Before embarking on the promotion of what is it again God? , which will be released in the cinema on the 1st of January, Frédéric Chau tells the story of her involvement in the webseries That’s just between us , that fight in particular against the discrimination suffered by Asians. The actor, of chinese origin but born in Vietnam but came to France very young, entrusted to the Figaro . He discusses his career, the difficulties he has encountered, his next film, or Crazy Rich Asians …
LE FIGARO. – How did you hear about That’s just between us ?
“In the cinema, there was a form of condescension awkward towards the asian community”
Frédéric CHAU. – I know the founder of project Grace Ly for a very long time. I had discovered when she was doing a kind of Food TV, where she was giving good deals on asian restaurants, a cuisine of which I am fond. Today, she is emancipated by creating projects that shed light on the asian community through a variety of different issues. She asked me to participate in the fourth episode of That’s just between us on retraining. I sign in perfectly in its approach and it is true that this episode suited me well.
Are you sensitive to this struggle against discrimination against Asians? Have you yourself been a victim?
Yes, as a lot of people physically different, we are subject to ridicule, discrimination, stigmatization. Unfortunately, it is quite commonplace today. For example, in my profession, there’s a form of condescension awkward. People don’t measure and sometimes in their comments the injury that it can bring.
Gad Elmaleh and Kev Adams has been strongly criticised for their skit about the Chinese. What had you thought?
What they have embodied in their sketch, in 2019, I don’t see it anywhere in the street, nor in Paris, nor in France, nor in Europe, nor in the United States. I see nowhere people as they describe them. It is as if you put an African with a bone in the nose and you make him an emphasis at the Michel Leeb. However, I love the humor community, when it is well done. This has not been the case. After that, I don’t think it was racism, just the awkwardness. They have not measured the impact of this skit, or how it could be hurtful. This is often the problem with the asian community. As we think that it is discrete, it is not expressed, one can imagine that she can accept everything. Obviously, the new generation wants it to change, and she was deeply hurt by all those shots. She expresses it clearly.
“I do not want to be the Asian service at the cinema, as I have been able to agree to do so. Especially as when I was a kid, I rejected one time my asian origins”
That’s just between us highlights the lack of representation of Asians in France today, both in cinema, in the media…
It is normal because the migration of the asian community in France is recent. It goes back primarily to the 1970s, when Valéry Giscard d’estaing has allowed the arrival of many migrants from South-East Asia. So obviously, we’re only at the third or at the beginning of the fourth generation. It is necessary to leave the time to time.
do you Have a particular responsibility on this subject, you’re the one who made the office a certain way of headlining the asian community with That is what we did in the Good God and its sequel?
I would tend to say: no. Even if it is true that it was not long ago, I was approached by a woman of asian origin in the street. She introduced me to her son who, thanks to me, had put himself at the theatre. I find that it is a victory because for people of my generation in my community, doing theatre at age 13-14, it was inaccessible. Our parents would not have accepted, they would have said that we had no time to lose, he had to devote himself to studies. But, I do not see myself as a model because I envisage my career in a selfish way: I do things that I like and most of all, I am nobody to tell someone to do this or that. My path belongs to me, it is unique. I just want people to live they want to live.
have You felt locked in a box at a given time?
I do not want to be the Asian service at the cinema, as I have been able to agree to do so. I don’t want to subscribe in this format. Especially as when I was a kid, I rejected one time my asian origins. I wanted to be like everyone else, more white than white. Growing up, I understood that everything that had happened to me in life was related to my origins and that I needed to reconciles me with them. Now that I have filled this vacuum, and my personal construction is full, I’m not going to leave me locked in a box!
“If this had been to play a Chinese as have Gad and Kev, I would have said no immediately.”
What was your first reaction when you presented your role in That is what we did in the Good God ? Did you fear that?
No, I was delighted. It was a beautiful project, I laughed a lot while reading the scenario. My character is a French of asian origin, and there is nothing cliché there. If it had been to play a Chinese as have Gad and Kev, I would have said no immediately. But it isn’t offered. Or so my agent not tell me about it because she knows very well what will be my reaction.
You’ve written and starred in Made in China , due out soon at the cinema. Why is it important to you?
It was important for me to highlight my community through comedy because it is a super-vector to address topics tense. This enables you to make them lighter. I hope to discover some a community they don’t know well, or badly, by making them smile, touching them. I had to heart to do this. I look forward to this kind because it has been some time that I’m working on it.
do you Understand the success of Crazy Rich Asians ? Is this really a good newit?
Yes, I understand and I believe that everything that can shed light on the asian community and create cross-cutting to other communities is a good thing. After that, it didn’t work in France because it is important to understand that the asian community in France is different than in the United States or elsewhere. Crazy Rich Asians was really in a sense of “asian americans”, where people coexist with their identities. In the United States, there is a real claim to its origin, whereas in France, we rather want to see us move away from us claiming only French.
“One French person in four today is the product of a mixed marriage. The more one goes in time the more there will be diversity. The French identity is primarily a framework”
The new yorker , the subject of the film, has spoken of the “silliness communitarian”…
This is still an awkwardness, even if I think that they quickly removed. This makes me think of an anecdote. One day, I met a producer and he asks me what I’m doing now. I tell him that I write a film on the asian community, with a cast mainly of asian, and he said to me: “Ah okay, so you also you get to make movies between you”. I replied: “The day you stop, you, doing movies between you, we’ll talk”.
do you Fear such a critic for Made in China ?
Yes and no. Criticisms, there’s bound to be. People can think what they want, and at a given time, the film does not belongs to me anymore. What I do know is that I’ve done it with sincerity, and I believe that when you do things sincerely, it is untouchable.
what is to be French today according to you?
Being French, for me, it is to be in a defined identity, in which there is, however, full of ramifications. That is what we did to God? deals with it precisely. One French person in four today is the product of a mixed marriage. The more one goes in time the more there will be diversity. The French identity is primarily a framework. And inside, there is a huge variety of riches.
Episode 4, That’s just between us