What happens when you put three emerging Asian American musicians (from Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles respectively) in a group together? A musical force to be reckoned – Aziatix (Eddie Shin, Jay “Flowsik” Pak, and Nicky Lee) presents themselves as a refreshing entry into the music industry with a unique blend of r&b/soul, pop, and hip-hop. The Korean American trio, Aziatix is quickly gaining more recognition through their EP, “Awakening”, which has made it onto the top of the iTunes charts in the U.S., Japan.
They may all look intimidating as they all exude cool personas, but after a few questions, they’re just your normal, down-to-earth guys who love good music and won’t lose sight of their roots. Click more for our interview with them!
It turns out all that advice Mom gave you was right after all, at least when it comes to taking care of your skin. Here, what beauty experts learned from their mothers.
ISSUE: Spring 2012
DEPT: Beauty Kit
Erica Chung, 3LAB
Considering she’s the co-founder of 3LAB, the skincare company with a cult-like following known for its high-tech proprietary blend of stem cell activators, Erica Chung’s beauty advice is quite simple: “I would recommend the same tips my mother gave me: cleanse, get plenty of sleep, and protect your skin from the sun.” And it behooves us to take her advice: the Korean American 55-year-old doesn’t look a day over 40.
Cleanliness is next to godliness. Chung considers cleansing her face to be “essential
both day and night.”
Get plenty of sleep.Our body restores itself as we sleep, and to help that process along,
Chung follows cleansing with 3LAB’s Super H Serum. “It contains both apple stem cells and bio-engineered growth hormones so it is a very powerful formula to reverse the signs of
aging and restore a healthy skin tone,” she says. “This is the most important treatment as it treats age spots, dullness and uneven
skin tone and texture, which I believe are the most telltale signs of aging.”
Stay out of the sun.“In the day I follow with 3LAB Perfect BB Cream for added treatment properties and sun protection.”
When the weather warms up, it’s time for a fresh look. These experts on Asian hair weigh in on what’s hot now.
The ombré/dip-dye look has been big for a while, but for spring, colorist
Kazumi Morton prefers a softer version. “Keep the tone in the caramel-pecan-cinnamon family,
and break upthe line between dark and light, adding a few ribbons throughout for a sun-kissed effect.” If you prefer traditional highlights, keep highlights within three shades of your base color to avoid brassiness, a common
problem for Asian hair, says Morton. “The key is to pass the orange stage and to use the right toner, which depends on porosity and color. Also, do not use big chunks in the foil. I take paper-thin sections when I highlight Asian hair so I have more control.”
Whether you want perfectly straight tresses or beachy waves, the key this season is to have healthy, shiny hair.
Yuko, famous for their Japanese hair straightening, also offers Anti-Frizz, a semi-permanent treatment that loosens and smooths out curls, without making them stick straight. If you’re just looking to rejuvenate your strands, their Long Lasting Conditioning Treatment repairs and conditions without changing texture.
Soccer mom? Nurturing mom? MILF? Tiger Mother? With so many conflicting messages about how to raise your children, what’s a modern Asian American mother to do? One mom-to-be searches for answers.
ISSUE: Spring 2012
STORY: Teena Apples
ILLUSTRATION: Luke Inki Cho
For years I’ve watched with awe — and, at times, a concerned eye — as friends and family have shared their joys (“Every day is a gift!”, “It’s a blessing to have children!”) and their woes over parenthood (“Treasure your life while it’s yours,” “You think you’re tired now”). And, of course, when you do try to chime in with what you think is some valuable direction, there’s the embittered “Until you have one, you have no idea” response. Well, I’m just months from taking on that precious title of Mom and here’s my battle cry: Bring. It. On.
Ever since my bulging tummy gave my new life’s path away, you better believe everyone — even those with no kids — has expressed an opinion on how I should approach motherhood. My friends warned me of such attention. In a world abuzz about the wrath of Amy Chua’s Tiger Mother and the flood of self-help parenting media, it’s fascinating to wade through all the voices and know-it-alls who want to
make the future of my child — I should say “our child,” as my husband shouldn’t be left out of this future family equation — their business.
