When I saw Ashley Park in this spectacular yellow Versace dress at the LA premiere of Joy Ride earlier this week, I was hoping the colour choice was intentional. I was hoping that yellow was a statement, a reclamation.
East Asians have a complicated history with yellow. In many East Asian cultures, yellow is a symbol of royalty. For example, Chinese emperors wore yellow. The Chinese words for “king” and “yellow” are pronounced exactly the same way.
But yellow in the west for East Asians is also associated with the Yellow Peril, the expression that represents anti-Asian racism and dates back to the 1800s, but resurged ferociously with COVID in 2020.
Before that, though, back in 2018 when he was working on Crazy Rich Asians, director Jon M. Chu decided that, “We’re going to own that term. If we’re going to be called yellow, we’re going to make it beautiful”, he told The Hollywood Reporter. And so he wrote to Coldplay asking for permission to use the song, and it was Katherine Ho who eventually sang the cover version in Mandarin that plays near the end of the film.
To go back to Ashley, then, she’s the lead actor in a summer comedy about four East Asian women on a road trip. This is very much a yellow moment, and seeing her in yellow at that premiere, I wanted to believe that this was exactly what she was doing – and I was right. Because so much of Ashley’s promotional wardrobe has been yellow.
Here she is in yellow leather:
And here she is on Wednesday in the New York premiere, again making yellow the focus of her outfit:
The yellow theme continues with this yellow jumpsuit on Ashley alongside her castmates Sherry Cola and Stephanie Hsu:
This can’t be a coincidence. And while it may not be obvious to everyone the message she’s sending with her clothes, if you know, you know. The people who need to know, we know. I know. And I appreciate it.
Also attached – photos of the entire Joy Ride team this week on the press tour for the movie which opens on July 7. Big love to Adele Lim, the movie’s director (and co-writer of the Crazy Rich Asians movie) for her work and for her fit. This black suit with the sneakers is big boss energy!