This story is inspired by a friend who was a Chinese marketing executive at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. She was abruptly fired from her job during a company merger, and in order to make ends meet, she started hosting wealthy pregnant women from China in her home. What started as a series of casual sublets eventually turned into a grey economy home business, and she was the happiest and most empowered she had ever been.
This film is my imagining of what that origin story is– how a person who has devoted their entire life to a career can lose everything in a moment, and makes a radical pivot to begin another kind of life. (It’s not unlike what many of us experienced during the pandemic.)
Birth tourism is an open secret in certain communities of Los Angeles, where wealthy women from overseas are known to spend exorbitant amounts of money for “all inclusive packages” that cater to their needs and whims as they prepare to have their babies in America. As an immigrant myself, I find the issue both repugnant and beguiling, a bizarre intersection of wealth and opportunity. And I wanted to explore a different side of the immigrant narrative, one that wasn’t about idealism and suffering. And it’s bright and funny and a little ridiculous. Think WEEDS meets CRAZY RICH ASIANS.
The character of Penny and the world of MADE IN USA is also a dedication to the “well-behaved” Chinese women in my life. I want to see these people portrayed in flawed and interesting ways, the way that I know them.