New Book Examines the Chinese Experience in Hollywood

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 18, 2019

The role that Chinese American’s played in Hollywood throughout history is getting its time in the spotlight, with the new book by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong titled “Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films,” he announced via Twitter yesterday (October 17). The book is a companion to Dong’s 2007 documentary of the same name that explores the century-long history Chinese actors in American feature films. 

“When I was in my early teens, I started seeing American-made movies with Chinese characters and really noticing how odd it was that their representation [was] in a way that was foreign to me and my experience,” said Dong to Variety, who grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood during the 1960s. 


Much like the documentary, this coffee-table book addresses myths, misconceptions and memorable moments of Chinese people in American cinema, with more than 500 vintage photographs, movie posters, lobby cards and artifacts from Dong’s personal collection. The book covers a wide range of people and topics including the hyper-stereotyped portrayals of the Chinatown Tong Wars, romances starring Anna May Wong and Nancy Kwan, the casting of White actors in Asian roles, known as “yellowface” and 2018’s all-Asian cast hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first film in a quarter century to do so.

“We get a film like ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ blasting out last summer and it being a major hit. Well, that came from somewhere,” Dong told Variety. “The motivation behind that team to tell their own stories the way they want to tell it really was the motivation that came from the silent era. It took us a long time to have a blockbuster like [that], to say, ‘Yeah, we’re here.’ It’s that larger history that I wanted to tell.”

The book also features personal stories from 11 of the industry’s most accomplished Chinese and Chinese-American filmmakers, such as Kwan, Ang Lee and Amy Tan

To purchase the book visit Angel Press City.