Brenda Song Says She Wasn't Allowed to Read for 'Crazy Rich Asians' Because She Was "Basically Not Asian Enough"

It left her questioning where she fit.

Brenda Song attends the HFPA and THR Golden Globe Ambassador Party at Catch LA on November 14, 2019 in West Hollywood, California
(Image credit: Getty/Tibrina Hobson)

Brenda Song is a prolific actress. We first got to know and love her as the airhead heiress London Tipton in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, followed by The Suite Life on Deck. She then made memorable appearances in The Social Network and New Girl. Now, she stars in Hulu series Dollface alongside Kat Dennings and Shay Mitchell.

All that to say that Song has an impressive career that's only getting better, and that you'd be forgiven for assuming that she gets to pick and choose which projects she wants to be a part of at this stage.

But in an interview with Teen Vogue, Song shared the upsetting moment she was denied an audition for a movie she really wanted—Crazy Rich Asians. The film marked an important turning point in Hollywood as essentially the first big-budget Asian-led romantic comedy ever, and Song felt it was a great fit for her.

"A lot of people don't know this, but I never got to read for Crazy Rich Asians, ever," she told Teen Vogue. She asked to be considered, but was told she wasn't right for the role of Rachel Chu, which went to Constance Wu.

"Their reasoning behind that, what they said was that my image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words," Song said. "It broke my heart."

She continued, "I said, 'This character is in her late to mid-20s, an Asian American, and I can't even audition for it? I've auditioned for Caucasian roles my entire career, but this specific role, you're not going to let me do it? You're going to fault me for having worked my whole life?' I was like, 'Where do I fit?'"

But in the end, the actress had no regrets. "I got myself together and said, 'Brenda, there is only one you, and you can't change who you are. You can't change your past,'" she explained. "I am so grateful for every job that I've done. All I can do is continue to put good auditions out there, do the best that I can—that's all I can ask for." Wise words.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.