, “Whatever,” but to see that for the first time had a deep impact on me. It made me feel in a way that we can be front and center as Asians. We can be recognized and valued in that way, not just as a doctor, lawyer or the roles that Asians typically have. Even seeing other Asian people on screen as actors, actresses and as lead actors and actresses was powerful. It made me think, “We are capable of leading. We are capable of doing more than maybe the culture has thought we were capable of.”

Larissa: We all want to be the hero of our own story and we haven’t seen that on a mainstream scale. I grew up watching Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts. I’m sure many of you did as well. They were always the hero, Sandra Bullock. In every rom-com out there, it was a white lead. This was the first time. It wasn’t Drew Barrymore where she got proposed to on a plane. In The Wedding Singer, Adam Sandler did that with Drew Barrymore and it was like, “I finally get to be on a plane. I’m not just the bystander watching the proposal but someone that looked like me was the girl that was getting proposed to.” I didn’t think it was going to be that empowering to me either but it was. It felt like a watershed moment and I hope it’s something that doesn’t take another 25 years like Joy Luck Club happened 25 years ago. It’s not another 25 years where we see an all-Asian English-speaking cast in a major studio movie. I hope when my daughter grows up, she’s going to get to watch it and she’ll get to see herself as the hero of the story.

Wendy: For us growing up, if we were to say something like, “I want to be a Hollywood actress.” Can you imagine that wasn’t even a reality? Not like we could ever look to anyone like that. Now it’s exciting to think of our children. If our children decided they want to go down that path, that’s possible now, whereas prior to this movie it didn’t even seem like a possibility.

Patrice: To that point, I wrote a book. It came out in 2011. The book’s title is Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me A Happier Woman, A Better Partner, And A Smarter CEO. I wrote that book because the only reason I live in New York City now is that when I was eight years old growing up in Hawaii, my dream was to dance like Ginger Rogers. I grew up on all of those movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s and my favorite ones were about Ginger Rogers. It never occurred to me that I looked nothing like Ginger Rogers. There’s something in that childhood. If I can get myself to Manhattan, then I could be living in a white art deco penthouse apartment. I could be going to a supper club every evening. I could be wearing evening gowns and dancing in the arms of a Fred Astaire. That’s why I live in New York City. The thing Crazy Rich Asians did for my book, and I hadn’t even thought that this might be one of the impacts was that now, people are interested in my book for TV or film because they’re now more interested in Asian-American content for films. I thought, “I hadn’t even thought about that.” That’s a cool thing if we have more films and television shows with Asian-Americans or Asians.

Crazy Rich Asians: There is a conflicting thought of what part of our culture we need to keep and what part of it can unbind our self and have the freedom to express what we need.

Abby: The crazy part here is we pioneered this whole thing, we Asians. I see this coming as people are talking about. There will be Crazy Rich Russians. There’s going to be Crazy Rich Armenians. There’s going to be Crazy Rich all kinds of races. I’m excited how this is going to alter now. We have to push the producers to basically excel this whole Crazy Rich Asians Part Two. I know that some races are going to compete for this.

Larissa: It’s limited to just crazy rich, but there are so many other stories. I do see a little bit of bandwagoning happening. In some sense, it’s not a bad thing but it’s almost like these white people have discovered us. We’ve been here the whole time and like, “This has been our huge discovery that Asians actually go to movies. They can wear fancy clothes and they can be in a romantic comedy lead.” In actuality, we’ve always been here. We’ve always been capable. We just never had the opportunity.

Patrice: When you look at it and see that we’re only 5% of the national population, you’re looking at those kinds of demographics and you’re saying, “There’s not a market for Asian-American content,” but if the themes are universal, it transcends any particular ethnic group. There are a lot of trends that are universal to all ethnicities. That’s great that we could prove that out. Even though we’re only 5% of the population, our stories resonate with everyone.

