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Jesifiable here—not posting inappropriate animated GIFs mind you—and here to present you the second ever 10x10. This time I got to take a poke at stand-up comedian, writer and California gal Jenny Yang. Through a mutual friend, I’ve had the fortune of meeting Jenny; she’s someone who’s helped me personally through my own transition out of college and into the scary world of adult responsibilities. So check it out and let the curtains roll.
(photo credit: Stephanie Lim Photography)
1. In a nutshell, how do you describe and define yourself?
Enthusiastic Asian American Immigrant Food-Eater, Stand-Up Comic, Writer and Social Media Doer.
Jesifiable here, hijacking Fascinasians for a post. If you haven’t checked out Flat3, the latest webseries to hit the web from New Zealand, then you probably should right now. The next story following the trend of quirky female comedies, Flat3 is a webseries that follows the unique perspectives of 3 Chinese-Kiwi women in their 20’s as they try to figure out who they are, what they’re doing in this life, and whose turn it is to buy toilet paper. And I got the lucky chance to interview these amazing women behind the new show—Roseanne Liang (Director/Writer), Perlina Lau (“Perlina”), JJ Fong (“Jessica”) and Ally Xue (“Lee”). Check it out!
How did Flat3 come into fruition and what have been some of your inspirations for the series?
Roseanne Liang: JJ sent me an email one day asking if I might be interested in helping them write a webseries. I said yes. Then they asked me if I wanted to direct. I was actually planning to tell them that they weren’t allowed to use the script unless I also directed it - but I acted all nonchalant and shrugged ‘sure. Whatevs’. And then I told them I had edit it or else I would run away with all the footage.
For me, the inspirations for the series are Sex and the City, Girls, 30 Rock and maybe a little Flight of the Conchords. Oh and Louis CK’s Louie. Freaks and Geeks, my all -time favourite TV show. Seinfeld, Monty Python, The Office. Basically every comedy show I’ve loved and wanted to copy. It’s not plagiarism if you say it’s homage! It’s homage, by the way. In terms of webseries, I discovered Awkward Black Girl fairly late in the game. Also Natalie Tran’s Community Channel, but we’ll never be as quick or cute as her. We can try, but we can’t.
Perlina Lau: For Jess and I, it was a combination of boredom, restlessness to an extent and unnecessary self pity which kicked this project off! Also just our own experiences combined with shows we like watching ourselves. This was the foundation for most scenarios!
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Korean American born woman with many passions in life. I have always been pretty ambitious since I was a child, and would like to believe that many of those goals have been accomplished only to make many more new ones. I love to explore new experiences and enlighten the rest of the world of any new discoveries especially when it comes to food and adventures.
2. What do you do?
I am currently President of VNV short for Visualize & Voice Corporation. It is a positive street wear brand made for both women and men. Currently we have over 20 different designs for tees and tanks, but I plan to expand the brand to other types of apparel in the near future.
3. What inspired you to create VNV?
There are many things that have contributed to creating VNV. I believe there was a necessity for any clothing brand to be unique in the industry, as well as a need for attire that was able to provide our generation of trends with more positive and healthier messages on a daily basis. Our world relies on strong visual imagery from everywhere, and it made sense to create a brand that would be aesthetically pleasing and beneficial for our growing youth. It couldn’t hurt to be more exposed to something inspiring or motivating that could help plant seeds of healthy thoughts, potential aspirations, confidence, and visions of future dreams for the people who are going to be the leaders of our future.
4. You say that it’s inspired by fallen youth culture, what do you mean by that?
Since 2006 I have been able to submerge myself into a culture I had not expected to be in. It had already been almost 2 years since I graduated from Carleton College, but I had befriended many students in the capital district because Albany happened to be a college town. Although I had adapted to my new surroundings (having been originally from NYC/NJ) and met some amazing characters, I have realized there were many downfalls to the environment, vibe, and overall mood Albany had been notorious for: 1) Kegs and Eggs incident which gave Albany a bad reputation all over the nation 2) tighter police enforcement leading to cancellation of events like Fountain Day 3) deserted downtown streets 4) cold and long winters.
Basically, it was difficult to find people who were actually proud of living in Albany or going to school in Albany. It dawned on me that it might not just be Albany that may experience these sentiments in their perspective locations. All of our 18-21 years old’s all over the country some commuting from home, and some traveling far from home experience discomfort from what they are used to in their hometowns. The whole experience could only be made better by the very people living in it to change what needs to be changed if we all wanted to see any change. There were plenty of college towns all over the nation that have plenty of traditions and things to be proud of that also give their students something to be proud of when they are residing there temporarily. Hence, I observed this over the course of my time here and I wanted to be a part of a bigger movement. Possibly a positive revolution for the students here and for Albany as a city. VNV was created in Albany, and was inspired by the culture here, but it would speak for the rest of the world also.
