Pay Disparity drives ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Screenwriter to Exit the Project

A quaking box office weekend was ablaze for the Crazy Rich Asians cast when the film hit the screens in August of last year. Gaining $34,000,000 on its opening weekend, the American filmmaker, Jon M. Chu, made a significant comeback because of his accurately represented Asian cast and perfectly curated adaptation of the best selling novel by Kevin Kwan. Of course, being recognized as “the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent since The Joy Luck Club in 1993” has not only gained the studio worldwide appreciation but also opened the doors for further Asian representation to make its way to Hollywood. Since then, the major Hollywood studio, Warner Brothers has been developing two sequels for the blockbuster hit. 

Related: Why the Movie “Crazy Rich Asians” is Important 

Now, you would think that because of this crazy milestone that Hollywood would breakdown its walls to rebuild itself as a gender-inclusive and unbiased industry. Alas, this past weekend an exclusive report from The Hollywood Reporter revealed that a Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter backed out of the production amid a pay disparity dispute. Unknown sources from The Hollywood Reporter said that Adele Lim, a screenwriter for the film, was offered 1/8th of her white male co-writers salary which would only leave her with about $110,000 while her male co-writer, Peter Chiarelli would be left with $800,000 to $1 million. 

The question that pulled me as I was reading about this news was the question of whether or not this issue was a race thing, a gender thing, a mix of both, or if it was influenced by their different career standings. Adele Lim is a Malaysian film and television producer and screenwriter who is famous for her work in the Crazy Rich Asians franchise, Private Practice (2011), and Reign (2013). While her counterpart, Peter Chiarelli is an experienced feature writer whose most famous work is for the film, The Proposal (2009). I think that there are some implications that a career status may have lead to this discrimination. However, also present are facts that Adele is a woman of Asian descent, which gives Hollywood more reason for her to be highly discriminated against. Sadly, in the years that Hollywood has been functioning, pay disparity among male and female workers in the industry is not an issue uncommon to media. In the past years, there have been several issues linked to pay disparity between males and females in Hollywood alone. We’ve seen Mark Wahlberg get paid more compared to his co-star Michelle Williams. We’ve also heard the news of Catt Sadler's pay disparity issue with co-host Jason Kennedy of E! Network. The sad reality of this all is that it seems like Hollywood never learns. 

Related: The Biggest, Most Outrageous Pay Discrepancies In Hollywood History

Now to think that an Asian film originally written by an Asian writer would have a pay disparity dispute among its Asian and American screenwriters appalls and disappoints me all at the same time. This film gave me Asian pride and also gave millions of people the representation they deserve, but apparently within the corners of Hollywood, discrimination was well present and representation could have been nothing but a stunt to amass a large audience. 

Related: What ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Meant To Me