Lauren Lola’s Top 5 Positive Moments of 2015

This year, the Kollab Blog is closing out the year by asking our editors (and a few friends) to call out 5 things they’d like to recognize in the landscape of Asian America. Our first list comes from our Associate Editor, Lauren Lola, a writer and novelist based out of California’s Bay Area.

2015 oversaw an increase in better representation of Asians and Asian Americans in the mainstream media. At the same time, we also had a turnout of viral videos and momentous happenings that weren’t scripted in advanced or, at the very least, expected. With the year drawing to a close, in no particular order, let’s look back on the top 5 positive moments of 2015.

1. The 6-year-old girl who drops some wisdom for recently divorced mom.

If this little girl ever decides to run for president one day, she already has my vote. In the wake of her parents’ divorce, she sits her mom down for a very serious talk about how she wants her and her dad to be friends and how she simply wants everyone to get along and smile. This girl defies what it means to be a peacekeeper and the 7 million views this video has since received can only encourage the likelihood that many viewers agree.

2. Two fans ask J.J. Abrams about potential Star Wars Asian characters at Comic-Con panel.

Ever since the first teaser trailer dropped last year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has become one of the most anticipated films of the year. Naturally, the franchise would be featured at this past summer’s San Diego Comic-Con and as one would at these panels, questions of high anticipation would be asked. Two fans came up to the mic at one point and rather than prodding George Lucas’s replacement for what he can reveal, they instead addressed the very prevalent issue about diversity in movies and asked if we can anticipate Asian characters in the film at all.

3. 5-year-old boy reenacts Bruce Lee nunchuck scene from The Game of Death.

If Bruce Lee were still alive today, then this kid may as well have him on a run for his money. With The Game of Death playing in the background, complete with Lee’s iconic yellow jumpsuit, the boy performs the nunchuck scene from the film, in perfectly precise precision. The video has gotten over 9 million views since first being posted in May and if you see it, you’ll see why. The boy’s got SKILLS!


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4. Ruthie Ann Miles accepts Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

At the 69th Annual Tony Awards, the revival of Roger and Hammerstein’s The King and I brought in four wins that night; one of which went to Broadway newbie Ruthie Ann Miles for her role as Lady Thiang. Evidently moved to have won, she turns to her iPhone (“Please recycle”) as she reads out in a shaky voice her witty acceptance speech and thanks the people who have helped her get to this point in her career. It’s rare to see Asian and Asian American actors on Broadway, and so to see one other than Lea Salonga win a Tony was remarkable to see.

5. “They might have guns, but we have flowers.”

The world was blatantly shocked when the terror attacks in Paris took place in November. Within the days following, flowers and candles appeared near the places where the shootings took place, including outside the Bataclan Theatre. In a moment captured by Le Petit Journal, a father tells his young son that there’s no need to move away because France is their home, and despite the violence brought upon them, love will always prevail. This guy definitely wins Father of the Year in my book, for what he said brought forth a light in darkness.


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Five Dream “Kollaborations”

At Kollaboration, our objective has always been to come together as a community and battle negative stereotypes and the status quo via “empowerment through entertainment.”  Over the years in getting to know the numerous artists we’ve been honored to work with, we’ve seen a number of collaborations come about through the various mediums in the entertainment industry; from dancers choreographing a piece together, to stand-up comedians putting on a show, and musicians working together to make an awesome new song.  Of the collaborations that have taken place, there are always those that are merely dreams at the moment, in hopes of one day becoming real.

We recently reached out to a few entertainers in the community and asked them the following: If you could collaborate with anyone at all that you haven’t collaborated with yet, who would it be and why?


