Tag Archives: Asian American

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The Hollywood Mamalogues: Game Changer

Pictured above: Hudson Yang, who portrays Eddie Huang in Fresh Off the Boat with Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. (Photo courtesy of Amy Anderson)

by AMY ANDERSON

Born in Seoul, I was adopted and raised by a Caucasian family in suburban Minnesota during the ’70s and ’80s. My daughter is a hapa growing up in present-day Los Angeles. Needless to say, my daughter and I have very different Asian American experiences. One significant difference is that growing up, I rarely saw Asian faces featured in media or entertainment, aside from Connie Chung, Mr. Miyagi and Long Duck Dong.

When I was around Aubrey’s age, the musical Annie was a huge Broadway hit, and every little girl in America wanted to don that red dress, myself included. I was cute, the right age and I was a terrific singer. I was convinced that all I needed was a wig to audition for the role. Boy, was I wrong. I also had a rude awakening when I realized I would probably never get to play one of the Von Trapp children or Jane from Mary Poppins.

Still, I became a comedian and actor. While I’m proud to say that my generation and the one before it planted seeds and opened several doors for Asian Americans in the entertainment industry, I believe it’s Aubrey’s generation that is actually changing the perception of what it is to be an American.

To this day, I still cringe a little whenever someone asks me about my nationality by bringing up the notorious question, “Where are you from?” People ask me this question a lot, and I never know what they really mean when they ask it.

My country is the United States of America. I’m an American—to be more specific, a naturalized American citizen. My ethnic origin is Korean, but South Korea is hardly my nation or my culture. While I’m proud of my Korean heritage, I’m also proud to be a U.S. citizen, even though I’m often seen as a foreigner in a country where I have lived for almost my entire life. As for “where I’m from,” I currently live in the San Fernando Valley. However, that’s usually not the answer people expect or want to hear.

So, I think it’s pretty astounding that my daughter plays an Asian adoptee daughter of a gay couple on an award-winning TV show. Up until last week, Aubrey was one of the few Asian American child actors who act as series regulars on a primetime TV show. Albert Tsai and Lance Lim had brief stints on the short-lived shows Trophy Wife and Growing Up Fisher, but other than that, there hasn’t been many little Asian faces on TV. That is, until now.

IMG_2506Aubrey with Hudson Yang of Fresh Off the Boat. (Photo courtesy of Amy Anderson)

Earlier this month, ABC unveiled Fresh Off The Boat, the latest in its lineup of ethnically diverse family comedies. This sitcom not only stars three young Asian American boys (one of them being Aubrey’s good friend, Hudson Yang), but also their immigrant parents!

With that said, Fresh Off the Boat is a game changer. It’s the first Asian American family show on primetime television since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl aired 20 years ago. Many Asian Americans of my generation never thought they would see developed, multidimensional Asian American characters have their own TV show in their lifetime. Thankfully, most of the reviews for Fresh Off the Boat have been positive, and there has been some great dialogue about race and culture within the AAPI community. It’s exciting to see how much the show is gaining traction.

What moves me even more, though, is knowing what this game changer could mean for my daughter. Maybe in the near future, when Aubrey sees a casting breakdown that says “girl next door” or “All-American girl,” she won’t have to assume that the casting directors mean “Caucasian.” Maybe from now on, when she sees faces on TV that look like hers, she’ll feel proud and happy instead of feeling embarrassed or confused. Hopefully she’ll get called “chink” a lot less than I did. And maybe one day, when people ask Aubrey where’s she’s from, she can confidently say “Los Angeles,” knowing that that’s exactly what they meant.

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Amy Anderson is a Korean American adoptee, comedian and actress. She created and hosted the first Asian American standup showcase “ChopSchtick Comedy” at the Hollywood Improv. She has appeared on Comedy Central, VH1, AZN, and the Game Show Network. Her daughter Aubrey Anderson-Emmons plays the role of Lily on the Emmy-winning show Modern Family.

The Hollywood Mamalogues are published online biweekly. Read the previous Mamalogue here.

