“Crazy Rich Asians” co-writer drops sequel over pay equity dispute

“Crazy Rich Asians” co-writer drops sequel over pay equity dispute
Photo: The Webby Awards

Adele Lim wants to teach Hollywood a lesson over pay disparity as a woman of color.

Known for her work on Crazy Rich Asians, the screenwriter and television producer has stepped back from the film’s sequel China Rich Girlfriend. According to The Hollywood Reporter Lim left the project after Warner Bros. offered her co-writer Peter Chiarelli a heftier fee for returning to write the sequel.

Lim is known as a veteran writer for television credited for shows such as One Tree Hill, Reign, and Dynasty. Prior to Crazy Rich Asians, Lim did not have a feature film writer credit under her belt. Chiarelli is known for breaking out in the industry for writing the 2009 rom-com, The Proposal. He went on to write the storyline for Now You See Me 2.

“Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions,” Lim tells the THR. She notes that people of color are often added to projects only to add culturally specific elements but aren’t credited for substantial work such as crafting storylines. Something she refers to as being “soy sauce.”

THR reports that Warner Bros. offered Chiarelli between $800,000 to $1 million. On the other hand, Lim was reportedly offered just somewhere above $110,000. Lim did not confirm if the numbers were accurate.
Warner Bros. reportedly explained that the quotes offered to Lim were within the industry standard and were based on experience. The production company further argued that exempting Lim from this would be problematic for business.

After rejecting the initial offer, Warner Bros. gave Lim a new quote following Chiarelli’s decision to split his pay. Something that led to Lim’s exit from the project. Explaining the decision behind her departure she says:

“Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer. If I couldn’t get pay equity after [Crazy Rich Asians], I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for]. There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way.”

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