Tripping over our Manolo Blahnik stilletos, we fell graciously into the captive audience at the Shanghai Tang and Solerno’s New York Premiere of Fay Ann Lee’s “Falling for Grace” at the Asia Society last Tuesday evening.
An eclectic list of attendees, from politicians, celebrities, designers, socialites and other high profile personalities gathered for the evening affair. The room swarmed in a mist of Shanghai Tang ensembles. Actress Kathleen Turner, comedian and Daily Show Correspondent Aasif Mandvi, Debbie Bancroft, Geoffrey Bradfield, Samantha Daniels, Jamee Gregory, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tracy Stern and Adelina Wong Ettelson carefully sipped Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur Bellinis and graciously dined on Evergreen Cafe’s delicious dim sum, in line with the film’s Chinatown meets Uptown theme.
Whoppi Goldberg introduced the film, capturing the room with her witty spirit and blunt enthusiasm. She presented Fay Ann Lee in the true light she deserved. A tour de force of sheer will, as Whoppi called the project; it was a labor of love and we were honored to experience the buzz of the room first hand.
Fay Ann Lee, a broadway actress (Miss Saigon), not only wrote the script, but starred in the film, directed and produced “Falling for Grace.” The film was inspired as a proactive response to the lack of good roles for Asian American actors. Her script placed in prestigious competitions including the Nicholl Fellowship and the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project at which point Hollywood producers began to show interest. However, Hollywood wouldn’t buy the screenplay unless Lee changed the main character’s ethnicity (from Asian American to Caucasian or Hispanic), claiming that mainstream America is not ready for a classic romantic comedy that stars an Asian American protagonist. Not to be discouraged, Lee raised $3 million and produced it herself. Four years later, filming began with a stellar ensemble cast that includes Gale Harold, Christine Baranski, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Ken Leung, Stephanie March and Lee herself.
“Falling for Grace” will open in NY theaters on March 19 and for those who miss it on the big screen, Gaiam, Inc. will distribute the Falling for Grace DVD.
For more information, please visit http://www.FallingforGrace.com.
Lead Photo: Kathleen Turner, Fay Ann Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Honorable David Dinkins, Susan Shin, © Patrick McMullan