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‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Brings Down the House at Watch Parties

by Suevon Lee | @suevlee
suevon@iamkoream.com

From a spacious nightclub in Times Square to a 190-seat auditorium in LA’s Little Tokyo district, Asian Americans coast to coast packed venues holding live community watch parties for the highly-anticipated network debut of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat Wednesday night.

By any measure, the events were a raging success: New York’s Circle nightclub reached its 1,000-person capacity while the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, a non-profit center across from the Japanese American National Museum in LA, saw lines to enter forming well ahead of a 7:45 pm doors-open time.

“This was supposed to be a quiet, casual community gathering,” Jeff Yang, the writer and culture critic and also the father of Hudson Yang, the young actor who plays the central protagonist Eddie Huang on the show, told Vulture’s E. Alex Jung of the New York event.

Appearing in person at Circle was Huang himself, the writer and restaurateur whose memoir of growing up in Orlando, Fla. after his family moves there from Washington, D.C., the show is adapted–plus members of the cast. Anname Phann, a New Yorker who waited an hour to get into the venue, said she “ran right for the stage to sit on the edge, not realizing I’d have the best position for listening to the panel presentation.”

“Eddie was incredibly articulate and funny,” Phann told me by email, referring to the talk-back portion of the night. As for the show itself, she said, “It was so fun to watch with a big group of people, hear from some of the actors, and support a big moment in television for APAs.”

And the sheer turnout at these venues only began to skim the surface of the outpouring of enthusiasm expressed on the likes of social media for the first network sitcom in 20 years to feature an Asian American family. On Twitter, #FreshOffTheBoat was a trending hashtag in New York for four hours, with a similarly strong showing in LA, reported NBC News.

As for the ratings, nearly 8 million viewers tuned into the 8:30 pm pilot, while 7.6 million tuned into the second episode that aired an hour later, according to Nielsen ratings. Those live numbers, by the way, don’t account for all the people who may have DVR’d or recorded the show to watch later.

“‘Boat’ may have actually fared better on Wednesday, but the premiere likely caught some viewers by surprise,” Variety wrote on Thursday. “ABC for weeks had been promoting the show’s ‘series premiere’ as February 10, so any viewers who tune in on that date for the first time will have missed the key pilot episode that aired last night.”

The sitcom, which is narrated in voice-over by Eddie Huang, follows the life of a young Eddie as his family makes the move to a white neighborhood in Orlando where Eddie’s father (played by Randall Park, KoreAm’s December/January issue cover profile), has decided to run a steakhouse called “The Cattleman’s Ranch.”

Not since Margaret Cho’s “All American Girl” debuted 20 years ago has a show about an Asian American family hit network airwaves.

At LA’s watch party, which was hosted by Phil Yu, creator of the Angry Asian Man blog, and writer and stand-up comedian Jenny Yang, the airing of the episodes on a giant projector screen was as much a highlight as were the discussion and comments expressed in between episodes and afterwards, as Yang ran up and down the aisles with a microphone.

“This is f***ing huge,” said one audience member. “We’re watching a sitcom that’s not making Asians out to be ‘the others.’ ”

Another audience member gushed, “As a Taiwanese American, I couldn’t be more proud of the show.”

And high up in the seats, a young man in a black sweatshirt took the microphone and, bellowing just a little at first, remarked on the sea of billboards plastered around LA promoting Fresh Off the Boat – prominently featuring the Asian American faces of Randall Park and co-star, Constance Wu, and how powerful a symbol that has served.

unnamedJenny Yang (left), Oliver Wang, Milton Liu, Jen Wang, and Phil Yu at the LA’s watch party.

As for her reaction to the show and the moment, Yang, now sitting back down at the front of the theater alongside her fellow panelists, smiled. “I love all of it,” she told the crowd. “I almost feel like some black people did when Obama got elected.”