Larissa: 5% is not shabby if you talk about actual numbers. We’re talking about eighteen million to twenty million people. That’s more than a lot of countries around the world population-wise. Those on our population rose up and made it count, as well as it has to appeal across generations. My husband and I had the weird questions of people saying like, “Can I see this movie? I’m not Asian.” “Yes, you can see it.” It’s like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which I know a lot of people have used that example, which is crazy. That’s the number one romantic comedy of all time. It wasn’t just Greek people that went to go see it. It was everyone. For some reason, when people hear Asian they think, “Only Asians can go see it,” but hopefully this movie dispels that myth as well.

Wendy: It’s an exciting time because with movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther, everyone’s tired of seeing the same white action male Captain America person. We’ve seen that movie so many times. It’s exciting to see Black Panther doing well. It’s exciting to see Wonder Woman with a female superhero. I look forward to the time when we can watch movies and you’ve got an Asian lead, you have a Hispanic lead, you have a black lead, you have a white lead and it doesn’t even matter. We’re not even having the conversation because it’s universal that it’s diverse. Everyone is represented. We’re not there yet but it’s exciting that this is a step in that direction.

Patrice: That’s why it’s important that this still be a huge success so it’s not frightening to other directors and producers to work with Asian content and Asian-American and Asian actors. We need more films to normalize seeing us on the big screen.

Kimchi: What do you think and feel about wealth and money when you see the interaction between these married couples, Eleanor and Philip, which is Nick’s parents? Where Philip is the father who is traveling all the time and lets the wife take care of everything in the household. He did not play an active role as a father-figure raising Nick. Is it acceptable? I know that it is acceptable in Asia but is it acceptable in America?

Wendy: I don’t think it’s acceptable anywhere personally to not have the father involved. When I lived in Japan, it was one thing that astounded me. I would see these Japanese businessmen who wouldn’t get home until late midnight. The only time they would see their children would be maybe in the week. They weren’t changing diapers. They weren’t doing any form of child care. It was all on the mom. I have a son and a daughter. For my son, he needs his dad to show him how to be a man. I can’t show him how to be a man. If you have that in a culture where the men are not around and they’re being shown how to be a man by a woman, there’s this mama’s boy over-reliance on mommy. You do see that in the movie. You see a little bit of a weird dynamic with Nick and his mom when he’s getting dressed and they were alluding to that. Hopefully, that’s changing. My husband, he’s Korean-American and he’s super involved. His dad wasn’t as involved. Thankfully, that is something that’s great about the American culture is men typically are more involved in the housework and the childcare. That is teaching our boys and our children this healthy family dynamic.

Larissa: A lot of my Asian and Asian-American friends have daddy issues as a result of that Asian expectation that the women are constantly taking care of the child-rearing duties. You see that a lot with first-generation immigrants that are coming over now, especially from China where the women are here with the kids. The husband is still back in China or it could be Korea or any other country. I don’t think it’s necessarily a healthy situation. My cousins grew up here without their families. They were parachute kids who lived with me for a little bit or went to college here. My dad was almost like a surrogate dad to all my cousins from Hong Kong because they were getting their American education here. My uncles and my aunts loved their kids.

It goes back to that sacrifice. Sacrifice comes in different forms and sometimes that sacrificial thing is letting your kids go to a different country to get a better education. From a Western and American view that’s something that’s like, “How can they be without their kids?” I’m very thankful my husband is hands-on with our daughter. Otherwise, our daughter would probably be a mess if it was up to me because I’m not a baby person or a kid person. Him being hands-on has been important for me because I tend to take on more of the male characteristics when it comes to child-rearing. Having both parents is important. At the same time, I know that in a lot of situations you can’t have that all the time. As parents, we all do the best that we can to fulfill the roles that we need to fulfill.

Kimchi: What do you think about the situation between Astrid and Michael? Astrid is beautiful, powerful, smart and was capable of managing her estate. She had to play small and hid her jewelry so that her husband won’t see it, that he won’t feel bad that he cannot afford to buy those things for his wife. What is your interpretation on why Astrid did this?

Crazy Rich Asians: There is a big difference between Asian-Americans and Asians.

Patrice: I like that she did not blame herself and that she ultimately left him. Why should she hide her greatness and all that she is just to make him appear larger than he is? I’m sorry that he felt insecure but if he wanted to be that secure, then he shouldn’t have married somebody who was that rich.

