How the ‘American Born Chinese’ TV series translates the classic graphic novel to screen

How the ‘American Born Chinese’ TV series translates the classic graphic novel to screen

Gene Luen Yang, Kelvin Yu, the show’s creator, and Ben Wang, star, talk about their experiences working with Michelle Yeoh, as well as bringing the Asian-American experience onto screen.

Christian Holub

American-Born Chinese It is a classic graphic novel. It is a beautifully told story about growing as a child of immigrants and how to fit in America. It is taught in schools and used as an example of the artistic heights comics can reach. It’s now a TV series, and author is more shocked than anyone. Gene Luen Yang.

Yang told EW that she is amazed that people still read it. “I was actually in Boston just a month ago to talk about this book. In many ways, I feel very lucky for the support I get from teachers, librarians and comic book lovers. This was something I didn’t expect when I started that book. The show is a challenge, but I think it’s also one the most meaningful. It’s about thinking through how the conversation about Asian America has changed since the publication of the book.

American-Born Chinese

Michelle Yeoh and Jim Liu appear in “American Born Chinese” TV series.

| Credit: Disney

Kelvin Yu, creator of the American-Born Chinese series, gives a succinct description about Yang’s work (which also includes graphic books like Dragon Hoops And Superman Smashes The Klan) So rich and lasting.

Yu states that Gene’s tone is a great mix of humor, heart, and medicine. It’s almost as if Gene’s words have some nutritional value, but it’s easy to digest and doesn’t take himself too seriously. This ticks all the boxes for me as a TV writer.

American-Born Chinese Starring Ben Wang as Jin Wang, a child of Chinese immigrants growing up in America. Wang didn’t see the graphic novel until auditioning for the series. But when he did, he wept with joy.


Jin Wang (Ben Wang), and his parents at ‘American Born Chinese’

| Credit: Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Wang states that “I didn’t have to do any extra research because almost all of the things I read were things that I had lived one to one.” “In a way which is both very exciting and very scary because it’s so vulnerable to show that much, it’s both very exciting and very scary.” I understood that this job required me to be honest, open, and truthful about myself and the things that come out of me. Actors don’t do this very often so it can be scary.

The show’s adaptation team realized that, while many things have changed since Yang was a child (mainly the types of pop culture that kids love), feelings of alienation or isolation are still relevant for many immigrant children.

Jin deals with these feelings by escaping to fantasy realms populated characters from Chinese mythology such as Sun Wukong, the Monkey King (played here by Daniel Wu) or Guanyin the goddess of mercy (played here by). Michelle Yeoh). Guanyin did not appear in the original American-Born Chinese She does, however, appear in another Yang graphic book. Boxers & Saints), but Yu and his team added her character to the TV series as Yu expanded the story to include multiple episodes.

American-Born Chinese

In ‘American Born Chinese’, Daniel Wu plays Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.

| Credit: Disney

Yang, who has written superheroes both for Marvel and DC, says, “On a visceral basis, I’m an superhero fan.” “The heart of the superhero genre lies in the blending of the mundane and the fantastic. This reflects both the immigrant child experience and the Asian-American experience. Many of us feel that we live between two worlds. When I was a child, I spoke two languages at school and one at home. I have one name at my home and one at school. I was raised under two sets of cultural expectations.

Yang continued, “In the show the way that’s expressed it is with mythology.” The show has at least two worlds. The show is about how they interact and how conflict can sometimes result. This is also true for immigrant children.

Yeoh is a great actress and fan. Thanks to the A24 hit, she seems well on her path to her first Oscar nomination Everything at Once. Yeoh isn’t the only one. Everything is Everywhere star in American-Born Chinese. The series also features Ke Huy Quan as well as Stephanie Hsu.

Wang said that Yeoh is magic. “I have a joke prepared that’s like, “Michelle Yeoh (the goddess of compassion) and she plays one in this show too.” Hey! She was so kind and generous with her spirit, and she’s also a very funny, goofy person. It’s a great energy to be around on set. I was probably too nervous to be around her, and couldn’t shake it off. That was a blessing for me as an actor. She’s playing a god whose stories you have heard in folk tales growing her up. It’s basically a one-on-one. I was like, “I’ll just use my nervousness.”

American-Born Chinese Disney will premiere the film in 2023.

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