Jenny Yang, Kollaboration Star 2014 co-host, talks Asian American activism, comedy, sexuality, and more

Jenny Yang is a comic, writer, and the producer of the Disoriented Comedy tour. She shared with Kollaboration her thoughts on being an Asian American woman in comedy, sexuality, how Asian Americans can pair arts and entertainment with activism, and more.

On audience reception to the Disoriented Comedy tour, and why she decided to start the tour:

“Honestly, how often do you get to see a bunch of Asian American comics on stage, right? …Old institutions just don’t handle us anymore. If we want to do things our way, we have to create our own thing. …Most of the people who come to our shows, who are mostly Asian American and younger, they wouldn’t typically go to a mainstream comedy club.”

“People who are down to be on stage or do visual arts or write plays: we are trying to create a forum for ourselves.”

On roadblocks Asian Americans face to being more involved advocates about sexuality and gender:

“When you’re an Asian American kid, and maybe you’re an immigrant or a kid of immigrants, sex doesn’t exist, much less sexuality. We have to fend for ourselves as young people to figure out what anything is.”

On how Asian Americans can use their art to challenge stereotypes:

“To me, it’s completely subversive just to exist as a woman or an Asian American in stand-up comedy with a microphone in a position of power. …People who are down to be on stage or do visual arts or write plays: we are trying to create a forum for ourselves. 

Whenever you see mainstream media or entertainment news try to cover us, they don’t know what to do. When America’s Best Dance Crew happened, all of a sudden they’re like, ‘Who are all these Asians who know how to dance?’ People freak the f*ck out. When Jeremy Lin showed up, they’re like, ‘How do we talk about him?’ 

America just needs to be educated about how to talk about us with respect and dignity. We are the ones as creatives who are going to tell our story.”

Photo courtesy of Jenny Yang.

9 Asian Americans to Watch in 2015: TV and Movies

With a new year comes new movies, new characters, and new opportunities to watch our favorite thespians and discover new ones. Here’s a small sampling (you get a break this time, Mindy, Harry, Lucy, Steve, Jamie, and Randall!) of Asian Americans to watch in 2015:

1. Chloe Bennet

Chloe Bennet photo Marvel
With “Avengers: Age of Ultron” releasing in May 2015, Marvel fans will be watching the tied-in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” closely for clues and teasers. Bennet’s Skye began season one mostly supporting the plotlines of Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen’s characters, but has steadily progressed to carry the emotional weight of the show. Her quick-witted, authority-defying portrayal stands out among the stern personalities that make up most of the cast.

2. Katie Chang

Katie Chang Getty
Katie Chang was phenomenal as the lead in 2013’s “The Bling Ring” (a.k.a., the most beautiful and entertaining movie of 2013 that 80% of your besties missed). Look for the Chicago native in 2015 in indie “Anesthesia,” starring Kristen Stewart, and high school comedy “The Outskirts,” starring Victoria Justice and Eden Sher.

3. Maggie Q

Maggie Q Summit Entertainment
As Tori in that other dystopian YA blockbuster series (seriously, “Hunger Games?” Four movies and zero Asians?), Maggie Q had some of the best moments in “Divergent,” albeit way too brief. “Insurgent” drops in November. Her CBS freshman drama, “Stalker,” is unfortunately getting the axe in March.

4. John Cho

John Cho Selfie Entertainment Weekly
“Selfie” received a fair amount of buzz when it launched, with Cho starring along Karen Gillan in a lighthearted opposites-attract workplace comedy. Though ABC decided viewers weren’t enamored enough to air it past episode 7, the remaining six episodes are releasing on Hulu. Cho will appear in “Get A Job” in 2015 with a who’s who of comedic talent, including Anna Kendrick, Miles Teller, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

5. Ki Hong Lee

Ki Hong Lee People
People Magazine’s #4 Sexiest Man Alive made his big screen debut this past year as a lead in “The Maze Runner.” He reprises his role in “The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials” this September. Look for him also in “The Stanford Prison Experiment.”

6. Constance Wu

Fresh Off the Boat ABC
Admit it: you’ve watched the “Fresh Off the Boat” trailer multiple times, haven’t you? With the ABC series premiering on February 4, all eyes will be on Wu, Randall Park, and Hudson Yang to see how this sitcom where all of the principals are Asian American will connect with audiences. Wu has appeared in a number of projects in recent years, including the dark comedy “EastSiders.”

7. Kimiko Glenn

Netflix "Orange is the New Black" Season 2 Kimiko Glenn as Brook
“Orange Is the New Black” is scheduled to return for season three in June. Glenn and her castmates were recently nominated for the Golden Globe for best television series, comedy or musical, and the SAG Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

8. Jordan Rodrigues

Jordan Rodrigues is originally from Sydney and now resides in Los Angeles. The smoking hot fan-favorite actor was introduced to a wider audience this past year in “The Fosters” as Mat, the guitar-playing love interest to Mariana. “The Fosters” returns on January 19 on ABC Family. Rodrigues is also set to appear in “Breaking Through,” a dance movie produced by John Legend.

9. Arden Cho

Arden Cho Teen Wolf MTV
Arden Cho returns as part of the main cast of “Teen Wolf,” MTV’s high school drama featuring various supernatural species. She plays Kira, a sword-wielding high school student who also happens to be a Kitsune, or fox spirit. The show’s fifth season kicks off this June.

Photo credits: Marvel, Getty, Summit Entertainment, ABC, People, Netflix, ABC Family, MTV