Christine Chen at the LA Pacific Asian Film Festival - Photo by Steven Lam
Christine Chen at the LA Pacific Asian Film Festival – Photo by Steven Lam
Christine Chen, Film Producer (Wong Fu Productions)
My dream collaborator(s) would be both Bubzbeauty (Lindy Tsang) and … OPRAH! Sorry I couldn’t just pick one. And since it’s DREAM collaborator, I had to aim high like OPRAH. If you can’t tell I’m super excited about them both. Both women represent everything true, genuine and pure in trying to fulfill one’s purpose in life. I’m a firm believer striving to fulfill what you were meant to do in this life should be your highest priority in life. Whether that purpose is to make videos on YouTube to connect with thousands if not millions of people, be the best parent to your 3 children, or having a TV show like “The Oprah Show” and help share all kinds of people’s stories so others can take away and learn more about themselves through the paths of others. And even though Bubzbeauty and Oprah have reached success on so many levels, they continue to push themselves to be better and seek even more ways to help others.


Jenny Yang, Comedian
Mindy Kaling!  She’s badass and a trailblazer and I want to raise my funny to her level of dopeness.

Jenny Yang - Photo by Jim Seida / NBC News
Jenny Yang – Photo by Jim Seida / NBC News

Dan AKA Dan at Kollaboration Star 2014 - Photo by John Zhang
Dan AKA Dan at Kollaboration Star 2014 – Photo by John Zhang
Dan AKA Dan, Rapper
Dream collaboration is with Malaysian artist Yuna! She’s amazing – super talented – I’ve been following her for a long time.  If not her…. a music video by the amazing Spike Jonze would be incredible.
Samantha Futerman, Actress
Jenny Yang!! It’s not everyday you come across such a funny, talented woman like that!

Samantha Futerman at Kollaboration Star 2014
Samantha Futerman at Kollaboration Star 2014 – Photo by Rahuk Alfar

The Kinjaz at Kollaboration Star 2015 – photo by Jimmy Page
Ben Chung, Dancer (Kinjaz)
I don’t know if this is a “dead or alive” question, so I’m just going to go with the biggest influencer in my life from childhood to present day…and that is the legendary Bruce Lee. This man’s philosophy of movement transcends way beyond just martial arts, but it is applicable to life holistically. He spoke on being like the nature of water. Water flows…it pushes…it receives…it is both forceful and yielding. This concept absolutely applies to the way I’ve learned to receive and move to music. When music hits my ears, however my body receives and moves to it in that moment, without thought…that is the most honest and free expression of movement. Bruce is the truth!


Kollab Watches: Fresh Off the Boat 2.09 – “The Real Santa”

Fresh Off the Boat caps off its midseason finale with its very first Christmas special, “The Real Santa.” In this week’s episode viewers are treated to new perspectives to typical holiday shenanigans, including the search for the perfect gift and maintaining the illusion of Santa Claus for children still young enough to believe in him, all with a Huang-twist.

The holidays have arrived as we’re introduced to Jessica’s miniature holiday town, or as she calls “Jessica Town.” As she admires her set-up, she vents her concerns to Louis about her dismay over the portrayal of Santa Claus as a blue-collared, overweight Christmas icon. In usual Jessica fashion, she takes matters into her own hands; first by bringing on Honey’s husband to pose as an Ivy League-educated, physics-crazed Santa Claus at the holiday party at Cattleman’s Ranch. However, when Mitch accidentally breaks the illusion, Jessica rewrites Santa’s story even further by telling her son Evan that Santa is Chinese, much to Louis’ disapproval. All is well until Evan speaks out on how Santa should be present at his school’s assembly, rather than the “politically correct” gray blob mascot that replaces him, and everyone in the room cheers him on up until his comment about Santa being Chinese. The lies have caught up with Jessica, as she must find a solution to Evan’s confusion once and for all.

From my point of view, Jessica’s storyline is a polarizing one. Her disapproval of Santa lacking a degree from a university, specifically from the engineering field, is perpetuating a damaging stereotype. Yes, people may laugh and only consider the comical story of Jessica taking the legend of Santa too seriously, but with the model minority myth still strongly believed in society today, the direction she went with rewriting Santa’s story only reinforces it, especially when she later tells Evan that he is Chinese.

On the other hand, having Jessica say that Santa is Chinese also sheds light on a subject that’s not as thoroughly discussed. Why does Santa always have to be white? While one may argue that it’s because he hails from European folklore, considering the number of people of different ethnicities who celebrate Christmas, it’s wise to consider the possibility that it doesn’t always take a white man to be Santa (as Jessica proves near the end of the episode). Through this lie, she provides an opportunity for Evan to see how someone of his race can bring holiday cheer to children all over the world.

