BY LILY RUGO for Kollaboration.org
“Panel focuses on Asian American representation in the media and the people working to increase visibility
The Austin, Texas festival South By Southwest (SXSW) is a nine day event featuring artists, business professionals, musicians, film and TV leaders, and more who come together to attend in panels, screenings, and concerts. SXSW is the largest multi-media festival of its kind, and last year over 8,000 attendees came to Austin for its panels, keynote speeches, screenings, and performances while over 70 thousand people came to the 4-day trade show. 2016’s lineup hosted Barack and Michelle Obama as the keynote speakers, featured over 142 film screenings, and over 2,000 festival showcase acts from 62 countries performed. The cross-collaboration in the media and tech industries creates a place for innovators and upcoming talent to work together and inspire one another.
Kollaboration Executive Director Minji Chang will be joined by writer Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man, actor and co-founder of the artists collective We Own the 8th Dante Basco, and comedian and founder of Disoriented Comedy Jenny Yang on a SXSW Social Impact panel,” Asian Americans Break the Silence and Stereotypes” discussing Asian American representation in the arts. Asian Americans have often been underrepresented, stereotyped, or whitewashed in mainstream media and left very much invisible. In recent years, a growing grassroots movement and collaborative effort of API creatives in new media, music, & film have changed the scene & brought this issue to the forefront after years of cultural evolution.
“We are witnessing a turning point for minority representation in new media,” Minji Chang, Executive Director at Kollaboration, said. “A million different micromovements have brought us to a point where the underrepresented feel more compelled and increasingly confident to voice their dissatisfaction with the status quo and envision a richer, more diverse narrative that benefits us all. SXSW is an incredible and respected epicenter for innovative thought and creativity, so I’m honored to have this panel be a part of that larger conversation. It’s an exciting time for the Asian American artistic community, as so many passionate, talented creatives blaze new trails and bring their stories to the limelight. This is only the beginning.”
These leading Asian American creatives will discuss the layered issues behind how absence in media representation leads to the challenges of being pegged as “unmarketable” by Hollywood, and showing the ways API stories enrich, entertain, and leave an impact on universal audiences.”
Minji Chang, actress & director of Kollaboration: Christine Minji Chang is a Bay Area native and a well-traveled California girl whose love for music, film, theater, and science have grown over the years. She is the 2nd child of 3 to Korean immigrant parents, who came to the US from Seoul in 1980. With a dual cultural upbringing, Minji navigated the many highs & lows of figuring out her identity & purpose in the grand scheme of things. At a young age, she struggled to clarify her life’s calling of being a doctor or an actor. After getting a degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley, Minji worked in the public health sector in violence prevention work before giving corporate America & technology a try at Macys.com. She was in San Francisco, after all. Meanwhile, Minji started volunteering for Kollaboration, which would become her fulltime job as executive director. She also began acting professionally. Her journey has taught her the importance of authenticity, grit, and courage & the ability to heal & transform through art.
Phil Yu, creator and writer at Angry Asian Man: Phil Yu is a writer, speaker and host best known as the founder/editor of Angry Asian Man, one of the most widely-read and longest-running independent websites covering news, culture and perspectives from the Asian American community. The Washington Post calls Angry Asian Man “a daily must-read for the media-savvy, socially conscious, pop-cultured Asian American.” Mixing humor with criticism, Phil’s commentary has been featured and quoted in the New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, NBC, Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed and more.
Jenny Yang, actress & co-founder of DisOriented Comedy: Jenny Yang is a Los Angeles-based writer and stand up comedian who produces the first-ever, mostly female, Asian American standup comedy tour, Disoriented Comedy, and The Comedy Comedy Festival: A Comedy Festival, a comedy festival showcasing the best in Asian American comedic talent. In 2016, Jenny was honored as a White House Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling. Taiwan-born and Southern California-raised, Jenny is a frequent collaborator on viral Buzzfeed videos that have amassed over 20 million combined views, and actor in numerous digital projects including Comedy Central’s “White Flight.” In 2015, she was dubbed one of Los Angeles’ “most fascinating people” in LA Weekly’s annual “People” issue. Drawing from her former career in politics, Jenny is a regular commentator on politics and pop culture with contributions featured in National Public Radio, The Guardian, NBC News, BBC News, Al Jazeera America, Complex Magazine.
Dante Basco, actor & co-founder of We Own the 8th: Dante Basco is an American actor, voice actor, and dancer. He is best known for his role as Rufio in the 1991 live-action film Hook. Dante is a Filipino American born in Pittsburg, California and raised in Cerritos and Paramount, California. He has four siblings, including actor Dion Basco. He is also known for voicing Zuko in the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Jake Long from the Disney series American Dragon: Jake Long. He also starred in the hit Indie films The Debut and But I’m a Cheerleader. He attended Orange County High School of the Arts in the Music and Theatre Conservatory and graduated in 1993. He had guest roles on television shows The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and had a recurring role on Moesha. After portraying characters of various Asian ethnicity except his own, he portrayed a Filipino American alongside his three brothers and sister in the independent film The Debut.
LINK TO SXSW SCHEDULE: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/events/PP65346
About Kollaboration: Kollaboration is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and movement founded in 2000 by Paul “PK” Kim to support the endeavors of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the arts. Kollaboration’s mission is to build bridges, out-create negative stereotypes and promote diversity by providing platforms to discover, empower and connect the next generation of API artists and leaders. Kollaboration programs seek to highlight and bring awareness of API talent to the mainstream media and drive change in popular culture.