People around the world are currently celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu have curated movie and TV selections to highlight the AAPI community right on their homepages. Take Out Girl should be on the list for anyone looking to celebrate and/or experience the culture, and the star of the film has explained why it’s particularly important.
Drama/thriller Take Out Girl, the latest from Hisonni Johnson, follows Tera (Hedy Wong), a 20-year-old Asian girl who parlays her Chinese food delivery expertise into a profitable drug hustle to give her family a chance at a better life and save her family’s failing restaurant. I spoke with Hedy Wong for an interview with CinemaBlend, and she shared the following about why she feels the film is important for the Asian American community:
When I first had my meetings with Hisonni...I told him that this movie is very important for us Asian Americans, because we don't see these types of stories in Hollywood. Or if they do, it's very glossed over. It's very non-problematic – you know, there's movies about immigrants, of course, about Asian immigrants... not tons but enough. To me, it only touches the surface and this movie, inspired from the truth of the people I know, my truth, my family’s truth, it's coming from a very real place. And then that the lead is Asian American, my brother's Asian American, mom is Asian American, you know, I told [director Hisonni Johnson] this is something that I feel like the Asian community is going to really appreciate because we don't see that. We don't see those types of characters on screen.
Take Out Girl is a passion project for Hedy Wong as she not only stars in the film but also co-wrote it with director Hisonni Johnson. The story of Take Out Girl is at its core about a child’s love for their mother. Wong’s character Tera is motivated by a need to provide more help to her family’s restaurant, pay her mother’s medical bills, and ultimately allow her mother to stop working and live comfortably. She resorts to desperate measures that will have viewers questioning just how far they would go if presented with the same circumstances.
Just as no two humans are not the same, no two belonging to the same group will have the same experience. Cognizant of this, Hedy Wong wanted to make sure Take Out Girl represented her personal experience. Here’s what she shared about the specific characters that appear in the film:
I've been wanting to see a certain type of Asian male figure on screen that looks like or moves like the Asian men I know. But I don't really see that. There’s some “cool” Asian guy characters, but it's not a lot, and when you do see them, to me, they lack a certain flavor, or maybe it's just the way the writers wrote them in, and the actors did their best with the material. So for me, the Saren character is very important for young Asian males and my community because we don't really see that type of Asian male a lot. Hisonni did a great job making this all come together and tying in all the themes and a lot of social commentary outside of the Asian thing.
The character Hedy Wong mentioned, Saren, is the brother of Wong’s character Tera and is played by Lorin Alond Ly. Saren is tough, rough around the edges, but driven by the same motives as his sister when it comes to their mother. Throughout the film it’s interesting to see the decisions the siblings make and how their choices overlap in some ways despite their vastly different personalities.