'Crazy Rich Asians' director denies Brenda Song was told she wasn't 'Asian enough' for film

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Brenda Song claimed she was told her "image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words."
Image: Brenda Song attends a screening in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sept. 10, 2019.
Brenda Song at a screening in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sept. 10, 2019.Richard Shotwell / Invision / AP

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By Kimmy Yam

Jon M. Chu, who directed last summer’s rom-com blockbuster “Crazy Rich Asians,” is denying Brenda Song’s claim that she was told she wasn’t “Asian enough” to audition for the film.

Song, best known for her role as London Tipton on Disney Channel’s “The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody,” told Teen Vogue in an interview published Wednesday that she “never got to read for ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ ever.”

“Their reasoning behind that, what they said, was that my image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words. It broke my heart,” Song, who’s currently promoting her new series “Dollface,” told the outlet.

Many in the Asian American community, who felt Song was robbed of a chance to be in the film, especially since she played the original crazy, rich Asian, jumped to the actress’ defense.

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Chu, however, swiftly responded to tweets, writing that it “sucks if anything of that nature was ever communicated. It’s gross actually.”

Janice Koh as Felicity, Amy J Cheng as Jacqueline and Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor in Crazy Rich AsiansSanja Bucko / Warner Bros. Pictures

“The fact is, obviously I know who she is and didn’t need her to audition. I’m a fan of hers!” he wrote on the social media platform. “Nothing more nothing less. Bums me out she thought it was anything but.”

The director also tweeted about the open casting call conducted for “Crazy Rich Asians”: “We watched hundreds & hundreds of videos from very talented people from all around the world. Made us tear up many times.”

Both Chu and Song declined to provide further comment to NBC News.

According to Song’s account, she’s long been a fan of the novels on which the film is based. After asking her managers for an opportunity for a meeting or to audition for the movie, they came back with the bad news.

“I said: ‘This character is in her late to mid-20s, an Asian American, and I can't even audition for it? I've auditioned for Caucasian roles my entire career, but this specific role, you're not going to let me do it?” Song said. “You're going to fault me for having worked my whole life?’ I was like, ‘Where do I fit?’”

Following the incident, Song took time to travel and “got herself together” upon her return to her home in Los Angeles, she told Teen Vogue.

"All I can do is continue to put good auditions out there, do the best that I can — that's all I can ask for."

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