Anna May Wong gets her due. As the first Chinese-American actress, her time in Hollywood Golden Age was shrouded in racism. Orientalist narratives like the 'Dragon Lady' or the seductress were pinned to her and the final (and most famous) blow came when Wong was refused a role in the 1937 film The Good Earth. A part which was then given to Luise Rainer who donned yellowface for her portrayal of the Chinese lead O'Lan and subsequently won an Oscar for Best Actress. However, Anna May Wong had triumphs too. And all of this will be focussed on in the new film centring her life.
With the assistance of Working Title Films, Gemma Chan and BAFTA-nominated producer Nina Yang Bongiovi are joining forces to bring this Anna May Wong biopic to life. Chan has signed on to play the lead role of Wong, who she has described as a "trailblazer, an icon and a woman ahead of her time", while also working as a producer alongside Yang Bongiovi.
This will be the first project to really dig deep into Anna May Wong's legacy, with the 2020 series Hollywood touching briefly on the icon's experiences in Hollywood. Speaking on her interest in the project, Gemma Chan said, “Her [Anna May Wong's] talent and her exploration of her art both in and outside of the U.S. was groundbreaking — and the challenges and prejudice she faced in the early 20th century as an actress speak directly to the conversations and the world we are navigating today".
David Henry Hwang will pen the screenplay, a contribution which is rendered all the more significant as he was the first Asian-American playwright to win a Tony Award in 1988. Meanwhile, Anna May Wong's niece Anna Wong will serve as a consultant to the film.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Wong's niece said, “I’m delighted that I’ll get to build on my aunt’s legacy with Gemma and Nina, who are Asian leaders in the forefront of storytelling".
Overall, we're in for a moving piece of cinema. When more details like plot and release date are announced, we'll be sure to keep you updated.