Meanwhile, Emery has put together a wonderful gift for Jessica for Christmas by creating his own replica of the bakery missing from Jessica Town. However, when Honey presents her a bakery that she found, the poor boy it stooped as he doesn’t know what to give to her with only days left until Christmas. He turns to Eddie, who doesn’t have a gift yet for Jessica, for guidance. Much to Emery’s dismay Eddie suggests to keeps it chill by taking “action with inaction.” Eddie eventually churns out a poem that he suggests can be from both of them and Emery makes it look presentable by rewriting it on a scroll. However, when he realizes that the poem wasn’t Eddie’s handy work but rather the lyrics to Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama,” Emery is at a roadblock again over what to give his mom. Fortunately for him, and as predicted by Eddie, it all works out in the end.

It’s uncommon to see just Emery and Eddie together in a storyline for a whole episode. It was hilarious to see just how opposite their personalities are as their ideologies collided over strategizing gift ideas for Jessica. My only complaint was that due to their plot not being as big as Jessica’s, we didn’t really get to see too much of them together. Hopefully we’ll get a larger story with them in the future, for actors Hudson Yang and Forrest Wheeler work really well together.

I was also psyched to see that Eddie is a Tupac fan. From the minute we were introduced to him in the first season, I was always curious as to whether or not he was, given his love for rap music. I was able to pick up on Eddie’s admiration for Tupac the minute he read “his” poem and not later when Emery saw Grandma watching the “Dear Mama” music video.

This episode of Fresh Off the Boat nicely concludes the show’s first full year on the air. The second season continues when the next episode airs on February 2, 2016. Until then, Happy Holidays everyone!


Cover Image: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Sia’s “Alive” Music Video Spots New Wunderkind in Japanese Martial Artist

Over a year after the release of her sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear, Australian singer-songwriter Sia is back with a new album underway. With her seventh album, This Is Acting, set for release on January 29, 2016, she’s already beginning to promote it with the release of three of its tracks and on November 5th, she released the music video for the lead single, “Alive.”

Similar to her previous music videos, Sia is nowhere to be seen as we are instead treated to a choreographed piece performed by a child in the trademark bob wig. Unlike the previous music videos, the one for “Alive” has martial arts rather than a dance routine, and instead of 13-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler, it’s 9-year-old Japanese karate star Mahiro Takano who dons the bob.

All focus is on young Takano who appears to be alone in an empty room. She is meditating and stirring tea at the beginning of the video, and then performs a number of moves as Sia is heard belting out the song. Conceptually, the video is an interesting take on a song about overcoming struggles and becoming a fighter, especially in the parts where she looks as if she’s sparring an invisible opponent.

I could see this music video as an extension of a listicle I did last year about music videos that respectfully depict Asian culture. There are many examples where Asian culture is objectified in music videos, such as Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty” and Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love,” but this music video is one of only few examples that doesn’t resort to cultural appropriation. Sia, who also served as the co-director for the music video, made a respectable and creative choice of using the Japanese martial art as a symbolic visual for her song by simply having Takano show what she knows.

In addition, it’s also wise to note that a young Asian girl is the star this time around. According to Entertainment Weekly, Sia found Takano online after coming across videos of her on YouTube. In fact, one of Takano’s demo videos went viral last year, where she is seen performing Kanku Dai kata (a karate form), and it has since garnered nearly five million views. Much like the music videos for Sia’s previous album, as author Shannon Carlyn observes in her article for Bustle, the casting of young girls has not only been a way of filling in for her absence, but also as a way to empower young girls and women to not feel limited in what they can or cannot do.

Ziegler, who beforehand was known for being on the reality show Dance Moms, gained wider notice after appearing in the music videos for Sia’s “Chandelier,” “Elastic Heart,” and “Big Girls Cry.” Due to the seldom appearance of Asians in music videos, the fact that Takano might receive similar attention for her performance in “Alive” is a really exciting possibility. It does, however, depend on her deal with Sia. While Ziegler was signed on to do three music videos, it is currently unknown as to whether or not this will be the only one Takano appears in.