Abby: I would do the same thing if I loved someone and I don’t want them to feel small. I liked how she ends it. It’s way too classy and I love it. To this day, I’m having challenges of finding a man for some reason.

Wendy: I was thinking in terms of their relationship, coming from an American perspective, it seems odd. In the American culture, there are many women who make more than their spouse. At this point, it’s not so much of an issue in American culture. It doesn’t matter much if the woman makes more or the man makes more, at least in my world and in California. In the Asian culture, I could see how that would still be an issue. Men are valued for providing, for making money. They aren’t around with the kids so that’s pretty much their function, is to work and to make money. If he’s not able to provide more or be wealthier than her, I could see how he could feel insecure in that culture. I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it’s a good reason for her to feel she has to hide her jewelry, but I understand in that culture why that dynamic would exist.

Larissa: I somewhat relate to the situation with Astrid and her husband, not to that extreme. I grew up in middle to middle-upper class neighborhood whereas my husband grew up in more of a working-class neighborhood. There have been times where it can be a point of tension. I never throw it in his face or anything like that. My parents love my husband and my in-laws are great too. They cruise around the world but they had very modest beginnings in this country, as did my father. I try to remind my husband that maybe my father attained a higher level of success but my dad came with $60 in his pocket. He had to work three jobs to put him through school, he didn’t know anybody here. He went to graduate school and that was a defining difference. My husband, Baldwin’s parents both did not complete college. Both my parents have a graduate degree so you already see a little bit of that status. They’re different. My dad was able to become a doctor, own some businesses, and he lives in a gated community.

There sometimes is a little bit of tension that I grew up with a little bit more than my husband. Right now we’re at the same level, but even some of my parents’ friends are a little on the wealthy side. I met some crazy rich Asians. Some of them are family members. I have a cousin in Hong Kong who is just like Nick Young’s family. She and all his friends and cousins, she’s splashed on all the gossip magazines. She’s like a Paris Hilton in Asia. She had paparazzi at her wedding and I sang at her wedding. I know what that’s like. Sometimes when my cousin comes over, she brings her three housekeepers with her on her trip and her driver to come to America on vacation. That can be intimidating for my husband because that’s not how he grew up. I have to constantly reassure him like, “I love you for who you are. If I wanted to marry somebody wealthy, I would have married somebody wealthy.” It’s not like we’re super poor. That is something that is going to be an ongoing thing but the best we can do is communicate about that. Hopefully, I do try to give him this much confidence that he is good enough. He is. He’s awesome.

Kimchi: This is for fun. If the director wanted to cast you, which role would you like to play and why? 

Wendy: I would say the Peik Lin character because she is funny and hilarious. It’s changing with Ali Wong and stuff but typically Asians are serious, especially women. Playing her would be a cool character.

Kimchi: Do you think you can play her role? Are you that funny?

Wendy: Not to that degree.

Larissa: You just put on the wig and you wear the clothes and you’re halfway there.

Wendy: I have to take some more improv classes for that.

Abby: I could play Eleanor. I love her character.

Patrice: I love her character too but she would be hard to play better than Michelle Yeoh. I would like to be Astrid. She has all that money. She’s gorgeous. She can buy a couple million-dollar ring. She’s lovely on top of it. I like her.

Larissa: I was going to say Astrid too although I probably relate most to Rachel. I would want to be Rachel’s fun-loving cousin in the next movie or something. Maybe Nick has got a cousin that’s single and then we have our own adventures.

Kimchi: I was thinking about that considering my age and things like that I say, “Who would I play if this is real, if the producer or director would cast me?” I’m thinking and saying that I can be Astrid’s coach to tell her how to deal with her husband, to man him up. In less than five words, how would you sum up this movie?

Patrice: I would say modern-day Asian Cinderella story.

Larissa: I say crazy, rich, fun.

Abby: I was just going to say that. It has everything. Exciting, crazy.

Wendy: I would say empowering, fun and groundbreaking.

Kimchi: I say it’s about time we see this movie. What would you recommend Asian men and Asian women to do before they see this movie or the next movie?

Larissa: I would say invite friends who are not Asian to go see the movie. That’s what I would tell people who are going to go see this movie or the next movie.