So I reached out to Asian American mothers from a variety of family upbringings and structures to see what guidance they
could offer first-time mothers like myself. Each has a valuable perspective, and I definitely feel every generation could benefit from a little MAAM (Modern Asian American Mother) insight, starting with this:
You have choices. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I feel this isn’t expressed enough. We all know the Asian parent stereotypes, thanks to Chua and the American media broadcasting them to the world. And yet, excelling in academics at all costs is still the
mantra that many Asian immigrant and Asian American parents drill into their kids. To the everyday American, such parents may be perceived as overly strict, with harsh expectations and impossible-to-reach goals taking priority over developing close, loving relationships with their children. OK, sure, we all want our kids to be successful; the question is, at what cost? Interestingly, as most of the mothers I spoke to will concur, you can shape what “success” means for your child.
My husband reminds me of the feeling among many immigrant parents that their kids don’t appreciate, and ratherabuse, the freedoms and opportunities they have living inAmerican society. I suspect my own parents felt that way when, as 20-somethings, they moved from the Philippines to the States in pursuit of the American Dream and to start their family. As they were both raised in strict households where academic success was how they were judged — period — this practice naturally became part of their parenting, and we often heard those lines “We work so hard to provide for you … I didn’t even have [fill in the blank] growing up.” In short, we received hell — unpleasant physical punishment and verbal lashings — if we didn’t deliver “A” after “A.” (Yeah, my sisters and I received good marks in school, learned piano and graduated with college degrees, but doctors and former child prodigies we are not.)
“But we don’t have to raise our kids like that,” says my sister, Tricia, a mother of two. “I feel being a modern Asian
American mother means adapting to your environment. It’s an evolution of sorts, which also means encompassing the
ideals of our spouses — at times, a non-Asian spouse, whose parenting style is not rooted in Asian stereotypical high- achieving expectations.”
She does add that something to admire from the generations before us is a mother’s dedication to her children, and the evolution of that is the “nurturing mother” — something American children’s lives — thanks in part to our exposure to the physically affectionate American mom figure we see in popular culture.
This is not to say, however, that we shouldn’t establish boundaries. “One has to balance the freedom and opportunity that children have here in the States with discipline and guidance,” says Helen Mendoza, also a mother of two. “Kids here
are so sophisticated and advanced — and they have the opportunity to do more, see more, experience more — very often they get themselves into situations that are beyond what they can handle in terms of maturity.” In other words, we as parents do not have to fall into the behavioral patterns of previous generations — we do have choices. And here’s another: You can have a career, be a mother and not feel guilty about it. This, of course, is not news to anyone. Many of the women I corresponded with had been raised in households with work-
ing mothers, as was I. And I, too, will definitely fall in that category, as my husband and I are unable to raise a child or sustain
our current quality of life (thanks, student loans) without two incomes. Though it need not come down to necessity, either.
For so long Asian women have been raised to put family first, but it doesn’t have to be so cut and dry, as Chinese American mother Vikki Law explains: “For first-time mothers, I would advise them not to feel that they have to give up who they are or what they do because they now have a small child or children. Even in 2012, there’s still the societal pressure on mothers to stop everything else and to devote all of their time to raising their child and being the best mother there is.” She adds, “I think that children benefit from having mothers who
are involved in the world and who are pursuing things that make them happy even if, at times, this means that their children aren’t the center of attention or that their children have to wait for their mothers’ attention.”
At the same time …
Work and family don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s inspiring to hear how so many women have struck a creative and fulfilling balance of the two, by combining them. Law, for instance, is a writer, photographer and prison justice organizer, who involves her 11-year-old daughter in all aspects of her life. “I not only explain to my daughter what is going on in the world, but take her with me to social justice events, whether they be rallies, marches or mass actions like Occupy Wall Street,” says the author of the 2009 book, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles Of Incarcerated Women. “And when she was old enough to ask questions, I explained to her what the purpose of the event was and why we were going.”
Rubyellen Bratcher, whose days are documented on the whimsical blog Cakies (mycakies.blogspot.com) and whose equally imaginative creations are sold on Etsy, has lovingly brought together her many passions online: family, crafts, faith, and fashion. With four kids — True, 5; Brave, 4; Soul, 2; and Glow, 4 months — that gives her plenty to write about. And her background in teaching certainly was valuable when the Filipina American and her husband made the decision to homeschool their children. “I used to teach fourth grade at a
local public school, but I want my children to have the one-on-one attention and be able to cater their learning to what best suits their personalities,” she says.