The music video does have the potential to be subjective to enforcing the stereotype that all Asians know martial arts. Ideally, I’d like to think that we’re in a time now where people would know better, but if that were truly the case, then the stereotypical roles and lack of visibility of Asians in the media wouldn’t be as significant an issue as it is. But considering Takano’s background in martial arts, I hope that the music video can be seen more as a way of showcasing her talent, similar to how “Chandelier” showcased Ziegler’s. Besides, it’s not that often where martial arts are included in a music video. Unlike mainstream martial art films where they’re made to look flashy with post-production visual aesthetics, Takano makes it real by simply demonstrating the moves she has learned that has led to her earning a black belt.

This past year, we’ve begun to see a turnout in better representations of Asians and Asian Americans in the media landscape. With this music video out there now starring a talented Japanese girl, my hope is that it ignites the move to diversify actors and performers in the future of music videos.


Cover image source: Sia

Judith Hill Goes Back in Time with Funk-Driven Debut Album

Judith Hill has been a backup singer for musicians like Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and was to serve as one for Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” Tour. She was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom and was a contestant on the fourth season of The Voice. But Friday, October 23rd, marked the beginning of a new chapter for the singer-songwriter, for her debut album, Back in Time, was at long last released.

Back in Time is an R&B/soul funk album from NPG Records. Co-produced by Prince and recorded at Paisley Park, it was originally released as a free download on SoundCloud for a limited time last March.

The album has a retro feel in its overall sound, for Hill, as the daughter of funk musicians Robert “Peewee” and Michiko Hill, really digs deep into the genre. It’s one of those albums where each song—more or less—is going to have you bobbing your head or tapping your foot in sync with the beat.

There are a couple of songs that really stand out. One of them is the opening track, “As Trains Go By.” Beginning with only Hill’s vocals that sound like they’re coming from a crackly record player, the song is a strong kick off to Back in Time; it sets a general sense of what to expect from the sound. Thematically, the song doesn’t shy away from the repetitive police brutality that’s been hitting the headlines over the past year. One line she repeats throughout is, “Might as well be famous, since I ain’t gonna be white.”

The third track on the album, “Angel In the Dark,” is a unique song as far as its sound goes, as it has the highest amount of production value, giving it a more modern vibe. The production doesn’t hinder Hill’s vocals, but instead compliments it. It’s a standout on the album as she briefly takes a step away from her overall retro sound and experiment with the present.

“Beautiful Life” is more slowed down, as it demonstrates Hill’s vocal ability with power ballads. She thrives in this song, as her voice takes its time building up to a chorus about how life is quite beautiful, despite the downfalls. However, after seeing her duet with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” in the This Is It documentary, it doesn’t surprise me that she has the capability to sing this way.

“Cry, Cry, Cry” is likely to be the most musically explored song on the album. Hill channels her inner Aretha Franklin on this one, as her vocals are sung in a way where it’s unlike any of the other songs on the album. This song has the most soul of them all, as she pours a lot of it into each passionate line she hits.

As much as Back in Time is a quality record with its 60s and 70s-sounding vibes, there were a few songs that could have been a little stronger; in particular “Cure,” “My People,” and “Wild Tonight.” With the tempo for those songs being very similar, it started to sound a little redundant after a while. In addition, the songs that made up a core portion of the middle of the album seemed to play at a slow tempo for a little too long. In fact, by the time we arrive at “Jammin’ In the Basement,” the song’s sudden pickup in pace is practically unexpected.

While the album is evident of Hill’s soul funk background (and love for the genre as well), it would have been interesting to see her experiment more with the sounds of her songs. The combined elements of both the old and the new made “Angel In the Dark” particularly intriguing.

