Lulu Wang opens up about challenges of directing Nicole Kidman series ’Expats’

Lulu Wang opens up about challenges of directing Nicole Kidman series ’Expats’
via BFI (left), Prime Video (right)

Reflecting on her previous work, Wang expressed nervousness about how "Expats" would be received by viewers

January 22, 2024
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Award-winning director Lulu Wang, famed for the acclaimed “The Farewell,” opened up about navigating the challenges of representation and personal identity in helming Nicole Kidman’s Amazon TV series “Expats.”
About the project: The series, based on Janice YK Lee’s 1998 novel “The Expatriates,” follows the lives of three women in 2014 Hong Kong — Margaret (Kidman), Mercy (Ji-young Yoo), and Hilary (Sarayu Blue) — whose fates collide in the aftermath of a devastating event.
Scheduled for release on Prime Video on Jan. 26, “Expats” marks Wang‘s first foray into television after the success of her 2019 film “The Farewell.” Actors Brian Tee and Jack Huston also star in the series.
Initial reservations: Wang, a Chinese-born filmmaker who emigrated to Florida as a child, revealed in an interview with The Independent that she initially wanted to make sure she would be able to maintain her artistic integrity and cultural authenticity before accepting the project, which was offered to her by Kidman. However, she eventually found common ground with the Australian American actress and producer.
“I had really significant conversations to make sure that I would be allowed to tackle all of the complexities I wanted to tackle before saying yes to the show,” she noted.
On accepting disappointment: Reflecting on her previous work, Wang also expressed nervousness about how “Expats” would be received by viewers. Citing the diversity of Asian experiences, she acknowledges potential criticism but stands firm in her vision.
“I imagine, there’s always going to be people who are disappointed, but I think part of my journey is realizing that I can’t represent everyone,” she was quoted saying. “Maybe I have to be OK with the fact people are going to be disappointed.” 
On navigating Asian experiences: While anticipating criticism, Wang sees the evolving landscape of Asian representation as a positive development. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she encourages the exploration of diverse Asian experiences.
“It’s a show that interrogates privilege… and as somebody who doesn’t come from privilege but is now in a position of privilege, I’ve had both experiences,” she notes. “And so just trying to live it and also channel it into the work.”
On breaking stereotypes: Wang explained how “Expats” breaks stereotypes by showcasing that not all privileged expatriates are white and not all women crave motherhood. It also dives deep into the complex power dynamics between expat women and their domestic helpers, challenging viewers to see beyond simplistic labels.
“Hong Kong is so great, because it’s this intersection of very different walks of life, and you get to see all of the nuances,” Wang told The Guardian. “And I just wanted not to vilify anybody, but really just take the audience through a journey on which you might sympathize with someone and then they’ll do something that you disagree with, or you might hate them, but then come around to loving them.”
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      Ryan General

      Ryan General
      is a Senior Reporter for NextShark

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