These Asian actors, directors, writers and editors prove that good stories and great talent are universal
With the momentous win of Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh at the 2023 Golden Globes Awards, we highlight even more brilliant storytellers and entertainers on Asia’s Most Influential list. Via multi-million blockbusters that have enthralled movie lovers around the world or experimental films that have influenced the direction of filmmaking, they prove that good stories and great talent are universal. Moreover, these actors, directors, writers and editors, whose works often portray authentic Asian experiences, are championing representation so that we see more of ourselves on the silver screen.
Adele Lim, Malaysia
Adele Lim began her career in Hollywood as a writing assistant for the fantasy TV show Xena: Warrior Princess, a gig that gave her valuable on-the-job experience, which then led to a steady string of writing and producing work for popular series such as One Tree Hill, Private Practice and Reign. All these culminated in groundbreaking projects as one of the screenwriters for the romcom Crazy Rich Asians and the animated film Raya and the Last Dragon, both global hits that championed not only Asian stories but also Asian actors. Crazy Rich Asians went on to make more than US$230 million worldwide, while Raya and the Last Dragon received nods from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
Up next, the storyteller will make her directorial debut with a comedy starring Ashley Park of Emily in Paris. “It’s exciting to know that because of our backgrounds and our heritage, there are all these opportunities to bring new stories to the world. Stories to the world that they have not seen before. That's what we were doing with Crazy Rich Asians, that’s what we were doing with Raya and the Last Dragon and hopefully, that’s what we’re doing for the movie I just directed!” she told Tatler.
Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong
Filmmaker Wong Kar Wai has made an indelible mark on global cinema. His unconventional style, characterised by experimental storytelling coupled with lush colours and atmospheric scores, has been lauded by critics. The director has released 10 feature films, including favourites Chungking Express, Happy Together (for which he won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival) and In the Mood for Love, most of which have recently been released in 4K digital by The Criterion Collection.
Proving that the film legend touches all aspects of culture, Wong has also collaborated with Heaven by Marc Jacobs for a capsule collection that features quotes and imagery from Fallen Angels, Happy Together, and Chungking Express (the quote “love you for 10,000 years” appears on a knit vest, for example). For his next project, the director shifts to television with the period drama Blossoms Shanghai. No premiere date has been announced but the show’s trailer, expressing the filmmaker's dreamy style, has been released online.
Ching-Sung Liao, Taiwan
Though Ching-Sung Liao wears many hats in the film industry as a producer, director, and screenwriter, he is most known as an adept editor who has worked on more than 50 films. Notably, the film veteran helped shepherd the works of Taiwan New Wave Cinema directors, including Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chang Yi and Edward Yang, earning him the nickname Uncle Liao. With more than 30 years of influencing Taiwanese and global cinema, he continues to embrace the role of mentor, guiding young filmmakers as dean of the Tapei Golden Horse Film Academy.
Now in his 70s, Liao continues to tell stories, editing 2022 releases such as the film Stonewalling and the HBO Asia series Twisted Strings. He also produced the documentary After Passing Away, which premiered at the 2022 Busan International Film Festival.
Liza Soberano, Philippines
Already a big star in the Philippines, with a series of primetime TV hits and movies under her belt, Liza Soberano has taken a leap of faith, relocating to Los Angeles to start the next phase of her career. Soberano–who has signed with Careless, the independent creative agency by fellow entertainer James Reid—has been prioritising international projects, appearing in the South Korean TV show Not Hocance But Scance and most notably landing her first Hollywood role in Lisa Frankenstein. The horror comedy film, which wrapped production in September 2022, is directed by Zelda Williams, written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body), and also stars Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies) and Cole Sprouse (Riverdale). Not forgetting her fans in the Philippines, Soberano recently made an appearance in Cebu to kick off Careless’ Wavy Baby music festival, which will be held in February 2023.
Tatler Asia's Most Influential is the definitive list of people shaping our world today. Asia's Most Influential brings together the region's most innovative changemakers, industry titans and thought leaders who are driving positive impact in Asia and beyond. View the full list here.