Partnering with The Kindred Foundation for Adoption

Kollaboration is happy to announce a partnership with The Kindred Foundation for Adoption! Kindred is an organization dedicated to providing resources to adoptees and their families. Serving both domestic and international adoptees, it provides services such as travel, translation, and support for those looking to reunite, avenues of artistic expression, and programs for orphans living in foster or government care.

Kollaboration has always been deeply rooted in identity, expression, and representation. With a largely Asian American base, our community shares in varying degrees of collective experience with the adoptee community. Questions of belonging, forays into identity, and the balance of seemingly disparate worlds are part and parcel to the AAPI experience.

Better yet – they are our muses.

Yet, as purposeful as that might sound, real life is rarely that neat. Expression is best spontaneous. Things just sort of happen, real-time, and what we do in response defines that moment.

That’s how I felt when I watched the trailer for Twinsters, the Kickstarter documentary by Samantha Futerman, co-founder of The Kindred Foundation for Adoption.

Sam is a Korean-American actress and director pursuing her acting career in Los Angeles. Like many actors, she has some great, hilarious stuff on YouTube and one day, a group of friends in France was watching one of her videos with KevJumba.

They enjoyed it even more because Sam looked just like their friend Anais, a fashion student in Paris. A striking resemblance!

It was just a funny coincidence until they told Anais. She searched Sam to see the similarity, but within a few more clicks, she realized that they had the same birthday, same year. They also happened to be adoptees.

Anais sends Sam an excited Facebook message and the story begins.

I can’t help and think that if Sam hadn’t made that video, Anais could never have recognized their resemblance. Continents apart, they would never have realized the similarities they share and inspire this amazing story. It was all because she took a risk, and put herself out there for the world to see.


It’s unbelievable how entertainment can bring people together in the most serendipitous of ways.

I think that’s one of the reasons we do what we do here at Kollaboration. If, through the events we organize, the platform we provide, or the people we bring together, we can help set the stage for the next great story, then we’ve made our impact. We’ve fought the good fight.

And so with great pleasure we announce this new partnership and ask for your generous support!

Support the Kindred Foundation for Adoption!

The Kindred Foundation for Adoption hosts their inaugural event next Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Proceeds will help fund worldwide aid to adoptees and their families.

The evening will include a hosted Svedka bar, light tray pass, silent auction, a sneak peek at Twinsters and special guest performances by cast members of Glee!

Family Has No Boundary

Hosted by The Kindred Foundation for Adoption
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PST)
Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
8555 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Get your tickets on EventBrite

@kindredadoption #kindredadoption #family #launchparty

A New Chapter and a New Sound for Dia Frampton: Archis

Whether you started following Dia Frampton during her Warped Tour days as the lead singer of alternative rock band Meg & Dia, or from her deep run on the inaugural season of NBC’s The Voice, chances are you’ve been eager to hear more from the talented singer-songwriter. Luckily, your wait is almost over as her new band Archis (pronounced like “arches”) will release their debut EP on Monday, February 23.

A collaboration between Dia and composer/producer Joseph Trapanese (who famously worked with Daft Punk on the score for Disney’s Tron: Legacy and M83 on Oblivion), The Archis EP was recorded in early 2014 and was originally set to be released independently during the 2014 Lindsey Stirling Tour that Dia was a part of. This was when Nettwerk Records, who had just signed Dia, took notice and convinced her that if she wanted to release this record the right way, she should do it with more financial backing.

Kollaboration caught up with Dia to talk about Archis, the value of performing live, and her other side projects.


What is Archis? How did it come to be and what is unique about it?

The roots of Archis started quite a few years ago when I first worked with my friend Joe [Trapanese]. He’s such a creative person, I just felt like I connected with him right away. We worked together on a few songs just for fun that I would listen to for my own creative intake. It was difficult because the things we worked on wasn’t really resonating with the label I was with at the time.

We didn’t really plan to make a new band, it started as an excuse to get together and have fun. Working with Joe was always effortless and it never felt like I was going into the studio to produce a perfect three and a half minute pop song—it was just a fun and creative release. Organically, the music started sounding so different from my past stuff and Joe was such a big part of it as well, so it made sense to call it something new.

