Take Out Girl is the new indie breakout film co-written by and starring Hedy Wong (“Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks,” Chinatown Squad), and directed by Hisonni Johnson (short “Red Hood It,” “Grayson: Earth One”). It recently won Best Indie Action Thriller at Film Threat Award This! And has raked up 14 wins since its premiere at Cinequest Film Festival in 2020. Now with a new home at 1091 Pictures, Take Out Girl is filled with drama, action, comedy, and romance, and is sure to be on everyone’s radar very soon.
The film follows Tera (Hedy Wong), a young dropout trying to survive in Los Angeles while taking care of her family. With the help of her mother Wavy (Lynna Yee), her sister Crystal (Mier Liu), and her short-tempered brother Saren (Lorin Ly), Tera desperately tries to keep her family and their struggling Chinese restaurant afloat while looking for a way to escape her current circumstances.
Tera soon finds that her small family business has ties to some big people. After a run-in with a drug boss named Lalo, played by Ski Carr (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Blue Bloods”), and his affiliate Hector (J. Teddy Garces) during a delivery almost gone wrong, she extends a mutually beneficial offer they almost can’t refuse. She quickly becomes the middle man for Lalo and his affiliates, picking up and dropping off orders in a small red takeout bag to as many clients as she can while juggling her demanding schedule at the restaurant.
Her new job allows her the financial freedom she’s been desperately seeking but not without its fair share of roadblocks. She’s small in stature and a natural wallflower that’s used to being overlooked. She’s also an Asian woman in the middle of LA who’s unlikely to garner unwanted attention from the police, a striking contrast to her Black and Hispanic neighbors.
Nonetheless, the film explores the effects of poverty and crime, and how a lack of access to resources influence the hardships of all minorities in today’s social climate. It rebels against the stereotypical Asian American experience and defies the “model minority” label the community has carried in this country for decades. It’s not often that film and TV highlight the “other side” like what’s shown in Take-Out Girl. It may not apply to all but it certainly applies to many and it’s for this reason why stories like this should be told.
We got to speak with Hisonni and Hedy on the importance of representation, how they connected and all the attention the film has garnered since its inception.
The Knockturnal: I know it’s loosely based on your own life, but who or what inspired you to take the leap and write Take Out Girl?
Hedy Wong: The hustle of the independent musicians around me who weren’t waiting for major labels to sign them to make their art. I saw how they invested into their music business and put themselves out there independently. I feel like actors should be doing the same. We are all artists at the end of the day so the principle of the matter is the same–I learned the importance of creating your own movement. And with writing, the easiest way to start is to write what you know and what you see and how you feel. What were the mistakes and lessons learned? What were the things you appreciate now in retrospect? I put that all in the story.
The Knockturnal: What initially brought you and Hedy together? What made you want to create this project with her?
Hisonni Johnson: Lorin Ly. The actor that played Tera’s brother in the film was the link between Hedy and I. Lorin, and I were supposed to make a film together nearly ten years earlier, but that project fell through. Nonetheless, Lorin remembered me and kept up with my filmmaking career. So when Hedy concluded that she needed a filmmaker that could make a dime look like a dollar, Lorin knew I was the guy Hedy was looking for.
The Knockturnal: What led you to trust Hisonni with your story?
Hedy Wong: His integrity and intellect and his compassion. A good heart in business goes a long way and of course his skills are out of this world. I feel blessed that he decided to partner up with me. Salute to the captain of the ship.
The Knockturnal: Do you feel you can relate to her character Tera in any way?
Hisonni Johnson: To me, that’s what makes this film so good. Everyone can relate to Tera; everyone becomes Tera, everyone co-signs on her decisions throughout the film, and everyone wants to see her succeed even though she’s doing illegal activities. The other reason I relate to Tera is that she’d do anything for her mother, and so would I.
The Knockturnal: While the film tells the story of a young Asian American woman and her family just trying to get by, do you think it brings up the topic of how first-gens are often given the responsibility of having to succeed and “make it out” in order to take care of their family?
Hisonni Johnson: I do! But this film makes a point to have that desire come from oneself instead of externally. Many Asian American narratives use the parents as this overwhelming and, in most cases, angry external motivator for the protagonist. What makes Tera great is that she controls her destiny. She takes the responsibility of steering her family’s fortune in another director upon herself because she’s deemed herself the best person to do it.
The Knockturnal: How does it feel to receive recognition and accolades for your film? What lessons do you hope people can take away from it after watching?
Hedy Wong: I am pleasantly surprised by the awards the film has won so far. I am even more surprised that I got some for acting. It feels really good. And I haven’t felt good in a long time. Definitely helped with the weight on my shoulders. I hope people can feel something real in their hearts when they watch this movie. And to know that there are things in life that money can’t buy and not all money is even good money on top of that. Check up on the people you care about. Smell the flowers. Give thanks.
Hisonni Johnson: I feel like Tera minus the illegal stuff. Like her, I come from crushing poverty. Each award I win is a mile marker on the journey toward creating a successful family history. I’d like people to know that Take Out Girl is the story of a woman who, in her heart, knows that her family is better than the circumstances dealt upon them, and it’s this belief that propels Tera toward her illegal upgrade from an economy seat to a first-class seat in life lol. To me, the will to provide for one’s family is the most relatable motivation a character can have. We’ve juxtaposed that universal motivator with criminal acts that a lot of American’s deemed inexcusable. If we can challenge the myth of the inexcusable criminal with this film, then I’m happy. Also, It wouldn’t hurt for people to know that 1091 Pictures will release TAKE OUT GIRL on VOD and Digital on May 18, 2021. Grab your pre-order copy now!
Take Out Girl releases on VOD and Digital on May 18, 2021. Watch the official trailer below.