Event Recap: CAPE’s #IAm Live Event

   


Story by Arianna Caramat and Reera Yoo 

 

On May 27, 2015, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) teamed up with Verizon to host the second annual #IAm Live Event at Los Angeles’ Japanese American National Museum. The #IAm campaign launched back in May in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, and it became a chance to spotlight Asian American stories in the media, food and entertainment. Amongst this year’s highlighted Asian American role models Cassey Ho, AJ Rafael, Seoul Sausage and Joseph Vincent had a chance to share the stage to speak on their own “I Am” journeys.

The night started out with some delicious food all courtesy of Seoul Sausage.

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Also, guests were welcomed to take pictures on the red carpet where they could then instantly print their images.

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The event was hosted by Kollaboration founder and comedian, Paul “PK” Kim. Before introducing the guest speakers, PK cracked a few jokes about raising his three children to warm up the crowd. “Whatever you’re doing, I’m doing with three kids,” PK joked. “Literally me being out right now is like clubbing.”  

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Singer and songwriter AJ Rafael was the first guest to take the stage, and he opened up by performing one of his well known originals, “We Could Happen.”

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On stage, AJ discussed his humble beginnings and evolution as a singer-songwriter. He shared stories about his late father, who was also a musician and composer, and how he was greatly influenced by him. “For me, it was all about the journey. The YouTube journey was really learning about your audience in the beginning and having them see you grow. That’s what I tell a lot of people who want to start content creating. It’s like they want to put up a professional thing out right away,” says AJ. “So, what I tell them is to do some vlogs, ask the audience questions. It’s a community and you can start from there. And really, there are no boundaries and don’t edit yourself.”

Although YouTube has become oversaturated with Asian American musicians and vloggers in recent years, AJ said this was not necessarily a bad sign, claiming that the Asian American community still provides strong support to its artists. “The fact that there are a lot of Asian Americans on YouTube–I think it’s a great thing that we can create our own content and not be controlled by what’s happening in mainstream media,” he said.  

After AJ shared his passion for Disney and his impressive Batman tattoos, Seoul Sausage founders Chris Oh, Ted and Yong Kim took the stage. The trio first rose to fame when they won the third season of The Great Food Truck Race back in 2012. Since then, Seoul Sausage has continued to bring Korean cuisine into the mainstream dining experience, with one wildly popular restaurant on Sawtelle and another branch soon opening in Downtown L.A. “We want to bring good food to good people. It so happens that we are Asian American, Korean American,” Chris said. “The reason why we put Korean flavors into a familiar form, like a sausage, is because we want to break barriers … We want to do what the California roll did for Japanese food.”

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Seoul Sausage went on to talk about how they came to apply for the Great Food Truck Race, claiming that they were bored and submitted their audition video a day before the deadline. When they were casted the next day, the three Korean Americans made a pact to stay in the race at least halfway, not expecting to find so many people embracing their unique fusion dishes.

“I really didn’t think Korean food would translate in Amarillo, Texas,” said Yong, adding that the group had renamed their menu items to cater to their non-Asian customers. “But that was like our third episode, and when we got first place there, we rocked it and killed it. We [were] like, ‘I think people are ready for Korean flavors, but they just don’t know about it.’” Indeed, Korean cuisine has been experiencing a kind of renaissance in recent years, with the emergence of several talented Korean American chefs, including Beverly Kim, Kristen Kish and Hooni Kim. When KoreAm/Audrey asked Seoul Sausage about their thoughts on the rising popularity of Korean American chefs, the trio said they were happy to see Korean cuisine garnering more media attention. “The more of us are out there to represent, the more familiar people would be with Korean flavors and Korean chefs,” Ted said. “It’s only going to be beneficial to all of us. We’re all in this together.” Seoul Sausage also added that they recently visited South Korea to film a 10-episode web series called “One Shot Seoul,” which is slated for a tentative July release. The trio expressed excitement over the new culinary trends in Korea, and said they were excited to introduce them to the audience.  

Following Seoul Sausage was Casey Ho, the creator of the online fitness vlog Blogilates. She explained that she didn’t initially expect for the Blogilates channel to blow up. It all started with her first YouTube upload, which was a workout video that was only intended for her previous pilates class of 30 people. But the video began garnering more and more attention from viewers all around, which eventually grew into the huge Blogilates brand it is now. “I think the YouTube really opened up the gates for entertainment a hundred percent… Because of [YouTube] you have people making movies seen by millions of people. For me, I was able to get these DVD deals, these book deals, and all this crazy stuff because I could show that I had an audience on YouTube who wanted to see that.”

