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Participant and the estate of Vincent Chin are collaborating on a limited series project about the landmark civil rights case following Chin’s killing in 1982.
News of the authorized retelling comes just days after Hold Still, Vincent, a podcast about Chin’s murder, was pulled following pushback from his estate. Journalist and activist Helen Zia, the executor of the Chin estate, will be part of the creative team on the Participant project along with Vicangelo Bulluck, Donald Young and Paula Madison.
“We are honored to be working with Helen Zia and the Vincent Chin estate. We understand the responsibility in making sure that this story is culturally and historically accurate, and respects Vincent Chin’s legacy,” said Young, Madison and Bulluck in a statement. “We could not have better partners than the team at Participant to tell this compelling civil rights story about the Asian American community and their ongoing fight for social justice.”
Said Zia, “Vincent Chin’s brutal slaying, at a time of intense anti-Asian hate across the country, galvanized Asian Americans to rally together, unite with many diverse communities, and create a new movement for racial justice that impacted all Americans. With today’s current tsunami of anti-Asian hate sweeping the globe, the full story of Vincent Chin and the powerful community response must be told, and I’m thrilled that Participant will be leading this effort.”
Chin, a Chinese American draftsman for an auto parts supplier, was killed in 1982 by two white autoworkers amid a wave of anti-Asian sentiment in Detroit, where Japanese imports were blamed for declines and layoffs in the U.S. auto industry. His killers were sentenced only to probation and fines, sparking outrage among Asian Americans and a federal civil rights trial. Zia helped lead the push for federal charges in the case.
Zia, Bulluck, Madison and Young announced in December that they were developing a series project based on Chin’s murder and the civil rights case. Participant’s involvement moves the project forward another step, though no outlet is attached yet.
“I have been friends and colleagues with many of our partners for years and am incredibly honored that they came to Participant,” said Participant CEO David Linde. “Having the chance to work with a writer and activist like Helen is humbling, as we seek to tell the most culturally vital stories possible.”
Hold Still, Vincent is based on a feature film script by Johnny Ngo. Podcast company QCODE announced the project in April, with Gemma Chan, A-Major Media and M88 producing. The star-studded voice cast includes Chan, Kelly Marie Tran, David Harbour and Dane DeHaan, among others.
After its May 27 release, however, Zia and Annie Tan, a cousin of Chin’s, both said they had never been contacted by the producers. “I’m not dead yet and it’s weird hearing/seeing myself fictionalized by people who have never tried to connect with me or the Estate,” Zia wrote on Instagram.
“To my knowledge, no one in my family was contacted about the podcast or film project,” Tan wrote in a statement on her website June 2.
A-Major Media’s Mary Lee had been told when she joined the project that attempts to reach out to the relevant parties had already been made, a source familiar with the situation told The Hollywood Reporter. After discussing the situation with Zia and Tan, the podcast’s producers pulled the show down.
“We disabled the podcast out of respect for Helen and the Estate and are hopeful to come to a resolution so as many people as possible can experience the vital story of his life, legacy and impact on our community,” A-Major Media said in a statement.
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