Everything Everywhere All at Once is the new and exciting epic Sci-Fi film directed by the Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert).
This creative masterpiece tells the story of an aging Chinese immigrant Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), who owns a laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). In the midst of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, Evelyn is swept up in an insane adventure, where only she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.
Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once plays both Joy Wang (Evelyn’s daughter) and Jobu Tupaki (the omniverse agent of chaos, an evolved version of Joy from the Alphaverse). Joy is painted as Evelyn’s depressed millennial daughter who is tired and hurting and unable to articulate how she feels. Whereas Jobu is a nihilistic force and the source of chaos across the multiverse. Jobu proudly carries her ethos of “nothing matters” throughout the film.
Get to know Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once as Cold Tea Collective spoke to her to discuss the film, family dynamics, identity, and her acting career.
DISCUSSING THE FILM’S FAMILY DYNAMICS AND MOTHER-DAUGHTER NARRATIVE
While Everything Everywhere All at Once is a chaotic concoction of the Daniels’ creative genius, the film also sheds light on the messiness and ugliness of family dynamics–it’s honest and relatable. Much of the film focuses on the mother-daughter relationship between Evelyn and Joy. The duo is unable to see eye to eye.
Moviegoers learn that the Alphaverse’s Evelyn fractured Jobu’s mind. Alpha Waymond reveals that Jobu “experiences every world, every possibility, at the same time.” This has led her rummaging through the multiverse to find and destroy every universe’s Evelyn along the way.
“You pushed your daughter too hard; you broke her,” Jobu Tupaki says to Evelyn during one of the scenes in the film. This line strongly resonated with me as I reflected on my own relationship with my mother.
When we spoke to Stephanie, she believed that many children of immigrants can relate to this story. As a daughter of an immigrant herself, Hsu immediately understood the dynamic. Her mother immigrated from Taiwan, and it was mostly just the two of them growing up.
THE IMMIGRANT PARENTING EXPERIENCE
Intergenerational trauma makes its way to the forefront when reflecting on the immigrant experience. Many immigrant parents want their children to have the opportunities they couldn’t have themselves. And as their children, some of us may have–at some point in our lives–felt or believed our parents’ love was conditional–based on our successes and accomplishments. When parents constantly push their kids towards excellence–sometimes too far–this “can be a very harmful way of loving someone.”
“I think everyone is shocked at how much they relate because the intergenerational trauma in Asian families is very real–it’s very imperfect; the way our parents love us,” Hsu admitted.
Hsu echoed that life is complicated. And for those who have already watched the film, she articulated that not everyone can have “that parking lot scene with their mom, or that moment of catharsis.” But to experience a powerful piece of art together, “maybe it says all the unspoken things so that you can just heal and love each other a little bit better.”
See also: How I forgave my Asian parents
A LOOK BACK AT HSU’S ACTING CAREER
Hsu made her Broadway debut as Karen The Computer in SpongeBob SquarePants The Musical. Later, she appeared in another musical, Be More Chill. She’s also plays Mei in Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Joy in Hulu’s The Path.
When it comes to her acting career, Hsu’s short-term goal is to host Saturday Night Live while Bowen Yang is still a cast member of the show.
In the long term, her goal is to play a bigger part in developing projects and subsequently move into the realm of writing and directing. Hsu said, “What I really want to do is tell stories, share experiences, and bring people together.”
She also mentioned that Jordan Peel’s innate ability to tell aesthetically stunning stories largely inspires her. His stories are not only thought-provoking but can address significant social issues, too.
As a Taiwanese American woman, Hsu aspires to amplify other people’s voices and creativity from different angles. She describes the potential opportunity as “a more holistic and long-term, healthy way to engage with the film industry.”
REFLECTING ON IDENTITY AND LOOKING AHEAD
Hsu looks forward to future generations of Asian voices with the ability to just tell stories–-without having to prove that their identity is still worth talking about. She shared that it’s exhausting to always talk about identity, and there’s so much more to our existence than how we identify.
“The more that we can just truthfully write what we know and move in our experience, I think the more that those doors will start to bust open,” she said.
Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once is so wild, weird, and out of this world. It’ll be exciting to see how future generations tell stories and how we all communicate with one another moving forward.
“I think the best part was that each of us got to do everything, everywhere all at one movie… and everybody came with such an open heart and completely surrendered to the process,” Hsu shared.
The film explores a deep range and depth with all its characters. The character development within each compelling storyline undoubtedly keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. Hsu hopes this film will leave young Asian audiences in North America feeling inspired with the belief that they can do anything.
“You should make whatever weird thing is in your brain. You should love whoever you love. And it’s all available to you. Every universe is available to you.”
Watch Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once in theatres today.
Featured photo: Still taken from Everything Everywhere All at Once by Daniels.
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