The who's who of Asian American media gathered at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday night to celebrate the casts and crews of 'The Farewell' and 'Fresh Off the Boat.'
Following the success of titles ranging from ABC's Fresh Off the Boat, Crazy Rich Asians and Lulu Wang's The Farewell, multiple Asian American stars, writers and executives believe it's time to redefine what successful films look like.
"It's not just the right do good-er thing to promote and encourage diversity and inclusion, but it's a thing that makes box office cents," Crazy Rich Asians co-writer Adele Lim told The Hollywood Reporter at the 18th annual Unforgettable Gala. "We have all these stories that we've been sitting on and burying because we've been told over decades that it's not gonna sell. We've seen over the few years that it's simply not true. That's a bigger truism we can take to the bank."
Lim joined Constance Wu, Manny Jacinto, Randall Park, Daniel Dae Kim and more at Character Media's annual gala held at the Beverly Hilton. The Saturday night awards show, hosted by Shang-Chi and Kim's Convenience star Simu Liu, highlighted Asian American actors, directors and stories.
Receiving the night's Legacy Award, presented by Lexus, was the cast and crew of Fresh Off the Boat. Wu spoke to THR about the "emotional rollercoaster" that has been the show's final days. She said that though she feels down about the program coming to a close, she's excited to see the projects that will come from the show's legacy.
"It seems to have inspired other people to tell their stories, one story can't represent a whole," she said.
The cast and crew of The Farewell received the event's annual Vanguard Award, an honor presented to Crazy Rich Asians in 2018. Tzi Ma, who plays the Awkwafina's stoic father in the film, told THR that the momentum behind successful Asian American projects has the power to diversify the stories on-screen.
"It's almost rebirth time," the Mulan actor said. "We're not stuck with all the flash and the special effects. To be able to tell a story with no thrills and just people talking, and 80 percent in a foreign language, something's going on."
In addition to adding variety to the kinds of stories that rule box offices, the actor also said it's time to challenge "conventional wisdom" and redefine what it means to be "all-American."
"I think from now on, you really have to question what does this mean to be 'all-American,' you have to throw Awkwafina's face into that mix," he said. “That's an all-American face. The paradigm has to change."
The 18th annual Unforgettable awards also feted Pen15's Maya Erskine, Ali Wong, Nico Santos, Charles Melton and Lulu Wang. Additional attendees included Steven Yeun, Dante Basco, Janet Yang, Manny Jacinto and Terrence Howard.
Character Media formerly known as Kore Asian Media hosted the 18th annual Unforgettable Gala on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles to honor and recognize Asian American icons and changmakers in the entertainment industry, who are representing the API community through their creativity and excellence. Among the top winners of the evening was Lulu Wang’s awards season contender The Farewell starring Awkwafina.
Hosted by star of Kim’s Convenience actor and of Marvel Studios’ forthcoming Shang Chi and the Ten Rings Simu Liu, the evening was essentially the Golden Globes for the talented members of Asian American Hollywood and beyond. Liu kept the show going with quips and jokes throughout the evening including a bit where he, Blues Clues host Joshua Dela Cruz and Grey’s Anatomy actor Alex Landi shared shirtless “inspirational” social media pics of themselves while online personality Eugene Lee Yang came in to slay the game with a super-fabulous pic of himself. Liu also took a playful jab at Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wu that referenced her much-talked about reaction to the ABC sitcom being renewed — the joke received a lot of raised eyebrows and “oooooohs” from the audience.
The Good Doctor’s Daniel Dae Kim gave a keynote speech for the evening while other presenters and guests included The Good Place star Manny Jacinto, Supernatural alum and newly minted Arrowverse member Osric Chau, Masked Singer judge and Crazy Rich Asians star Ken Jeong, The Mandalorian and Joy Luck Club legend Ming-Na Wen, Yellow Rose director Diana Paragas, Searching filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty, director of the forthcoming The Fabulous Filipino Brothers and Hook icon Dante Basco; star of the upcoming Birds of Prey Ella Jay Basco and others. The evening also included stirring and entertaining performances by America's Got Talent season 14 winner Kodi Lee, The Voice alum and 20 Feet From Stardom star Judith Hill, Amber Liu, MILCK and MIYAVI.
‘Fresh Off The Boat’s Randall Park, Ian Chen, Forrest Wheeler, Hudson Yang, Chelsey Crisp and Constance Wu Shutterstock
The Farewell was honored with the Vanguard Award and star Awkwafina won for Actor/Actress on Film while Wang received Best Director. This adds fuel to the awards season tank of the A24 drama which earned Awkwafina a Gotham Award and a Golden Globe nomination. The film was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Globes — which caused some rumblings among Hollywood. The film is mostly in Mandarin but is clearly an Asian American narrative. Liu skewered the HFPA’s choice to put it in the foreign category.
“Awkwafina is also having a really good year,” said...
Though “The Plot Against America” took its time to get going, it’s full steam ahead for David Simon’s Philip Roth adaptation by Episode 4 — but to what end? With just two episodes to go, the drama has certainly flared up: The Levin familial bonds are being pushed to the brink as Sandy falls increasingly under Lindbergh’s spell, with the help of Aunt Evelyn and her new boyfriend Rabbi Bengelsdorf. The lines have been drawn, and it’s not looking good for either side. While this was by far the most exciting episode so far, it still feels as though Simon is obligingly following Roth’s outline rather than forging his own path.
In both the novel and the series “The Plot Against America,” there’s an unmentioned but implicit rhetorical question reaching out from beyond the page and screen. To borrow from the musical “Cabaret,” one of the only pieces of pop culture to artfully grapple with this unthinkable dilemma: What would you do? If a fascist were elected president of your country, if your sister started dating one of his shills, if your son was secretly sketching his visage by flashlight — how would you behave? Would you flee to Canada, organize the resistance, or stick your head in the sand and hope for the best?
The fourth episode hones in on these questions with laser-like precision, enjoying the fruits of the preceding three episodes that felt, both in retrospect and in real time, mostly like set-up. Having returned from his “Just Folks” adventure in Kentucky, a Hitler Youth-esque recruiting tool of Rabbi Bengelsdorf’s John Turturro design, Sandy has quite literally become the poster child for assimilationist Jews. Evelyn Winona Ryder proudly features him in a brochure for the program, against Bess’ Zoe Kazan wishes.
Sandy’s transformation has been building since the pilot episode, which ended with him surreptitiously sketching Charles Lindbergh from of a newspaper clipping. Having planted the seeds deliberately, the show earns its most uncomfortable moment so far when Sandy spits at his parents, calling them “ghetto Jews — narrow-minded ghetto Jews.” His transformation is complete. When Bess slaps him across the face, it’s hard not to let out a silent cheer. Your Jewish firstborn becoming a Nazi sympathizer may be the rare instance when a kid deserves a good wallop.
“The Plot Against America”
Less effective is a Shabbas dinner argument between Herman Morgan Spector and Bengelsdorf, where Herman puts aside any last shred of civility to tell the Rabbi what he really thinks of his man Lindbergh. Maybe it’s the fact that only the men are talking while the women make sidelong glances of...