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Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter quits after being offered a tenth of male colleague’s pay

The cast of Crazy Rich Asians. Left: Adele Lim; Right: Peter Chiarelli. (Source: AAP, Getty)

Adele Lim, a writer for Crazy Rich Asians, has quit the sequel over a pay disparity that saw her white male colleague, US writer and producer Peter Chiarelli, offered nearly ten times more than her.

Malaysian-born Lim has written for TV shows such as One Tree Hill and Lethal Weapon and had never worked on a feature film before Crazy Rich Asians, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Chiarelli, who has worked on 2009’s The Proposal and Now You See Me 2 (2016), was reportedly being offered US$800,000 (A$1.17m) to US$1 million (A$1.46m), while Lim was offered upwards of US$110,000 (A$161,390).

"Being evaluated that way can't help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions," Lim said as reported in The Hollywood Reporter.

The screenwriter believes that women and people of colour are considered ‘soy sauce’, hired to projects just to add cultural diversity to a screenplay rather than be credited with substantially contributing to a story.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros told Lim’s representatives that the quoted offers were industry-standard ranges based on experience.

After Lim walked away from the project, she was given another offer closer to Chiarelli’s – who reportedly volunteered to split his pay with her – in February, but she declined it.

“Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn't be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer,” she said.

“If I couldn't get pay equity after [Crazy Rich Asians], I can't imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you're worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of colour would never have been [hired for].

“There's no realistic way to achieve true equity that way.”

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