While sorting through the SHANGHAI CALLING still photographs today I stumbled upon this terrific photo of “Amanda” (played by actress Eliza Coupe).
Photographically speaking, the reason your eye goes to Amanda is because of the long lens and selective plane of focus. But practically speaking, you notice Amanda because she’s the only blond-haired, blue-eyed woman in the picture, surrounded by a Chinese people.
And that’s why this photo perfectly encapsulates the expat experience in China. As Americans, we’re used to thinking of the United States as a “land of immigrants.” People from around the world who are searching for jobs and opportunities? As Neil Diamond put it, “They’re comin’ to America!”
But now Americans are moving to China to find jobs, raise families, start up businesses, and build a life for themselves. For many of these Americans this is a big paradigm shift, because for the first time in their lives they are the ones who look different, the ones who don’t speak the language, the ones who stand out of a crowd. But it’s an experience that most expats grow accustomed to over time — you kind of have to, or else you’ll go crazy.
The other thing I love about this photo is how it blurs the line between “Amanda” the character and Eliza Coupe the actress. Amanda has lived in China for several years, so being surrounded by Chinese people has become an everyday experience for her. On this particular day, the same is true of Eliza — we filmed this scene towards the end of the schedule, after Eliza had spent nearly 2 months in China, making friends, learning the customs, and rehearsing her Chinese dialogue. In this photo, Eliza isn’t acting — she has really become an expat.
Remember: SHANGHAI CALLING opens in China on August 10!airport, amanda, eliza coupe, expat, photograph, shanghai