The upcoming Disney+ series, American Born Chinese, is premiering tonight at SXSW. In advance of the world premiere, Disney released an exclusive poster by acclaimed artist James Jean.
The stunningly beautiful art features the story’s main character, Jin (Ben Wang), wearing a backpack with the Monkey King embedded into it. He’s also looking at an image on his phone with Mjolnir flying into Freddy Wong’s (Ke Huy Quan) head. As explained by Jean, this poster represents a clash of East and West cultures, which is a central theme of the story (and, frankly, the entire Asian American experience).
“While the backpack alludes to the idea of cultural and emotional baggage, the flora emerging from within is a pastiche of the paintings of Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian missionary who became a court painter in China during the Qing dynasty and revolutionized traditional silk scroll painting by combining Western rendering techniques with traditional Chinese aesthetics,” Jean explained in a press release.
This story clearly resonates strongly with Jean, a Taiwanese American artist who also created the poster for Everything Everywhere All At Once, which recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture. American Born Chinese is the kind of story that we rarely see in pop culture, and with this art, Jean is sharing his personal story with not only the public at large, but with his own son.
“As a father, I see the importance of my own story, and the story of my immigrant parents, being told now to my son,” Jean said in an Instagram post. “He will never know the same struggle, but as his elders sink into the sediment of history, we create the foundations for a future in which he can be embraced and seen as he develops his own identity.”
Check out the timelapse video of Jean at work:
In Austin, TX, several stars and creators of the show were in attendance to celebrate the world premiere, including Ben Wang, Daniel Wu, Gene Luen Yang, Chin Han, Sydney Taylor, Melvin Mar and Kelvin Yu.
American Born Chinese, premiering May 24 on Disney+!
DISNEY+ REVEALS EXCLUSIVE ‘AMERICAN BORN CHINESE’ POSTER ART DESIGNED BY ACCLAIMED ARTIST JAMES JEAN AT SXSW WORLD PREMIERE EVENT
SXSW Premiere Follows Historic Academy Award® Wins by Series’ Stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan
Select Cast and Executive Producers Attend SXSW Premiere
AUSTIN, Texas (March 15, 2023) — This afternoon, “American Born Chinese” revealed exclusive poster art created by multidisciplinary visual artist James Jean at the Disney+ Original series’ world premiere at SXSW at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas. In attendance at the event were cast members Ben Wang, Daniel Wu, Chin Han and Sydney Taylor, and executive producers Kelvin Yu, Gene Luen Yang and Melvin Mar, all celebrating their fellow cast members Michelle Yeoh’s and Ke Huy Quan’s historic wins at the Academy Awards Sunday night. The Disney Branded Television series, produced by 20th Television, will premiere May 24 with all eight episodes, exclusively on Disney+.
The newly designed art depicts the journey of the main character, Jin Wang, and reflects Jean’s own experiences as an Asian American. Jean recently issued a commissioned art piece for the seven-time Academy Award-winning film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which had its world premiere at SXSW last year.
Jean’s new design captures Jin on his way to school, with Chinese mythological hero The Monkey King shape-shifting into his backpack. While the backpack alludes to the idea of cultural and emotional baggage, the flora emerging from within is a pastiche of the paintings of Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian missionary who became a court painter in China during the Qing dynasty and revolutionized traditional silk scroll painting by combining Western rendering techniques with traditional Chinese aesthetics.
“While watching ‘American Born Chinese,’ my ears burned and I squirmed in my seat because Jin’s journey felt so hauntingly familiar,” Jean said. “It was the pain of recognition: ill-fitting clothes, the feeling of being on the outside, the percussive sound of parents arguing through the walls in a language not fully grasped. I had never seen my own experience of adolescence depicted on screen like this before.”
James Jean is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose works explore imagination and reality through narrative-driven, layered compositions. His expressionistic, painterly approach to mark-making blends figuration with abstraction in works that are at once technically precise and gestural. He works primarily in painting and drawing while also embracing other media, including sculpture, installation and video. Fusing aspects of history, tradition, literature, nature and personal experience, Jean’s dream-like, and at times disorienting, visual vocabulary draws upon art historical antecedents ranging from Baroque paintings to Japanese woodblock prints and Chinese silk scroll paintings.