I think for me it’s also a transitional project. The first single, Blood, is mostly about feeling chewed up and spit out by record labels and trying to find my ground again. When you get caught up in Hollywood and you’re on a TV show and this major record wants this and that from you, I feel like I got pulled around a little bit and lost focus on why I enjoyed doing music. I think I’m still recovering from a period where I lost a lot of self-confidence. Thinking back to why I loved music in the first place, I remember going to shows of my favorite band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and how they inspired and changed me. I hope that in the same way, Archis can inspire our listeners in some way to overcome their fears and start their own adventure.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

It’s definitely a different world for media and I think that technology has helped a lot in making it easier to get your stuff out there. I have a lot of friends who are aspiring actors who just write their own short films and just upload them to show the world what they got and it’s so amazing that you can share your work that way.

I think the one downside about performing through technology like YouTube is that it doesn’t really prepare you for the pressures of a live show. It’s really easy for people to get behind their screens, play a song on guitar, and upload it to their many subscribers, but when they have to go out and play a live show, it’s definitely not the same thing and I think that can catch people off guard. It’s such a difference environment to play for real human bodies sitting right in front of you.

I think it’s really important to perform often and to remember that no show is too small. People think that I’m playing these huge shows, but I can book a show right now in Kansas and there’ll only be like 5 or so people there. I’m still growing myself and my advice to anyone who wants to be a performer is to just play as much as possible

Besides music, what other things are you into right now?

Right now I’m really into cooking and baking. I’ve also been getting into Pilates classes because I’m getting older and it’s like, oh my gosh, everything’s going away! But one thing that I’ve been really getting into lately that most people don’t know about is acting. I’ve been taking acting classes for about 2 years now and have been going to a lot of auditions.

My first acting audition was for the Les Misérables movie with Hugh Jackman, even though I didn’t get the part I really enjoyed preparing for it (Les Mis is one of my favorite books in the world, if I was to get a tattoo it would be 24601, which is Jen Valjean’s serial number). It’s been a fun new pursuit for me, but it’s also been really hard to get so many rejections. I feel like I’ve auditioned for probably 100 parts now and I’ve gotten just as many no’s. Nothing is ever easy in this industry, but things that are hard to get are usually worth it in the end and in the end, performing and taking acting classes has been a lot of fun for me.

You can pre-order Archis now on iTunes and don’t forget to listen to a few of the singles BloodBittersweet, and Let Me Love!

Photo courtesy of Myriam Santos

How BuzzFeed’s Eugene Lee Yang Became One of the Most Recognizable Faces on the Internet

Look, we’re just going to say it: Eugene Lee Yang is freaking awesome. On a recent trip to BuzzFeed’s LA headquarters, Kollaboration got to spend an hour with the one and only Eugene. During that time, we were able to learn that this self-proclaimed workaholic is a) a serious filmmaker, b) a staunch supporter of all things Asian American, c) absolutely not a fan of racist jokes, d) unfiltered about his views toward issues of diversity, and e) intensely eloquent.

Born and raised in Texas, Eugene grew up in a community where he and his family were the only Asian faces among a sea of whites, Blacks, and Latinos. To see any Asians he had to go to the Korean church, 45 minutes away by car.

As a child, Eugene was sensitive and introspective, and often expressed himself through artistic outlets: from visual arts and illustration, to theater, choir, and dance. Pursuing film wasn’t on Eugene’s radar. “I kind of considered it as a rich white person thing because that’s all that was on screen,” he says. In seventh grade, a teacher recommended that he consider film as a serious profession. He took the advice, and even at a young age, had his sights set on the University of Southern California’s prestigious School of Cinematic Arts.

