Summer Issue Exclusive First Look: Sandra Oh on Leaving Grey’s Anatomy and What’s Next For the Actress

Story by Michelle Woo.
Photos by Lever Rukhin.

After nearly a decade of breathing life, love and humanity into Grey’s Anatomy’s beloved Dr. Cristina Yang, Sandra Oh is looking in a new direction. The woman whose eyes — and every emotion behind them — changed the way we look at Asian women on the screen, is now turning her attention to the next generation.

It’s nearly impossible to sit at a table with Sandra Oh inside a Korean café in Los Angeles and not study her face. That face. The one that, throughout her 10-season run as hyper-driven surgeon Cristina Yang on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, has said so much with every subtle movement — a crinkle in her forehead, the flutter of her eyelids, the quiver of her chin. The face that made fans gasp for air when she was abandoned at the altar, grin in satisfaction every time she fired off one of her sassy one-liners (“I am laughing, just not externally”), and loyally watch her navigate years of twists and turns, from an icicle stabbing to a plane crash to PTSD.

Just where does that expressiveness come from?

“That’s a really good question because I have no idea,” Oh tells me, touching her cup of latte with the foam shaped into a heart. “You’re not conscious of it, like you’re not conscious of how you’re looking at me: your head is slightly tilted, your eyebrows are slightly up, your eyes are open and your mouth is soft. You’re not conscious of any of that.” She does say that people, particularly men she’s dated and her mother, have often pointed out her inability to mask her emotions. “If I’m angry inside of me at a three, it comes across as a 10.”

We end up talking a lot about faces, a topic the actress has passionate feelings about. Wearing a fitted navy blazer, her hair a plump array of ringlets (she has naturally wavy hair), Oh says she once read a magazine article about the rise of plastic surgery in Korea influenced by K-pop stars, and it still upsets her. “I was taking a shower and just thinking about that,” she says, leaning in intently as she speaks. “It’s a very dysfunctional thing. Korean women don’t even know what they look like. Before even finding their own identity, they change it. I find that so … antihuman.”

At 42, Oh wants to help empower young men and women, particularly those discouraged by the lack of faces like theirs in movies and on television. Having just hung up her white coat for the final time on Grey’s, a show she’s dedicated nearly a quarter of her life to, winning a Golden Globe and five Emmy nominations for her role, she ponders where to go from here. She’s going to act, no doubt — she’s in the upcoming comedy Tammy with Melissa McCarthy, which hits theaters on July 2, and she’s starring in a play in Chicago this summer called Death and the Maiden.

But she’s also looking to do more. “You get to a point in your life when you realize you can do things in a more concrete way,” says Oh, who comes across as soulful and introspective. She wants to be part of a shift that moves society forward in its representation of people of color, which involves seeing more Asian American actors propelled from clichéd sidekicks to rich and meaningful characters. Pausing for a moment, she tries to think back to when Asian American women first started taking on television parts that historically weren’t available to them.

“If you go back to, I dunno, 10 years ago, Lucy Liu was on, ummm, what’s that show?” Oh asks.

Ally McBeal,” I reply.

“Yeah, she was on Ally McBeal, and … who else was there?”

“There was … Margaret Cho.”

“Yeah, well, Margaret had her show, like, 20 years ago,” Oh says. “So we’re tapped into this industry and those are the only two people we can think of? That’s really, really sad. I know that we have more than a handful that we can point to now, and it’s really about bumping up those numbers, you know?”

The issue is one that hits her deeply. Oh has an email that she saved from her producer, who wrote to tell Oh something her daughter had randomly said at dinnertime. The producer’s daughter is 10 and adopted from China.

She pulls out her iPhone and looks for the message. “Here, I’ll read it,” she begins. “She said, ‘I used to think I was kind of ugly because I had squinty eyes, and then I met Sandra and she has squinty eyes and is beautiful, and now I don’t think I’m ugly.’” Oh puts down her phone and takes a slow breath. “When I read that, I burst into tears because I felt like that when I was 10, and if someone as beautiful and as full of life as she is can feel that way, then how many other 10-year-old girls feel that way?”

She shakes her head. “I just keep thinking, how can I transform this?”

