„People didn`t expect me to be cast in it, and I didn`t expect to be cast in it either,“ Tran Nguyen said, noting that when the cast list came out, she cried and had to check if she actually got the role. „I was convinced that She should be white and blonde and basically not a person of color, so I refer to her by standing out and trying to exceed everyone`s expectations.“ „The story of She going to Harvard is a story of white privilege,“ Karina Cowperthwaite, a Harvard junior and director of the show, told NBC Asian America. „She is blonde, beautiful, rich and white. Admissions officers take a look at that identity and say, „Yes, it is there.“ To slip into the role of Elle Woods, it took more than a blonde wig. Tran Nguyen said she needs to trade her natural sarcasm for a sunnier disposition. The show also looked at Elle`s blondeness in the Asian-American experience and how whiteness is often romanticized, she said. Actress Natalie Choo`s blonde wig, who played Elle, had dark roots to show she wasn`t a natural blonde. „There`s a blonde performativity that exists in the original musical. It`s just in a different context now that she`s an Asian American,“ Cowperthwaite said. She is not blonde and she is not a twin vegetarian. But third-year Cindy Tran Nguyen takes on the role of Elle Woods, the Californian sister turned Harvard law student, in „Legally Blonde,“ which debuts Nov. 8 at the Thurber Theatre. „There are no musicals that talk about Asian-American identity in a way that is not easily offensive, tropical or based on stereotypes,“ she said.

„They`re honestly quite racist.“ When Harvard`s Asian Student Arts Project first decided to play „Legally Blonde“ with an all-Asian cast, it was a joke. But by the time the musical sold out last month, it had become a reflection on white privilege, class, and the exemplary myth of the minority. „There are a lot of non-racial musicals that are just automatically supposed to be white,“ she said. But now she appreciates both. „I suddenly understood that equating art with identity is something important, necessary and powerful,“ she said.dailypost {background-color:#000; padding:30px;color:#fff;font-family:“capita“;font-size: 1.25em;font-weight: 400;}. clicktotweet {float: right; text-align:right;} „We have an all-Asian cast and fill the audience`s houses to see this cast, which has never happened before,“ she said. „In terms of representation, this is a big step forward for me, especially on our campus.“ She added: „This production is a love letter to all the girls who dream of being Elle Woods but feel like they can`t because they don`t look like Reese Witherspoon.“ Third-year student Cindy Tran Nguyen plays Elle Woods in @OSU_Theatre production of „Legally Blonde.“ #ASCDaily. In recent years, the Asian Student Arts Project (ASAP) had hosted shows with an all-Asian cast, including „Mr. Butterfly,“ but it was hard to find the right one this year, Cowperthwaite said. However, this semester`s musical was unlike any other ASAP production performed in the past. All of ASAP`s past shows have been written with Asian identities in mind, Cowperthwaite said.

„Legally blonde“ is perhaps as far away from this trend as possible. Very few contemporary Broadway musicals shed light on Asian-American stories. „It`s really hard when you`re a theater company,“ Cowperthwaite said. Especially after we return from COVID, we really wanted to start with a great production.â ASAP is an organization for Asian students at Harvard who want to celebrate their artistic passions in relation to their identity. „We are constantly creating open spaces where Pan-Asian students feel they have a space where they can express themselves and elevate their art,“ said ASAP Director and Co-Chair Karina L. Cowperthwaite, 23. But faced with this challenge, Cowperthwaite came up with the idea of playing a traditional white musical in a purely Asian region. „I think it was really exciting to see what this text looked like when it`s with people that it wasn`t necessarily written for,“ she said. But what does it really mean to turn this narrative into a pan-Asian story? „That means this legal blonde won`t be anything like the others,“ Cowperthwaite said with a laugh.

On the one hand, she worked with the designers of the production to integrate signifiers of Asian identity into the characters they create. There are a lot of different details to consider and play with: What kind of TV shows do they watch? What kind of music does she listen to? Especially with „Legally Blonde“, the irony of this cast is quite powerful. The plot tells the story of a privileged white girl who travels to Harvard in search of love in no time. Although Elle`s race is not specified, the whiteness is deeply rooted in most people`s perception of the character – originally by Reese Witherspoon and later Laura Bell Bundy. So it`s a lot of racial coding that to fit a minority profession. „There are narratives and a story between Asian Americans and Harvard admissions officials, like the trial,“ Cowperthwaite said, referring to Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, „suddenly this narrative gets a little politicized.“ Cowperthwaite, co-president of ASAP, didn`t like the proposal, but he gave it an idea: „Legally blonde.“ As an older sister, Tran Nguyen said she was particularly excited about the impact the show will have on young audiences, with its themes of friendship, women`s empowerment and perseverance. When the love of her life lets her down instead of proposing to her, she doesn`t give up, but turns to Harvard to prove her worth. If she is not taken seriously by her classmates and teachers, she does not change who she is, but opens her own (pink-scented) path to success.