He graduated from USC with a production degree in 2008, and then spent 5 years mostly working freelance and making commercials and music videos. (Check out some of his other work on the website of his production company, The Menagerie.) In 2013, Eugene joined BuzzFeed Video after being referred by a colleague who believed in his talent for creating engaging short-form videos. And the rest, well, we’ll let him tell you himself. Here are 23 things Eugene had to say about his life, his insights on media, his work with BuzzFeed, and Asian American representation:

1. Getting in front of the camera was never a thing I actively volunteered for. It wasn’t because I was a good actor, or that I was funny on screen. It came down to a simple decision that we need more diversity on screen. And that’s all it takes, is to say, “There’s an Asian guy here, throw the Asian on camera.”

2. People think my ego has inflated so much more since I’ve been on screen, but it’s not true. It’s been completely compacted into this small, determined, straight-forward, objective-driven mission, which is to be part of something that is much larger than myself.

3. I never seriously considered myself as an actor. I wanted to impart change through my perspective, in my writing and my director’s voice.

4. I realized there was more impact with my face in the scene, than strictly being a director. Which was a hard pill to swallow for someone who was very serious about filmmaking for very long time. But now I get to control the voice of the piece, while being the face of the piece.

5. I’m not quite aware of this success people talk about until people recognize me on the street. I get that a lot. Some people just yell “Asian BuzzFeed guy!” and I turn around and distinctly yell back “Eugene!”

6. I was always the ugly kid. Always. So when people said they liked me, I was like “oh do you like…my brain?” Because I was always made to believe that I’m just like white people, only I looked different, which disqualified me for a lot of things, like being in the spotlight and in front of the camera.

7. These days, you don’t produce things to just creatively masturbate. You want to create something that people can share for a very long time. And that’s the challenge for any online video producer to understand, is that we are part of a much larger conversation.

8. Here’s the difference between traditional film and internet viral videos: The conversation sort of stops for filmmakers once the product is out. You devise a project as a statement, and it’s there for the public to digest and discuss. With an internet video, you instead conceive them to be part of an ongoing conversation. With my recent video about women’s ideal body types throughout history, for example, what we could do was create something that added a different perspective to the subject, so that people can respond and discuss the issue in an intelligent manner.

9. I have a lot of videos I haven’t released because I realized with where I am now, as this sort of media figure, what I potentially represent for young Asian Americans is much more important than me creating my own art that could possibly be very divisive.

10. I did a video: Awkward Moments Only Asians Understand. And I realized it did so well because the comedic tropes for the Asian community haven’t changed for over 30 years. It dawned on me that this was an issue for the Asian community at large. Being the invisible middle is like you’re open hunting season for jokes.

11. A lot of well-known Asian comedians, a lot of their routines play into the Asian stereotypes because it’s what the audience laughs at, because it’s always been okay to laugh at. You say “ching chong” and you get a huge laugh out of it. A mission of mine is to start yelling at people who laugh at those things. You just need someone to tell people that it’s still very harmful for young people to see these stereotypes.

12. It’s tired. It’s boring, and I get really unimpressed. A lot of times I go to a comedy show, I sit there and wait for the comedian to run out of ideas and look at me and make an Asian joke. I tell my friends still, constantly, to shut up when they make Asian jokes. No. Shut up. I don’t care. Don’t do that around me.

13. Now you get people who have this colorblind perspective, which is equally harmful. We can’t have people saying that we are all the same, because we’re not.

14. We tend to forget that our parents came here with nothing and worked hard for their success. Other people think we’re upwardly mobile, that we’re just like white people. And it’s like, no we’re not. Most of us are children of immigrants. We didn’t come here with bags of money.

15. The assumption that it’s just okay to make fun of a community that they think is doing fine is bulls–t.

16. When people say, “I was a slacker in high school, I smoked a lot of pot, so it makes me a cool Asian.” I’m just like, “I don’t care.” Sure, that’s great, you do you, but don’t think yourself as less Asian because of it. There are a s–t ton of Asians who smoke pot. You can’t be an Asian American and be proud of your non-Asian-ness.

17. People think that everything comes down to old rich white men. They’re not the common denominator anymore. The future is changing every single second, so you’re either going to ride that wave and be on top of the game, or still be scratching some white guy’s door in ten years and be behind the curve.

