What Audrey Magazine taught me about Asian American Life and Style

KoreAm Magazine started in 1990 by James Ryu, who printed the photos in his own dark room and hand-delivered the first edition to Los Angeles businesses. Twelve years later, Audrey launched focusing on lifestyle, news, and culture stories for Asian and Asian American women. Printing a physical magazine every quarter, Audrey featured strong and influential women on their covers and inside had interviews, told in-depth stories about topics of the day or women’s lifestyle. Now the LA Times reports that the Audrey and KoreAm team prepare to send out the final issue after British company London Trust Media bought them and laid off all staff members over the summer. Times reporter Victoria Kim said London Trust Company will keep online content and the wife of the Company, Stephanie Lee, will work with Ryu as the publishers in this new direction.

After a number of other ethnic-based publications have gone under in past years, it’s a shame to see Audrey and KoreAm follow suit.

When I began to think more about my own APA identity, I looked for publications about being Asian American, and found KoreAm. But I wanted to know specifically what it meant to be Chinese American, and KoreAm didn’t fit that description. Then I came across their sister magazine, Audrey, the Asian American lifestyle magazine for women. As an upcoming journalist and young Asian American woman, Audrey helped me when I took an active interest in identity, showing me what being Asian American looked like today.

Other than Disney’s Mulan, I couldn’t name too many Asian role models in my life or in the media around me. Once I found Audrey, I read article after article about travel, food, fashion, trends, and interviews with influential Asian Americans. I learned about BB creams, read advice on college life, and of course enjoyed the daily smoking hot Asian guy (SHAG). Audrey’s articles introduced me to new musicians like Run River North, up and coming YouTubers like Anna Akana, and the latest style trends I could never pull off.  Finding a magazine aimed at Asian American women helped me find familiar ground when I started working through my identity and place in the APA community.

Audrey showed me how much representation in the media could affect a young kid in the Midwest. Even though I always enjoyed writing, I never thought of looking for a magazine specifically for Asian Americans because I had assumed at first there wouldn’t be one. When I found Audrey and saw stories I cared about that spoke specifically to my concerns, I realized the importance of representation in all forms of media— even print. Audrey Magazine is in part of the reason I ended up blogging for Kollaboration three years later.

“KoreAm and its sister publication, women’s lifestyle magazine Audrey, will continue in some online format, but Ryu has yet to figure out what that is,” LA Times’ Kim reports. “Ryu, who will stay on as publisher, says it will likely be shareable videos and interviews rather than the long-form writing and in-depth profiles KoreAm was known for.”

I’m glad KoreAm and Audrey will continue online, I’d hate to see such an important publication for the APA community disappear completely. Magazines like these give often forgotten or ignored communities and people a chance to tell their stories and inspire people like them. Either by being the cover girl or the editor-in-chief, seeing names and people who share the same background or culture can influence how a person sees and thinks of themselves. Seeing an actor in a movie or on TV does wonders to the broad American mindset, as does hearing an APA artist on the radio. But having the Asian American voice in the written and online media keeps our voices relevant and heard, by the masses and the community who needs to hear it most.

I wish the best for Ryu on KoreAm and Audrey’s future. Looking forward to seeing how both will come back in the digital age.

Kollaboration.org writer Lily Rugo enjoying the last print issue of Audrey Magazine


Cover image via Audrey Magazine