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THE LACK OF DIVERSITY in the Hollywood landscape is part of the reason that Oh feels “so lucky, sooooo lucky” to have been able to play the nuanced, emotionally complex role of Cristina Yang. Part of the original crop of surgical interns at Seattle Grace Hospital when the show premiered in 2005, Cristina became what Slate television critic Willa Paskin proclaimed “one of TV’s most original and influential characters.” She was quick-witted, sarcastic, competitive, brutally honest and unyieldingly loyal — her friendship with main character Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) was a pillar of the show.

Prior to filming the season finale (which aired after press time), Oh felt like she was getting off a “fast-moving train,” and the fact that she would never scrub in again hadn’t fully hit her. She did, however, find a moment to plot out which items she would steal from the set. “I took a rug from Cristina and Owen’s [Kevin McKidd] apartment that we stood on for I dunno how many years,” she confesses. “And you know, I’ll probably take my stethoscope.” McKidd, who plays Cristina’s on-again-off-again love, says he’s going to miss the marathon workdays he spends with Oh, who introduced him to the practice of meditation and would play with his kids whenever they visited the set. “With most actors, when you talk to them, they’ll nod while looking on,” says McKidd. “When you talk to Sandra, she’s engaged and really listens and there’s no bullsh-t. She’s a deep-thinking, compassionate human being.”

As for why she’s leaving Grey’s, Oh says, “I feel like I’ve completed my job. Working with the writers, we’ve unearthed every stone.” While she says it’s too early to really see the ripple effects from a primetime television show where almost half the cast are men and women of color, Oh believes she was part of something monumental. “I just haven’t felt that there’s been another show that has brought so much light to a different type of casting as ours did,” she says. “It’s the magic of time. It was the right time in society, in the culture. It was the right grouping of people.”

Beyond race, the series was also gutsy in other ways. A couple seasons back, Cristina had an abortion. A child simply would have shattered her career, the one by which she defined herself. “There was no fanfare about it,” says Oh. “That’s how far we have come as women. My character was making that decision based on what was right for her as opposed to a medical emergency or her being attacked or reasons that would otherwise have been more palatable.” She points to the fact that Cristina had also gotten pregnant early on in the show, in 2005, but before she could have an abortion, she lost the baby. Over the past decade, she says, there’s been “a shift.”

“I really tried to create a character who followed herself,” Oh says. “[Grey’s creator] Shonda Rhimes, the writers and I were very interested in creating the kind of character who is not bound by a husband, not bound by a family, and is only really committed to herself and who she is in the world.”

How she became that character — and how she becomes any character she plays — is a calculated process in itself. “You can see Sandra’s dedication in the look of her scripts,” says costar Chandra Wilson, who plays no-nonsense surgeon Miranda Bailey. “They are completely marked up with highlights and colored tabs and notes that are full of intention. It doesn’t matter the size of a scene — she wants to be honest every single moment.”

Oh’s supreme focus revealed itself early on in her career. Her big break came when, at age 19, she beat out more than 1,000 young women for the title role in The Diary of Evelyn Lau, Canada’s made-for-television film about a tortured poet who flees her disapproving parents for a life on the streets. At her audition, she asked the producer and director for a moment to focus. Then she laid on the floor for five minutes. “I love that girl,” Oh says with a laugh, reflecting on her younger self. “She didn’t know you’re not supposed to do breathing exercises in the middle of a f-cking audition. She only knew to follow her own instinct.”

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The actress says she gets her audacity from her mom and dad — a former research scientist and businessman, respectively — two people who, as she describes it, “freakin’ left Korea in the mid-’60s and just changed their lives.” Oh adds, “The insanity and challenge of my parents’ generation going through occupation, living through occupation, living through the second World War, living through the Korean War, then coming out of the Korean War and then in their mid-20s, coming to America — that to me is fearlessness. It’s like, hey, I’m gonna go to some American school and not know the language and then get a job. I mean, who does that? Immigrants do that.”

Oh gets philosophical as she ponders what drives success. “There are so many articles and books and studies about this generation not being challenged, and my belief is that if you’re challenged, you find out who you are much quicker,” she says. “Privilege is such a trapping because it’s a longer road to ever finding out who you really are. You have to be able to say no to a safe place.”

