Asian Americans Share Their Experiences With #BeingAsian

In this year alone, I’ve seen Asian Twitter blowing up my feed with different hashtag conversations including: #OscarsSoWhite, #PraisinTheAsian, #StarringJohnCho and #WhitewashedOUT. To continue the conversation, we saw another hashtag spark more tweets about the Asian American experience.

On Tuesday, 17-year-old Michael Tarui sent out the following tweet: “I’m in a group chat and we’ve decided we should start a conversation of what it’s like #BeingAsian and the racism that comes with it.”

The hashtag spread like wildfire in the Twitter-sphere as many people used it to share their experience of what it’s like to be Asian American. Many tweeted about the struggles of being profiled and/or not fitting the profile of what is perceived as “Asian,” as well as the the perpetuation of insensitive stereotypes like the Model Minority.

While the hashtag was meant to point out racism towards Asians, some also used it to hash out grievances within the Asian American community, specifically racism within the community towards other people of color.

Even with its serious purpose, the hashtag has also been used to spread humor and positivity.

While #BeginAsian has added more key points to the conversation within the Twitter-verse, I hope that we can keep the it going. In the meantime, we should all just follow the words of immigration activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas:


Five Things We Want to See In The Big Hero 6 TV Show

Hiro and Baymax are back! Last week, Disney XD announced a new Big Hero 6 television show based on the Academy Award-winning animated movie. Set to premiere in 2017, the show is going to pick up where the movie left off and focus on Hiro’s adventures at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

While it’s agreed that we can probably expect more witty banter, fist bumps and life lessons, we also have some other expectations for the direction of the show. Let’s take a look at what we want to see going into it.

1. No Culture-Washing

Big Hero 6 is so obviously multicultural that it may seem like we shouldn’t have a problem with it. However, the Big Hero 6 comic originally took place in Japan and had an all-Japanese cast of characters. The movie not only played on stereotypical Asian architecture to create the city of San Fransokyo instead of just setting it in Tokyo, it also changed the ethnicities of three of the six main characters in order to create non-Asian characters Honey Lemon, Wasabi and Fred. Nobody is saying that we don’t like these characters BUT erasing the Asian-ness of the original BH6 is not cool. While some of these things probably won’t be changed for the TV show, maybe Disney can introduce some of the original Asian heroes and villains from the comic book.


2. Science!

Big Hero 6 is based around science and the movie was chalk-full of the coolest science and technology. While science in fictional stories is always kind of questionable, it’d be super exciting if the show brought current theoretical and practical sciences to life in bigger and better cartoon form (for educational purposes of course). And, of course, it’d add more cool inventions to the BH6 arsenal.


3. Backstory on Hiro’s Family (i.e. bring Tadashi back)

Obviously, Tadashi (Daniel Henney) probably won’t make an appearance in the current timeline of television show, but we can still dream a little about seeing him in flashbacks. In the movie, Hiro and Tadashi live with their Aunt Kass (Maya Rudolph) and there’s no real explanation as to what their lives were like before the death of their parents, so the one way to bring him back would be to develop Hiro’s backstory, which could also inform how he handles certain situations at school.


4. Integration with the Marvel Universe

People forget that Big Hero 6 is technically a Marvel movie (complete with an after-credits scene with a Stan Lee cameo). We probably won’t be seeing Baymax and Hiro in the Infinity Wars movies, but it would be cool to see BH6 team up with Marvel characters like Spider-man or Iron Man (who many have proposed made a cameo in the Nerd Lab in the film) or to integrate the Infinity Wars plot in there some how.  


5. More Glorious Baymax Humor (Accompanied By Equally Glorious Hiro Sarcasm)

More visual and verbal gags such as running out of batteries, not being fast, and constantly diagnosing Hiro with puberty and other teen afflictions.