Yes, although we’re talking about a sitcom here, there are parallels: in many ways, Wednesday night’s premiere felt like a triumph, and historic. But as Phil Yu, who disclosed to the crowd that he’s seen future episodes yet to air, said, “I don’t think people should watch it just because it’s a bunch of Asian people on screen…I can attest, it does really go to interesting places.”

Also discussed at LA’s watch party was that nervous feeling of hope that the first show to feature an Asian American ensemble case in two decades will succeed. There is “representational anxiety,” joked the panelists, coining the abbreviated phrase, “rep sweats” to capture this feeling.

“You’re so invisible and any time you see yourself on television, you hold your breath, because you hope it’s not something that can be used against me,” Yang joked. As her co-panelist, Jen Wang of Disgrasian, remarked, identifying with a character on TV growing up meant, for her, the character of Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, who was a little nerdy and “had bangs.”

“Everyone has this drive to see themselves at the center of the narrative,” Wang said.

Asked by an audience member why a 20-year stretch must separate the appearance of an Asian American family on network television, Oliver Wang, an associate professor of sociology at California State University, joked, “White supremacy.”

“They’re afraid to take a chance,” chimed in co-panelist Milton Liu, of Visual Communications. “Yes, we shouldn’t put all our hopes and pressure on this show but seeing this crowd here and in New York, I wouldn’t say it’s intentional racism, it’s fear.”

Fresh Off the Boat returns to the airwaves next Tuesday, Feb. 10, at its regular time slot of 8 p.m. But the discussion, reaction and reflection on an historic moment for Asian Americans and in Hollywood pop culture will continue well beyond that, no doubt.

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Featured image via Jeff Yang/Twitter

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BuzzFeed Releases ‘Ask an Asian’ Video

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

“Actually, I’m not that good at math.”

Last month, Buzzfeed asked its fans to submit questions they had about Asian Americans for its “Ask an Asian” video. Within hours, the site’s Facebook page became flooded with nearly 7,000 comments, and a good chunk of them were ridiculous, ignorant or racist.

ask an asain comments

Surprisingly, there seems to be a lot of people who have never seen a pregnant Asian woman before and are actually distraught over this revelation.

Comedian Jenny Yang teamed up with Buzzfeed and writer Thomas Reyes to answer some of the fans’ questions with her trademark sass and wit. Eugene Lee Yang also makes a fun cameo in the video, so keep an eye out for that.

You can watch the “Ask an Asian” video below:

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KoreAm U Weekly Roundup

Danny Hong

Bishop Gorman Quarterback Danny Hong Commits More Than His Arm to Columbia University

“I want to start my freshman year. I want to get on the field as soon as I can. I want to get out of there with a Columbia degree and go to grad school. Hopefully, the choices I have at grad school whatever school it is, I just want to really, really be a sponge of education there. And just get all the education that Columbia offers. It’s such a great curriculum that they offer, and it’d be a waste not to really embrace it all and make the most of it.”

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Student Spotlight: Chapman University’s Jonathan Y. Shin

I was born in Temple, Texas. My dad, a recent immigrant, was pursuing his M.D. at Texas A&M College of Medicine. My family then moved to California when I was six years old. I attended Sunny Hills High School, Troy High School, and graduated from Army and Navy Academy. I then graduated from UC Irvine and worked full time for a few years before attending law school.

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Chloe Kim Becomes the Youngest Winter X Games Gold Medalist

Chloe Kim, 14, became the youngest gold medalist in Winter X Games history, edging seven-time X Games gold medalist Kelly Clark to silver in the women’s snowboard superpipe on Saturday night.

“My face kind of hurts right now,” Kim told ESPN after winning gold. “I am just so amazed that I was able to land all that. It was so fun.”

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Lydia Ko Reveals New Look for 2015 LPGA Season

The 17-year-old golfer ditched her trademark glasses for contact lenses during her offseason. Ko joked that her transformation was so great that even her caddie, Jason Hamilton, did not recognize her.

U.S. Textbook Skews History, Prime Minister of Japan Says (New York Times)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Thursday criticized an American textbook that he said inaccurately depicted Japan’s actions during World War II, opening a new front in a battle to sway American views of the country’s wartime history.