For Oh, who grew up in a suburb of Ontario, Canada, that meant pursuing acting in spite of her parents’ objections, trusting that they would still love her and ultimately understand her. A self-described “extremely hyperactive, hyper-sensitive kid,” Oh began performing when she was 10, playing the Wizard of Woe in a musical operetta called The Canada Goose. She trained in ballet, then studied drama at the National Theatre School in Montreal and went on to star in a London, Ontario, stage production of David Mamet’s Oleanna. “I just lucked out,” Oh says of her path. “I lucked out with the family I had. I lucked out with where I grew up. I lucked out in a lot of ways where, in my early years, I didn’t encounter anything that crushed me.”

More than luck, though, Oh’s evolution is the result of careful decision-making, beginning with the characters she chooses to play. Those have ranged from the dual-life-living artist Jade in the film Double Happiness to the inscrutable personal assistant Rita Wu on the HBO comedy Arli$$ to the asskicking wine seller Stephanie in the Academy Award winning indie megahit Sideways. Oh says she made a commitment to herself early on that she wouldn’t take on stereotypical, throwaway roles. “There are certain bars that you strive for, that you set for yourself, and then hopefully you’ll achieve that bar and then you’ll get another bar,” she says. “So at one point, that was a bar. I said, no more ‘prostitute to the left.’”

Then she chuckles and adds, “But one of the prostitutes that I’ve played — I haven’t played that many — was in this wonderful film called Waking the Dead that Keith Gordon directed. I played the Korean prostitute, and I didn’t want to go in on it, but then I decided, well, someone’s going to take this part and it should be me. It turned out to be a really, really positive experience. Keith was a wonderful director, and it became much more than a cursory part. I think I had no dialogue, but my goal was that if the camera was ever on my face, people would think, ‘What’s going on with that character?’ It
was about her inner life.”

When asked if it frustrates her when other Asian American actors take on token roles, she says with zero hesitation: “Never. Never ever, ever. Ever.

“It is hard out there,” she explains. “Doing what we do as actors is crushing every day. If anything, I search for the magic that they are bringing. Because they better bring it. Every actor has a choice, an opportunity to transform something. If you enter into a situation where there’s no room for transformation and you feel comfortable playing something that’s demeaning, then that’s on you. But there’s a whole range of what is right for you as an artist. Let’s say this character is a completely demeaning character and that demeaning character is essential to the story — I’d wanna play that.”

Oh believes the issue of responsibility as an actor of color is “very complex.” She says, “I don’t think you can rule out responsibility. If you so choose to take it, it’s there. But I also feel as much, if not more, responsibility to who I am as an artist. The next step for me is to try to figure out that balance. Having said that, one serves the other. If you are true to yourself as an artist, you will do good work. If you do good work, if you do truthful work, you will represent a culture well because you will be seen, hopefully, as an artist that’s worthwhile and someone who we want to see telling our stories.”

One of the stories Oh will be telling post-Grey’s is that of Paulina, a former political prisoner who encounters the man she believes raped and tortured her 15 years earlier, in the award-winning play Death and the Maiden at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater starting June 13. Director Chay Yew, one of the first people Oh met when she moved to Los Angeles, calls the actress “a shining bright light. She is able to fiercely love and embrace all the characters she embodies, despite their flaws, shortcomings or darkness. In turn, we find ourselves in every character she portrays.”

To center herself, Oh meditates every day in her Los Angeles home — she’s on the board of a nonprofit meditation group called InsightLA. Her best days, she says, always involve “family and friends and some sort of creative work.” She keeps her personal life private and doesn’t consider herself a celebrity (“I detest that word,” she says). And now with Grey’s behind her, she’s looking to do something — something more.

When Barack Obama was elected president, Oh says it was a “game-changer,” explaining, “I could feel the rumbling inside of myself because I somehow felt I was part of that change.” Now, more than ever, she wants to encourage Asian Americans to be bold. She’s involved in community outreach and says she’s open to starting a dialogue on race, in Hollywood and beyond. “I’m trying to teach Asian American girls that they are perfect the way they are and all they need to do is discover themselves,” she says.

If they ever need some inspiration, they can simply look at her face.

 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

 

 

Stylist: Anita Patrickson for The Wall Group
Makeup: Georgie Eisdell for The Wall Group
Hair: Christine Symonds for The Wall Group
Location The Legendary Park Plaza Hotel

Cosmetics Meets Technology: 3D Print Any Color Makeup From Your Computer

Story by Ruth Kim. 

