There has been a major uptick in film and television projects centered around Asian performers and creators. Simply put, Asian representation in Hollywood is having a major moment right now.
It started with the 2018 release of the film Crazy Rich Asians. In the previous 25 years, only two major Hollywood films had been released with predominantly Asian casts: Memoirs of a Geisha in 2005 and The Joy Luck Club in 1993.
Needless to say, Crazy Rich Asians was a major hit. The film cost $30 million to make and grossed $239 million worldwide. This sent a simple message to Hollywood: the public was ready for more Asian representation, and they were happy to vote with their dollars.
Now, Asian representation seems to be at an all-time high all across the Hollywood landscape.
Asian artists are currently dominating the music industry, thanks to K-pop boy band BTS and girl group Blackpink.
On the TV front, Asian representation is making waves on reality shows such as Singapore Social on Netflix, House of Ho on HBO Max, and Indian Matchmaking on Netflix. The newest contender is Bling Empire, a Netflix series that takes its cue from Crazy Rich Asians to focus on wealthy Asians and Asian-Americans who are living in the Los Angeles area.
For narrative series, there’s the Netflix dramedy Never Have I Ever, which focuses on a South Asian American teenage girl as she navigates life after a major tragedy. And you’re going to see more Asian representation in other shows, including Daniel Dae Kim’s leading role in the upcoming season of National Geographic’s anthology thriller The Hot Zone. Kim has noted it is the first leading TV role of his 30+ year acting career.
Asian representation is also making strides behind the camera.
Chloé Zhao’s critically-acclaimed Nomadland recently received a Best Motion Picture Drama nomination at the Golden Globes, while Zhao herself became the first Asian woman to receive a nomination for Best Director. Her star will only shine brighter when her upcoming blockbuster Marvel movie Eternals comes out in November.
Meanwhile, Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu has a high-profile project of his own ahead. He will be directing the movie adaptation of the beloved Broadway musical Wicked.
Asian representation on film is also see an uptick.
Mortal Kombat stars Lewis Tan and promises some thrilling action. It will release in theaters and on HBO Max on April 16.
Meanwhile, Marvel’s first film starring an Asian superhero, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is set for a July 9 theatrical release. Playing Shang-Chi is Canadian actor Simu Liu, known for his role in the sitcom Kim’s Convenience. The cast is rounded out by a plethora of stars including Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung.
For animation lovers, the Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon looks to be both ambitious and awesome, with a star-studded cast including Sandra Oh, Awkwafina and Gemma Chan. The film focuses on the young Raya (voiced by Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s Kelly Marie Tran) as she attempts to unite her people by finding the titular last dragon. It comes to theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on March 5.
Ultimately, representation matters. This focus on Asian representation is long overdue, and this year will be very exciting for film lovers and TV buffs alike!