'The Meg,' 'Dog Days' and other new movies showcasing Asian and Asian-American talent
Growing up, Lana Condor never thought much about her ethnicity. The bubbly 21-year-old actress was born in Vietnam and adopted by white American parents.
“Then I moved to Hollywood, and I was never more aware of my Asian-Ness, or femaleness,” says Condor. “The industry — the first thing they see is how you look.”
For anyone of Asian heritage, that’s long been a problem, whether you’re talking “yellow-face” (white actors playing Asian roles — think Warner Oland in 1930s Charlie Chan films, or a remarkably offensive Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) or a dearth of roles outside martial-arts flicks.
But Hollywood may be changing, or so it seems this month, when a slew of new films hits theaters, featuring Asian and Asian-American artists both in front of and behind the camera.
“I don’t think that’s an accident,” says Condor, star of the upcoming Netflix movie, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
“I think Hollywood is feeding the demand for Asian roles that’s been felt a long time now,” she says. Then she starts to laugh. “And we just got lucky, I guess, that they packed it all into one summer.”
Here’s what’s coming (and when) to big and small screens in August:
“The Meg” (Aug. 10) Jason Statham’s prehistoric shark shocker co-stars Chinese actress Li Bingbing (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”) and Taiwanese actor Winston Chao (Ang Lee’s “The Wedding Banquet”).
“Dog Days” (Aug. 10) A wholesome canine caper written by Asian-American screenwriters Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama, a coup in a white-male-dominated field.
“Crazy Rich Asians” (Aug. 15) It’s this summer’s “Black Panther” for Asians. Or “Dynasty” meets “Joy Luck Club” (and, per Warner Bros., the first major motion picture with an all-Asian cast since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club”). Based on Kevin Kwan’s bestseller and directed by Jon M. Chu, this rom-com follows a Chinese-American woman (Constance Wu, “Fresh Off the Boat”) who discovers her Singaporean boyfriend’s family is “crazy rich” and ruled by an icy matriarch (Michelle Yeoh, “Crouching Tiger”). It co-stars Henry Golding, Gemma Chan and Forest Hills rapper Awkwafina.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (Aug. 17) It’s a teen’s worst nightmare: Five notes she wrote to romantic crushes — but never sent — get sent. (Gulp!). Based on Jenny Han’s novel, and starring Condor as the biracial teen, John Corbett as her lovable dad.
“Searching” (Aug. 24) Aneesh Chaganty’s innovative directorial debut is a psychological thriller about a dad (John Cho, “Star Trek”) and detective (Debra Messing) in search of a missing teen (Michelle La), told entirely via computer screens and social media channels.