Kimchi: Why?

Larissa: It’s something that will be a fantastic conversation piece for after with your friends. With your friends or your co-workers, a lot of times they don’t know what it’s like to be you, to be Asian growing up. We never necessarily even share it because it doesn’t come up in conversation. This provides a perfect opportunity to share a window whether it’s similar or dissimilar. Some of you have had a different experience. You can also say, “My family is not like that at all. This is what my family went through or this is how I grew up that’s different than what they grew up.” It’s important for us to all learn about one another’s cultures. I’ve seen a ton of Italian-centric movies and I feel like I know what it’s like to be Italian more than I know what it’s like to be Asian-American. There are such a few references for that. We are able to share our culture with more people then people are going to view us differently and more American hopefully.

Crazy Rich Asians: There’s a beauty to the fact that within the Asian category, you have many differences but there are some similarities as well.

Wendy: I went with my friends. They weren’t Asian and they loved it. The thing that I liked too was that it wasn’t like we had this deep conversation about it. It was just like, “That was an awesome movie.” That was cool and we didn’t overanalyze it. It was just that they enjoyed it as a movie. That’s what I hope will be the case going forward. In terms of preparing other Asians to see it, bring tissues because it definitely made me cry. Probably have fun because it’s a great movie. That’s what they wanted it to be. They wanted it to stand alone as good as any other rom-com that you’ve ever seen and probably even better in my opinion.

Patrice: It can stand on its own. It doesn’t need to have any prefacing or support. It might be interesting for younger Asians to see two films. One, Breakfast At Tiffany’s so they can see that Japanese photographer, buck-tooth character played by Mickey Rooney who back in the ‘50s was pretty racist. See the Bruce Lee movie where he watched that clip with his white girlfriend in the film and walked out of the film. Come to see Crazy Rich Asians to see the difference of that span and it’s been quite a while since Breakfast At Tiffany’s, it was ‘58. It’s just to get a sense of the way that Asians were portrayed in film from using non-Asians to portray them to finally using the real thing.

Abby: I went and watched the movie with a big Hollywood actor. I can’t mention him. He will get mad at me. I forced him to go watch the movie and he’s like, “I’m only going to watch this movie. If it sucks, we’re going to leave.” I was like, “Deal.” “Okay, cool.” We went and he was enjoying the whole time. He was saying, “It’s bigger than I thought.” To me, it’s like, “He was impressed with the movie.” What I would recommend is to bring a lot of popcorn, water, tissue and don’t pee in your pants, have some diapers.

Larissa: I’m grateful that a lot of people have gone to see the movie based on everybody’s glowing recommendations. On Facebook or everywhere we went, we’ve been telling people about it. A lot of our non-Asian friends have gone to see it as I’m sure to have the same effect as a result of my husband and me posting so much about it. Thank God it was good because that was the threshold. If it wasn’t a good movie, we would have nothing to stand on and it wouldn’t have done as well but because it was a good movie, quality trumps everything. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it sucked, they would blame it on it being Asian and inferior quality. It was very good and kudos to John Chu for doing a remarkable job. He was the right director at the right time to make this film. It was magical.

Patrice: That’s what I was praying for that it wouldn’t suck because it will be another 25 years until they make another movie with an all-Asian cast.

Wendy: I got to go to this event where Kevin Kwan and John Chu were being interviewed at USC. They were saying how they had gotten a big offer from Netflix. Netflix had thrown a ton of money at this movie and it was really tempting. I can’t remember which studio produced this but they definitely didn’t give them as much as Netflix would have. They realized how important this movie was and how significant. They felt they had to show it the traditional theaters versus streaming or something like that. Thankfully, they did that. It turned out great and thankfully we won’t have Scarlett Johansson playing Asian characters or Emma Stone playing the Hawaiian character. Hopefully, we won’t be having that anymore.

Abby: This opens a lot of doors for us tremendously. John Chu, I salute you.

Larissa: Thank you, John Chu.

Kimchi: Call us. We are available for all the roles that you need.

Wendy: We want to be the extras in the sequel.

