Fei Fei, a budding young scientist, dreams of going to the moon to meet the lunar goddess Chang’e. She works on numerous formulas and computations and builds herself a rocket to get there.
That’s the premise of Over the Moon, a new animated film by Netflix/Pearl Studio that builds on the classic story of the moon deity in today’s contemporary setting.
Cathy Ang, the voice of Fei Fei, leads the pack of formidable Asian American actors in the cast that includes Philippa Soo, Margaret Cho, and Sandra Oh.
Cathy describes herself as Chinese Filipino. She says her parents are both "part-Chinese and part-Filipino" doctors who grew up in the Philippines.
“They immigrated from the Philippines and so my mom is from Nueva Vizcaya. She's from a small town called Bagabag, and my dad is from Ongpin,” says Cathy, who says she has a lot of extended family whom she used to visit at Christmas when she was little.
“I wish that I could go back now, I realized after making this film how important it is to just go and visit your roots," says Cathy. "The film has also encouraged me to talk to my parents a lot more about heritage and our traditions and I'm so thankful to them, that they tried to share their culture with me and make sure I could be a proud Filipina.”
The film focuses on family and time-honored Asian traditions. The aunties who show up on holidays with their oh-no-you-didn’t-just-say-that lines are truly reminiscent of our titas of Manila. The food renderings of the celebratory banquet dishes are as mouth-watering as those in real life, and yes, there’s magic in those mooncakes, so timely for the mid-Autumn festival.
Cathy says it wasn’t difficult to relate to the film, and she incorporated her own experiences of being Asian in the film.“I am Asian so I felt like I was just being myself a lot of the time," says Ang, who says there were certain instances in the movie that were a throwback to her childhood. "Number one is the food that I was eating. And drinking boba while I'm studying is huge. And also just being in love with science. My parents are both doctors, and so I grew up really loving science. My partner is studying to be an astronaut so I also really love space.
“There's so much about Fei Fei that has to do with really taking care of people; she is so motivated by love. The way that she expresses that is by doing. And never giving up on things, which I have seen in my parents and my sisters. So, I think that also was it, I felt like I was bringing my family to her character all the time."
Watch Cathy Ang's music video, "Rocket to the Moon, from the movie:
*This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.