As a working comedian, actress, writer and mother of Aubrey, who plays toddler Lily on the hit ABC show Modern Family, Korean American Amy Anderson introduced her 4-year-old to the world of entertainment, and has managed to
pursue her own career and invest in Aubrey’s future as well. “The entertainment industry is our lives,” says Anderson. “Every day is different, but it’s always the same: It’s centered on our jobs, whether it’s me getting on a plane to fly across the country to do a show … or I drive Aubrey to the set to spend five hours on the studio lot with her … and then she has to go to an audition with me.” While that may sound like a hectic schedule to some, the self-proclaimed “momager” emphasizes, “at home, we’re just regular people. Nick Jr. is on
TV, we’re making macaroni and cheese and we’re taking the dog for a walk.” As different as all these mothers’ everyday lives and
occupations may be, I think they would all share this belief: The only family structure that really matters is one filled with love. Does having a nuclear family equal a happy ending for a child? Of course not. Maybe in the minds of our parents’ generation— and especially conservative America’s view — it’s the proper way to raise children, but life is much more complex and richer than that. While some Asian American women may feel that shame is still associated with divorce, raising a child out of marriage or never getting married, really the only true disgrace would be raising a child in a home without love. I grew up in a household with two parents and three siblings under one roof, but if I were to talk upbringing, we, like many immigrant families, were raised by an extended family of lolos and lolas and a wonderful nanny, Manang Mary (a gentle soul who also cared for my father in his youth), while my and my cousins’ parents worked full-time jobs. I knew no other life, and I never went to sleep at night thinking I wasn’t loved. “If I had to try to label my family structure, I would call it co-parenting with two separate parenting households,” says New York–based Law. She and her daughter’s father are responsible for their child half of each week. Anderson also is in a co-parenting situation. “I’m a single mom, in every sense of
the word,” she says. “I don’t have a boyfriend, I do not have a nanny, but I do co-parent with my daughter’s father. We split
when she was just an infant, so she doesn’t remember us being together as a couple.”
Filmmaker, singer and “mostly a stay-at-home mom” Mendoza, on the other hand, is married. The Filipina American and her wife, Pam, have been together for 18 years and have “a 12-year-old girl who loves to dance and a 9-year-old boy who loves to ice skate.” Their children’s upbringing, Mendoza feels, is not so different from the one she had, raised in the East Coast where her immigrant family was the only Asian family in the neighborhood. “Our kids are being raised in a two-mom household, and we have to account for that in teaching them early and often tolerance and respect for others,”she says, “but also teaching them how to protect themselves from bullying, and stand up for who they are and who their family is. In my case, it’s not that different from how I was raised as the immigrant kid.”
The modern Asian American mom is raising her kids in so many more configurations these days. I applaud my sister who has done an incredible job rearing a teenage son (granted, a task not without its headaches and drama) and 4-year-old daughter as a single parent. Should we look down on her or feel pity because of her situation? If she and her kids go to sleep every night knowing they’re loved, that’s something to treasure. And on that note …
Embrace every moment.As I reflect on what choices I’ll have to face as a mother, I definitely feel that being a minority in America will no doubt inform my parenting. I take each of these women’s words (and even those of my own parents’) to heart as I embark on my
Modern Asian American Mom journey. Who knows? Maybe I can throw a little French flavor into my parenting as well to keep
things interesting. (While I write this, the French-parents-know-best tome Growing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman is currently making headlines.) But for now, I’m just trying to enjoy this special gift of life that stirs in me each day.
The other day my dad said to me, out of nowhere, “Teena, I think you’re going to be a strict parent.” I agreed with him, not because of my “Asian” upbringing per se, but because the teenage version of me was no angel. But I did get good grades. So I’ll take what I can get from my little one as well.
I know one thing for sure: This kid will not find his or her way in the world without help, nor will I as his or her mom. (My husband and I like surprises.) As Anderson reminded me, “You do need help; there’s no shame in taking it.” Thankfully, my own modern Asian American mom tentatively penciled herself in for a day or two a week once her apo (grandchild) arrives, as long as we order the Filipino Channel on cable. Well, that’s a start.