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She credits YouTube for her success as well as many other Asian American entertainers; however, she’s also noticing that there has been a decline in new Asian American YouTubers since she began. “Then when I started getting into it, like a year or two later, I noticed that a lot of the influencers were Asian (like Michelle Phan, Wong Fu Productions, Ryan Higa). But today, I actually notice that there’s less new Asian people. It’s really interesting,” Cassey told KoreAm/Audrey. “I feel like because YouTube is becoming more like “Hollywood,” now there’s almost some type of glass ceiling where it’s harder for Asian people to break in.”

Cassey shared her fitness tips with curious audience members, but also reminded them that vanity reasons should not be your main goal. “I think a lot of people get into fitness for vanity reasons. Of course, you want washboard abs or sexy slim legs. That’s fine. But with my channel, I try to educate people and let them know that yes, you can work towards that, but you’re not going to find happiness in just that physical vanity. You have to enjoy the process.”

After Cassey shared her last words on positivity and motivation, the acoustic singer-songwriter Joseph Vincent stepped onto the stage where he serenaded the audience with a never-before heard song “My Girl.”   

Joseph Vincent then set his guitar aside and finally settled into the hot seat, where PK commented on the singer’s recent travels (as seen on his Instagram). Joseph explained that he’s been on tour once again, adding that listeners at his shows are a whole new demographic for him because they’re much younger. He then shared a fun story about one of his most memorable shows.

“I went to Sweden and they wanted me to do an acoustic act prime time at a nightclub. They play EDM stuff. I’m like, ‘Are you sure? Do you know what I do?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s fine. Bring your acoustic guitar and go on at 12:30.’ I’ve experienced a lot of cool things like that. It’s good to challenge yourself and try to put yourself in very comfortable situations and see how you’ll come out.”

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“Make a YouTube channel, all the social media platforms,” Joseph advises. “Take advantage of it. All of them are free, right? Facebook, Twitter… just get your social media presence out there. Essentially, do it because you want to do it… Put music out and take the criticism in stride, and use it to better yourself. Don’t ever get discouraged. Don’t let anyone you can’t. ”

Joseph closed the questions segment with his predictions about Asian American produced music reaching the mainstream scene. “It would open up the floodgates. It would give a lot of us opportunity. Just to put it out there, it would make us a little more relevant again and something to jump onto. It’s gonna happen eventually… I think it’s just our turn to go.”

PK thanked Joseph Vincent for his time, and called on Cassey Ho, Seoul Sausage and AJ to come back onto the stage for a photo opp.

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The group did one final pose for everyone: the iconic two-finger peace sign.

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You can learn more about CAPE on their official website. Make sure to check out the videos for this year’s CAPE speakers.

 

 

All photo courtesy of Steve Lucero.

Top Stories of the Week: Get to Know ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Writer Ali Wong and ‘Avengers’ Actress Claudia Kim

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2) Get to Know Stand-Up Comedienne & ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Writer Ali Wong [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

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3) Korean American Filmmaker Explores the Emotional Journey of Double Lid Surgery [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

 

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4) Get to Know Claudia Kim from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

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5) Japanese Artist Creates Unbelievably Detailed Balloon Animals [READ HERE


 
 
 



 
 
 

Live From UCLA, It’s LCC!


When college students Randall Park, David J. Lee and Derek Mateo founded a theater group at UCLA 20 years ago, little did they know that they would lay the foundation for what would become perhaps the closest thing Asian America has to our own Saturday Night Live: a group of young creatives thrown together to write, act, direct, and produce an original show from scratch every quarter. LCC Theatre Company would inspire a generation of Asian Americans working in art and entertainment, creating a lasting bond among its members — despite the occasional drama — with each incoming class, in turn, leaving its mark on LCC’s evolution.

 


 

In 1995, the same year Margaret Cho’s sitcom All-American Girl got cancelled after only one season, Derek Mateo, David J. Lee and Fresh Off the Boat star Randall Park — college students at UCLA at the time — started their own theater company called Lapu, the Coyote that Cares. The name was an amalgamation of the three nicknames they acquired while volunteering at UCLA’s official charity, UniCamp: Derek was Lapu (after Lapu-Lapu, the Filipino warrior that defeated Magellan), Dave was Coyote (his spirit animal), and Randall was CareMoose (like Care Bear, but Moose).

