"I don't want to tell people what I make. It's a lot more than I ever dreamed of as a kid. I never think about it."
Q: What do you think it will take? A: Time. Time and persistence. Just more Asian people who
are interested in American culture, and want to get into the cultural side of
this world rather than computers and physics and stuff like that. I think I
played a good role because for the past few years I was the more visible
Asian performer and I think it gave young girls a kind of role model showing
it's possible to actually reach success doing movies.
Q: Do you think we will reach the point where Asian faces
can appear in big-budget movies without people paying much attention to
A: Yeah. Black people are doing a lot better lately. They're
getting a lot more better roles and they have fought for a long time. Yeah, it's
very possible. And I think really America is one of the best places for a
person who is not a mainstream person. Scratch--we are the
mainstream. But all these racial tension around the world in Europe and
Asia. In Asia people are not very accepting of other races. America has been
a lot more tolerant and the law has made things possible though a lot of
prejudices will not be governed by laws. It's really inside the person. I do
Q: Is this your home now? Are you an American? A: I don't know. Physically this is my home, but I do go back
to China so many times a year.
Q: What does it feel like when you go back now? A: I feel like it is also a home. A little less probably. But I've
reconciled that I will be a little different from another Chinese walking on the
street because I have all these years of American experience. So I have
accepted the fact that I have horns, but I still have a home there, my parents
are still there, I still have my bed there, my room there. So I could go back
Q: Do you still send a big part of your income to family and
relatives? A: Not as much now because they're all doing much better
now. Pretty soon, they'll be sending money to me. China's growing very
Q: Speaking of money, you were talking about encouraging
other Asian girls and boys to think of themselves as actresses and actors, and
part of that is money... A: There are many ways you can make money. Certain ways
will make you happy, certain other ways will make other people happy. But
if you go in because there's money in there, you're bound to fail, bound
Q: How is the money if you succeed? A: I don't want to tell people what I make. It's a lot more
than I ever dreamed of as a kid. I never think about it.
Q: Is it six figures? A: I don't want to talk about it. But it's comfortable enough.
It is an extremely competitive business, partially because of the money, but
mostly because all the people in it are so passionate. When you feel so
strongly about something and other people feel equally strongly, you have to
feel stronger about it in order to succeed. Like Joy Luck Club and many
of the good movies, Reservoir Dogs, very quality movies that are done
with only union rates.
Q: All the actresses in Joy Luck got union wages? A: Yeah, yeah, because there is a certain love. This is a story
they want to tell.
Q: Why aren't you in it? A: Because I was doing Golden Gate. No, first I was doing
Heaven & Earth. When I came back, they were halfway in the movie
and almost the day I arrived I started to do Golden Gate which is also a
love of mine for which I got union rate.
Q: Is that written and directed by David Henry Hwang?
And you're the girl who falls in love with the detective? A: Yeah. I didn't want people to think I'm not in Joy Luck
Club because everybody's getting union rate. It's just not true. It's a
story I love very much. I have many friends there. Amy Tan and [director]
Wayne [Wang], they're all my friends. I wish I could have been in it, but I
was doing other work and for an actor a lot of it is really just love. With that
determination you could have made money elsewhere. It's extremely hard.
You have to say, I will wither if I don't do it, I'll die if I don't do it. It has to
be that big of a determination, that much of a need.
Q: The money may not be the thing that pulls people into it,
but it keeps a lot of people from ever considering it, especially Asian young
people. Do you make more money than, say, a successful lawyer? A: No, you won't get it out of me.