5. Who do you name as your role models and inspirations?
I have never considered anyone specifically my role model, but there have been many individuals who have inspired me by challenging my views, and shedding light upon new perspectives that I had yet to discover. For that I thank that I have God in my heart, a mother who sacrificed everything to make sure I was educated and properly raised, a father who has supported me until I became self-sufficient, friends who are the brothers and sisters I never had, and relationships I have been in that have been a reflection of who I was at the time.
6. Where do you see VNV in five years?
In 5 years, I see VNV participating in all major trade shows, and known in NYC and other major cities in the country. I have released over 20 designs just within the 1st year, which means by then I foresee having at least 100 designs ranging in tees, tanks, outerwear, and accessories. I plan to hire employees who will be able to do administrative work, market, sell, and design for me. I also hope to be on track for my own brick and mortar store.
7. What about yourself? Where will you be in five years?
As for myself, I see myself creating new goals because I would have already knocked out all the ones I have set for myself this year, haha. I would like to be traveling a lot to market my brand, speaking at events to younger people to spread the brand’s mission and motto, and participate at fundraising and volunteering events to support organizations through VNV’s profits.
8. What has been your greatest obstacle?
My greatest obstacle has been myself. I truly believe that we all can be our worst enemies when it comes to life. There will be many people who judge and talk about you, and because of what you hear or the environment you are in you are unable to move forward or be optimistic about any tasks you have set for yourself. You have no one to blame, but yourself for not having accomplished the things you wanted to. Don’t let anyone stop you, not even yourself to go anywhere but forward. There is no point moving backwards so that is not even an option. Standing still or being stagnant will get you nowhere, so force feed yourself something positive to hurry up and get you to moving forward towards whatever you may want to do.
9. In a male-dominated business, how do you gain the upper hand?
Honestly, I used to always fight for the upper hand during my younger years. But, I have learned that it isn’t always about getting the upper hand especially against the opposite sex. I am not a feminist and I don’t quite believe in complete equality because I believe men and women are both made so differently that we both possess specific talents that we can always share.
However, the society we live in does not allow for things to be any easier for women when it is already dominated by men. For that reason, I have learned to take less risks and strive to be completely, ethically, morally, and consciously by the books. We can’t be blamed if everything was done correctly and there was no room for any criticism, but to be so rigid aka a perfectionist. Unfortunately, we might sometimes have to work harder to even gain any respect to prove that we have the strength and endurance a man would easily have over a woman biologically. I have also learned to have ownership of anything you do, which means to learn everything from the bottom up and not relying on anyone to help you. Always be professional when it comes to business, and treat everyone with the same kind of respect you would demand. Finally, to be comfortable with rejection because men probably deal with that all the time. Any kind of constructive criticism or a plain rejection of your product or even YOU should not discourage you to be who you are and believe in the things you are proud of because you will never please every single person in this world.
10. What advice do you give ambitious young Asian women?
I guess this would be a continuation from question #9 but I would like to tell our ambitious young Asian women that it is okay to feel discouraged at times because it is that much harder for a female minority who is young and inexperienced trying to be successful in this world. However, there are many advantages as well as rewards because you would have worked that much harder than the average person for your dreams. Rest assured times have gotten better, and the Asian community is more accepted if not in more demand in the media and in the workplace. Our work ethics and wits have been acknowledged even as a stereotype. Be grateful for the ambition in your heart and the fact that you possess these dreams. Embrace challenges, overcome any hurdles one by one, build bigger dreams as you achieve your goals, always be optimistic and positive enough to share the wealth of your vibes to any dark clouds around you, and have faith that no matter what you do in life that as long as you are thankful for what you already have, there will be no permanent failures in life. If anyone would like more in-depth advice please feel free to contact me and I can enlighten you to have a happier perspective on life.
A born and raised Queens boy, Jake Choi is the hottest name on everyone’s lips these days. You may have seen him in the Superbowl Best Buy commercial alongside Amy Poehler, College Humor originals, or the new show Golden Boy on CBS. Jake took the time to answer some questions for Fascinasians:
1. How would you sum up your background and childhood in less than ten words?
I was very confused of my identity and insecure.
2. Have you always wanted to be an actor? How did your family feel about that when you told them?
No I actually wanted to be a professional basketball player. But when I stopped pursuing basketball, I didn’t know what to do. My friend actually suggested that I give acting a shot based on my personality. My family wasn’t too against it or for it. They just wanted me to be happy.