Ultimately, Back in Time is a love letter to the soul funk genre, and people who are into that kind of music will most definitely enjoy it. Hill’s voice is a sound that, I feel, has been lacking in contemporary music, and given the album’s cover art of her as a toddler jamming on a toy piano, one can imagine how this first body of work—of likely many more to come—has been a lifetime in the making.


Cover image source:

Kollab Watches: Fresh Off the Boat 2.09 – “We Done Son”

This week’s episode of Fresh Off the Boat is all about relationships. Whether if it’s with a friend, a love interest, or a family member, the relationships you have with people are some of the most valuable things in life. Though sometimes, there are just some relationships that are meant to be let go.

The joint house restoration business between Jessica, Grandma and Honey is off to a rough start. Any suggestion that Honey makes is frugally dismissed by Jessica, even though on her end, Jessica spends $500 monthly to consult Madam Xing, her fortuneteller. When Honey calls out Jessica over taking her fortuneteller’s advice over her “partner’s”, a frustrated but prideful Jessica decides to end their relationship. For a while Jessica seems content with the decision, but after realizing that she doesn’t want to wind up “alone and right”, like Grandma Huang, she attempts to make it right with Honey. Unfortunately, Honey is in no position to forgive. What is Jessica to do?

Meanwhile, Louis is also dealing with a friendship at odds when his former roommate Barry comes to stay for a few days. Barry is nowhere on Jessica’s good side, because he never paid back a loan that Louis gave to him for a vitamin company they attempted to start back in the day. So when Louis finds himself face-to-face with another investment deal, he must decide between loaning over money he’ll likely never see again or save himself a lot of hardship and let go of this guy once and for all.

What I liked about these two storylines for Jessica and Louis was that they really tested their personality traits. Jessica is headstrong, stubborn, almost never admits she’s wrong when she is and rarely ever apologizes. Louis has an open perspective on life and tries to see the good in people. In the episode, they were each challenged with having to do the opposite of what they would normally do. Jessica had to swallow her pride in order to save her friendship with Honey and Louis had to stand up for himself and not let Barry talk him into giving him anymore money. I found these instances to be an interesting path for the writer (Ali Wong, one of the several Asians in FOtB’s writing room) to present.

Similar to the Chinese superstitions examined in the season one episode “Very Superstitious” (which Ali Wong also wrote), it was interesting to see how the practice of Chinese fortune telling was incorporated into this episode. While Jessica didn’t dive too deep into why knowing her fortune was very important to her, fortune telling is a respected practice in Chinese culture used in social and business decisions even to this day. Looking back on the episode, while Honey was in the right for calling out Jessica’s willingness to listen to Madam Xing over her, she could also have been seen as insensitive for not respecting a part of Jessica’s culture. After all, as we see by the end of the episode, Madam Xing was technically right about when they should sell the house.

It wasn’t just the adults who were at odds with the relationships in their lives. Eddie wants to buy a $50 necklace for Allison for her birthday, and in order to raise money to buy it, he takes up a new job at the house of his new neighbor, rapper DMX (or Earl when in the presence of his baby daughter Genesis). Not only is Eddie forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but he’s also given so much work to do that he becomes so tired and grumpy at school, not even Allison wants to be around him. At a loss over being away from her, Eddie’s new boss takes him under his wing (as well as his greenhouse of orchids) and teaches him how “presence triumphs presents.”

Once again, this episode shows how far Eddie has come along since the first season. Before when he wanted to buy something, he was told to get a job to earn the money. This time around, he instantly went looking for work when the price of the necklace was out of his budget. At the same time, Eddie also shows how much Allison really means to him by putting in all this effort to give her something nice for her birthday. It’s a sweet gesture and a trait that’s not always found in middle school boys.

This week’s episode was another score for Fresh Off the Boat!


Featured image courtesy of ABC

Kollab Watches: Fresh Off the Boat 2.08 – “Huangsgiving”

If there’s one thing that can be said about Thanksgiving is that it brings families together, for better or for worse. While it’s a great opportunity to kick it with relatives you haven’t seen in a while, such a gathering also sets up for the worst of the grudges and other possible family dilemmas to resurface. In this week’s episode of Fresh Off the Boat, “Huangsgiving,” we see Jessica’s desire to outdo her attention-seeking sister come out, as the Huang family assembles to prepare for their first Thanksgiving in the Sunshine State.

