Posts Tagged ‘we own the 8th’

We Own the 8th Surprise

It’s the 8th of the month and today is the day that our Asian American arts collective meet’s in downtown LA in at The Great Company. Now every month, there’s a different event that takes place, from open forum meetings to talk about issues effecting the community, to keynote speakers and workshops, and live performance nights. Now, tonight was supposed to be a performance night where some of the founders including myself we’re supposed to perform from the group at large. The whole evening was hosted by Beau Sia, also one of the founders and was supposed to be us and others just performing for everyone… as I was introduced and took the stage to begin my set, the screen come down and a video starts to play… it’s a tribute video… to me! Friends and colleagues and fellow members of the 8th wishing happy birthday.

Beau really got me, I took a seat in the front row and after this wonderful video of well wishes, Beau began to bring on friends and family to honor me. It was funny and emotional and people talked of how I may have impacted them and the community. You know, the funny thing is, of course as performer, I’m comfortable in front of an audience to act or talk, but as the center of attention otherwise, it can be a little uncomfortable for me, I much rather lay low and fly in under the radar. But brothers hit the stage and told stories, roasting me a bit, a lot of laughter, then other stories which filled my heart up, I love those guys, songs from friends Olivia Thai and AJ Rafael, AJ even got me to join him for a duet… that was pretty crazy. I poem from my sister.

And the other crazy thing is, Beau, within planning for the show, asked me to write a new poem, talking about age and also becoming the leader of this group, “We Own the 8th.” It was to be apart of my set… although, ultimately there was no set to do. I was up all last night writing this new piece. Lucky for me, or I guess it might of happened how Beau planned it, this new poem I wrote was the perfect poem to end the night. So I read it to thank all those in attendance. (I’ll probably post the poem on my youtube later)

So my actual birthday is on the 29th… but this was a special night, to celebrate and honored by my peers and family, I appreciate everybody that came, everyone that took time to send in a video, everyone that performed, the poets, the singers and of course Beau. I am truly proud to be a member of the crew, #WeOwnThe8th!

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Having just gone through Asian Heritage Month, (for those of you that don’t know, it’s the month of May) and touring around the country speaking on the issues concerning the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, I’ve been able to have great conversations about all kinds of ideas. Talks in San Francisco to New York, from Los Angeles to Portland. And one of the ideas I want to talk about right now is the idea of the Asian Leading Man.
Now, I’m a film maker and creating characters is important to me, as both an actor and writer. But the idea of trying to prove that to others has lead me to thinking about it all in a deeper way. On the surface, the Asian community’s cry for more roles and more substantial roles is one demanding more representation and point blankly, employment in the mainstream media in which we call “Hollywood.” I would be lying if I said I did not want more opportunities to work in my given profession. I think the Asian community at large wants to see characters that resemble them more throughout film and television. This is all true and I also believe Asian leading men and leading men of all ethnicities is important, leading women too (I don’t mean to be sexist) and ultimately help in race relations in a very special way.
How I see it, when we as an audience see the film, we live out the story through the star of the movie… the “Leading Man.” In most cases it happens to be a caucasian man. When we do this, we live a whole experience through their eyes and emotions. Thus, we grow up wanting to be Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt or Travolta, Eastwood the list goes on and on. You see, when we’re living out our fantasies in films, we aren’t considering race or ethnicity, we are being scared or surprised or emotionally shattered or triumphant, we’re experiencing the human condition, as if we are the “leading man” ourselves!
Being ethnic in America, we have always seen ourselves through a Euro-centric perspective, it’s the culture that America was built on, but America has gone through many changes, like the world at large. Connecting with characters and living their stories makes us better understand or even better, makes us feel for that person, or even kind of person, more.
In reality we all see ourselves like the movie stars, we have deep connections with them, because they remind us of ourselves… or our friends and family.
You ask a group of Asian friends, who in their group reminds them of Tom Cruise or Will Smith… They’ll give you one of their buddies, because we see aspects of ourselves through movie stars. We’re funny or cocky or ernest or sexy… just like the guys on the big screen.
The problem for Asians in American media, is there isn’t enough representation out there. The predominant amount of rolls depicted of Asians in the media still circle around the old played out stereo types. We can all name them… The nerdy, heavily accented, kung fu master! Look, I’m not saying there isn’t any truth in the stereotypes, all these exist in the Asian American community and I’m not trying to protest any of these characters, I’m trying to include all the other attributes we have and pressing forward to help create more Asian Leading Men. Because you see, when we can live adventures and fantasies through others that may be Asian or Black or Latino, we actually humanize each other, we realize that we all react to things in very similar ways. We are scared shitless when being attacked by someone with a mask on in the middle of the night in the woods or proud when we have saved the world or saddened to tears when we come into the room a second too late to save the life of your one true love.
So yes, one of my goals is to help create the Asian American genre and help create many Asian leading men and women… I don’t know if it will change the world… But it won’t hurt it.

Hope you had a happy “Asian Heritage Month.”

So this is my first blog of the 2014 and I want to use this as a way to introduce you this new idea called “#the8th”. It’s really a simple idea I’ve been developing with a great group of Asian American artist as a way for us to help cultivate and spread the word of Asian media in America and help us create this genre.

I’ve become one of the leaders in the Asian American community as it pertains to the arts due to my body of work over the last 25 years in this industry and although I’ve been able to find success in the mainstream world… films and television. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact the amount of roles for Asians and even the kind of rules there are for Asian to play in “Hollywood” projects are for the most part minimal and sometimes not even desirable to play, in some cases, downright detrimental to the image of Asians and not very fair in depicting who we are.  

Now I don’t waste time investing in the conspiracy of some underground racist agenda, I’ve been around too long and understand that it’s all business and up to now, us as a community haven’t been in the business of cultivating our voices in the fabric of American pop culture. Even though we are one of the most affluent communities in America and thus some of the biggest consumers of mainstream media, we somehow assimilated so well, we lost our voice and became somewhat invisible when it comes to film and television. I instead choose do something about it… And along with a conglomerate of amazing artist from both the online/digital world and the traditional film making world, we came up with this simple idea.

#the8th 

The idea is basically to take over one day a month, the 8th of every month, to release and promote brand new Asian projects. As a group we plan to release a calendar of events to let people know what’s being released and what to look forward to in the upcoming months. I’m talking new movies every month, online and in theaters, new songs and videos released by recording artist, web series premiering episodes, authors releasing books. I’m talking about taking the 8th of the month as our opening weekend. My greatest hope is to galvanize the Asian American community and anyone interested in Asian media to seek out and purchase new media every month on the 8th. Now this is an open source project. The Hollywood production companies and YouTube stars supporting this and joining this calendar of events are really here to help promote the campaign of #the8th, but it’s really open to all artist around the world. So, the Chinese kid in Texas or Japanese girl in Portland can make a movie and by simply using #the8th to promote and release their film on the 8th of the month and us as a community tracking that hashtag, we can find the newest artist and freshest material.

The whole goal in this is for us, the Asian community to establish our own genre in media and tell our stories and cultivate our voice in America on our own terms.

I know it’s a big idea and it’s not going to happen overnight… but for it start, it has to start somewhere, I guess right here, right now is as good of place as any.

I urge you to repost this and pass it on… If you’re an artist, join in this idea and release new content for everyone on the 8th and hopefully we can start a movement!

 

checkout my YouTube for the We Own #the8th video!