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Eddie Huang's Boogie is the 'Taiwanese-Chinese NY Rocky'

On CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, the talented Huang opens up about making his feature film directorial debut and his love for writing.

Rapper Pop Smoke, filmmaker Eddie Huang and actor Taylor Takahashi
Eddie Huang (center) sits between two of the actors in his debut film Boogie: the late rapper and songwriter Pop Smoke (left), who plays Monk, and Taylor Takahashi (right), who plays Alfred "Boogie" Chin.
Nicole Rivelli/Focus Features

This story is part of I'm So Obsessed (subscribe here), our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.

Eddie Huang is as talented as he is versatile. He wrote the best-selling memoir Fresh Off The Boat, which was adapted into a sitcom starring Randall Park and Constance Wu for ABC that ran six seasons. He is a chef and the owner of the restaurant BaoHaus in New York and Los Angeles, which had to close its doors in October because of the pandemic. Huang has also hosted TV shows and designed clothes and can now add filmmaker to his long list of accomplishments. His debut feature film is Boogie, a coming-of-age story about pursuing the American dream and accepting your identity.

On CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast, Huang explained how Boogie, which is the nickname of the main character, Alfred Chin, battles to earn a scholarship to college for basketball but also to earn the respect of his Chinese immigrant parents. As much as basketball plays a role in the film, though, Boogie isn't a basketball film.

"It's not about basketball, right? He [Boogie] plays basketball. But it's the Taiwanese-Chinese New York Rocky. Rocky is not about boxing, it's an Italian American coming-of-age story," said an energized Huang. "That's what Boogie does with the Asian American immigrant experience. And then it also intersects with the Black experience."

Boogie stars Taylor Takahashi in the titular role and the late rapper and songwriter Pop Smoke as rival Monk. In February 2020, Pop Smoke was killed when four men broke into and robbed a house he was renting. Along with Boogie being the only movie he was in, Pop Smoke has original music on the film's soundtrack.

When I watched Boogie, I was taken aback by its smart and raw storytelling. This is an independent film that is both contemporary and old-school. Huang is incredibly gifted when it comes to dialogue, and Boogie reminds me of the satisfaction I get from the dialogue in a film penned by Quentin Tarantino or Diablo Cody. 

During our conversation, Huang discussed the challenges of directing his first feature film, how he absolutely loves writing and how Chinese Americans to this day are still hurt by the myth that MSG is harmful.

You can listen to my entire conversation with Huang on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. You can currently see his film Boogie in theaters. Also, you can subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo and I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about their work, career and current obsessions.