Jon M. Chu’s first home video drew an emotional reaction out of his parents, and rightly so.
Chu attended the TED2019 festival in Vancouver, where he spoke about the journey he took to making the culturally impactful summer blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians.”
The director, the son of Chinese immigrants, recalled one of the first times he witnessed the power of on-screen representation: when his parents viewed a video he shot and edited during a family vacation.
“They cried and cried,” Chu said of his parents. “Not because it was the most amazing home video edit ever, but because they saw our family as a normal family that fit in and belonged. Like from the movies they worshipped and the TV shows that they named us after.”
Chu admitted during the speech that he was driven by the social media movements, aggressively calling for proper Asian representation in Hollywood, to make the movie. He emphasized the importance of the connections made in the fight for inclusion in a white-dominated industry.
“I realized once you start listening to those silent beats in the messy noise all around you … you realize there is a beautiful symphony already written for you and it can give you a direct line to your destiny – to your superpowers,” he said.
Chu previously told HuffPost that “Crazy Rich Asians” marked his very first foray into a project related to his Asian American identity.
“The reason I did this movie and the reason why it took so long for me to explore this as an artist, explore my cultural identity, was because it was such a sensitive part of my heart and my soul,” he said. “I didn’t want to deal with it.”
He credited campaigns like #Whitewashedout, #StarringJohnCho, and #SeeAsAmStar with giving him the introducing him to issues long-baked into the industry.
“I am a complete, residual effect of people speaking out,” he said. “I was someone who wasn’t awake to those things only because I had my head down to the ground.”