“Crazy Rich Asians” Writer Reveals Shocking Pay Gap Compared To White Male Co-Writer
It is impossible to deny the cultural impact that Crazy Rich Asians has had on Asian representation in Hollywood.
It is the first film run by a major Hollywood studio to feature an all-Asian main cast in a modern setting.
The film was critically acclaimed and commercially successful, being the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade.
The well-received screenplay was written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim.
Peter Chiarelli was enlisted to work on the screenplay, before the company even found a director for the film. Chiarelli had previously achieved success for writing The Proposal.
Meanwhile, director Jon M. Chu insisted on bringing in an Asian screenwriter, so Adele Lim was brought on board to add specific cultural details and further develop several characters.
As Peter Chiarelli was a veteran screenwriter, and Adele Lim had only had experience with writing for television shows, sources state that Chiarelli was offered eight times the amount that Lim was offered.
It has been estimated that Chiarelli as offered close to $1 million, while Lim was offered $110,000+.
Lim reveals that her treatment in Hollywood has been questionable, highlighting that women and people of color are often brought on board as “soy sauce” to sprinkle culturally specific details, instead of actually playing a role in crafting the story.
Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions
For the upcoming sequels to Crazy Rich Asians, Lim was offered a pay that was closer to parity with Chiarelli, who offered to split his pay with her.
Lim politely declined, stating that she wished to make the money on her own merit as a screenwriter, though she was appreciative of Chiarelli’s offer.
Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer.
If I couldn’t get pay equity after Crazy Rich Asians, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for]. There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way
Consequently, Lim left as screenwriter for the sequels to “Crazy Rich Asians” with Chiarelli still on board, adapting the screenplay from “China Rich Girlfriend” and “Rich People Problems”.
Jon M. Chu has stated that their priority is not the timeline but on getting the story right for the sequels.
He promises that the sequels will take the movies even further and that they will “not be boring”.
Meanwhile, Adele Lim will be making her debut as director for animated Disney film “Raya and the Last Dragon” which will be released in November 2020.
The film will continue to propel a movement towards greater Asian representation, as it has been said to focus on Southeast Asian themes.
With more Asian actors and screenwriters telling more Asian stories in Hollywood, hopefully this will lead to continual positive change for the appreciation of Asian storytellers.