About American Born Chinese
“American Born Chinese,” the genre-hopping action-comedy based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang, tells the story of Jin Wang, an average teenager juggling his high school social life with his home life. When he meets a new foreign student on the first day of the school year, even more worlds collide as Jin is unwittingly entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods.
The coming-of-age adventure features an all-star international cast, including Academy Award-winning actors Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Ben Wang (“Chang Can Dunk”), two-time International Emmy® Award nominee Yeo Yann Yann (“Wet Season”), Chin Han (“Mortal Kombat”), Daniel Wu (“Reminiscence”), former Taekwondo champion Jimmy Liu and Sydney Taylor (“Just Add Magic”).
Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Kelvin Yu (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Central Park”) serves as executive producer and showrunner. Destin Daniel Cretton (Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Short Term 12”) is set to direct and serves as executive producer alongside Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan (both of “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Jumanji: The Next Level”), Erin O’Malley (“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.”), Asher Goldstein (“Short Term 12,” “Just Mercy”) and Gene Luen Yang.
Instagram: @DisneyPlus, @ambornchinese, @jamesjeanart
TikTok: @DisneyPlus, @ambornchinese, @jamesjeanart
Twitter: @DisneyPlus, @jamesjeanart
Facebook: @DisneyPlus, @jamesjeanart
Disney+ is the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, along with The Simpsons and much more. In select international markets, it also includes the general entertainment content brand, Star. The flagship direct-to-consumer streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, Disney+ offers an ever-growing collection of exclusive originals, including feature-length films, documentaries, live-action and animated series, and short-form content. With unprecedented access to Disney’s long history of incredible film and television entertainment, Disney+ is also the exclusive streaming home for the newest releases from The Walt Disney Studios. Disney+ is available as a standalone streaming service, as part of the Disney Bundle in the U.S. that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, or as part of Combo+ in Latin America with Star+, the standalone general entertainment and sports streaming service in the region. For more, visit disneyplus.com, or find the Disney+ app on most mobile and connected TV devices.
About Disney Branded Television
Disney Branded Television encompasses the creative storytellers and production and content marketing teams responsible for Disney-branded television series, movies and other programming spanning live-action, animated and unscripted formats. The group fuels the Disney+ streaming platform and Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior linear networks with content geared toward kids, tweens, teens and families, with stories that are imaginative, aspirational and reflective of their world and experiences. Recent projects include “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” “Monsters at Work,” “The Mysterious Benedict Society” and “Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends.” Disney Branded Television has created some of the most iconic and award-winning properties and franchises, including Peabody Award winners “Doc McStuffins” and “The Owl House”; Emmy Award winners “Big City Greens” and “Elena of Avalor”; the beloved “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts plus the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) franchise, comprised of more than 100 titles.
About 20th Television:
One of the Disney Television Studios, 20th Television is a prolific supplier of entertainment programming, including Hulu’s most watched comedy ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING from Dan Fogelman, John Hoffman and Steve Martin, HOW I MET YOUR FATHER from Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, and critically acclaimed dramas THE DROPOUT from Liz Meriwether, and DOPESICK from Danny Strong and starring Michael Keaton; ABC’s new comedy hit ABBOTT ELEMENTARY from Quinta Brunson, and THE WONDER YEARS from Saladin Patterson and Lee Daniels; FX’s newest hit THE OLD MAN from Jon Steinberg and starring Jeff Bridges and its blockbuster series AMERICAN HORROR STORY from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk; NBC’s top series THIS IS US from Dan Fogelman; Fox’s No. 1 drama, 9-1-1 and its spinoff 9-1-1: LONE STAR from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear, in addition to dozens of others. 20th Television shows have amassed a collective 1867 Emmy nominations and 214 Emmy wins, as well as multiple Golden Globes, Humanitas Prizes and Peabody Awards. The studio’s landmark series from its 70 year library include such classics as BATMAN, MODERN FAMILY, M*A*S*H, GLEE, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, BONES, EMPIRE, FRESH OFF THE BOAT, 24, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, NEW GIRL and THE X-FILES.
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.