3. What ethnicity are you? Do you think this has held you back or helped you in any way?
I’m Korean. I don’t think it has held me back or helped me. I guess it really comes down to how you play the hand your dealt.
4. Have you ever been offered a demeaning or racist role? How did you handle that?
Yes a few times. I had to politely turn them down.
5. What are you most proud of?
Hmm…. maybe landing the Best Buy commercial since the role really was open to any ethnicity.
6. Do you identify as more Korean-American, Asian-American, or just American? What’s shaped your sense of identity?
I identify myself as just a human being. But if I had to choose, I’d say Asian American. There’s a rich Asian history and culture here in America and I’m very proud to be a part of it. But we’re all really one and the same. It’s not about what color you are, what nationality, or religion. As long as you are comfortable with yourself, that’s all that matters.
7. What are the five most recently played songs on your iTunes?
Lauryn Hill - Ex-factor, 2NE1 - I love you, John Legend - Coming Home, The Weeknd - Enemy, Lupe Fiasco - Hip Hop Saved My Life
8. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
I think my biggest accomplishment is not quitting what I love doing even when I had hit rock bottom.
9. What changes do you hope to make in the community?
I would just like to help mold the image of how Asian Americans are viewed and cast in the entertainment industry and media. The stereotypes have been slowly disappearing but you still see it a lot on TV and film. Which is why I refuse to audition for any demeaning or stereotypical roles.
10. And last but not least, the question that’s on everyone’s mind: are you single?
No comment :)
What’s your name? And who are you?
My name is Scot Nakagawa. I’m a Senior Partner in a new grassroots racial justice lab called ChangeLab.
What do you do?
ChangeLab is mostly focused on conducting research and formulating analysis and strategy concerning the racial position of Asian Americans in the U.S. racial hierarchy, and creating strategies for building cross-racial solidarity among people of color and promoting racial justice in Asian American communities.
What ethnicity are you? Has this helped shape your identity and/or held you back in any way?
In terms of background, I was born and raised in Hawaii and am deeply rooted in the Japanese American and Hawaiian community there, at least in terms of how I grew up, who I grew up among, and my perspective and loyalties. My parents are strongly identified as Japanese American Buddhists, with the Buddhist part of that identity being as definitive as ethnicity. I guess I’m as much as anything else philosophically Buddhist, raised in the shadow of a Buddhist temple, deeply steeped in Buddhist traditions and ideas. But I’m not a religious person.
I grew up in the 60s and 70s in a rural, agricultural community founded as a plantation. There, the vast majority of people were Asians and Pacific Islanders. My high school graduating class included one white person among 104. I grew up in a political active and aware family. I cut my teeth on talk about racial inequity and struggle among people who identified strongly and proudly as working class. In fact, I grew up with stories of past workers’ movements being shared with me as a way of building my sense of community, tradition, and values.
However, what caused me to choose a mission-driven life was not my ethnicity as much as my sexual orientation. My community and family were liberal in many ways, but culturally very conservative. And the history of struggle of my community and family meant that collectivity was valued over individuality. Being different wasn’t a good thing. But, all of my life I knew I was different and because I was different, the idea of conforming in order to live in community was a struggle for me. I couldn’t really envision a viable future for myself. In my early childhood I assumed I would be a laborer when I grew up and never imagined myself leaving my community. But understanding on some basic level that I would never marry or be in a heterosexual union, have children, help build the next generation caused my childhood to be a lonely one, even when I was surrounded by friends and relatives and almost never alone.
Like a lot of gay children, I considered suicide, ran away from home, and self-medicated myself through puberty with drugs and alcohol. I eventually dropped out of school.
What are you most proud of?
I guess what I’m most proud of was that I dropped back in again and found a way to finish high school and begin a career in social change that I’ve remained in for more than 30 years now. I figured out how to live a full and rewarding life by committing myself to creating social change and promoting social justice. That decision was one I don’t think I would have reached if my sexual orientation hadn’t caused me to see that making people change to fit norms, even when those norms are comforting and empowering to the majority and even to our families, isn’t always the path to justice. Sometimes, justice demands that we change society to meet the needs of people.
What sparked your fight?
I guess this [above] also answers the question about what sparks my fight.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food? Well, I became a vegan about 6 months ago, so a lot of my favorite comfort foods are no longer in my diet. I guess that among the things I can still eat, poi would be high up on the list. Fresh, not sour, eaten with something salty. I guess because of growing up on dried fish, poke, lots of shoyu and fish sauce, I find salt comforting.
What is one thing you hope to see before you die?