Normally it’s Jessica’s sister Connie who plays host to Thanksgiving. However, this time around, their mother formally announces during her traditional 5:30 AM phone call that it’s Jessica and her family who have been given the honor. Unfortunately, despite having preparations set as far as what food to prepare and what additional people to invite, things begin to fall apart quickly.

Upon Connie’s family’s arrival the day before Thanksgiving, Connie is quick to announce how she’s having issues with her marriage to her husband Steve. Despite Jessica not buying her pity party, Louis offers him the couch to sleep on for the night. However, Steve convinces Louis to join him for “a little drink” and he finds himself lying outside the house the next morning, with the ultimate of hangovers and a half-eaten burrito on his chest. Jessica naturally assumes the drinking was a strategy for taking advantage of the Huang family.

The chaos continues throughout the day , including supposed ready-to-cook Cornish hens being delivered live, a raw turkey in the oven that Louis forgot to turn on, stingy and sour cranberries, and Louis gets knocked out during a friendly game of football. Nothing goes according to plan (including Steve’s attempts to win back Connie). This is ABC however, so everything turns out alright in the end for the Huangs in an (almost) heartwarming fashion.

This episode had a number of great callbacks to moments from the previous season. Jessica’s brief phone call with Connie, complete with passive-aggressive subtitles, was a great nod at season one episode, “Success Perm.” Also returning from that episode were the two grandmas being badasses together again, as well as Eddie struggling to keep up with his cousin Justin; whose taste in music is “like chasing the wind.”

I did find the return of Jessica’s gay ex-boyfriend Oscar (in tow with his new NPR-loving boyfriend no less) a little out of place, though it’s explained that he’s a favorite of Jessica’s mother and being used to sway her approval. Honestly, even if it wasn’t a big part of the story, how many people here would actually invite their exes to their Thanksgiving feast?

Much like the organized chaos of actual Thanksgivings, there was no official B plot in this episode; just a bunch of smaller vignettes, supporting the main storyline of Jessica and Louis putting together the best Huangsgiving ever. I personally liked how the episode was able to carry itself with one primary storyline all the way through and it’s a testament to the strength of the characters that it worked out so well. This bodes well for future “special” episodes. On the downside though, we had less time to spend with some of the other characters, like the kids. Yes, Emery and Evan were frustrated that Honey was not taking their table decorations seriously, and Eddie and Justin put their musical differences aside to download pictures of sexy girls (or a sensible Tracy Chapman) on the Internet, but their stories were more on the periphery to the main plot.

The second holiday episode of Fresh Off the Boat was a success, especially following the news that two more episodes have been added to its season’s line-up.

Please note that the next episode of Fresh Off the Boat won’t be until Tuesday December 1st.


Featured image courtesy of ABC

Kollab Watches: Fresh Off the Boat 2.07 – “The Big 1-2”

I’ve been enjoying the episodes of Fresh Off the Boat this season where Louis and Jessica have taken center stage, but I was happy to see this week’s episode, “The Big 1-2,” re-direct its focus on the children of the Huang family. In this episode, all three got to test and challenge the rules placed upon them, as they made space for either breaking out of character or just wanting to grow.

Eddie continues to make the transition from child to adolescent as he celebrates his twelfth birthday. After last year’s Star Wars-themed birthday party fail, Eddie tells his parents that he doesn’t want a party this year and instead wants to spend the day with his friends at the mall. However, as Jessica and Louis arrive at the mall, balloons in tow, to surprise him, they catch him having a secret birthday party with his friends and, to Louis’ dismay, Mitch. Confronting him about it over dinner, Eddie calls out his parents’ overly strict rules for his inability to be himself at home. To his surprise, his parents decide to start relaxing the rules, and this leads to after effects both good… and weird.

