Like most, I first learned about Eddie Huang when Fresh Off the Boat premiered on ABC in 2015. I was a fan of the show and watched it for the first few seasons. After stumbling upon the show, I looked up Huang to learn more about him and why there was a television series about his upbringing. Little did I know that Eddie Huang was a jack of all trades. He is a clothing designer, chef, author, and now, a filmmaker. Eddie’s directorial debut, Boogie, is now playing in theaters nationwide and tells the story of a basketball phenom in Queens who struggles to strike that perfect balance between his parents’ pressures to go to a good college and following his dream to play ball in the NBA.
Eddie Huang: Wow, impressive office, Scott.
Scott Menzel: Thank you very much.
Eddie Huang: Very impressive. I’m guessing you are a Tim Burton fan.
Scott Menzel: I am. I’m a big Tim Burton fan as well as a Power Ranger fan. By the way, I loved your show, Fresh Off The Boat. Amazing stuff, so I’m so happy to talk to you today.
Eddie Huang: Thank you, man. Excited to be here.
Scott Menzel: One of the big things that I want to talk to you about, and I want to thank you of course, for your show and turning your life into a show, but also what you’re bringing to the table for Hollywood, and that is inclusivity. So to open this up, do you feel like things are really turning around in this industry finally?
Eddie Huang: I do. I really do and I get scared saying that because you always worry that you say it’s getting better and then it stops.
Scott Menzel: Yes.
Eddie Huang: Because you wonder if the powers that be are listening and they’re like, “Oh, we’re doing okay, we can stop now? All right. Great. Thank God. Man, it is really hard to understand these other cultures, man. Fuck, let’s get back to making some white people shows.” You just worry about that. But no, I do think that there is a generation of people that are ’80s babies, or born in the mid to late ’70s that really are invested in the American experiment and grew up with other cultures and other people and they’re like, “Yo man, like life, is better when you get outside of yourself and your race and you don’t feel siloed by it.” I think that’s a relief for people, even for people of the dominant culture, it’s like, it must be annoying to always be that dude.
Scott Menzel: Oh, yeah. Well, no, and I want to bring this up real quick. What I love about this movie is that it’s a coming of age story, but one did I feel like I haven’t seen before. Coming of age is my favorite genre of all movies, but to see this with Chinese people in the focus point and like in relatable stories, and I’m not talking about Crazy Rich Asians where they were able to use that as a marketing campaign, I’m literally talking about a real story. What was that like for you to make that?
Eddie Huang: I mean, it means a lot to me to hear that, that warms my heart and I know I’ve done like 30 interviews say, but honestly man, to hear that, really means a lot because I just want us to be seen as a whole, complex human beings. I don’t want to be a marketing strategy, and I felt like that’s what happened to my story before. And this time I had a partner in Focus Feature, so I was like, “No, let’s go there.” And it was like, I’m finally in a really, it’s like I’ve had a girlfriend or two in my life that’s like, no, they wanted to push me to go to that place, and that’s really cool. And so this is what I’ve wanted my whole life is to be able to tell this story from an authentic place that wasn’t talking about identity from this place of labels and silos.
Scott Menzel: Absolutely. And then the last question, what was it like to direct your first feature?
Eddie Huang: It was surreal, I woke up every day like I wasn’t working, I was super excited to be on set, I don’t think I’ve ever been on time for something this consistently every single day, but it really felt like a dream come true and even though I’ve been fighting for it my whole life, I think there was a real, it was very surreal to be like, “Wait, I actually I’m doing it.” I never, I don’t know if I actually thought it was going to happen, I was just going to close my eyes and keep fighting until it did.
Scott Menzel: Wow.
Eddie Huang: I’m crazy.
Scott Menzel: Well, congratulations. I am so excited to see what you do next. Thank you for talking to me today.
Eddie Huang: Thank you man, it was really great.
Scott Menzel: All right. Have a great one.
Eddie Huang: You too.