18. We need more people who push for not only equality but diversification within diversity. People bring up that we have supporting characters on television now, like, “It’s not just the sassy Black receptionist, but there’s like an Asian friend who works there, too.” But no. We need Asian male romantic leads. We need Asian girls who are comedy leads.

19. Right now is the first time in history where there is a rebuttal to a one-sided argument, and BuzzFeed is at the forefront of this wave, of young creatives being able to represent themselves in the way without fear of repercussion that could be violent.

20. I’m always shocked at how little we are represented on film and TV. It’s as if our stories are not controversial, or staggeringly painful enough for the older white audience to pat themselves on the back to say, “Oh, I learned something; I feel bad for what we did in history.” Even though we were on the railroads and in the internment camps. But we’re not white-looking enough to be the leads. That’s always been the issue.

21. It’s supply and demand. Most Asian Americans, like myself, as a child, did not see either supply or demand of Asians on television. Now casting directors are using the bulls–t excuse of there not being enough demand, because they’re making less demand for it, so then we don’t see opportunities for ourselves, and we don’t try. I would never have supplied myself as an actor if I didn’t join BuzzFeed.

22. The great thing about the proliferation of K-pop is that it puts Asian faces out there. Adjusted, but still Asian faces. If it’s even one small town girl who is now obsessed with supporting Asian culture, then more power to them!

23. We have the right to be angry about our representation in the media. It’s just not a reflection of how we live our daily lives. It’s not even a reflection of the general audience and how they live their daily lives. Teenagers these days have very diverse groups of friends. There’s a reason we all cried when Gina Rodriguez won that Golden Globe. It didn’t matter if we’re Latina. We get it. We’re just like, “Thank you! Finally, a more accurate reflection of diversity!”


Photo courtesy of Eugene Lee Yang

Comedian Aasif Mandvi’s “No Land’s Man” is a Funny, Thoughtful Autobiography

Comedian Aasif Mandvi keeps it funny and thoughtful in his autobiography No Land’s Mangiving an interesting look at his life growing up in two different countries, starting out as an actor, and eventually becoming a recognizable Muslim figure in the American media.

Most people know Mandvi from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as the team’s leading “Muslim correspondent.” However, if you’re looking for crazy behind-the-scenes stories of “The Daily Show”’s cast and crew, No Land’s Man is not the place to begin. Mandvi only briefly mentions “The Daily Show,” instead dedicating the majority of No Land’s Man to look back on his life and other career accomplishments.


The book is split into three parts framed around his journey back to his English hometown, Bradford. In each chapter Mandvi begins a story, diverges off into a different one, then brings it back around to the main point. It’s a tough style to pull off in a book, but it works. Sections switch between deep reflections pondering his identity as an “Indian-English-American-Muslim-ish” man to funny anecdotes from his school days, family, and his early acting career in New York.

No Land’s Man isn’t a comedy heavyweight like other comedian autobiographies, but he includes more personal stories and deeper reflections. Mandvi’s humor doesn’t come from amazing stories of backstage hijinks only New York City comedians could experience, but from his witty, dry commentary of average events. He never gets so pensive that it drags the story, but he offers good advice and reflection on what it’s like to be a part of many different cultures and reconcile them with one’s identity.

Through his stories, Mandvi shows he understands what it’s like to not belong to any one place, but instead build a home in all those places and in the passions a person decides to pursue. Very funny and surprisingly heartfelt, No Land’s Man should not be forgotten in the list of comedian autobiographies to read this year.

Photos courtesy of and

“Fresh Off the Boat” premieres Feb. 4: A new Asian American family takes the spotlight

“I need white people lunch,” exclaims young Eddie Huang midway through the pilot episode of ABC’s upcoming family sitcom, “Fresh Off the Boat.” “That gets you a seat at the table, and then you get to change the rules.”

Having just moved to the suburbs of Orlando from the cultural enclave of DC’s Chinatown in the mid 1990’s, he was quickly ostracized in his new, mostly Caucasian school for his ethnic-looking lunch and felt like a true minority for the first time.