Ladies, ever scroll through Tumblr or Pinterest and see a lip color that you’re just dying to have? Or maybe you accidentally drop your eye shadow case and the palette bursts into a thousand, tiny particles (isn’t that the worst?), and you need a replacement ASAP.

Well, with the Mink printer, these dreams may soon come true.

Grace Choi, a former MBA student at Harvard Business School, is introducing a gadget that may just shake up (and piss off) the makeup industry: a mini 3D inkjet printer that prints real, usable makeup in the comfort of your own home.

Choi, who calls herself a “serial inventor,” debuted a proof-of-concept demo of the Mink printer at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week. She launched her presentation with this bold claim: “The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bullsh–.”

Summarized by Choi in simple terms, all makeup is made of are cheap raw material substrates that are mixed with varying shades of pigment. Cheaper and more accessible makeup products, sold at a Walmart or CVS, only come in colors that will sell in masses. More unique “niche” shades are sold at exponentially higher prices at Sephora or makeup counters. Who wants to pay that kind of money? “No one, that’s who,” Choi says.

So this is where the Mink 3D printer comes in. The gadget essentially turns the internet into an “endless beauty aisle,” says Choi. From any YouTube channel, Pinterest board or Facebook photo, makeup enthusiasts can select a shade, use a color picker to copy the exact hex code, click print, and voila. But you’ll just have to see it to believe it. Watch Choi’s demo in this video.

When all is said and done, Choi will initially sell the mini printer at the retail price of $300. We’re just simply fascinated at the endless possibilities that technology can offer.

 

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com

 

Yes, Asians Can Pull Off Blond Hair Too

Story by Anna M. Park.

Model Soo Joo Park turned heads with her platinum locks on Chanel’s fall runway earlier this year. Since then, the Korean American 27-year-old has been in practically every major fashion magazine, has walked dozens of runways, and has been featured in advertising campaigns from Tom Ford to Chanel to Benetton. We seriously covet her look, so we asked Chinese American stylist Vicky Shen of Wicked Salon in San Francisco how to go blond.

“Being Asian American ourselves, we very much understand what works and what doesn’t on Asian hair,” says Shen. That said, if you want to go blond, aim for a platinum or creamy beige color. “In general, Asians have more yellow undertones, so having any yellow or orange in the hair really clashes with the skin tone. Try platinum, a soft buttery beige, or even a hint of peach, which will complement the skin.”

We don’t know if blondes really do have more fun, but it’s clear that if an Asian woman wants to go blond, she’ll have absolutely no fun in the salon. “It’s very difficult to achieve a platinum blond look on very dark hair,” says Shen. “It requires a lot of hair bleach, and a lot of time under the dryer. We would apply hair bleach mixed with either 30 volume or 40 volume peroxide, and apply the mixture from roots to ends; most likely the process will be repeated again. The hair color we are looking for at this stage is a very pale yellow, without a hint of orange. Then we would apply a purple-colored glaze to counter any yellow that is still left in the hair.”

It doesn’t end once you leave the salon. Purple shampoo and conditioner are very important to keep the yellow away, as well as a deep protein conditioner at least once a week to strengthen hair. And expect a root touch-up every four weeks, a glaze possibly every two weeks. This is a very high-maintenance look, says Shen, and if you go blond, “a fierce attitude is the key. You really need to rock it.”

Wanna go lighter but not ready for all that work? For a more realistic shade, first lighten hair to a light neutral brown, says Shen, and then add beige-y highlights on top.

 

THE TOOLS:

tool 1
1. Sensai Intensive Hair Mask.


tool 2
2. Arbonne Pure Vibrance Lustre Fortifying Shampoo.


tool 3
3. Mixed Chicks Hair Silk.


tool 4
4. Even your hairspray should have sunscreen to extend the life of your color. Philip Kingsley Weatherproof Hairspray.


tool 5
5. Shen likes the purple shampoo from Davinese. Also try Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Brightening Blonde Shampoo.

 



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This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Nina Davuluri Joins Macy’s in celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Story by Jeline Abutin. 

Embracing her cultural background whole-heartedly, Miss America, Nina Davuluri, has partnered with Macy’s in celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Its first stop of six took place at Macy’s in Cerritos, CA. on May 8.