Meanwhile, Emery and Evan, who are tired of being constantly ignored by their parents in favor of their troublemaking brother, decide to break from their goody two shoes and start living life on the wild side. When their big reveal of how they went to see the PG-13 rated Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls gets no reaction, they decide to step it up by messing up their clothes and hair, sticking their hands into a jar of Nutella before eating it, and pouring their Legos all over the floor, like badasses! They turn out to be the worst rebels in the world, as none of their mischief is met with any reaction of a sort. Even their last resort of running away to Denver falls through when the sight of their empty suburban street scares them into staying home. But in the weirdest way possible, and to their delight, it all works out in the end when they find themselves grounded (possibly for the first time in their lives).

I continue to enjoy seeing different sides of Eddie. He’s becoming better-rounded as a character as he’s slowly growing from a self-absorbed, hip hop-loving boy to a young man who has just as many conflicts and insecurities as anyone else. It’s an evolution that feels real as actor Hudson Yang does a successful job at portraying Eddie’s struggles. Plus, given that he too just turned twelve recently, I can only imagine bringing more of an authentic feel for the character as he continues to grow. (Fun fact: I don’t know if anyone else considered this, but did anyone find it weird that the show made Eddie’s birthday in November when the real Eddie’s birthday is in March?)

As for Emery and Evan, I continue to laugh out loud over the humorous and mischievous antics they get themselves into. My brother was watching the episode with me and during their little montage, every act of “rebellion” was met with a sarcastic but appropriate “They did not!” from him. Despite their young age, actors Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen are already on the path to becoming comedic pros, as their timing is spot on.

Overall, it was another fun episode of Fresh Off the Boat with great one-liners from Jessica and more of Louis’ charismatic and open perspective on life. I can’t  wait to see how future episodes branch off from what occurred in this episode.


Featured image courtesy of ABC

Meet the Kollaboration Star 2015 Finalists: Dallas’ Yut & the Hot Four

Yut Chia is this year’s winner of Kollaboration Dallas and is one of the six finalists at next month’s Kollaboration Star. A passionate violinist hailing from New York with the desire to entertain, he’s been building up his reputation as a musician, ever since his humble days of performing at subway stations in order to fund money for college.

I recently called up Chia to learn more about him and out of all the details from his fascinating life thus far, I found the following six to be particularly interesting:

1. Chia has been playing violin since age 12

Yes you read that right. Despite wanting to play the violin as a child, Chia was unable to afford violin lessons. He started late to the instrument taking his first lesson in the seventh grade, not that it’s made a difference in his ability as he is now a full-time violinist.

2. His musical inspiration is Nuttin’ But Strings

Chia was inspired by the former duo’s style of blending genres like R&B and pop together on an instrument that’s normally reserved for classical concertos. He even performed with former member Damien Escobar when he showed up at one of Chia’s impromptu subway performances, and the two collaborated on the spot.

3. Chia has performed for the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Robert De Niro, and Kevin Spacey

It was the president of the New York Times who walked by him while he was performing at a subway station that eventually led to him being invited out to perform for a number of events where such public figures were in attendance. Despite a number of amazing gigs under his belt so far, that hasn’t stopped Chia from wanting to perform on all the big stages.

4. Chia is the founder of Yut & The Hot Four (a modern instrumentalist group)

With the help of Craigslist, in 2013, Chia formed a modern instrumentalist group call Yut & The Hot Four. Along with Chia, it’s made up of violinist Chia Yin-Ma, celloist Lenaé A. Harris, bassist Lorenzo Kim Sandi, and drummer Rajeev Maddela. Asked what a modern instrumentalist group is, Chia defined it as an atypical string quartet, with the goal of their performances being to pumped up the energy and “keeping it on edge 24.7.” Often, they’ll also have backup dancers accompany them for their performances.

While the members of Yut & The Hot Four have gone their separate ways, Chia and Harris still perform together, and they, along with three backup dancers, will be traveling together to Los Angeles for Kollaboration Star 2015.