“I never realized how rough it was back then [to be a minority],” Hudson Yang, the young actor who portrays Eddie, tells us. “Eddie had to do weird and crazy things to deal with it.” The 1990’s were a much simpler time than today, and without the internet or social media to escape his bubble, Eddie desperately wanted to not only fit in, but also be seen as a force to be reckoned with.

This attitude runs parallel to the expectations the Asian American community has for the freshman sitcom, set to debut as a mid-season replacement with a two-episode premiere on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, and the third episode airing in its regular timeslot on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. Two Asian American-led shows were recently cancelled: fellow first year ABC sitcom “Selfie,” and TBS’ “Sullivan and Sons,” which lasted three seasons. While there are still a few shows out there with strong Asian American characters, “Fresh Off the Boat” represents the first time in 20 years that an all-Asian family has taken center stage in a network sitcom (the last being Margaret Cho’s “All-American Girl” in 1995). From the announcement of its pickup by ABC to the release of the first trailer, Asian Americans wondered if this was finally their chance to get a seat at the table.


“Fresh Off the Boat” has generated positive buzz leading up to its premiere from both critics and community members. Advance screenings of the pilot were met with praise, and even cynics left the screenings with wary optimism, including its own executive producer and subject matter, Eddie Huang, who recently published a strongly worded op-ed about the production process (though he did conclude with his own reluctant stamp of approval).

A lot of the praise goes to the cast, led by Randall Park, a long underrated comedic force recently thrust into the limelight for his role as infamous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un in “The Interview” (and himself a Kollaboration alum), and Constance Wu, a relative unknown who may be the series’ secret comedic weapon. The show is also supported by a strong writers room, led by executive producer Nahnatchka Khan, whose last project was the critically acclaimed “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23,” and includes Kourtney Kang, who was a writer-producer on CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” Sanjay Shah, former writer-producer on “Cougar Town,” and Ali Wong, writer-actress-comedian (and past Kollaboration host).

“I’m not kidding when I say that we might have the most diverse writers’ room in television,” claimed Randall during a press junket. Taking a few moments in between takes to chat, Randall admitted that he does feel the pressure to do right by Asian Americans, especially as a Korean American playing a Taiwanese immigrant, but in the end, his goal is to tell a great story. In his defense, he’s been working hard to make sure that he does the part of Louis Huang justice. In fact, Randall has been taking Mandarin lessons to work on his scenes with Grandma Huang, the show’s other comedic secret weapon, as well as his own Chinese accent.


Accents obviously feature prominently in “Fresh Off the Boat.” Mr. and Mrs. Huang are both first generation immigrants in America, and while Randall and Constance are perfectly able to speak perfect English, for their characters, English was an adopted language. It’s to the show’s credit then that the accents are used as character traits and never as the joke, as many commenters feared after watching the trailer. Authenticity was a huge focus in portraying the Huangs, and showrunners Melvin Mar and Nahnatchka Kahn went to great lengths to keep an honest and relatable perspective while avoiding the trappings of stereotypes.

In the end, it’s the characters and the smart writing that really make this show shine. If the first two episodes are any indication, the show finds its footing right out of the gate and never lets off the accelerator, attacking touchy issues like the racial slur “chink” while also letting loose a few inside jokes (“Who knew Asians were into karaoke?”). Randall Park is in great form as Louis, the boundlessly optimistic patriarch of the Huang family, whose belief in the American dream has brought his family to the exotic suburbs of Orlando. Constance Wu, who many believe will become the series’ breakout star, is amazing as Jessica, the Stephen King-loving matriarch just trying to make the most of her family’s new situation. Hudson Yang brings his New York swag to the hip-hop loving Eddie Huang, and Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen absolutely kill it in their scenes as the younger Huang siblings.

The real, grown up Eddie Huang may have some misgivings about selling his family’s story to network TV, but the truth is he may have given Asian Americans the most precious gift of all, a seat at the table.


Fresh Off the Boat premieres Wednesday, February 4 with two episodes at 8:30/7:30c and 9:30/8:30c, and begins its regular time slot of Tuesdays at 8/7c on February 10.