Students Cram to Chase the Samsung Dream in South Korea (NBC News)

From a young age, these students spent their lives cramming through the night, seeking entry into an elite university and, by the time they graduate, a cushy job with a sprawling and politically connected conglomerate. Every six months, some 100,000 Koreans swarm campus test centers for a shot at Samsung glory.

ROTC Cadets

South Korea’s Marine Corps Accepts First Female ROTC Cadet

Kim Sang-a, a 24-year-old sophomore at Jeju National University, passed her Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) screening test last June and, earlier this month, completed her two-week military training. Kim’s cadet enlistment ceremony is scheduled for next month.

Younger North Koreans Increasingly Sharing Pictures, Video Between Cellphones (NK News)

Report says video and images, often influenced by S. Korean and Japanese culture, increasingly shared among younger generations.

Korean Consul General to Speak at UC Riverside on Feb. 5

Kim’s lecture, a roundtable discussion about Korean Americans and oral history, and a presentation by a visual artist about “comfort women” – all part of the ongoing YOK Center at UC Riverside Korean American Lecture Series – are free and open to the public.

As Korean adoptees return, a complex relationship follows (KPCC)

“It’s a very complicated subject,” said Maggie Jones, contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine. “Certainly lots of adopted children have very, very happy family lives in the United States, but they also often face racial discrimination growing up.”

Her recent cover story for the magazine has sparked debate about the ethics of international adoption and what can be learned from the perspective of adult adoptees.

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Yale Student Dies in Apparent Suicide (Angry Asian Man)

At Yale University, community members are mourning a student who died in an apparent suicide. After an extensive campus-wide search, 20-year-old Luchang Wang is presumed to have died Tuesday in California.

Apply to TACL’s 2015 Political Internship Program (Angry Asian Man)

Calling all Taiwanese American young leaders! Taiwanese American Citizens League invites you to apply for its 2015 Political Internship Program in Washington DC. Since 1992, the eight-week summer program has placed college students in the offices of elected officials to give them a hands-on experience in the political process. In addition, interns advocate for issues that impact the Taiwanese American and AAPI communities.

Ohio University’s Program of Intensive English to Host 10 South Korean Engineering Students

OPIE is very happy to be hosting ten students from the Korean University of Technology and Education in Chungcheongnam-do, a province in western South Korea. The students are on campus for four weeks as part of the English Language Study Program; this is the fourth iteration of the program in the previous six years.

“The Korean Peninsula and Korea’s Relationship with its Neighbors” Lecture  by Korean Consul General Kan Jeong-sik at University of Waterloo

Korean Consul General Kan Jeong-sik will be speaking about “The Korean Peninsula and Korea’s Relations with its Neighbors” at Renison University College on Wednesday, Feb. 11 from 2:30 – 3:50 pm.

Youth Unemployment in Seoul Exceeds 10 Percent (Chosun Ilbo)

Unemployment among young people aged 15-29 in Seoul soared to over 10 percent last year, for the first time since the financial crisis of the late 1990s.

Late Start School Program Expands to Seoul (Korea Times)

At least 368 elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul will start classes at 9 a.m. from March 1, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) said Thursday.

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What’s Your ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Experience?

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

With just one week left until the premiere of Fresh Off the Boat, ABC has launched a social media campaign, inviting the audience to share their “fresh off the boat” stories of when they have felt a little out of place.

To kick off the campaign, Fresh Off the Boat creators Eddie Huang, Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar shared their stories.

You can listen to watch their interviews below:

Eddie Huang, author of the memoir Fresh Off the Boat, tells the story of how his uncle commandeered a shopping cart for Huang’s grandmother to use as an orthopedic walker.

Nahnatchka Khan, show writer and producer, recalls a time when her father’s salon hair dryer chair scared off her playmate.

Executive Producer Melvin Mar shares a personal story about his immigrant father.

What’s your #FreshOffTheBoat experience? Share your stories on the show’s Facebook, twitter, or tumblr.