Katrina Law, the stunning star of Spartacus: Vengeance, fights the Roman Republic as Spartacus’ love interest, Mira, and faces her greatest fear.
ISSUE: SPRING 2012
STORY: COURTNEY HONG
Katrina Lawis afraid of deer. You
wouldn’t know it by watching her as the
strong, newly-freed slave Mira, who
fights alongside rebels on the run in
STARZ’s sex-and-violence saturated hit
series, Spartacus: Vengeance, the sequel
to 2010’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand, in
which she also starred. “This year,
everybody fights,” says Law, who is of
Taiwanese, German and Italian descent.
“Everybody has to fight. They don’t
know if they’re going to live or die.”
To get in fighting shape for
Vengeance, Law spent three months
training with fitness model Anca Marcus
in Los Angeles before jumping into
gladiator boot camp with the cast in
New Zealand. Intense plyometric and
circuit training, including sledgehammer
and sword swinging, ensured that Law
could be a badass on her own terms
during the 14-hour days on set. “There
are few shows [in which] women get to
fight and get down and dirty with the
boys,” says Law, whose main fitness
concern during the first season was not
feeling “ridiculous standing around
naked.” But these days, “I walk off a set
and think, ‘today was the best day on set
ever.’ It was such an emotional high be-
cause I had so much fun.”
She first got that emotional high
after landing the role of Cassie in The
Chorus Line while in college, something
that made her determined to possess
that feeling for the rest of her life. She
then moved from theater to television,
cast in the sci-fi thriller, The Resistance,
an independent, low budget web series
that was eventually funded and re-shot
with the help of STARZ and aired on
Syfy. Law’s pro-bono work on the series,
which she considers one of her greatest
professional achievements, made her a
standout consideration for Spartacus:
Blood and Sand.
Law’s two-year Spartacus adven-
ture has been marked by great highs
and lows: an epic New Zealand en-
gagement to her fiancé of two years, and
the suddendeath of former Spartacus
leading man Andy Whitfield. Law
considers her relationship her greatest
personal achievement. “I’m proud
ofbeing ableto maintain a healthy
relationship and all the work that I had
to put into it to keep it healthy,” she
says. As for Whitfield, who died of non-
Hodgkin’s lymphoma last September,
“it’s harder knowing this has all gone
forward without him,” she says. “It
takes the happiness from it. A humble
nod and agracious thank you to Andy
for all that he’s done in my life and for
Perhaps Whitfield’s death has
heightened Law’s resolve to overcome
her greatest fear: getting to the end of
her life and regretting not doing every-
thing she could to live life to the fullest.
As for deer, that’s a fear to be conquered
on another day.
Spoken word poet Sarah Kay may only be 23, but she is already a force to be reckoned with.
ISSUE: Spring 2012
To call Sarah Kay eloquent is an understatement. The 23-year-old spoken word poet is an articulate force of nature, blowing audience members away with each enunciated adjective, suspenseful pause and wave of her hand.
Kay, who is of Japanese and Jewish descent, discovered her love for words early on. “Before I knew how to write, I used to follow my mother around the house and yell, ‘Poem!’ until she wrote down my dictation. I think that’s why she taught me how to write early on, so I’d stop making her do it for me,” Kay laughs. One day, when Kay was 14, she found out she had been registered for the New York City Teen Poetry Slam; to this day, Kay has no clue who enrolled her. But the competition led her to New York’s famed Bowery Poetry Club, where she fell in love. “I came back every week even though I was the youngest person there by far. Every thing I saw thrilled me,” she remembers.
Eventually, Kay was persuaded to go onstage herself. “When you’re 14, you’re not told often that adults want to listen to you, and this was so different,” says Kay. Her performances eventually took her out of New York and to HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, the National Poetry Slam, France, South Africa and beyond.
The turning point in Kay’s career came at the 2011 TED Conference, where she mesmerized the audience
with her talk. “I definitely think that my life has divided into pre- and post-TED,” she says.
