Kelly Marie Tran is the newest cast member of Star Wars Episode VIII!

Entertainment Weekly just reported new Star Wars casting news now that Episode VIII has begun production, and one of the new names caught our attention. Kelly Marie Tran, a San Diego native and UCLA alum who has trained in improv with iO West, Second City, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, was among the newly announced cast included with the production anouncement. You might have seen some of her past work with College Humor, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Funny or Die (check out this EW article for a more in depth look at her body of work). The fact that her announcement came alongside Benecio Del Toro and Laura Dern gives us hope that she’ll have a prominent role in the new movie.

For the longest time, the Asian community didn’t have much in terms of representation from the Star Wars franchise. Sure we had the samurai aesthetics of Darth Vader’s armor, and LT. Telsji, the ill-fated Y-Wing pilot who got in 2 lines before being blown away during the Battle of Endor, for whom NPR did a great piece on, but it always felt like we were grasping at straws when it came to feeling represented. The prequels didn’t help much when it gave us a bunch of bad guy aliens with terrible Asian accents, that one Jedi with the weird forehead and Fu Manchu beard, and turning lightsaber combat into space wushu.

All that was why it was refreshing to see a whole bunch of Asians in the cast of Episode VII, especially Ken Leung as Admiral Statura and Jessica Henwick as X-Wing pilot Jess Pava (this generation’s Wedge Antilles), two characters who weren’t caricatures, had vital roles, and didn’t die after 2 lines.

While we don’t have any details about whether Tran will be playing an actual person, droid, or CG alien a la Lupita Nyong’o, episode VIII just became way more interesting than it already was (which was already pretty dang interesting). We’ll definitely be following this story as it develops over the next two years until the movie’s 2017 release.

Are you excited about the casting news? What kind of character do you think she’ll play? Let us know in the comments!


Cover image via College Humor

CryWolffs Violin Will Have You (and Your Valentine) in Tears With This Cover of Marry Me

The last video in Kollaboration SF‘s Valentine’s Day cover series has CryWolffs Violin’s rendition of Jason Derulo’s Marry Me. This beautiful instrumental cover will make even the most hardened cynic believe in love (I’m of course talking about me… I’m the cynic)!

See more from CryWolffs Violin at:

Videographers: Alinna Boonklun, Cathleen Joaquin, Layla Yu, and Leonard Chan
Sound: RodneyRock
Editor: Vergel Marinas, and Cathleen Joaquin

More from KollabSF at

Kollab SF and Jayne Rio Bring You a Cover of Adele’s All I Ask Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

Need a last minute Valentine’s Day gift? Just show your special someone this cover of Adele’s All I Ask by Kollaboration SF alum Jayne Rio. Problem Solved!

If you like what you hear check out the other 2 videos in Kollab SF’s Valentine’s Day series.

Check out more from Jayne at:
Instagram: @jaynerio

Videographers: Alinna Boonklun, Cathleen Joaquin, Layla Yu, Leonard Chan
Sound: RodneyRock
Editor: Leonard Chan

More from KollabSF at

Get in the Valentine’s Day Mood with this Cover of Christina Aguilera’s All I Want is You by Patrick Wong

The team at Kollab SF cooked up a couple of great cover videos just in time for Valentines Day! Check out &Blue’s Patrick Wong as he covers Christina Aguilera’s Come On Over (All I Want is You), a classic tune that’ll take you right back to your middle school days (just me?)!

Check out more of Patrick at:…
Instagram: @itspatrickwong

Videographers: Alinna Boonklun, Cathleen Joaquin, Layla Yu, and Leonard Chan
Sound: RodneyRock
Editor: Alinna Boonklun

More from KollabSF at

Marvin Yueh’s Top 5 Podcasts Hosted by Asian Americans in 2015

Marvin Yueh is the Associate Director for the Kollaboration Global Organization, Managing Editor for the Kollaboration Blog, Host/Producer of the KollabCast, and Producer of Kollaboration’s video projects. In between those responsibilities, he manages to squeeze in time for food, sleep, and the occasional trip, and yup he really did just write his own intro in third person.

It’s no secret that I love podcasts. As an Angeleno, I spend a lot of time in my car, and I’ve found that having people talk at me is a great way to pass the time. That’s part of the reason I was excited to launch the KollabCast this year, throwing my own hat into this emerging media format. Besides the KollabCast, 2015 has been a really great year for podcasts featuring Asian American hosts and it’s been great having more APA perspectives out in the world for people to consume. Here’s my top 5 (in no particular order) podcasts that I think followers of Kollaboration should check out!

