“Hold Still, Vincent,” a podcast from actress Gemma Chan about the 1982 murder of Chinese American man Vincent Chin, has been pulled after complaints from his family.
Late last month, Helen Zia, an Asian American activist and journalist who represents the Chin estate, wrote on Instagram that she had not been contacted by A-Major Media or any of the producers of the star-studded podcast. In the podcast, which is based on a screenplay by Johnny Ngo, Zia is voiced by Kelly Marie Tran.
“That said, such an important story deserves to be told and every American should know about what happened to Vincent Chin and about this multiracial, multicultural Asian American-centered civil rights movement,” she wrote. “I hope these various Hollywood projects get the stories right about the AAPI community, because the lessons of the Vincent Chin justice movement are critical to countering today’s tsunami of anti-Asian hate. Creators–please at least check in with community people who lived these experiences, including the estate of Lily and Vincent Chin—the AAPI community and its activists deserve that respect. I’m not dead yet and it’s weird hearing/seeing myself fictionalized by people who have never tried to connect with me or the Estate.”
Chan, who voiced lawyer Liza Chan in the podcast, took to Instagram herself, writing on May 26 that when she first signed onto the project, she asked “whether Zia could be involved in the panel discussion of the podcast” and was told that “an approach had already been made at an earlier stae of the process but that Helen was already developing her own Vincent Chin TV project.” Chan said she was “devastated” to learn from Zia’s post that “direct contact … did not in fact occur.”
A-Major Media followed that up with a statement, also released on Instagram, that offered apologies to Zia and the Chin estate for the company’s “oversight.”
“We are deeply sorry to all the generous partners who came together to donate their time and bear no responsibility for our mistake – Gemma Chan, our incredible cast, QCODE, Phillip Sun (M88), Carmen Cuba and Gold House – as our only motivation was to share Vincent’s story with the world. We are in contact with Helen Zia and the Vincent Chin Estate and have offered to take the podcast down. In the meantime, we are disabling the podcast out of respect for Helen and the Estate and will be guided by their wishes,” said the statement.
On Tuesday, writer and activist Annie Tan, a cousin of Chin’s, also released a statement indicating she and her family were not contacted for the podcast and did not expect it to release in full in May. She noted that after Zia spoke out, she was contacted by Chan and producer Mary Lee.
“After listening to the podcast, I spoke with both Gemma and Mary today 6/2, and shared what I would have said if I had been reached out to prior to production,” Tan wrote. “I shared with Gemma and Mary, and hope to share with screenwriter Johnny Ngo and directors Aaron and Winston Tao, the impact of Vincent’s murder on my family. I don’t speak for my family, but many members of my family have said they do not want to be involved in Vincent Chin projects because they do not want to be retraumatized. Journalists over many decades have hounded my family for more sob stories, specifically from Lily Chin, my great-auntie, may she rest in power, who already gave so much of her labor, gave press photographs that have still not been returned to my family, was constantly reminded by the cameras of her dead son Vincent, and, after our family lost the last trial, moved to China. How do you trust others to tell Vincent’s story after all that?”
The podcast is no longer available to stream or download. “Crazy Rich Asians” star Remy Hii played Chin, Rosalind Chao played his mother Lily and David Harbour and Dane DeHaan played his killers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz.
Chin was 27 when he was killed. The draftsman was celebrating his upcoming wedding at a Detroit strip club when he was beaten by the two white men who, according to reports, were enraged over the idea that Japanese car manufacturing was taking away American jobs and incorrectly concluded Chin was Japanese.