Though she’s been incredibly successful as a spoken word poet, don’t think that occupation will be Kay’s be-all-end-all. “My great love is writing,” says Kay. “It just so happens that this was the form that I discovered at the right time.” Currently, she’s getting her
master’s in education in order to strengthen her passion project, Project V.O.I.C.E., through which she and partner Phil Kaye teach poetry and self-expression at schools. Kay is also dabbling in other projects, including plays, illustrated books, documentaries, and photography. “I’m always trying to find the best way to tell each story,” she says. And at 23, it looks like Kay’s own story won’t be reaching The End
Actor Reggie Lee always seems to play the despicable, child-kidnapping gangster. But look deeper and you’ll find a
ISSUE: Spring 2012
STORY: Janice Jann
Reggie Lee discovered something about himself recently. “I’m actually kind of funny,” he says. “That is one part that
I’m starting to own.” The Filipino-Chinese American actor currently plays the sardonic Sergeant Wu in the NBC procedural
drama Grimm, but he’s usually known for his less-than-loveable roles in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Tropic
Thunder, and as a member of the Triad in the upcoming Jason Statham thriller Safe. In real life, however, Lee is nowhere
near those bad-guy characters you love to hate. In addition to his comedic side, Lee can sing and dance; his first job in
Los Angeles was in the musical Miss Saigon. “I realized if I wanted to work, I’m going to have to be a triple threat
and learn how to sing and dance on Broadway,” he says. He recounts how at 13 he had to walk two miles to get to a
bus to take acting and dance classes after school. “I think that my family has always instilled in me a strong sense of
work ethic. Even as an actor when I’m not working, I put myself back in class to keep studying and keep learning. That’s
what I love about acting – that you can never master it. It keeps things fresh.”
As one of the busiest working Asian American actors in Hollywood (he’s also in this summer’s highly anticipated finale to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises), Lee doesn’t get much downtime. But when he does, another surprising fact: “I flew home
today [from Portland, where Grimmis shot] and the first thing I wanted to do was pick my niece up from school. She’s 5. That’s who I miss the most when I go away.” Lee’s niece was even on his mind when he posed for this story. “I thought about her and the Asian role models
that are out there and I’m so happy there’s a magazine like this for her.”
How can you not love that?
When entrepreneur Dina Yuenisn’t cooking a scrumptious, home-style meal, working on her
historical fiction novel, The Shanghai Legacy, or traveling for inspiration, she’s building up
AsianFusion, a multimedia website and company focused on celebrating Asian cultures and
traditions via food, art, music and more. Yuen’s latest venture is her debut cookbook, Indonesian
Cooking, featuring beautiful photos and original family recipes that simplify flavorful, authentic
cooking. Currently based in San Francisco, the Chinese-Russian American’s journey with food
began as a 5-year-old in Indonesia, where cooking was her family’s primary love language.
She eventually became the youngest student to graduate from Indonesia’s foremost culinary
academy at the age of 12.
ISSUE: Spring 2012
STORY: Courtney Hong
Audrey Magazine: If you could cook for anyone in the world, who would you choose and what
would you cook?
Dina Yuen: Easily, my father. I cook for him whenever we’re in the same city, but I never feel it’s
enough. Being a huge foodie, he’s very flexible with his palate. I want him to enjoy great flavors
but maintain his good health so I’m very conscious about creating dishes that incorporate or-
ganic and fresh ingredients and have explosive flavors, but little fat. One of his favorite meals is Roasted Salmon with Tamarind Glaze, Garlic Stir-fried Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes(using broth and olive oil instead of cream and butter). I also ply him with antioxidant rich fruits such as dragon fruit and pomegranates for dessert.
AM:Of your many professions (she’s an industrial engineer and classical musician by training),
which is your favorite?
DY:I come from a long history of entrepreneurs on both sides of my family. As young as in second grade, I started my first business in school, selling pretty stickers at a premium price. And writing is an outlet that helped maintain my faith and sanity during intense travels and the dramatic turbulence every entrepreneur endures at some point in life.
AM:How are you a strong proponent of women’s and children’s rights?
DY:One of my ultimate goals with Asian Fusion is to create meaningful dialogue and solutions
among Asian people globally regarding the diminishing love and respect for our heritage and
traditions. Consequently, I hope that a positive cultural shift across Asia will help to dramatically reduce the number of children in prostitution and increase the self-value of Asian women.