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Series on Vincent Chin taps Chloé Zhao as executive producer

The show, which has been authorized by Chin’s estate, will tell the story of the Chinese American engineer’s 1982 murder and how his death galvanized Asian Americans.
Chloe Zhao on Oct. 25, 2021 in Rome.
Chloé Zhao, the director of "Nomadland" and "Eternals," last month in Rome.Stefania D'Alessandro / WireImage file

Chloé Zhao, the Academy Award-winning director of “Nomadland” and “Eternals,” will be the executive producer for a limited scripted series about the murder of Vincent Chin and the civil rights movement that arose in the aftermath, according to Deadline.

The upcoming series by the media company Participant will tell the story of Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American engineer who was beaten to death in Detroit in 1982 by two white auto workers who blamed Japanese car manufacturers for taking their jobs. His murder is widely considered the most infamous hate crime in Asian American history.

Vincent Chin was 27 when he was beaten with a baseball bat in Detroit. He would later die from his injuries.Courtesy American Citizens of Ju

The men were initially charged with second-degree murder but later pleaded to manslaughter and received probation and a $3,000 fine. The punishment sparked widespread protests and united Asian Americans from different ethnic backgrounds, galvanizing what would become the contemporary Asian American movement. 

Through an exclusive agreement with the Chin estate and executor Helen Zia, a former auto worker, activist, journalist and spokesperson for the Justice for Vincent Chin Campaign, Zhao’s will be the only authorized series about Chin’s murder.

The project will “reveal the definitive account of a civil rights movement that matters today more than ever, when a community discovered its voice,” according to Participant.

“I was deeply moved by Helen’s personal connection to Vincent’s story as well as her incredibly insightful and nuanced perspective on this difficult yet inspiring story,” Zhao told Deadline.

The project was initially announced in December. 

The news comes after a dramatized podcast about Chin, “Hold Still, Vincent,” was removed from audio platforms in June after it was revealed that the producers hadn’t consult with Chin’s estate or Zia about the project. The star-studded podcast included Gemma Chan of “Eternals” and “Crazy Rich Asians” as a producer, and Kelly Marie Tran of “Raya and the Last Dragon” as a voice actor. The team behind the podcast later issued an apology on Instagram.

“Vincent Chin, his legacy, and the communities that came together to fight for justice have been a part of my life for nearly 39 years," Zia previously told NBC Asian America. "In today’s climate of hate towards our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, this story shows how many diverse people in America came together in solidarity, to stand together for the full humanity of all.”