Images via Disney

Asian Americans react to Ill-Conceived Oscars Joke

It goes without saying that the 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was the most political yet. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy gave this year’s host Chris Rock plenty of opportunity to highlight the need to diversify the film industry by offering more opportunities for Black actors and actresses. Other industry honorees were also able to use the program as a platform to speak on their own agenda – Leonardo DiCaprio on climate change, Lady Gaga on sexual assault and even director Alejandro González Iñárritu gets in on the race issue with some poignant commentary. With the highly political atmosphere of this awards season and the idea of DIVERSITY being shoved in our faces for the entire show, I find it incredible that Chris Rock and guest Sacha Baron Cohen still manage to squeeze in their racist jokes about Asians.

Around halfway through the ceremony, Rock introduces three Asian children wearing suits and ties as the accountants from PriceWaterhouseCooper who are in charge of counting the votes. Without a beat, we all know he is making fun of Asians for being math geeks and playing on the harmful model minority myth. He also makes jokes about child labor, telling people that are offended to tweet about it with phones made by the same kids.

Sacha Baron Cohen also bashes the Asian community while presenting a Best Film nominee. Alongside Olivia Wilde (who was shaking with laughter the whole time, btw), Cohen in character as Ali G from his latest film made a joke about yellow people with small penises. “Minions!” he yells at a laughing audience, who all know he is making fun of Asian people and are laughing anyways.

Tell me which is worse: that Chris Rock planned on exploiting children in the joke without their parents knowing or that Cohen’s unplanned, unapproved remarks were so well-received. Either situation seems to speak volumes about how unseriously the Academy and its members regard diversity issues.

“We do not belong here. We are comic props. We are a punchline,” said Phil Yu in his take-no-prisoners response to the Oscars on Angry Asian Man.

With a similar sentiment, some took to Twitter to call out the Oscars and Chris Rock for preaching diversity while still playing on Asian stereotypes.

Some Asian-American figures were tired of being thrown under the bus.

“Fresh Off The Boat Actress” Constance Wu also addressed the use of kids in the skit, calling the skit “the antithesis of progress.”

With all this conversation happening, the issue is far from being put to rest. Rock may have handled some diversity issues with some good comedy, but let’s be clear: It’s not okay to talk about how Wanda Sykes is always typecast as the “Black Friend” and then to turn around and typecast Asian children in a joke about accounting and child labor or to be okay with equating Asians with Minions. Don’t be a hypocrite.


Cover image via MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images


Last Week Tonight Asks How Is Hollywood Whitewashing Still a Thing?

Want to know what’s so important about #OscarsSoWhite? Check out this skit by the peeps at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. “Whitewashing” gives us a cheeky overview of the systematic problem in Hollywood that once again contributed to a lack of actors and actresses of color in the Academy Award nominations.

Whitewashing is a term that can refer to an individual who (intentionally or unintentionally) casts off their cultural practices/background in order to fit into the cultural norms – however, it is used in this video to refer to the act of casting Caucasian actors and actresses as characters that are ethnically non-white. Among the famous examples mentioned in this video, there are a ton of Asian characters including Katharine Hepburn as Jade Tan in “Dragon Seed” (2004), Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) and Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Aloha (2015). They even mention Tom Cruise’s role as Capt. Nathan Algren in “The Last Samurai” (2003) as quite ridiculous, and I have to agree (even though Tom Cruise is great).

The video doesn’t blame the Academy for #OscarsSoWhite, but traces the act of whitewashing roles in Hollywood back to historic roots. It provides an interesting commentary on how the problem is still pervasive today, even in how people react to casting non-white actors and actresses as traditionally white characters (Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in “Fantastic Four” and John Boyega as Finn in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”).

While whitewashing isn’t as harmful as some of the most stereotypical portrayals from the 40s-60s, it is still an act of oppression. It drowns out the representation of people of color in mainstream media and, ultimately, leads to a lack of representation at The Oscars.

Check out the video below (contains some NSFW language)


Cover Image via Last Week Tonight/HBO


Meet the Kollaboration Star 2015 Finalists: LA’s Peter Chung

Peter Chung is Los Angeles’ representative for the upcoming Kollaboration Star showcase, taking place Saturday, November 14, 2015. Kollaboration Blogger Frankie Victoria caught up with him a few weeks ago to chat about the upcoming Kollaboration show!

When I called Peter Chung for this interview, the first thing he commented on was the area code of my phone number.

