Disney is adapting the graphic novel American Born Chinese into a television series starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu.
The financial and critical success of the hit 2022 film Everything Everywhere All at Once has seemingly elevated the creative endeavors of Asian actors and filmmakers recently. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu, the movie is almost sure to score major wins at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. But this seems to be just the start for these veteran performers, as all three are set to costar in the upcoming television series American Born Chinese.
Based on the graphic novel written by Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese is the highly anticipated new television show that boasts an impressive ensemble cast. Premiering on Disney+, the series is executive produced by Destin Daniel Cretton, the helmer of 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
Here is all we know about American Born Chinese.
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE WILL RELEASE SOMETIME THIS SPRING
Produced by 20th Television, American Born Chinese is created by Kelvin Yu of Bob’s Burgers and Central Park fame. The television series will debut to streaming audiences via Disney+, just in time for the streamer to possibly gain back some of the 2.4 million subscribers that fled the platform during the fourth quarter of 2022.
There is no release date set at Disney+ yet, but the new television show will be seen by a lucky set of festival goers in March. Deadline reports that American Born Chinese will have its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival on March 15, 2023. It is expected that Disney will roll out the series to its streaming platform shortly after that.
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE WILL BE A COMEDY SERIES DEALING WITH RACIAL STEREOTYPES, IDENTITY, AND TRANSFORMATION
Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese novel was released in 2006 and dealt with themes of struggling with racial stereotypes, identity, and transformation processes. The television adaptation coming to Disney+ will be an action comedy showcasing many of the same themes, aimed at audiences consisting of families and young adults.
American Born Chinese follows the trajectory of young Jin Wang, the Chinese-American son of parents who emigrated from China to San Francisco. The family lives in the Bay Area’s famed Chinatown, where Jin struggles to balance his life at school and at home. After meeting the new foreign exchange student in school, Jin is thrust into a war between the Gods of Chinese mythology.
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE FEATURES AN ENSEMBLE CAST INCLUDING MICHELLE YEOH, KE HUY QUAN, AND STEPHANIE HSU
Disney+ seems to have struck gold in its casting of American Born Chinese at a time of great significance to the Asian community. Michelle Yeoh, the Malaysian actor globally recognized for her work in action films where she’s performed her own stunt work, was recently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Everything Everywhere All at Once. She has been cast in American Born Chinese as Guanyin, a Chinese mythological god, opposite newcomer Ben Wang who will embody the protagonist Jin Wang.
Starring in American Born Chinese alongside Michelle Yeoh are her Everything Everywhere All at Once costars Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu. Both Quan and Hsu have also been nominated for Academy Awards in supporting categories this year. While not much is currently known about their respective roles in the new series, Quan is set to play a fictional character from a popular 1990s sitcom named Freddy Wong.
American Born Chinese is aided by its diverse ensemble cast, which includes Yeo Yann Yann and Chin Han as Jin’s parents, Daniel Wu as the legendary The Monkey King, Jim Liu as Jin’s new foreign exchange student friend, and Sydney Taylor as Jin’s love interest in school.
Several familiar faces will see some time on screen in American Born Chinese as various characters in several episodes of the series. Actor and poet Poppy Liu, comedians Ronny Chieng and Jimmy O. Yang, Everything Everywhere All at Once alum James Hong, and Chinese actor Lisa Lu are all set for recurring roles. Turning Red‘s Rosalie Chiang posted to Instagram about her part as Suzy Najamura in the show, revealing the official trailer for American Born Chinese.
DIRECTOR DESTIN DANIEL CRETTON WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH DISNEY ON SHANG-CHI 2 AND AVENGERS: THE KANG DYNASTY
American Born Chinese is an example of Disney appearing to be considering Asian representation within its varied content. The show’s talented director and executive producer, Destin Daniel Cretton, has made a name for himself in making independent features like Short Term 12. However, Cretton was catapulted to the A-list filmmakers list when the Hawaiian-born director helmed 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings for Disney and Marvel Studios.
Since then, Disney might be putting many of their eggs in Cretton’s growing basket as he has been tapped to direct a sequel to Shang-Chi and the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. The latter film will likely conclude the MCU’s Phase Six, and according to Entertainment Weekly, Marvel is looking to build up to the epic conclusion in 2025 and 2026.
As for the American Born Chinese principal cast, 60-year-old Michelle Yeoh will continue her reign as an action goddess by appearing in the next set of sequels for James Cameron’s Avatar franchise. She has also agreed to play the pivotal role of Madame Morrible in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked, which is currently filming. Yeoh might be available in person to help promote American Born Chinese at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, next month, although the premiere will take place a mere three days after the Academy Awards.
Outside of continuing with awards season and gearing up to advertise American Born Chinese, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu have several projects in the works. A former child actor turned awards show darling, Quan has signed on to play an undisclosed role in Anthony and Joe Russo’s science fiction Netflix film The Electric State. Hsu will soon appear in Rian Johnson’s television series for Peacock called Poker Face, in addition to filming David Leitch’s 2024 action thriller, The Fall Guy.