The Eternals and Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan will star as Anna May Wong in an upcoming biopic that she will also executive produce. along with Gemma Chan, Nina Yang Bongiovi is also set to produce. David Henry Hwang will pen the screenplayy, adapted from Graham Russell Gao Hodges’ 2012 biography, Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend. Wong’s niece Anna Wong is serving as a consultant on the film.
Anna May Wong was born in Los Angeles in 1905 and appeared in 60 films between 1919 and 1960. she began her career in a silent era (including 1924’s The Thief of Bagdad starring Douglas Fairbanks and 1929’s Piccadilly) and continued as films began to adopt sound, such as 1932’s Shanghai Express, in which she starred alongside Marlene Dietrich.
Despite her filmography and status as a fashion icon, MGM refused to consider her for the female lead of its 1937 adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth, about a Chinese family. O-Lan instead was played by white German actress Luise Rainer, who won the Academy Award for best actress for the role.
In a statement Gemma Chan said “Anna May Wong was a trailblazer, an icon and a woman ahead of her time,” she continued “Her talent and her exploration of her art both in and outside of the U.S. was groundbreaking — and the challenges and prejudice she faced in the early 20th century as an actress speak directly to the conversations and the world we are navigating today.”
THR reported the news first.