“Santa Barbara, right?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, knowing from previous research that he went to UCSB.

“Yeah, I went to UCSB,” he said. “Did you go to college there too?”

I said that Santa Barbara was home for me and that I attended college at to USD. He then proceeded to ask me about my whole life, including where I lived now, what I was doing, and how I joined Kollaboration.

“You thought you were calling to interview me, huh?” he said jokingly.

I laughed. If this conversation taught me anything about Peter Chung, it’s that he seems to appreciate irony.

I point this out because there is something very ironic about Peter’s life story: he hated music as a kid.


Both of Peter’s parents were in the Church choir in his hometown of San Jose. He describes being forced to take piano and trumpet lessons, but enjoyed being part of the church choir with his parents. While he learned how to play the drums and guitar during this time, he didn’t do it for the music.

“I was surrounded by people who were cool,” said Peter. “When you have a crappy job, but you’re surrounded by cool people, it’s more fun.”

The “crappy job” of playing music started to turn into something else entirely when he started to learn covers of John Mayer songs on the guitar. He had learned guitar without any official lessons and mostly thrived on tips from friends before YouTube guitar lessons were a thing.

“I got into [John Mayer’s] music by asking what songs I should learn on the guitar,” said Peter. “They would say it’s really easy to and ‘oh, these chords on this song are easy.’”

Peter describes learning the popular song “No Such Thing” as a good learning experience because it taught him to incorporate lead guitar and rhythm guitar. When Peter started learning covers, he started to enjoy the music for one thing: the attention.

“I’m an attention whore,” said Peter. I can assume he’s joking, but he said it so seriously, it’s hard to tell.

Whether or not all eyes are on him now, Peter is in the music business for the long haul. Before he went professional, he had uncertainties about dedicating his whole life to being a musician.

“I was scared to put myself out there,” he said. “But I had friends who told me that I had to put [my music] out.”

By the time he was discovered by Kollaboration reps, he had already started pursuing music full-time.

“All I did was go to open mics,” said Peter. “I saw the open mic Kollaboration SF and decided to do it. They liked me, so they told me about [the showcase].”

He went on to participate in Kollaboration SF 3 and the opportunity opened up doors for him.

“I think Kollaboration is fantastic for opportunities for exposure. They’re really helping musicians and artists and they connected me with so many gigs I never expected.”

Now that Peter is pursuing the coveted national title of Kollaboration Star, he didn’t seem nervous at all. When I talked with him, he was doing some maintenance on his guitar for a string of gigs he was performing in San Francisco.

“I literally have done nothing to prepare,” he said.

That was a few weeks ago. Even if he did anything to prepare, I wouldn’t be too worried about the Kollaboration vet. Peter dreams of performing his original music around the world. Specifically, he hopes that his lyrics stick with audiences.

“For any show, I hope that there’s a connection. A fear I have is people won’t understand what I’m saying.”

“What can really touch you or have an impact is the message behind it,” Peter said. “And that’s why the lyrics can have a greater impact.”


Watch Peter perform for the chance to win $10,000 at Kollaboration Star, taking place 11/14/15! Tickets are on sale now at

Movie Review: Make Way for the Awesome Asian Bad Guys

Do you like Asians?  Do you like bad guys?  Do you like… ASIAN BAD GUYS?  Released earlier this summer, Awesome Asian Bad Guys is the first feature-length film by The National Film Society.  NFS Directors, Patrick Epino and Steven Dypiangco, directed and starred in the film along with industry veterans Tamlyn Tomita, Al Leong, Yuji Okumoto, and George Cheung (also starring a pre-Fresh off the Boat Randall Park).  The film pays tribute to Asian American actors and actresses who have had roles as bad guys in classic movies.  And honestly, they had me when I saw Tamlyn Tomita and Dante Basco on the ads.

I was very eager to watch this film because of my own frustrations with the lack of representation for Asian Americans in media. It seems like there haven’t been many American-made feature length movies with Asian Americans that have made an impression in the mainstream, even though, as the film’s successful Kickstarter has demonstrated, there is certainly a demand for it. I came in with high expectations and while I didn’t find the film perfect, it did leave me with some impressions & thoughts.

