Crazy Rich Asians? The irony.
Adele Lim, the Malaysian co-screenwriter of Crazy Rich Asians has left the production of the sequel after discovering the pay disparity between her and her white co-writer, Peter Chiarelli.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. offered Chiarelli $800,000 to $1 million as a starting salary while Lim was offered a mere $110,000. Lim told THR, “Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions.” According to THR’s source, this disparity was because “industry-standard established ranges based on experience and that making an exception would set a troubling precedent in the business.”
This even though Lim has decades of TV experience, and Chiarelli only had one movie screenwriting credit and one ‘story by’ credit prior to the incredibly successful Crazy Rich Asians.
Even after her white counterpart offered her half of his salary to strike a balance between both their incomes, Lim politely refused. She knows her worth!
While she has nothing but respect for her white co-writer, Lim wanted to emphasise on an issue that went far beyond just making equal pay.
“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 CRA, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that 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].”
Lim was initially hired by director, Jon M Chu, to co-write and adapt Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel, Crazy Rich Asians, into a screenplay alongside Chiarelli for the feature film.
When she walked out of writing for the CRA sequel nearing the end of last year, the studio behind the project, known as Color Force, had to spend “about five months fielding other writers of Asian descent for the job.”
The Muse reports that this seemed to demonstrate how Lim was “tokenised” by the studio. While Director Chu tried his best to keep her on the production, it was clear that the two writers were not seen as equals by the studio from the start. And Lim’s pay certainly seemed to reflect that!
What’s more ironic is the fact that Lim’s story was released on the same day San Diego State University’s Center For the Study Of Women in Television and Film published their 22nd annual report for 2018-2019.
Their findings showed that publications for the past year or so prove that women have achieved “historic highs both on and off screen” the last year.
Nonetheless, it just goes to show that while Asian recognition and the acknowledgment of female production talents may seem like it’s improving in Hollywood, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
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