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KoreAm U Weekly Roundup

Temple University student dies after falling eight floors
Family and friends mourn and pay tribute to Rebecca Kim (photo above) – ‘a humble, kind, intelligent girl.’

UPDATE: Third person arrested for involvement in homicide of University of Georgia Student Min Seok Cho 
Cho, 21, was fatally shot in the head during a marijuana deal that reportedly went bad on Jan. 13.

Korean language classes in NY aren’t just for Koreans anymore
Lessons previously geared toward young second-generation Korean Americans in the past now target a diverse group of students who take time out of their weekends to brush up on their ga, na and das.

2015 Youth Leadership Summit, March 26-28
Asian Americans Advancing Justice AAJC’s Youth Leadership Summit is a three-day leadership development program for college students. The summit provides a unique opportunity for young advocates from across the country to come to Washington DC to network and learn together. The deadline to apply is Feb. 14.

International and American students divided at the Ohio State University
Physical distances no longer divide OSU students, but distances in communication sometimes do. Some students say that the stereotypes — both of United State citizens and International students — often cause harm to chances of finding commonalities with each other.

University of Virginia students launch “Pear” matchmaking app
Joshua Choi

After finding limited success with popular dating apps like Tinder, second-year student Joshua Choi took matters into his own hands — developing the mobile app Pear, which launches in the Apple and Android stores this week. The app, Choi said, relies on users’ natural inclination to play matchmaker with their friends.

Sophomore Heein Choi selected as Charter Day student speaker at William & Mary University
Choi ’17, a double major in Asian American studies and finance, is a South Korean immigrant whose family moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, when he was four.

South Korean university students trust strangers more than politicians and corporations
The results of the survey of 2,300 students from 130 universities throughout the country demonstrate the high level of pessimism among the younger generation about the political and economic agents in the country.

Beyond Black and White: Asian-American Memories of Selma
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As the country marks 50 years since the historic 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery with everything from individual memories to big-screen memorials, the stories of Asian-American participants, like Endo, are often lost in the mix, as are the motivations behind their solidarity.

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Let us know of the latest news from your own campus at koream.u@iamkoream.com!

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UCLA Needs More Asian Americans for an Alcohol Study

Here’s your chance to drink for science again.

The Addictions Research Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at UCLA is looking for Asian Americans who drink alcohol to participate in a study investigating a medication for alcohol use.

Participants must be between 21 and 55 years old. If selected for the study, participants will be asked to provide a DNA sample, take a study medication for 10 days, answer questionnaires and complete two fMRI scans and two alcohol administration sessions.

The study will require multiple visits to the UCLA campus. For their time, participants will be compensated up to $446.

You can find more information and check if you are medically eligible for the study by taking their survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AsianAmericanAlcoholStudy

For specific questions, you can call (310) 206-6756 and mention the Asian American Alcohol Study, or email the lab at raylab@psych.ucla.edu.

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Photo courtesy of Getty

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APCF

2015 Chen Foundation Scholarship for California High School Seniors

High school seniors who plan to attend a California State University or California Community College as a first-year student in Fall 2015 are eligible to apply for a renewable $2,000 scholarship through the Chen Foundation Scholarship Program.

The scholarship is open to all majors and there is no ethnicity requirement. Students must be a resident of California, have a minimum cumulative unweighted high school GPA of 3.0 and demonstrate a household income at or below the California State Low Income Level in their 2013 or 2014 tax return. Ten scholarships are awarded annually, and they are renewable for an additional year as long as scholarship recipients maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher and an active involvement in community service.

To apply, students must submit an online application and recommendation form, which can be found here, along with their high school transcript.

All materials must be received by midnight on March 31. Scholarship recipients will be notified no later than June 30, 2015.

The Chen Foundation is focused on helping economically-challenged youth fulfill their dreams of obtaining higher education. For more information, you can contact Asian Pacific Community fund at scholarships@apcf.org or (213) 624-6400 ext. 6.

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