'Farewell' Director Lulu Wang Plays Bartender to Celebrate 37th Birthday

Lulu Wang - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Subject

Each patron who bought a drink also got the opportunity to ask a question of the filmmaker, who enjoyed the "joy and delight of connection" that the intimate gathering provided.

Director Lulu Wang, who won best feature for The Farewell at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, celebrated her 37th birthday two weeks later by bartending for 300 fans.

Announced the night before on Twitter, the event, held at noted Melrose Avenue fine dining restaurant Auburn (where her younger brother, Anthony, is a sous chef), was structured so that a drink order also bought a patron the opportunity to ask a question of the filmmaker. Black List founder Franklin Leonard played both moderator and barback.

“I love Q&As, and this is the best one I’ve ever done because it felt much more personal,” says Wang. “This format, one-on-one, allowed me to provide answers that were specific to each person rather than for the entire room. It felt more intimate, and I could be more vulnerable.”

The tightly edited drinks list was focused on her own Auburn favorites, including the Armagnac and mezcal-anchored Green Banana — “my go-to.”

The Q&A-with-a-twist was such a hit that she and her partner, director Barry Jenkins, have begun kicking around ideas for embarking on a sequel, this time together.

“I’ve talked with Barry about making pastries or serving coffee for a couple hours one morning,” says Wang, who's currently at work with Nicole Kidman on Amazon's The Expatriates. “Again, we’d announce it really last-minute. It’s about the joy and delight of connection.”

A version of this story first appeared in the March 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.