“It has been absolutely incredible, especially being from New York,” said Davuluri. “I was formally Miss New York and Macy’s on 34th Street is so quintessential New York. To be a part of this campaign and to be the face of Macy’s during AP Heritage Month has really been quite an honor, so I’m really excited.”

Commemorating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Macy’s has collaborated with Miss America in a quest to spread cultural awareness as well as celebrate the accomplishments of Asian-Pacific Americans.

Up the escalators on the second floor, guests were immersed in their very own taste of the Indian culture. With upbeat music along with samosas and chai lassi, onlookers watched a Bollywood performance while anxiously awaiting Davuluri.

As Miss America made her way to the small stage, with poise and grace, guests were awestruck and inspired by her strong cultural roots and her platform of diversity through cultural competency.

“As much as I’ve always viewed myself as first and foremost American, I am Indian,” said Davuluri as she spoke to the crowd during the Q&A.

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“I have my Indian roots, my heritage, my culture, my background, and that’s so important to me and that’s definitely a part of who I am,” said Davuluri. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that assimilation has to happen from both sides. You simply can’t raise your children in American expecting them to be 100 percent Indian, a 100 percent Hispanic, whatever your cultural background might be, it’s just not possible. And so I think there has to be a healthy balance between both worlds. And that is still a process in my household for my parents to understand to this day and for me to find that healthy balance too. It will probably continue for the remainder of my journey as well as for my children.”

With both parents originally from India, Davuluri is second generation. Growing up with many stereotypes and misconceptions about her culture has propelled Davuluri to educate younger generations about the different cultures around the world.

Inspiring culturally rich women as well as young women in general, Davuluri, who is opening the eyes of society to a culturally aware and diverse world, is still amazed at what she has achieved.

“It’s still unbelievable, it’s very difficult to put into words,” said Davuluri. “I’ve just been very blessed to be able to wake up everyday and know that all I can do is be the best Nina that I can be and hopefully that’s enough and that’s what I’ve been trying to do this whole year. I’m thankful that it’s inspiring some young women out there.”

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At Last! An Asian American Family Sitcom Is Coming To Television

Story by Michelle Woo.

It’s what been missing on TV for, oh, 20 years. Asian Americans. No, not just sprinkled around as the best friend or doctor or quirky love interest. We’re talking about a show centered on an Asian American family, one that we can relate to, invest ourselves in and laugh with—not at.

Finally, that show is here.

“Fresh Off The Boat,” a comedy based on Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name, has been picked up by ABC, making it, when it airs, the first Asian American family sitcom on network prime time since Margaret Cho’s “All American Girl” premiered in 1994. (God, we feel old.)

The sitcom, written and produced by Nahnatchka Khan, follows hip-hop obsessed Eddie (Hudson Yang) as he grows up in suburban Orlando with his immigrant parents, played by Randall Park and Constance Wu. Yang is the 10-year-old son of Asian American pop culture guru Jeff Yang, who wrote in his Wall Street Journal column, “The show is like nothing you will have ever seen before on television. If it makes it to air, it will blow minds, raise eyebrows and, to quote a line that my son says as Little Eddie, ‘change the game.’ I would honestly say the same if I weren’t the lead actor’s father. It’s that different. And provocative. And, yes, gut-bustingly funny.”

Just tell us when to set our DVRs.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.

#IAm Campaign Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month With Star Power

Story by James S. Kim. 

In support of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPIHM), the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) will be launching its #IAm Campaign, a celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) role models in the arts and entertainment. The all-digital campaign is the first of its kind, and it features some of the world’s biggest Asian stars on film, television and YouTube.

“My job at CAPE is simple: to put more Asian faces in front of and behind the camera through events, education, and advocacy,” said executive director Jennifer Sanderson. “We are change agents for our community and the entertainment industry, but we still have a long way to go to overcome the false stereotypes and misrepresentations that plague us. That’s where the CAPE #IAm Campaign comes in. “The goal is to share stories, who we really are, instead of perpetuating stereotypes that are ever present in the mainstream media.”

The #IAm Campaign begins today with two web releases: a fun eight-episode web series, “Making I AM: Get me Your Friends,” and a set of 19 mini-documentaries featuring AAPI artists and leaders telling their stories of overcoming obstacles and chasing dreams.