Here are few of the stronger ones:

Classic Asian American Film Stars Re-Introduced


One of the things that this film did really well is bring Asian American film stars back to the spotlight.  Being unfamiliar with their work myself, it was really cool to learn about these actors and their impact on Steven and Patrick as film buffs and people in general.  Who among us hasn’t grown a mustache or went on a week-long juice cleanse to imitate our idols?

The National Film Society as Comedic Leads


The lightness and humor in this film were great.  Steven and Patrick are very likeable guys, as I learned from watching their YouTube channel.  Their self-deprecating sense of humor is quirky and fun, so it was nice to see it shine through in the film.  Some of my personal favorites: Patrick and Tamlyn’s budding romance, Yuji Okumoto’s insults like “poop stain,” “useless pukes,” and “nipple dick,” Aaron Takahashi mistaking Steven for Lou Diamond Phillips.

Awesome (Asian) Fight Scenes


I also was pretty impressed with the fight scenes, which were well-choreographed and just a little bit silly (in a good way).

But who are the Real Bad Guys?


It was kind of a bummer that a (Spoiler Alert!) major plot point in the film involved a plot by the film’s villain, Aaron Takahashi (playing himself, like most of the cast), to kill other talented Asian American artists, blaming them for taking roles that he should have won.  We all know that there are a multitude of reasons as to why APAs are not quite visible in popular culture.  I wish Awesome Asian Bad Guys confronted some of the real reasons why Asian American actors and actresses are pigeonholed into small roles as bad guys and why they’re forgotten about.

While adding a little bit of depth to the film’s message would have made it a real winner in my eyes, when all is said and done, “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” is a really fun and humorous take on the classic underdog story.  And with a possible sequel in the works (based of the cliffhanger ending), who knows?  Maybe we will see all the Awesome Asian Bad Guys working together again to kick some Hollywood producer ass next time.

Awesome Asian bad guys is available to purchase on-demand at

Photo/Video Credits: National Film Society & Angry Asian Man

Anna Akana on Conducting Interviews, Show-Biz Lessons, and Being Honest

Anna Akana is everywhere.  Well, not literally.  However, Anna figuratively has an egg in a lot of baskets.

While she’s mostly known for her hilarious and thought-provoking YouTube channel, Anna has also appeared in feature films like Ant-Man, and Hello, My Name is Doris, and has had roles on television shows like MTV’s Awkward, and ABC Family’s The Fosters.  Along with this, Anna stars in live improv shows and designs t-shirts for her fashion line, Ghost and Stars.

Even with all this on her plate, Anna was gracious enough to take the time for us and answer some questions about what she’s working on now and more:

What were you doing right before this?
Interviewing people for an assistant position.

I’ve never interviewed someone to work for me!  Is it as nerve-wracking as being the interview-ee?
It’s not nerve-wracking at all.  It’s more monotonous.  You hope that every single person who comes in will be the right person.

What was the last YouTube Video you saw?
I watched The Fine Bros most recent Last Moments that I was in.  I played a girlfriend who wanted to make up a grandiose story about how we met.  It was great!

Is it more fun to act, direct, or write on a project?
I love acting.  That’s my favorite part of filmmaking.

What is most important to you when you are working on a project?
That I give it my all.

Do quality, quantity, the number of views, etc. play a role in this?
As long as I learned something that I can apply to my next project, I am happy.

What is one of the biggest lessons you learned from this line of work?
I learned that you have to be ok with being a boss.  And when hiring friends, beware.  Relationship dynamics may be messed with.

What do you do when you have a creative block/when you’re stuck?
Reading helps.  I enjoy Steven King.

Your vlogs are very genuine, funny, and personal.  Is it scary to share so much of yourself with your audience? 
I used to be a pathological liar, so honesty is always the best policy for me.  It can be scary, yes, but ultimately I’m happy that I was at least honest.

What’s next up for Anna?  While we are keeping our fingers crossed for another Marvel movie (she is too!), check out her most recent short film, “Loose Ends,” on YouTube.