Did 'Crazy Rich Asians' Director Jon M. Chu Say Actress Brenda Song Isn't 'Asian Enough'?

The former Disney star says the news broke her heart.

Who Is Brenda Song & Did Crazy Rich Asians Director Jon M. Chu Say She Isn't Asian Enough? Instagram

One of the best-known Asian-American actresses in Hollywood is saying she was denied the chance to audition for the 2018 film version of Crazy Rich Asians.

Brenda Song, who was a Nickelodeon and Disney star for years before moving into more mainstream TV and movie projects, has recently been promoting her new Hulu Original Series "Dollface" — and she's dropped quite the bomb about her notable absence from the Golden Globe-nominated hit comedy.


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Song is arguably best known for her role in "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" on the Disney Channel, but now she's 31 years old and has honed her talents as a serious actress.


She recently finished the first season of "Dollface," which she calls a twist on the typical sitcom about 20-something girlfriends.

Referring to the series as her dream job, she says, “I've always been a part of male-driven projects and it was amazing [to be] literally going to work every day and hanging out with my girlfriends."

Who is Brenda Song and did "Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu really say she isn't "Asian enough" to be considered for his show?

Read on for all the details.

1. Song grew up on the small screen

Brenda Song was born in northern California. When she was just six, the family moved to Los Angeles so she could pursue her budding career as a child-model and actress.


She started acting at the young age of just five or six, appearing in commercials and appearances on various TV series, including roles in series such as "Fudge" and Nickelodeon's "100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd," all of which she booked while she was still elementary school-aged.

She moved into the Disney universe when she signed a contract with the company in 2002, at the age of just 14, going on to appear in Disney Channel movie Get A Clue, and on popular Disney sitcoms like "That's So Raven" and "Phil of the Future."

2. Song played the "OG crazy rich Asian"

in 2005, Song was cast at heiress London Tipton in the Disney Channel Original Series "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," in which she played the sweet but ditzy daughter of the owner of the hotel where the series was set.

She originally went into auditions for the series reading for the role of Maddie, the hardworking candy-counter girl. Disney flipped the script on what would have been the expected casting decision at the time, casting Ashley Tisdale as studious Maddie and and Song as ditzy London, and no one ever looked back.


“I don’t think people realize how ahead of the curve Disney Channel was,” Brenda told Teen Vogue. “They were colorblind casting way before anybody else. They were giving me TV movies since I was 15 that people would never even think about."

3. What is Brenda Song's heritage?

Song is the daughter of immigrants parents who were both born in Thailand, but met as adults in Sacramento. Her father is Hmong and her mother is Thai, but was adopted by a Hmong family.

For those unfamiliar, the Hmong people are an ethnic "sub-group of the Miao people, and live mainly in Southern China, Vietnam and Laos."


Song says she and her two younger brothers, Timmy and Nathan, were raised speaking Hmong and celebrating Hmong culture.

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4. Life for Song after Disney

After her Disney career, Song continued working on major films like The Social Network and roles in shows like "Scandal" and "New Girl."

Her most recent project is the previously mentioned Hulu series "Dollface," an ensemble show in which her character, an ambitious publicist named Madison, is a part of a group of girlfriends that includes Kat Dennings ("Two Broke Girls"), Shay Mitchell ("Pretty Little Liars") and Esther Provitsky ("Alone Together").


5. Is Brenda Song married to Macauley Culkin?

Song was previously engaged to Miley Cyrus's brother Trace Cyrus, but they never made it down the aisle, calling it quits in 2012 after 2 years together.

But never fear, she has found happiness with someone truly understands what it's like to grow up in the spotlight. Since 2017, Song has been paired up with Home Alone actor Macauley Culkin.

Neither of them talk much about their private lives, but during a recent visit to The Joe Rogan Experience, Culkin said, "I've got a good life now. I have a special lady friend. We have a dog and a cat... I’m gonna make some babies. This one's a good one."

There were rumors this summer that the pair had intended to marry in Paris, but some sort of hitch in the paperwork prevented them from eloping, but neither has officially confirmed or denied that story.


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6. More fun facts about Brenda Song

When Song was in ninth grade, she was an All-American Scholar, qualifying for a list of student-athletes who do exceptionally well in their studies and their sport.

Song, who was home-schooled and completed her high school studies at 16, also has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

She took some classes at a community college before enrolling at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 2009 with a degree in psychology and a minor in business.

She is also a self-proclaimed dork, foodie, and avid Los Angeles Lakers fan.

7. As for Crazy Rich Asians, Song says she wasn't even granted an audition

Song recently made the shocking claim that when she asked her managers to arrange a meeting or audition for her "for any possible part" in the film version of the 2013 novel written by Kevin Kwan, they came back with troubling news that "she wasn't right for the role."


“Their reasoning behind that," Songs says, "was that my image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words. It broke my heart ...

“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?'"

That disappointment sparked a period of reflection during which she traveled and considered what she wanted for the next stage of her career.


When she returned to L.A,, she was given the opportunity to star in Netflix original movie Secret Obsessions, soon followed by the chance to be in "Dollface."

8. Director Jon M. Chu denies ever saying such a thing

When Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu heard about Song's audition story, he immediately took to Twitter in his own defense, sending nearly identical replies to several outlets tweeting news about Song's remarks.

"Nope. I love BrendaSong and that sucks if anything of that nature was ever communicated. It’s gross actually. The fact is, obviously I know who she is and didn’t need her to audition. I’m a fan of hers! Nothing more nothing less. Bums me out she thought it was anything but."

As of now, neither Chu nor Song has said anything further about the situation, and Chu has not explained why, if he was such a fan that he didn't need her to audition, she was not offered a part in the production.


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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.