5. Chia is a Kollaboration veteran

While this will be Chia’s first time performing at Kollaboration Star, his history with the Kollaboration movement extends beyond him winning this year’s Kollaboration Dallas showcase. His first appearance in a Kollaboration showcase was in 2013 when he performed backup for eventual Kollaboration NY winner Izzy. A year later, he returned with The Hot Four, but lost to Sung Lee. Chia explained how he researched all the chapters in advance for this year, and settled for auditioning for the Dallas chapter this time around due to its intimate environment.

It’s because of Chia’s history with Kollaboration that has led him meeting many people through the movement, and has commended the people involved in being really chill to be around and very supportive.

6. Chia desires to inspire

In regards to his upcoming performance at Kollaboration Star, Chia hopes to not only wow the audience with his performance, but also that they see the hard work and passion he puts into his music. In the long run, he hopes his performance inspires people.


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

Kollab Watches: Fresh off the Boat Episode 2.06 – “Good Morning Orlando”

Remember how I said that the fourth episode for this season of Fresh Off the Boat was a definite favorite? Well this week’s episode, “Good Morning Orlando,” can officially be added to the same list. From the humorous awkwardness that comes with first love, to a social commentary that definitely hits close to home, this episode went above and beyond with stories to enjoy and contemplate.

It’s been two weeks since the Fall Ball, and Eddie hasn’t spoken to Allison since then, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about her (“She punched me in the armpit. It was amazing!”). However, according to her group’s messenger boy Ned (don’t ask), it turns out they’ve been an item since that fateful mash pit. Soon Eddie’s friends wind up with Allison’s other friends and they go on a romantic first group date of passing each other on the escalators at the mall. But when one of Eddie’s friends suddenly faces a break up from a girl he didn’t realize he was with, they come to realize: Who the hell are their girlfriends?

I thought it was humorous how the episode portrayed Eddie, his friends, and their first girlfriends’ idea of dating ( and where passing each other on an escalator is equivalent to nailing a first date). It’s a nostalgic look back at the days of first experiencing butterflies in your stomach just from the sight of someone you’re into, and the nagging questions of whether you should talk to them, what you should say, and whether or not the feeling is mutual. It was also fun to take a nostalgic look back at a pre-mobile phone era. If this story had taken place today, I think Eddie would have probably received that “Hi!” from Allison via text (or Snapchat?), instead of a physical note. It was sweet that in the end, Eddie finally figures out – via the wisdom of Emery- that to make a relationship work, communication is key (and maybe the girls should consider this advice too and not have a representative do all the dirty work for them).

Meanwhile, Louis is approached by the co-hosts of Good Morning Orlando to come onto the show and promote Cattlemen’s Ranch. Jessica sees it as a perfect opportunity to bring more business- and ultimately more money- to the restaurant (especially after she didn’t take Honey’s husband’s advice about checking her now termite-infected restored house). He appears to make a good impression on the show by cracking imitations of Donald Duck and Rocky Balboa. However, upon his arrival home, Jessica calls him out on his foolishness and accuses him of how he might have created a negative portrayal of Chinese people, invoking the one thing Louis hated from Sixteen Candles, Long Duk Dong (yeah, she went there). But when he is banned following a second appearance on the show where he accused the co-hosts of racism, Louis comes to his senses that he can’t please everyone and should just be himself.

While promotion leading up to this episode was mainly concerning whether or not Eddie and his friends have game at the tender age of twelve, it was Louis’ storyline that I loved most about this episode. I liked that Louis told Jessica, after she lectured him on how he should be acting on TV, that “one person can’t be everything.” It was a clever way to talk about #repsweats, a term coined earlier this year describing the many expectations placed on Asian Americans on TV to “properly” represent themselves to audiences, because as a community we are so afraid of misrepresentations (like with Long Duk Dong). Putting that internal struggle of our community into the context of Louis’ story line in this episode was brilliant and helps deliver that message to viewers who might not have been aware of it before. We are fortunate today to have two shows (so far) that center around Asian American families, and as Louis would likely agree, we still have a ways to go before we get over the #repsweats, but it’s a start.

On a final note, I don’t know if Fresh Off the Boat is one of those shows where shipping couples is a thing, but now that Eddie and Allison are actually together, what would their couple name be? Eddison?


Featured image courtesy of ABC