Okay, I know it’s only Day 4, but I’m already so overwhelmed with what people or organizations to highlight next. Let me just say, this is a good problem to have. There are SO MANY cool people doing wonderful things for the #AAPI community and Asians in the diaspora that it’s hard to know who to elevate.
While I am a big fan of every person and organization I’m highlighting this month, today is my #fangirl moment.
I’m picking out two incredible Asian womxn who inspire me to think bigger and be bold in my own creative visions.
Nancy Wang Yuen is a sociologist at Biola University studying race and the entertainment industry. Her book, Reel Inequality, dissects how people of color are undervalued, underpaid, and underrepresented in Hollywood. It’s a reel eye-opener — [insert cheesy sitcom laughtrack].
Not only is Nancy a brilliant cultural critic and writer, but she’s FIERCE on Twitter. I’m talking a real-life legit public sociologist utilizing social media to disseminate research and interesting things to the masses. She’s my social media idol.
She also writes pieces for mainstream media outlets like Elle, Remezcla, and Huffington Post. Honestly, I don’t know where she finds the time to write, attend media events, make time for her students, and be there for her family. WHY DO WOMXN OF COLOR ALWAYS DO IT ALL AND MAKE IT SEEM SO EFFORTLESS (even when it’s totally not and they always put 150% of their time and effort into everything). I honestly just want to slow-clap it up for Nancy just for being her. YOU GO, NANCY.
I’m also going to put out a shameless plug and say she also was kind enough to sit down and talk with me on my podcast last year about Crazy Rich Asians and the importance of seeing yourself represented in tv shows and films.
Honestly, Nancy is the person I turn to when anything in Hollywood seems a little…off. She’s usually the first one to say, “yep…that’s racist”, but does so in a way that makes you understand the ramifications of these things. It’s truly a unique and important skill that I don’t know I’ve fully developed yet…but I’m working on it.
Next on the list is someone who I totally wish was my friend, but we’re not friends. I do think we’d get along though judging from how our past selves used fan fiction to cope teen angst and adolescence.
Yulin Kuang is a writer, director, and filmmaker. What’s so cool about Yulin’s work is how many iterations her films and series go through…it’s honestly a real privilege as a viewer to watch how her ideas change over time. Her series, I Ship It, started off as a mini film on YouTube, then expanded to a web series on the CW Seed, and now there’s a sequel to the web series that will actually air on the CW this summer. As someone who dabbled in Harry Potter online role playing (okay, I’m a real nerd, I know) and read other people’s fan fiction pretty often, it was so cool to see how the idea of fan communities could be used as premise for a mainstream film/series in a way that wasn’t cheesy or over the top.
I saw her speak on a panel in LA once after she released her short video series, Tiny Feminists and I just wanted to go up and hug her on the spot. This article highlights some of her other work — Kissing in the Rain is easily one of my next favorites. It’s so simple, but ultra-hilarious.
Now, Yulin, is writing for Jade Palace, a new film from New Line Cinema, and I couldn’t be more excited for her and for what this means for providing increasingly nuanced representation of Asian families in a broadening media landscape.
Thank you, Nancy and Yulin for doing things that little me always dreamed of doing. Y’all are true inspirations.
Have any recommendations for other #AsianAmericans who work in the entertainment industry? Drop me a comment and enlighten me!