'Yellow Rose' Star Lea Salonga Shares Why Filipino Media Representation Matters

The singing voice for Mulan has taken on her first live-action film role in years.

Broadway icon Lea Salonga is renowned for her live theatrical roles, as well as providing the original singing voices for Disney princesses Jasmine and Mulan.

Now, the 49-year-old “Reflection” vocalist is making history: Along with her “Yellow Rose” co-stars, they’re leading the first Filipino centred Hollywood film released in North American theatres. Watch the video above to hear Salonga talk about “Yellow Rose” in a Now This interview.

“Yellow Rose,” which debuted on Oct. 9, tells the story of an undocumented Filipina teenager living in Texas who loves country music more than anything.

Many are commending the movie for its realistic storyline: Rose’s hopes are interrupted after her mother is abruptly detained by U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE). Deportation affects many Asian immigrants, especially Filipino families and migrant workers, but is rarely seriously covered in pop culture depictions of Asian communities.

In a conversation with Now This, Salonga touched on the importance of a movie like “Yellow Rose” for more inclusive media representation.

″‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is a very specific story to a specific community and ‘Yellow Rose’ is also a very specific story,” she said, adding that having those details makes these films more relatable for viewers of all backgrounds: “People who didn’t think they’d be able to relate to what’s going on actually find something that hits so strongly.”

Salonga’s words have rang true, as excitement to see Filipino stories onscreen inspired people to bring back #GoldOpen. The hashtag challenges movie lovers to buy-out showings of Asian-American movies, first started in anticipation of “Crazy Rich Asians.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made the Gold Open challenge unsafe to do with large groups, Canadians hoping to see “Yellow Rose” can see it in available theatres in their area or wait for the digital release; repeated viewings of the trailer won’t be the same, but are guaranteed to make you cry.

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