The one thing I hope to see before I die? I want to see a movement for justice rise up and sweep away the legacy of colonialism, genocide and racism in the U.S. I want to see the movement for Hawaiian sovereignty to succeed. I change to see the world change for the better and be part of that change.
What are the top five most played songs on your iTunes?
I’m not sure there are five favorite songs on my itunes list. I have very electic musical tastes, ranging from 70s R&B to poppy things from the 80s, more contemporary artists like the Roots and The Blues Scholars, Hawaiian music, and silly contemporary pop songs. I’m the kind of person who will put in ear buds, blast my music, and walk to the beat for miles. I guess you could say that I’m very uninhibited.
What is something you wish everyone knew?
Something I wish everyone knew? Hmmm…I guess that our destinies are intertwined. That what happens to me affects you and vice versa and, because of that, if we join forces to expand our understanding of the common good, we can make the world better together. That and, I guess, that climate change is real and it really sucks.
Where do you see ChangeLab going in the next five years?
In the next five years I see ChangeLab focusing a lot of changing the context for understanding who Asian Americans are, what brought us here and what’s causes Asians and others globally to migrate in masses numbers. We want to debunk the model minority myth. I think that’s a big key to building cross-race solidarity and neutralizing those who use myths about Asian Americans to promote racism against others and against us.
Hope this is what you’re looking for. If not, let me know. I aim to please! Thanks!
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Amiel Maquilan. Musically known as Summer Breeze. I’m 23 years old and from South San Francisco, CA.
2) What got you into singing, playing the guitar, and vlogging on YouTube?
I started playing guitar and singing back in my junior year of high school. I started because I wanted to write a song for my high school crush. Ever since then, I continued my musical hobby and turned it into a music career. I started my YouTube channel and everything started to take off from there.
1. What’s your name?
Jaehoon David Jin… But I just simply go by Jae Jin.
2. What do you do for a living?
I’m working in Healthcare management at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute.
3. What ethnicity are you?
I was born in Seoul, Korea and i’m a US Citizen… so i’m Korean-American.
4. Do you feel being this ethnicity has helped you or held you back in any way?
I feel that like almost all things, there exists a set of pros and cons. Oftentimes with ethnicity, these pros and cons go hand in hand with social constructs in society. So I like to think that my ethnicity has afforded me many opportunities and unique backgrounds, but I do feel that my ethnicity has probably led to the very same roadblocks and challenges that many persons of different ethnicities have faced.
5. What are you most proud of?
I feel most proud to have gotten where I have gotten, given the many challenging circumstances I was faced with in my younger years. I grew up in a broken family, in relative poverty, and have faced my mortality twice. Through it all, i believe the love of family and friends, coupled with my faith have carried me to where I am today.
6. What’s your favorite food?
Aside from my own ethnic food(Korean food), I’d have to say that I have a deep appreciation for the art and wonderful taste of Northern Italian cooking.
7. Where is somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel to?
I’d have to say that five places(in no particular order I would like to one day travel to are: 1) Portugal 2)Greece 3) Seattle/Oregon 4)Nova Scotia 5)Canada (Rockies)
8. What are the five most recently played songs on your iTunes?
This one is easy, since I keep playlists on my iPhone by month, and from my December playlist, the last 5 songs I listened to were: 1) Never Let Go- Anthony Hamilton(Feat. Keri Hilson) 2) The Best Part(Is You)- Ne-Yo 3) Tip the Scale- The Roots 4) Empty Me- Chris Sligh 5) Souvenirs- Switchfoot
9. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
I think that the biggest accomplishments in my life have been are the instances in my life when I’ve lived for others or done things in putting others first. I feel like i’m onto something when I look at these situations…
10. Who is your biggest influence?
My biggest human influence in life would have to be my parents— my mother and my stepfather. My mother came to America with just me in her arms. Given all the roadblocks and lack of resources, she pulled us through and brought me where I am. My stepfather came into my life when I was entering high school and has changed my life completely. I would not be the person I am today without them.
11. How happy are you right now? What do you attribute this happiness to?
I’m very happy. I think when you look at unhappiness, much of it is attributed to comparison to others. For me, I look at just myself and my circumstances, and realize that all the blessings outweigh the struggles. I attribute this thinking to my faith. My faith has taught me about grace and humility. I realize so much of what I have is by grace and I am learning to have humility as I grow older.
12. Who is the most important person in your life? Have they influenced your music?
The most important persons in my life, as previously mentioned, would have to be my parents. I’m sure my mother has influenced my music through the musical talent she handed down. ;) As for my stepfather, he introduced me to so many different musical artists and this has helped to form my musical uniqueness built from a diverse group of musical influences.
Here’s his cover of Bruno Mars’ “It Will Rain”!
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