Ad Age is marking Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2023 with our Honoring Creative Excellence package. (Read the introduction here.) Today, our guest editors Bonnie Wan and Bing Chen turn the spotlight to film and TV producer and screenwriter Adele Lim (“Crazy Rich Asians,” “Raya and the Last Dragon”). Here, Lim writes about the inspiration for her directorial debut, “Joy Ride,” which is set for release in the U.S. on July 7.
When I was 13, a group of loud, messy girlfriends and I went to a 7-Eleven and, after arguing about who would do the deed, bought an impressive array of condoms. We scuttled back to my room, locked the door and spent the next few minutes filling condoms with hair mousse. I can’t remember what our exact motivations were, but I imagine it was so we’d have some idea of what a penis looked like (this was in Malaysia before the interweb and d*ck pics—I’m old).
CUT TO: decades later, half a world away in Los Angeles, where I just directed a studio movie, “Joy Ride,” about a group of loud, messy friends who make penis- (and vagina-) positive art, and kick off a journey of self-discovery in Asia by going sexually apeshit on a professional Chinese basketball team. The moral of the story is that having thirsty, ridiculous friends is the secret to success.
I’m joking, but also not. Early reactions to “Joy Ride” are overwhelmingly (thankfully) positive, but many also note that it is the first major Hollywood feature that centers Asian women and a nonbinary character in a hard R-rated comedy, traditionally the domain of white men. It’s been pointed out, not inaccurately, that Asian women on screen are usually side characters, falling into one of roughly four categories: Dragon Lady, Good Girl Best Friend, Sex Worker or Assassin (who is also sexy).