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Nick From ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Is Hot AF & That’s More Meaningful Than You Think

Let’s talk about Nick Young. He’s the leading man of Crazy Rich Asians, and is portrayed by Henry Golding, a newcomer to the Hollywood scene. Nick is the heir to his family’s fortune, he’s a brilliant history professor, and he’s a ridiculously attractive Asian man.

Let’s talk about that a bit more...

Nick doesn’t have many characters like him—a leading man of Asian descent who is the subject of romantic desire in an American studio film, that is. Where Asian women are often fetishized and hypersexualized, Asian men are often conversely desexualized and seen as unattractive. The most infamous example of this was Steve Harvey’s comments from early 2017 in which he laughed at a book titled How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men.

“That’s one page,” he said, doubling over in laughter. “‘Excuse me, do you like Asian men?’ No. Thank you.”

His jokes, of course, received swift backlash and spawned think pieces from The New York Times and Quartz about the harm of these stereotypes about Asian men being inherently unattractive. When American TV show hosts are outright laughing at the idea of a desirable Asian man and movies and American films and series are doing little to combat it (hello, Asian and Nerdy trope), these ideas can be extremely damaging to Asian-American men’s self-esteem and distort the way they see themselves, and the way others see them.

That’s not the case for Nick. From the get-go, we understand that he is someone people pay attention to, and someone who is highly desired by almost every woman in the film. The trailer shows main character Rachel (Constance Wu) outright calling him the “Prince William of Asia,” to which he replies, “That’s ridiculous. I’m much more of a Harry.” (After seeing his rakish smile, I’d have to agree.)

American movies rarely ever have Asian men as princes, let alone direct comparisons to two of the most sought-after men on planet Earth. Nor have we ever had an Asian man be the Bachelor on the eponymous loved/hated ABC reality show, yet we hear Awkwafina’s character Peik Lin Goh refer to Nick as the “Asian Bachelor” over a shot of Golding’s bare chest. Refinery29 noted that this gratuitous shirtlessness is “momentous” for presenting Golding as attractive and masculine. POPSUGAR tapped him as a “leading man to love,” Vanity Fair called him a “classic leading man” and Cosmopolitan dubbed him “swoon”-worthy. (All true, BTW.) Some people on Twitter are already calling for Golding to be the next James Bond, arguably the epitome of masculinity and desirability in the Western pop culture canon.



As Refinery29 said, these small nods to Nick’s masculine beauty—and the reactions they cause—have value. It’s no secret that media influences the way we think about people and places, and how much love or disdain we have for them. In online dating, Asian men are one of the least-preferred groups, as found through OkCupid data, and when there are far fewer examples to point to for Asian men who are ogled over and discussed about the same way that, say, the four white Chrises and the two white Ryans are, it’s hard not to believe that the media we are and aren’t exposed to has an impact.

But Crazy Rich Asians, as suggested by Vanity Fair, makes a case for casting more Asian and Asian-American men in leading roles.Vanity Fair points to Golding’s upcoming film, A Simple Favor, in which he plays Blake Lively’s mysterious husband, and the upcoming Netflix film Flash Boys, which centers on a Japanese-Canadian man. Crazy Rich Asians is even seeking to better its own perception of Asian men: The Hollywood Reporter noted that Constance Wu persuaded director Jon M. Chu to remove a line in which Rachel takes pride in never having dated an Asian man before Nick. The more attention we pay to how Asian men are portrayed, the more respectful our perceptions of them can be—and the more we can realize that, honestly, Asian men are hot AF, too. Golding told Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast that he hopes sex symbols will be born from Crazy Rich Asians—after seeing the reaction to Golding’s excellent performance, there’s almost no doubt in my mind that he’ll get his wish.

Erica Kam

Columbia Barnard '21

Erica is an Editor at Her Campus. She was formerly an Associate Editor (2021-22), Contributing Editor (2020-21), Wellness Editor (2019-20), High School Editor (2018-19), and Editorial Intern (2018). She graduated from Barnard College in 2021 with a degree in English and creative writing, and was the Senior Editor of Her Campus Columbia Barnard (2018-21). When she's not writing or editing (which is rare), she's probably looking at food pictures on Instagram.
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