1. Bullet Train


Ada Tseng, the mastermind behind the Haikus with Hotties calendar and Managing Editor of Asia Pacific Arts, hosts this fun and informational podcast that launched earlier this year. Ada provides narration on an interesting topic in Asian American pop culture, ranging from gender representation all the way to dating sims. Along the way, we hear excerpts from interviews with other subject matter and pop culture experts while Ada refuses to apologize for anything. We’re still waiting for episode 5, but if you have a few hours to kill, you can’t go wrong with this podcast.

2. What Just Happened


David Chang started as a fan of podcasts like Serial, eventually deciding to launch his own. The premise is simple. Pick a topic David wants to learn more about, and then research the crap out of it. The result is a very informative, easy to listen to podcast that leaves listeners better informed. David’s clear articulation and neutral perspective is a breath of fresh air in today’s media environment. Need a primer on the “Black Lives Matter” and California’s common core so you can sound smart at parties? Give What Just Happened a listen!

3. Drunk Monk


Re-watch podcasts, where pocasters recap already departed shows episode by episode in real time,  have started to become quite popular as streaming services have started to bulk up their TV catalog. This podcast, which recaps the Tony Shaloub neurotic detective show Monk, is hosted by improv partners Keiko Agena (of Gilmore Girls fame) and Will Choi (who had never watched Monk prior to the podcast). As the title suggests, Adult beverages are consumed in the course of recording, and hijinks ensue. You won’t need to even like Monk to listen to these two riff on each other.

4. Good Muslim Bad Muslim

The Good Muslim Bad Muslim podcast started with a hashtag conversation discussing what makes a good and bad Muslim in the eyes of society. Writer/activist Taz Ahmed and actor/comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh host this monthly podcast where they fearlessly shatter preconceptions on what a Muslim American, and specifically a Muslim American woman, can be. With some comedy, some social commentary, and a whole lot of attitude, this podcast is a refreshing look into a uniquely American story that isn’t seen much in mainstream media.

5. Explain Things to Me


Ever wonder what a professional Santas does or how some people remember stuff better than others? Internet personality Anna Akana and her partner Brad Gage host this podcast where they find an expert to explain these things to them. The result is an always fascinating conversation where listeners learn about cool stuff happening in the world of entertainment, science, art, and more from awesome and interesting people who made them their life’s work.

Honorable Mentions

Of course these aren’t the only podcasts out there hosted by Asian Americans. I’ve limited my top 5 list to Podcasts that launched this year, but there are a few other great shows in my podcatcher hosted by Asian Americans that I wanted to give a shout out to!

This is Only a Test


The official podcast of, This is Only a Test is an awesome podcast about tech, pop culture, and science hosted by Norman Chan that’s been running for 332 episodes (that’s almost 5 years). This was the second podcast that I started to listen to regularly and it’s been fascinating watching Tested go from an indie tech website to being attached to Adam Savage and Jamie Hyman of Mythbusters fame. One of the founding members, Norm Chan recently ascended from co-host to host when longtime host and co-founder Will Smith (the tech editor, not the actor) decided to leave Tested to pursue a personal startup project in VR.

Sound and Fury


The official podcast of Angry Asian Man, this is an interview-style podcast a la Marc Maron, where host Phil Yu (the eponymous Angry Asian Man) conducts a intimate one-on-one interview with esteemed members of the APA community from what one can only assume is his kitchen table. Phil’s been in the game a long time and it’s telling how much respect his guests have for him. Listen to this podcast to learn more about the man behind the blog as well as interesting stories from his amazing guests.

Pop Rocket


Pop Rocket, part of the NPR affiliated Maximum Fun network, is a podcast that brings you hot takes on current pop culture trends and news from a variety of minority perspectives. While not exactly hosted by Asian Americans, Pop Rocket features one of our community’s coolest (and smoothest) voices in Oliver Wang as one of their regular panelists. An academic, author, and DJ, Oliver brings a cool and collected persona to an otherwise fiery panel, and always seems to have the hottest of jams to contribute during their weekly “What is your Jam” segment. Host Guy Branum and the two other regular panelists Wynter Mitchell and Margaret Wappler are no slouches neither, each bringing a unique perspective from their own backgrounds and areas of expertise, and listeners are always left with a more well-rounded understanding of current pop culture issues.


New Cover5


This is a shameless plug, but it’s my list so deal with it. The KollabCast, hosted by myself and Kollaboration Executive Director Christine Minji Chang, is a podcast about pop culture and social commentary from an Asian American Perspective. We talk about a wide variety of topics and it often turns out to be interesting. You should listen in sometime!


Ruth + the Library – The Green Room

“This edition of the Kollaboration Green Room features Ruth + the Library, an up-and-coming band based in Los Angeles, combining funky, jazzy beats with the unique vocal styling of lead singer, Ruth Cho. They are currently in the running for the Grammy Amplifier competition so if you like what you hear, send them some hits at

Hear more from Ruth + the Library at and visit their YouTube channel at

“”Who Knew that Love””

Special thanks to Zenith Division for their assistance in making this video.

Five Lessons Learned from the San Diego Asian Film Festival Buzzfeed Panel

Back in November, a panel featuring three members of Buzzfeed, directors Eugene Lee Yang and Abe Forman- Greenwald, and senior business analyst Mallory Wang was held at UC San Diego for the 16th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (held annually by Pacific Arts Movement). The panel, moderated by actress and internet personality Anna Akana, explored Buzzfeed’s success in internet video over the past two years from both creative and business perspectives.

Here are five lessons that we learned from this panel:

Abe Forman- Greenwald, Mallory Wang and Eugene Lee Yang at SDAFF – Photo by Jose Bucud, Pacific Arts Movement

1. Buzzfeed is always learning

Every time you watch a Buzzfeed video or read a Buzzfeed list, they’re learning a little bit more about what kind of content people want to see. They test everything, from who’s in the video all the way to the way the titles are worded, and they iterate to test theories and patterns. While it sounds scary and big brother-like, it’s actually what led them to realize the demand for culturally diverse programming. Thanks metrics!

2. What all the colored Buzzfeed channels mean

The color titles for Buzzfeed’s many channels represent the general themes of the videos in each. Violet represents “You”, character driven videos celebrating what makes people unique, Blue represents “Science”, and the cool stuff that occurs in our world, and Yellow represents Identity (nope, it’s not yellow as in Asian people), a celebration of culture that originally began with female-focused videos.

3. “If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say” started a movement

It’d be an understatement to say that “If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say” was just a popular video from Buzzfeed. The company’s first racially-focused video was a groundbreaking achievement that set the tone for their future work. Originally inspired by a Facebook post by Jeff Yang (pioneering APA writer and father of Fresh Off the Boat star Hudson Yang), the internal Buzzfeed brainstorming thread exploded as the concept “opened a floodgate that was begging to be opened.” After the success of the viral video, Buzzfeed does what it does best and iterated on the idea to what we see today, expanding to other minority group and exposing audiences to alternative perceptions.

4. Buzzfeed will never run out of ideas

In just a few years, Buzzfeed Motion Pictures has grown from 20 to more than 200 producers! With each of their producers being encouraged to create their own content, and the quick turnaround on projects (many with only a 2 person crew and $300 budget), Buzzfeed isn’t worried about the well running dry anytime soon. In fact, Buzzfeed is expanding its production scope by developing scripted content, social media focused video, and even documentary features.

5. Advice for young creatives

The panel offered this solid advice to up-and-coming creators, “keep making stuff!” A lot of the most popular content produced at Buzzfeed occurred because opportunity collided with the drive to create. “Parents imitate their children” came to be because Eugene’s mom just happened to be in town, and led to parents of Buzzfeed staff being involved in more of their content. In addition to taking advantage of opportunities, it’s also important for creators to find unique perspectives from their own point of view. It may be harder, but the crew challenges up-and-comers to “figure out your voice and then push as hard as you can!”

The Buzzfeed Panel @ Atkinson Hall, UC San Diego – Photo by Jose Bucud, Pacific Arts Movement


Cover photo credit: Epix Productions

Matt Almodiel – The Green Room

Matt Almodiel is a singer/songwriter and LA transplant by way of the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia). An alum of the 2011 Kollaboration DC showcase, he headed west to attend UCSD before moving to LA to pursue his musical dreams. A master of the mash-up, his infectious melodies will have you humming and dancing for hours after he’s finished playing.

Hear more from Matt at and visit his YouTube channel at

“Into You”
“Nothing Left to Lose”
“No Big Deal”

Special thanks to Zenith Division for their assistance in making this video.

Perry & Danielle – The Green Room

The Kollaboration Green Room is our new video series featuring live sets from the amazing artists in the Kollaboration network. This inaugural session features Perry & Danielle, a Los Angeles based musical duo hailing from the islands of Hawaii. They are Kollab Alum from the 2015 Kollaboration Los Angeles showcase and recently performed alongside AC Lorenzo at Kollab Star 2015. Enjoy their smooth stylings and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Learn more about Perry & Danille at and visit their YouTube channel at…

“Give it Away”

Special thanks to TRAKTIVIST and Zenith Division for their assistance in making this video.

For more from Kollaboration, visit our website at

The Green Room Opens Next Monday!

We’re excited to announce a new digital showcase series called “The Green Room,” launching next Monday here on (and our YouTube channel). The Green Room is a callback to our annual showcases when artists would jam with each other in the green room while waiting for their turn to go on stage.  Every few weeks, The Green Room will showcase an extended live set from an artist from our Kollaboration community. First up is Kollaboration Los Angeles 2015 performers Perry and Danielle. Don’t miss their set next Monday, November 30!