The eight-episode series follows actor (and KoreAm columnist) Randall Park as he becomes the “Nick Fury” for CAPE’s campaign. Tasked with assembling an all-star group of Asian American artists and role models, Park relentlessly pursues that goal—sometimes resorting to drastic measures.

In order to recruit The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun, Park agrees to set him up on a date with model Jessica Gomes. As Yeun finds out, however, he’s not the only one who fell for that false promise. Park also somehow out-dances Harry Shum Jr. in a dance-off to get him to join, although Dancing With The Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba might have been a tad generous with her score.

YouTube stars Michelle Phan, Ryan Higa and Wong Fu Productions also make appearances alongside actors and actresses Brian Tee, Leonardo Nam, Amy Hill, Bobby Lee, Melissa Tang and Kelly Hu. Journalist Lisa Ling and Master Chef Christine Ha join in as well. You can check out the videos onCAPE’s YouTube channel and on the #IAm Campaign website.

 

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com

Asia’s Ridiculous ‘Finger Trap’ Beauty Test Determines Whether You’re Pretty Or Ugly

Story by Michelle Woo. 

It’s being called the “finger trap,” and it’s the latest Asian beauty trend swarming through social media. (And no, we’re not talking about those 10-cent gag toys that would turn your fingers blue by cutting off your circulation.) The concept is simple: Touch the side of your index finger to both the tip of your nose and your chin. If your lips don’t touch your finger, congratulations! You’re pretty! If they do, well, er … there’s always Photoshop?

According to Refinery29, the trend originated with a Japanese meme. Chinese actress Xinyi Zhang—who’s stunning, by the way—tried it out and then lamented the fact that she “didn’t pass.” This prompted her legions of fans to take the test and post selfies showing their results. Now everyone from “ancient Chinese generals to K-Pop stars” has gotten in on the finger-trap action. The test, also known as the “Beauty and Ugliness Identification Method,” is one of biggest trending topics on Weibo, China’s version of Facebook. HelloGiggles called it “the new thigh gap.”

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Some say the finger trap trend is just another reflection of Asia’s absurd beauty standards, while others, including Refinery29 fashion intern and Weibo user Venus Wong, brush it off as “a harmless fad.” Curious, I tried the test and failed. Sob. At least I’m not alone. Under this ridiculous measure, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Christina Hendricks and Victoria Beckham are also part of Club Ugly.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.  

New Film Stars K-pop Star BoA and Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough

Story by Lorna Soonhee Umphrey.

K-pop fans get a chance to see their “Queen of Pop,” BoA, in a whole new light, as she makes her American feature film debut in Make Your Move, co-starring Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough.

Set in the underground dance clubs of New York, the film tells the story of star-crossed dancers Aya (played by BoA) and Donny (played by Hough), whose respective families are competing to see who has the most successful dance club in the Brooklyn scene. Their brothers (Aya’s brother is played by Korean American actor Will Yun Lee) also are former partners who had a testy falling-out, making the pairing of Aya and Donny a somewhat forbidden one.

The film’s writer and director Duane Adler (Step Up, Save The Last Dance) said that he wrote the role of Aya specifically for BoA. “I got introduced to her personally years ago through a Korean filmmaker friend of mine who said, ‘You make dance films, you need to know who this girl is.’ So when I started writing this movie, I wrote it with her in mind,” he said, during red carpet interviews at a March 31 screening at The Grove in Los Angeles.

So Adler sent over the script to the global K-pop star, and it didn’t take much convincing after that, according to BoA. “Ater I read it, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I could relate to the character,” said BoA, also at the L.A. screening.

And, once she knew that the choreographers for the film would be dancing veterans Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew), she jumped on board with the project. “They’re great, amazing choreographers, and I had wanted to work with them even before I started working on this project,” BoA said.

This being her first English-language feature film, the singer admitted it was a challenge to act in English. “It was pretty tough, but I think I did my best, and it was really great to work with Derek and Duane,” she said.

Hough, who said it was “great to work with BoA,” was the one on set who shared with some fellow cast members just how prominent a pop icon BoA is.

“When I got the role, I didn’t know who BoA was,” admitted Wesley Jonathan, who plays Hough’s foster brother in the film. “Then, one night we’re all in Derek’s room, and Derek puts her on YouTube. She’s amazing—her dancing, her music and everything.”

