TV Even Shaped Lulu Wang’s College Choice: ‘If Boston’s Good Enough for David E. Kelley, It’s Good Enough for Me’

Lulu Wang did something truly breathtaking with her limited series adaptation of Janice Y.K. Lee‘s “The Expatriates.” In the resulting show, retitled “Expats,” she made a literary adaptation that’s truly literate, with its characters given space to breathe onscreen — and live in your head — the way they do on the page. “My novel was simply the jumping off point for Lulu’s expansive vision,” Lee told IndieWire, with one of the greatest achievements of “Expats” being the fifth, and feature-length episode, “Central,” which reframes the story being told to that point in the direction of the Filipina guest workers involved in the lives of the characters played by Nicole Kidman and Sarayu Blue.

The series, a work that took the promise of Wang’s breakout 2019 Sundance hit “The Farewell” and delivered something ever more expansive, earned the director the Crossover Award at the Spring 2024 IndieWire Honors event. At the ceremony, held at Citizen News in Hollywood June 6, she shouted out the power of TV.

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“Television has a tremendous power to move people, to open their minds and hearts, to change their lives,” Wang said, in accepting the award. “Take me for example. I came to this country as an immigrant from China at the age of six, and I ended up going to college in Boston, because I only applied to schools in Boston, because I wanted to be Ally McBeal. If Boston’s good enough for David E. Kelley, it was good enough for me. See, TV is very influential. My mother was very upset about this.”

Wang continued by paying tribute to several of her collaborators, as well as IndieWire itself.

“I really want to shout out two of the writers who are here tonight: Alice Bell and Gursimran Sandhu,” she said. “Thank you for your brilliance and for tasting all of LaCroix, however you say it, with me. I also want to say that what you guys do at IndieWire is vital to what we do as film and TV creators.”

And she reserved a special shout-out to her life partner, director Barry Jenkins.

“I have to thank my partner Barry for allowing me to get backyard chickens recently. It really means a lot. This industry is very stressful and chickens are very therapeutic, especially when you have a cocktail. Get a cocktail with the chickens, that’s my dream. Yes. So you were all invited to our house for cocktail hour with the chickens.”

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