Anna May Wong is finally about to get the feature biopic shine she deserves thanks to two of the most influential Asian women in Hollywood.
THR reports that Passing producer and all around badass Nina Yang Bongiovi is teaming with the exquisitely talented Gemma Chan to develop a biopic about Hollywood’s first Chinese American movie star who walked through a lot of racism so many Asians in Hollywood could run in 2022.
Chan will star as Wong and serve as executive producer alongside Bongiovi. Legendary Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang will adapt the script from from Graham Russell Gao Hodges’ 2012 biography, “Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend” while Wong’s niece Anna Wong is set to consult on the film.
Chan said in a statement to media: “Anna May Wong was a trailblazer, an icon and a woman ahead of her time. Her talent and her exploration of her art both in and outside of the U.S. was ground-breaking — 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.”
Born in Los Angeles, Wong was integral to the Golden Age of Hollywood. After launching her career during the silent film era, she appeared in films alongside other icons like Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express. The biggest controversy in her career that still rings true today is when MGM refused to cast her in the Chinese role of O-Lan in the 1937 adaptation of The Good Earth. White woman Luise Rainer went on to star in the role and nabbed an Oscar for it — but I don’t see anyone making a biopic about her.
We’ve seen a handful of iterations of Wong in film and TV with the most recent being portrayed by Michelle Krusiec in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series Hollywood. Damien Chazelle’s upcoming Babylon is said to feature an Anna May Wong-type character played by Li Jun Li.
Bongiovi’s Significant Productions, was behind the critically acclaimed Passing will produce the biopic with Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.