Originally published on May 17, 2017
This Friday will see the release of the film, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING. Directed by Stella Meghie, it is an adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s 2015 young adult novel of the same name.
Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) has lived a majority of her life at home due to an incredibly rare illness she has that makes her allergic to just about everything. However, when she befriends her new neighbor (Nick Robinson), her life begins to take a turn for the better, but not without the obstacles.
Anytime a book is adapted for screen, it’s pretty much a guarantee that it’s not going to be exactly as how the story plays out in its original form. However, there is one change that I know of that I’d like to ask about: Why weren’t Asian Americans cast for the roles of Maddy and her mother Pauline?
In the book, Maddy mentions at one point on how she is biracial; African American on her dad’s side, Japanese American on her mom’s side. While actor Stenberg is biracial, she’s not Japanese at all. I just can’t help be bothered by this, for despite knowing what an effective actor Stenberg is, this would have been quite the opportunity for an actor who actually is Black and Asian to appear in.
In the novel, Pauline is said to be third generation Japanese American, and yet in the film, she is played by actor Anika Noni Rose. While she has had quite the experience on both stage and screen, I wonder what led the casting director to having her in this role. It just seems like another missed opportunity for the numerous Asian American actors out there. Plus, as far as the mixed race element in this family dynamic goes, are we the audience not ready to see an Asian woman be the mother to a child who is Black and Asian? If so, why?
This film makes for interesting timing as far as its release goes, for it’s during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Therefore, can you imagine all the more worthwhile it would have been if the ethnicity and races of these two characters matched to how they appear in the novel?
I’m not accusing anyone of anything here. I’m just curious to know what led to these casting decisions for EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING.