Kollaboration SF Interviews Buzzfeed’s Ashly Perez

Ashly Perez sat down with Kollaboration SF Staff Member, Layla Yu, to talk about the importance of representation for Asian-Americans in the media, working at BuzzFeed, and insecurities. Perez hosted Kollaboration San Francisco’s 6th annual Artist Showcase held at the Memorial Theater in San Francisco on October 10, 2015.

Watch all 3 parts of this exclusive interview series, and then check out Kollab SF’s excellent writeup.


See more from Kollaboration SF

Kollab Watches: Dr. Ken 1.05 – “Halloween-aversary”

It’s always a lot of fun to see what you can learn about your favorite characters through what they dress up as for Halloween. In this week’s Dr. Ken, we learn that Damona loves Beyonce, Julie is a Game of Thrones fan (and winner of the Dr. Ken costume contest), Ken is tone deaf (not a surprise), and Clark wears couple costumes with an invisible friend (I’m assuming Keith is the ketchup to his mustard). The kids even get in on the fun with Molly dressing up as a nurse and Dave as Dr. Frankenstein (because, why be the monster when you can be the man who played god).

Halloween turns out to be an extra special day for the Park family as the day that Ken proposed to Allison 20 years ago. However, we learn that it wasn’t special in a sweet romantic way, Ken totally botched his proposal, and although they went and got married anyways, it remains a sore spot as they’ve never had a romantic proposal story to tell. So as a way to create a better story, Ken decides to re-propose to Allison during their annual Halloween date.

Meanwhile back at Welltopia, Pat accidently eats a prescription narcotic lollipop off of Julie’s desk, and Damona and Julie spend the episode trying to deal with (and exploit) their boss as he’s tripping balls. Now, while it was fun to watch the hijinks ensue, it was a little concerning that it was hard to distinguish the “high Pat” in this episode with the Pat that tried to shoot himself with a nail gun a few episodes past. Not to say that maybe Pat’s just always on drugs, but it seems to be more of a symptom of the way the character is written to just be a cartoon character/joke machine (a complaint I’ve made before).

The Park kids get their own sub-plot in this episode as well, with Molly and Dave fixing their dad’s treasured skeleton model Gary after accidently breaking it en-route to a party (silly Gary, even skeletons need to wear seatbelts). It was a sweet couple of scenes that demonstrate the adorable chemistry between the two siblings, and it was nice to see non-dumpy Dave again, I hope he stays around.

In the end, Ken’s new proposal plan runs into a few snags, but the result is one of Dr. Ken’s first emotionally resonant scenes. Anyone who’s seen the excellent independent movie Advantageous (on Netflix now) knows that Ken Jeong is absolutely capable of nailing a scene heavy with emotion, and while his tearful recap of his life together with Allison may be a little over the top, he sells it like no other and aims directly for the feels. For a show where the jokes never land 100%, this scene absolutely got to me, and I remain optimistic of the future potential of this show.


Featured Image Credit – ABC

Kollab Watches: Dr. Ken 1.04 – “Kevin O’Connell”

On last Friday’s episode of Dr. Ken, Hong Kong detective Wei Shen goes undercover into the seedy underbelly of California’s HMOs on his most dangerous mission yet… and if you understood that reference, then we can be best friends! Actually, in this episode we get our first proper guest star in Will Yun Lee’s Dr. Kevin O’Connell, a plastic surgeon, Korean adoptee, and Allison Park’s ex from med school. He’s also smoking hot and charming, which immediately sets off Ken’s more petty tendencies.

Much of the episode is spent exploring the aftermath of Ken discovering that his wife’s ex-boyfriend is essentially a “Korean Channing Tatum.” To make matters worse, Dr. O’Connell also immediately charms Ken’s co-workers and his kids, often by providing the attention that he’s been too self-centered to give himself. Everyone’s smitten by the perfect visiting doctor, except for Allison, who never told her husband about what her ex looked like because of his jealous nature.

It all comes to a head at the Welltopia Employee Banquet, where Ken is set to provide a “comedy” routine for entertainment, AND where Kevin is set to be the guest of honor. His jealousy and insecurity reaching a breaking point, Ken decides that Kevin will be the topic of his “biting satirical comedy” and proceeds craft a vicious roast of the child-saving, scar healing plastic surgeon. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t go over well at first, but he pulls through thanks to some support from his missus.

The B plot in this episode involves Damona (one of the nurses on Ken’s team) encouraging Dr. Julie Dobbs (one of the doctors on Ken’s team), to be more open to socializing with colleagues. It was nice to get some more time with these two characters, especially Julie (Kate Sises continues to be the secret comedic weapon of the hospital scenes). Although not much character building actually took place (Demona was still sassy and Julie was still socially sheltered), both characters were able to get some good jokes in.

The high points for this episode came from the interactions between Ken and Allison. The fight between the couple after Ken brings Kevin home was an excellent showcase of Suzy Nakamura and Ken Jeong’s chemistry. The family scenes of Dr. Ken remain the most consistently funny, with Molly also continuing to nail her scenes. However, little bro Dave remains the weakest link in the Park family so far, suffering from a lack of characterization since that first episode (where did that artsy kid who didn’t give a crap about what everyone thought go?).

The other bright spot was Will Yun Lee as Dr. Kevin O’Connell. It was pretty awesome to see a portrayal of a masculine Asian dude on TV outside of Hawaii Five-O (where Lee also moonlights as a guest star) where he wasn’t some triad member or henchman, but a normal doctor guy who happens to be really good looking. Also admirable was how the only joke made about his “Asian-ness” was the initial misunderstanding about his name. We didn’t hear any dim-sum euphemisms about his sexy bits, or dwell on the fact that he was adopted. To me, that screamed progress! One of Dr. Ken’s strengths has been the portrayal of its characters as just regular people, despite being anything but in the world of network television.

Dr.Ken was picked up for a full season last week thanks to its strong performance in a tough Friday time slot. Personally, while I’m happy that the show was picked up (more stuff to write about!) I’m still waiting for the episode where the show finds itself and really makes a statement for that second season. With the way the show’s been improving since the pilot, here’s hoping that moment isn’t far off!


Featured Image Credit – ABC

Kollab Watches: Dr. Ken 1.03 – “Ken helps Pat”

Maybe it’s the rep sweats talking, but I definitely wouldn’t be following a show like Dr. Ken if it wasn’t starring an Asian American family. I’ve mentioned on the KollabCast, the official podcast of Kollaboration that I also host (shameless plug), that in the “Must See TV” days, I was always more of a fan of Scrubs over Friends, and come to think of it, I haven’t really actively watched a multi-camera sitcom in a very long time. All that is to say while Dr. Ken isn’t my “style” of show, I have been enjoying following it, if only for the potential of what this show can become. But more on that after the summary!

The main story line of this episode was all about Dr. Ken’s relationship with his team. When confronted with the fact that he’s become out-of-touch  since ascending to senior staff, Ken attempts to negotiate on their behalf to get them out of the mandatory Saturday shifts mandated by his boss Pat. Half listening, Pat invites Ken over to his Yacht for dinner to discuss further, while really having his own selfish intentions for the meeting. Ken being unable to ‘read the room’ is not new territory, after his misunderstanding with Nurse Clark last episode, but it was interesting to see him pitted one-on-one with Pat for the first time and for him to learn how out-of-touch a “rich guy on a yacht” can really get.

Ken’s interactions at work are still some of the most awkward scenes in the show. You can feel that his co-workers are supposed to be friends, but everyone’s too busy throwing zingers that it’s hard to see it. While there’s been some character development over the last few episodes, the crew right now is still just a collection of sitcom archetypes (the sassy lady, the teacher’s pet, the one-sided bff) constantly throwing shade at each other and at Ken. Ken’s scene with Pat on the yacht is significant, because it seemed to slow the pacing down to expose some genuine character moments. Most of it is from Ken, who we see as a conscientious doctor. Pat on the other hand is still very much a cartoon character.

While Ken is out fighting on behalf of his crew at work, the Parks at home are faced with another challenge, Dave’s new unfortunate nickname from school, “Clompers.” It was fun to see the roles of the parents reversed from the pilot, with Ken being the passive dad and Allison becoming the overprotective mom (with an obvious chip on her shoulder). It was Molly, however, that stole the show as being the only member of the family with a plan (and kudos on her for understanding her particular set of skills also had a worth). I was kind of bummed that we never got to see her “Olivia Pope” her brother’s problems away, but I hope they continue this story line of Molly being the only rational member of the family.

All in all, it was a solid episode of Dr. Ken, which seems to be slowly catching it’s stride. Luckily, with its solid ratings performance, it might actually get the chance to find its footing despite the critical reviews, and I absolutely hope it does. Like I mentioned in the intro, I was a huge fan of Scrubs, and shows about doctors are rife with opportunities for emotional story arcs. Being a doctor is hard, and though we’re catching Dr. Ken after his rigorous life as an intern and resident, there’s probably going to be future episodes where Ken brings the stresses of having to make tough diagnoses home. I believe that’s when we’ll see what this show is really capable of.


Feature Image Credit: Ron Tom/ABC

Grace Lee Taught Us – Inspirational Quotes to Remember Grace Lee Boggs 1915-2015

Earlier this week, Grace Lee Boggs, activist, philosopher, and civil rights icon known for her work in Detroit’s communities, passed away at the age of 100. Members of the activist and Asian American communities all across the nation came together to celebrate and remember her life as one of the earliest Asian American activists in the civil rights movement, including President Obama. Throughout her life, she’s been the subject of countless interviews and media, including a documentary you can stream on pbs, and as a result has amassed a figurative library of inspirational and thought-provoking quotes. Here are a few that resonated with us:

On personal responsibility

“You don’t choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be. And you do choose how you think.”

On social responsibility

“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it, and responsible for changing it.”

On treating activism as a way of life

“activism can be the journey rather than the arrival;”

On rebelling with a purpose

“Rebellions tend to be negative, to denounce and expose the enemy without providing a positive vision of a new future…A revolution is not just for the purpose of correcting past injustices, a revolution involves a projection of man/woman into the future…It begins with projecting the notion of a more human human being, i.e. a human being who is more advanced in the specific qualities which only human beings have – creativity, consciousness and self-consciousness, a sense of political and social responsibility.”

On love

“Love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after”

Rest in Power Grace Lee Boggs 1915 – 2015. Follow the hashtag #GraceLeeTaughtMe to see how she impacted other members of out community


Clara C did a Reddit AMA! Here are 10 Things we Learned

On October 10, Kollaboration 10 winner Clara C will performing live in Houston, TC as one of the headliners for SASEFest, the Asian American music festival that Kollaboration is helping produce in conjunction with the 2015 SASE (Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers) National Conference. Kollaboration and SASE hosted a Reddit AMA for Clara late last week. Here are some of the highlights:

1. She can play a bunch of instruments and dreams in song

“I think it’s somewhere in the low double digits… But, I’m obviously better at some than others. The songwriting process is different every time! Sometimes, I’ll hear a beat right as my brain’s falling asleep and have to record it on a voice memo and work on it in the morning. Other times, a full length song from start to finish will download into my brain all at once. I have 6 guitars =) Musical background is…trained in classical piano with some theory and self-taught in everything else (voice, guitar, recording, mixing [etc])”

2. She’s a self professed nerd and has pro-level Mario skills!

“I’ll kick aaaaaanyone’s ass at anything Mario or puzzle-ey. I own every video game console but haven’t had time for video games these days. But truth be told, I always have been and will continue to be a nerd in all things I’m interested in. Nerds run the world. #nerdpride”

3. There was supposedly a time in the past when she was bad at singing

“My singing is self-taught! There was a time I royally SUCKED at singing and I have video to prove it. But, I also have video of me with really good pitch singing karaoke when I was 5 so I think it was in me somewhere. I haven’t ever taken lessons although I’d like to. I just listened to voices I liked and took away bits and pieces and applied it to mine. It was, “I like her vibrato” coupled with “I like that tone” mixed with “I dig that falsetto” and soon I had what was my own voice. Since then, my voice has evolved into something of its own but the aforementioned was a good starting point.”

4. She was working on a responsible backup plan when her musical dreams came true

“I was in college when my career took off but I was studying Psychology and was a Behavior Technician for children with autism. Before I could even start full-time, my music career had taken off and now I’ve been doing it for 5 years! Music was my dream all my life. It remained a dream for a while because 1. I wasn’t quite musically developed enough until college and 2. I thought it impossible for someone like me to have a music career. We live in a beautiful age where anything’s possible. I hope you get to pursue and obtain your dreams too.”

5. Her regular In-N-Out order is legit

“I get a cheeseburger with grilled AND whole grilled onions…protein style and my fries well done. If I’m feeling bad, neapolitan milkshake. Otherwise, pink lemonade!”

6. Rowdy audiences are her favorite crowd to play for

“This questions gonna get me in TRUBBLEEEEE. How I feel about everywhere I go in the world is heavily influenced by the people. I LOVE a rowdy, obnoxious, free-spirited audience. Based on just audiences I’ve played for, Sydney, Australia and Houston, Toronto and Kuala Lumpur are my favorites”

7. She is fascinated with marine biology and dreams of diving with sharks

“As you may or may not know, I am a marine FANATIC. I love scuba and literally love every sea creature ever made from sharks to little nudibrancs to deep sea creatures that dwell in the dark. However, there’s something about watching a sea otter on its back trying to crack open a clam with its shortass little arms that just kills me. Also, I might add that it definitely is on my bucket list to dive with whale sharks in the wild.”

8. She loves to hear about how her music has touched her fans

“There’s something intangibly powerful about music. Even if you don’t understand the language of a song, it still has the capacity to move and change the color of any moment you’re in. Sometimes, when I’m going through something and a song comes on that’s describing my exact situation, there’s catharsis and release. I think being involved with making something that holds this much power is an amazing privilege. So, when someone tells me about how something I wrote helped them through a hard time or when a couple uses one of my songs as their wedding song, it’s rewarding beyond words that I was able to touch a human soul.”

9. There’s a third Clara C album coming out… in a few months

“I’m working hard on my third album. I want it to be perfect so I keep pushing deadlines and things. (Not the best thing but I’ve become quite the perfectionist so sue me!) It should be out in a couple months and a tour will follow afterwards.”

10. She’s a proud member of the Kollab Fam

“There were 5,000 people in the audience that night I won Kollaboration (talent contest) who went home and searched me on Youtube. I think I had 11 subscribers then. I was so happy to have those 11! Then the whole thing blew up. I feel extremely fortunate to have the Kollab family on my team.”


If you’re in the Houston area on 10/10, don’t miss SASEFest, tickets on sale now!

You’re Invited to be EMPOWERED

Kollaboration Executive Director Minji Chang invites you to Kollaboration’s inaugural EMPOWER Leadership Conference, taking place on Saturday August 29 2015 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA. Join us for a day of inspiring keynotes and engaging panel discussions with some of the API communities brightest leaders!

Learn more and register at www.kollabempower.org