Kimchi: Thank you, Patrice, Wendy, Larissa and Abby for being on the Asian Women’s panel and participating in this discussion. I appreciate it and I hope you enjoyed it too. For our audience, what is your takeaway from this episode? Let us know your thoughts. If you enjoyed this, please subscribe, review and share the link to this podcast at www.AsianWomenofPower.com. Share it on your social media and tell a friend. We appreciate your support. I’m your host, Kimchi Chow. Until next time, live life loud.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Quotes 

"A lot of times in the Asian culture, people aren’t so direct."

"Behind the walls of the public phase is a totally different story"

"Sometimes, women hide behind their culture."

"Every culture or nationality has a subtle cultural language."

"Hospitality and generosity are so strong in the Asian culture and that’s something beautiful."

"You have to be honest about what you’re hearing and feeling."

"There’s another subtle language that underlies in a lot of different Asians."

About Patrice Tanaka

Patrice Tanaka Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet LLC, Patrice Tanaka is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded three award-winning, PR & marketing firms, including the largest, employee-owned PR agency in the U.S. Her agencies have been recognized as the “#1 Most Creative,” “#1 Most Esteemed” and among the “best places to work” in PR. After 35+ year PR & Marketing career Patrice started Joyful Planet, a Business & Life Strategy Consultancy, working with individuals and organizations to discover and actively live their purpose to unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their personal lives, in their businesses and in their communities. Patrice has been honored by many organizations, including PRWeek, PRSA Foundation, Public Relations Society of America, The Holmes Report, New York Women in Communications, Association for Women in Communications, Asian Women in Business, Working Mother magazine, Girl Scouts of Greater New York, University of Hawaii, among others.
Joyful Planet LLC: http://joyfulplanet.com/
New York, New York 10036

About Larissa Lam

Larissa Lam is an award-winning pop, dance and soul-influenced singer and songwriter. Her song “I Feel Alive” won the 2015 Hollywood Music in Media Award and Akademia Music Award for Best Dance Song. She has previously been named Best Vocalist of the Month by SingerUniverse Magazine. This petite, Chinese-American woman defies stereotypes and expectations with her powerful and soulful voice. However, what makes Lam stand out is her range and ability to craft memorable melodies with lyrical depth and empowering themes. Lam can energize you with club anthems, show some sass with a jazzy twist or bare her soul with a tender ballad.

Lam recently released her fourth solo album, Love & Discovery, which takes listeners on a musical experience that includes EDM, R&B and jazz. More impressively, she penned all 12 songs on the album. These songs are not just about love, but a discovery of one’s inner strength and character. She worked with producer, David Longoria, who has collaborated on numerous platinum-selling recordings with artists such as Sting, George Michael and De La Soul. The album also features remixes by Robert Eibach, who worked on the Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samsara” by Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman. Lam spent nearly four years working on these songs and the long journey pushed her to the brink of walking away from music.

Website: http://larissalam.com/

About Abby Cubey

Abby Cubey is a successful businesswoman with a diversified interest in various businesses, primarily in the cutting-edge healthcare industry. She saw opportunities and demand in the myriad of issues affecting the healthcare system and she decided to join this industry as owner-operator of various agencies.

Abby clearly knows what works and relentlessly follows her vision. She is fearless and has what it takes to think big, often strategizing and finding results. Her philosophy is “If you are born without wings, do nothing to prevent it from growing.

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/abby-cubey-9489b930/
Instagram @abbycubey

About Wendy Kim

Wendy Kim is a #1 International Best-Selling Amazon Author of the book, Beyond Blending In: An Immigrant Daughter’s Guide to Overcoming Cultural Bonds For A Life of Authenticity and Abundance. She is also a Speaker and Next-Level Business and Executive Coach.

Wendy works with entrepreneurs and executives to define what their next level personally and professionally is. As an Asian-American woman, Wendy also has a passion for empowering other Asian-Americans who want to get their message heard but are having difficulty getting past their limiting beliefs. Wendy is active in fighting against sex-trafficking and gives a portion of her business’ profits to toward that cause. Wendy also loves hiking, reading and going to the beach with her wonderful husband and two beautiful children.

[email protected],

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