Adele Lim, co-writer of the No. 1 box-office hit Crazy Rich Asians, will not be working on the sequel after allegations of a large gender-based pay disparity. Lim was offered $110,000-plus to work on the follow-up, only one-eighth of the $800,000 to $1 million Warner Bros. Pictures offered her male colleague Peter Chiarelli.
Upon release, Crazy Rich Asians was praised for its inclusivity and representation of Asian-American women, which Lim was largely responsible for. “Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions,” says Lim.
Although Crazy Rich Asians was her first credit in a feature-length film, Lim is a veteran writer and producer; she has worked on various iconic television series, including Xena: Warrior Princess and One Tree Hill, and more recent hit prime-time shows like ABC’s Private Practice and Fox’s Lethal Weapon.
After Lim walked away from the deal, Warner Bros. spent over five months looking for another writer of Chinese descent to work on the script for the next film. When the studio was unsuccessful, they came back to Lim with an offer closer to Chiarelli’s rate, which Lim rejected.
Warner Bros. studio chairman Toby Emmerich defended the outrageous pay discrepancy, claiming that the quotes are industry-standard ranges based on the writer’s experience.
“If I couldn’t get pay equity after Crazy Rich Asians, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for],” Lim stated in response, “There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way.”