Oscar-nominated “Everything Everywhere All at Once” actress Stephanie Hsu feels a lot of different things about her role in increasing representation, especially as she steps further into the spotlight.
“It’s hard enough to be an artist and it’s very hard to be an artist who’s marginalized in any way,” Hsu told TheWrap in our new interview series The Impact Report, focused on marginalized artists who are making an impact in their craft.
Hsu skyrocketed to fame in the past year thanks to her performance playing daughter to Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and she says it was in this film that her mother finally saw the impact that Hsu’s acting had on other people.
“I remember seeing ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ I was kind of late to seeing it and everyone was going, ‘You have to see it, you have to see it,'” Hsu said. “I think I was nervous to see it because I knew how emotional I would get, and literally the moment that the movie started I just started weeping because everyone was beautiful. Everyone was epic on this big screen.”
Still, even with all of Hsu’s acclaim, she’s reminded daily of what it’s like to be marginalized.
“I really do feel like we have been making a lot of big steps in the last five to 10 years, but then this morning I was having a live televised interview,” Hsu said as she recalled a recent incident in which she was mistaken for “Babylon” actress Li Jun Li. “They were like, ‘You’re so incredible in ‘Everything Everywhere,’ and also just have to say what an incredible turn for you in ‘Babylon’ as well. It happened so fast. And I was like, ‘Wait, did that just happen?'”
Hsu said it’s these not-infrequent incidents that are daily reminders of how important representation is.
“Sometimes I think when you’re walking around as a person of color or any marginalized group, you’re like, whatever I’m feeling I’m probably making it up or I might be over analyzing something. And then when things like that happen, you’re like, ‘No, every micro micro aggression or just even discomfort that I feel is still very real,'” Hsu explained.
“What makes me so sad about that is that in that moment, the first thing that they see is my identity or my race and how that is different. They’re not seeing the whole scope of what I have brought to this role or to the industry. They’re conflating me as a person who’s rising, who is in that category of people. And that is hard. It’s sad, it’s funny, it’s ridiculous. I wish it didn’t happen.”
Ultimately, it was a reminder that the work Hsu is doing in films like “Everything Everywhere,” and the response that the film has received, is all the more important.
“I think as I continue to step into this position, I’m realizing that there are so many people who are looking to me to lead the way, and to hold that with care.”