As Constance Wu and “Crazy Rich Asians” scored Golden Globe nominations on Thursday morning, the reaction from large corners of the Internet was one of crazy excitement.
“Crazy Rich Asians” was nominated for best comedy or musical, and Wu was nominated for best performance by an actress in a musical or comedy motion picture. Both accomplishments can be seen as significant moments for an industry that has scrambled to catch up to a movie audience hungry for inclusive stories.
Wu’s nomination is also notable on its own, as it ends a streak that has lasted almost half a century.
The last person of Asian descent nominated in Wu’s category was Yvonne Elliman, who in 1974 earned a nod for her role in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who provided to CNN a comprehensive list following a request.
Only two other women of Asian descent were nominated in the category before that. Miyoshi Umeki, who was nominated for 1961’s “Flower Drum Song,” and Machiko Kyo for “The Teahouse of the August Moon.” Umeki went on to win an Oscar and remains the only Asian woman to win an Academy Award in an acting category.
“What a morning to have had my phone on Do Not Disturb Mode till now,” Wu wrote on Twitter following the nominations. “I’m ecstatic but also in shock!”
Actors of Asian descent have been nominated 50 times in the history of the Golden Globes, according to HFPA’s figures. Only 12 have won awards.
In the ’90s, only one person of Asian descent won a Golden Globe, according the tally. That was musician Kitarô for his work on the score to 1993’s “Heaven & Earth.”
Nominees across categories have gradually become more inclusive.
Last year, Aziz Ansari made history with his win in the best performance by an actor in a musical or comedy TV series category.
Globe nominations in recent years for actors like Hong Chau, Riz Ahmed, Dev Patel and Archie Panjabi have both served as moments of celebration for the Asian community and bolstered wider discussion about the need for more representative storytelling and casting (because more diverse nominations can only happen if filmmaking becomes more diverse).
A further marker of progress can be seen in actress Sandra Oh, who made history in 2006 with her Golden Globe win for her role on “Grey’s Anatomy.” In 2019, she will serve as co-host of the Globes alongside Andy Samberg.
For Wu, the star of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” her lead role in the commercially successful “Crazy Rich Asians” proved to be something of a catapult, elevating her star power and landing her and the cast on the cover of magazines.
The fervor that has surrounded the film since its summer release surpassed what most modern films can only hope to achieve. For a major studio film starring a predominantly Asian cast, of which there are too few, the championing is historic. Though, many will say, hopefully not something the industry sees once every four decades.