ISSUE: Winter 2011-12
DEPT: Plugged In
STORY: Melody Lee
A mother-daughter duo, Fabienne and Ellie Wen, came together to write and produce the much buzzed about film, White Frog. The story centers around a teen with mild Asperger’s syndrome, played by BooBoo Stewart, living in the shadow of his “perfect” brother (Harry Shum, Jr.) who tragically dies in an accident. Directed by Quentin Lee, the film features an all-star Asian American cast, including Kelly Hu, B.D. Wong, Manish Dayal and Joan Chen. We got a chance to speak with the Wens about their project, due out in 2012.
Audrey Magazine: What got you started on this film?
Ellie Wen: There’s been a lot of progress in terms of Asian American roles in the media, but I wanted to do my part and create media roles that aren’t racially specific. Even though White Frog is centered on an AA family, it has nothing specific in it that’s stereotypical AA.
AM: Since it’s your first time collaborating, how has it been working together?
EW: I feel very fortunate working with my mom. She treats me as an equal and that makes the process easier.
Fabienne Wen: I honestly have to say I learned more from Ellie than she did from me. I grew with her while writing this.
AM: What was your inspiration behind the story?
FW: Some close friends of mine have died at a very young age, while still struggling with issues of identity and alienation. So I wanted to write about self-acceptance and connection, about finding our own catcher in the rye.
EW: I was involved with this writing program that worked with Hispanic immigrants. There was a lot of heavy stuff that they wrote. There was an 8-year-old who had to serve her landlord because her parents didn’t have enough money. The kids dealt with a lot of hardships, but they emerge from it.
AM: What message do you hope to send through this film?
EW: Tolerance. Encouraging people to be more accepting of each other and to embrace diversity.
FW: Like Margaret Cho said, “I am the one that I want.” The number one thing is loving yourself.
— Melody Lee