Notably, Make Your Move was scheduled to have an April 16 VIP premiere, but TV Report said that it was canceled because of the tragic South Korean ferry sinking, which occurred this week. BoA also reportedly has canceled other planned interviews for the film because of the incident, which has a nation in mourning.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Artist David Choe Says He Fabricated Podcast Story About ‘Rapey Behavior’

Story by James S. Kim.

Korean American artist David Choe is known to be provocative in his work, but he may have gone too far when he told a story on his podcast about a questionable sexual encounter with a massage therapist that some are flagging as rape. After the initially obscure DVDASA podcast garnered greater attention and caused some to accuse him of rape, the artist issued a statement recently saying that he’s not a rapist and that he fabricated the encounter.

“We create stories and tell tales. It’s not a news show. It’s not a representation of my reality,” Choe said in his statement, which was posted on the podcast’s blog. “I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!”

The episode of DVDASA, which Choe co-hosts with adult film actress Asa Akira, aired on March 10, but it was until weeks later on April 17 when a XoJane, an online women’s lifestyle magazine, highlighted Choe’s encounter with a female masseuse at a massage parlor in Los Angeles. Since then, others including Gawker and the Daily Mail picked up the story.

In the podcast, Choe said that, halfway through the massage, he got an erection, and after thinking on how to best act on it, decided to start masturbating in front of the masseuse, whom he calls “Rose.”

Choe said in the podcast that he took the woman’s hand and placed it on his penis, then asked her to “kiss it a little.” When Rose refused, he said he took the back of her head and forced her into oral sex. She refused to have intercourse with him, and apparently asked him to lie back down to finish the massage, he said.

The story was Choe’s account of an “Erection Quest,” which co-host Akira describes as “trying things you’ve never tried before to obtain a super hard erection.” When Choe finished his account, though, Akira said, “You raped … allegedly.” In the podcast, Choe also mentioned that the masseuse later asked him if he’d like to go out with her, and that apparently indicated to him that she did like him. After the podcast members talked about “rapey” behavior vs. “rape,” Choe said, “I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behavior. But I am not a rapist.”

In the XoJane article, the author, Melissa Stetten, wrote, “I don’t know if ‘Rose’ really had a crush on David or not. All I know is the way David told the story makes it seem like he forced an unwilling woman to give him oral sex.”

After XoJane published its article, Choe responded the next day on DVDASA’s website, saying his story was entirely fictional.

“I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered,” he wrote. “I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show DVDASA as a complete extension of my art. If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche. Just like many of my paintings are often misinterpreted, the same goes with my show.”

According to Buzzfeed, Vice is “looking into” the incident involving Choe, who is currently involved in the company’s web series Thumbs Up! and has also served as a correspondent for Vice’s HBO show. When asked by Buzzfeed whether Vice would continue to work with the artist, Vice spokeswoman Cappi Williamson said, “Vice staffers are aware of it [David Choe’s story] and reviewing the situation internally.”

Here’s the podcast in question from DVDASA Episode 106, “Erection Quest.” The story beings around the 1:13:00 mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKgOtFUyDBs

 

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com

Justin Bieber Apologizes After Visiting Controversial World War II Shrine

Story by James S. Kim. 

Pop star Justin Bieber isn’t exactly known for his cultural sensitivity, and on Wednesday, he added another reason for that reputation. During a visit to Tokyo, Japan, Bieber posted two photos on Instagram that showed him visiting a controversial World War II shrine, causing outrage among South Korean and Chinese netizens, as well as some lawmakers from those countries.

One photo showed Bieber praying in front of the Yasukuni Shrine, and another showed him posing with a priest. Bieber tweeted the photos with the caption, “Thank you for your blessings.”

Bieber quickly apologized and removed the photos after he came under fire from Chinese and South Korean fans, some of whom called for the singer to be banned from performing in their home countries and even demanding he be “run out of Asia” permanently, The Independent reports. On Instagram, Bieber said he did not realize what the shrine represented and was initially just struck by its beauty.

The singer explained that he had merely asked his driver to stop when he saw the “beautiful shrine.”

“I was mislead (sic) to think the shrines were only a place of prayer,” Bieber said in his post. “To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry.”

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The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, along with several war criminals. Visits by Japanese dignitaries over the years have strained relations between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, who view it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Earlier this week, 150 Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine, and while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not come along, he made an offering to the shrine.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.