'The Sun Is Also a Star' Cast on the Importance of Immigrant Love Stories: "It's Our Reality"
"Charles and I come from families that are shaped by immigration, and it was important to us to be able to portray that onscreen in a way that is truly humanizing," said Shahidi.
The premiere of The Sun Is Also a Star brought the casts of Riverdale, Grown-ish and Black-ish to the blue carpet in support of the film's cast — including Charles Melton, Yara Shahidi and Jake Choi. Director Ry Russo-Young joined them along with Nicola Yoon, the author who wrote the young-adult, immigrant romance that led to the movie.
"Having a young-adult romance that centers on stories of immigration is really important because it's our reality," Shahidi told The Hollywood Reporter on the carpet, which stretched down a long pathway surrounding the front of Pacific Theatres at The Grove. "Charles and I come from families that are shaped by immigration, and it was important to us to be able to portray that onscreen in a way that is truly humanizing."
The tale of Natasha, a Jamaican American, and Daniel, a Korean American, The Sun Is Also a Star "is a love story about the quest for a perfect love," Choi told THR. The film also goes beyond the common immigrant stories seen in today's social media, Melton said.
Being a first-generation Korean American, Choi collaborated with Russo-Young and Melton to create an authentic depiction of what it is like to be a Korean immigrant family with two American sons. He felt that the movie depicted truth, even including such Korean traditions as dol.
"Dol, it's when the baby is 100 days old and the parents put a pencil, or a stethoscope, or money [before the baby] and then sees what the baby chooses," Choi explained. "It's supposed to predict what the kid's going to do. I forgot what I chose. I think money."
While the film honestly depicts Korean American traditions, it is also inspired by a real-life romance. Yoon, who is Jamaican American, married the love of her life, a Korean American. She said she would bring her husband to The Sun Is Also a Star film set.
"I love my husband beyond all reason," Yoon told THR. "So I believe in destiny and love at first sight."
Shahidi also told her parents' love story, which she said inspired her. "My mother saw [my dad] from across the room, said, 'Oh my goodness, that's my husband,' and broke up with her boyfriend," Shahidi told THR. "They've been together for 24 years."
Shahidi said that she can relate to the immigrant story as well. Her dad was 8 years old when he first moved from his home country, the same age Natasha was in the movie. Her father is Persian and from Iran while her mother is African American. She said that being Persian and African American while also being a first-generation American has added a richness to her life.
"Being multicultural is something that I've always been proud of, but realizing that the same culture that I'm so proud of is the same culture that was banned by this administration is something that is always to be grappled with," Shahidi told THR.
The Sun Is Also a Star will open in theaters May 17.