“You don’t know my story. Stop trying to tell me what I’m feeling or what I’m experiencing, I KNOW what I’m feeling”
*Disclaimer: I am an Immigrant, Asian, Female and this is my perspective.
Nobody can tell our story for us. If we want to share our story, we have to speak up and actively share that with others. For many, that on its own is a challenge. Do I have a freedom to speak? Am I safe to share this story? Would I offend anyone? Do I sound angry? Do I sound like a crybaby? I don’t think anyone wants to look bad. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Who would want to hear my story anyways? I want my own freedom in my story and a freedom to share that without being judged. I really do. But sharing my story, means someone(s) will be either listening or reading my story. Is what I want to share and what they get the same? When I decided to write this piece, the first thing that came up my mind was inequality in Entertainment Business.
First thing first, Entertainment is not just “Entertainment”. It is Entertainment Business. I want to make that distinction clear. There’s a difference between, me sharing my story with my friends and people making a huge budget feature film. In latter, there are politics goes into the productions, not only for the actors who we see on the screens. There are producers, writers, crews, editors and more. There are more collective power involved in this type of storytelling. Have you heard that Johnny Depp doesn’t watch the films that he acted in? I heard that he said acting is his art, editing is editor’s art. So, here’s my next question. Are they all in alignment with what they are creating? Is their true purpose really to tell the story? Is it fiction? Non Fiction? Or are they there to make money? Documentation? Who’d be watching? Is it targeted domestically? Or international? What’s the Union regulation? Has everyone involved had an opportunity to speak? Or to be heard? There is so much that goes in before it gets to the public’s eyes. So, if what we see on screen is not representing what we see in real life, there must be disconnect that we can address here too.
Second point that I want to bring out is this. Diversity doesn’t only mean white vs black & brown. There are also Asian and Pacific Americans, Women, Native Americans, Mixed Races, LGBTQ, Seniors, Performers with disabilities, and more. Have you ever seen this youtube video “Every Single Word” by Dylan Marron? As much as I LOVE Harry Potter Series, within whole entire series there was only under 7 minutes of speaking parts were provided for people of color. Under 7 minutes for not ONE, but for whole entire 8 Harry Potter films. Things are changing, luckily. People are speaking up. People are taking actions.
It had been 25 years since the world saw a predominantly Asian cast in a big-budget Hollywood — with 1993’s The Joy Luck Club — that isn’t about martial arts, nerds, or a period piece with subtitles. Rather, Crazy Rich Asians is a moving, funny, beautifully shot romantic comedy showcasing a modern Asian diaspora who speak English as their primary language.
- Asian Representation in Film: The Impact of 'Crazy Rich Asians' by Yoommy Nam
Asian & Asian American are still one of the least represented group in Entertainment business. (See UCLA’s Research) Obvious success of Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat. Sandra Oh winning Golden Globes. Childish Gambino’s “This is America” music video was directed by Hiro Murai, who is Japanese. In theatre world, Diana Huey played Ariel in Little Mermaid. Marc De La Cruz played the title role in Hamilton. Allegiance, created by George Takei, about Japanese Internment Camp during WWII made its way to Broadway. Ali Ewoldt took a lead role in Phantom of The Opera. Off Broadway, Julian Chihi played the lead role in Romeo and Juliet.
Even with the long conversation of whitewashing and never-ending stories of typecasting … I'm not giving you any examples for a reason. Because we simply had enough. Things ARE changing. People tell me this often, "But you are Asian and woman, you have it easier". I beg to differ. I am human. I have my stories. I have my opinions and visions. I have my voice and want to be heard. I don't like being ignored. Just like everyone else. If being a “model minority” means being quiet and unthreatening, or pretending that nothing is wrong, I refuse to be one and I hope you do too. A wise friend told me this "If you don’t do anything to change something you are just a part of the problem". Because our stories are way too important not to share. We have to show up to every possible opportunity that has been given, and show up more for where it seems like a dead end. If we don’t show up for ourselves, nobody will.
So it's our responsibility to tell our stories. Here are 3 things that helps me keep going that I wanna share with you.
- Remember that there are more than one way to tell stories.
- Be curious about what other people are saying and really LISTEN, even when you don’t agree.
- Speak up and show up, even when that scares you.
Things are changing but it's not fast enough. And it's up to you to see more change.
Love & Light