Little did they know that it’d take two decades (and one of their own to get old enough to star as an onscreen dad) for there to be another network sitcom starring an Asian American family. Or that their beloved group, now referred to as LCC Theatre Company, would, in 20 years, not only still exist but also become the largest Asian American college theater group in the country, spawning numerous alumni working in the industry today.

In that timespan, LCC Theatre Group has performed over 60 shows of mostly sketch comedy and improv, with content ranging from identity issues (sketches titled “Asian American Idol” and “Super Anti-Asian Fetish Woman”) to the apolitical (a story of four shirtless Asian men who gain confidence by taking a class on how to dance freaky; and an Asian frat crime mockumentary that’s basically an excuse for an extended penis joke) to dramatic pieces that blur racial lines (a recent piece had Asian American actors playing Vietnam War veterans dealing with memory loss and alcoholism).

Nowadays, young “coyotes,” as the members call themselves, are joining a theater group with a long history and a notable group of alumni they can look up to. But 1995 was a different time. To illustrate this, in one episode of Fresh Off the Boat, which, incidentally, also takes place in 1995, Jessica Huang disapproves of her sons acting in a school play. “Why?!” she exclaims. “You’re not going to become actors. You think they’re going to put two Chinese boys on TV?” But even if it didn’t seem like a good idea to consider entertainment as a professional career in the mid-’90s, that didn’t mean there weren’t Asian Americans with the passion and talent to perform.

Park, Mateo and Lee first met each other at UCLA’s Samahang Pilipino Cultural Night. “At the time, the culture nights were the place to perform if you were an Asian American in college who wasn’t a theater major,” says Lee, a filmmaker who recently won Best Writer at the 2014 NBCUniversal Short Cuts Festival for his film Paulie. Out of all the Asian culture nights, they remember the Filipino culture night as the biggest one. “Producers consistently failed their quarters to produce that show,” says Lee. “That’s how big of a deal it was.”

But there were limits to what could be performed at culture nights. The casts were huge, the shows were notorious for being four hours long, the scenes had to be interspersed with certain dance performances, and there was a very specific agenda.

But what if they could just start their own theater company to stage plays they wrote themselves? The trio started by performing short sketches in the beginning of Asian American studies classes to announce the arrival of their new Asian American theater group and recruit new members.

Some of the early members of LCC Theatre Company 20 years ago. From left: Randall Park, Kristina Wong, David J. Lee and Freddie Sulit.

Some of the early members of LCC Theatre Company 20 years ago. From left: Randall Park, Kristina Wong, David J. Lee and Freddie Sulit.

 

“For one [sketch], Randy put ketchup in his mouth and didn’t say anything for the entire skit, until I punched him in the face and he spit ketchup onto the chalkboard,” remembers Lee. “It did not go over well at all. It was just silence and a little bit of shock because some people thought it was real blood.”

“The professors had no idea,” says Park, laughing. “It’s not like they pre-approved it.”

They were young and audacious, and they made it up as they went along. The first time they auditioned cast members, they basically took everybody. Their first play, The Treehouse Bachelor Society, was a satire mocking a group of Asian American college guys, complaining that they couldn’t get girls. It was Park’s first play, Mateo’s first time directing and Lee’s first time producing — and the first time acting for a lot of their 27 cast members, many of whom were future doctors, engineers and scientists who had no intention of going into entertainment but were excited about the idea of an Asian American theater group.

“None of us knew how to run a rehearsal,” says Lee. “Randy didn’t even finish the script until the night before the show.”

Park laughs. “There was a monologue at the end that Dave’s character was supposed to deliver, and I said, ‘Dave, can you write your monologue? I’m so tired.’”

They had advertised the show with flyers all around campus, and on the night of their debut, there was a line around the theater. They not only filled a 350-seat venue but had to add 30 extra chairs in the back and turn people away because of fire code restrictions.

“We had hit a nerve,” remembers Michael Golamco, a current staff writer for NBC’s hit show Grimm, who was part of the original LCC cast. He still remembers the beginning of the play. “It begins with Randall coming out on stage. He says, ‘Hi, I’m Randy. I wrote this play, and the first thing I want to tell you guys is that it’s about frustration and anger. So if anyone wants to yell out the word ‘f-ck’ at any time, they can. Let’s try it.’ That set the tone: that we’re self-aware, we’re not taking ourselves too seriously, and this is going to be fun.”

“We were walking on water that night,” says Mateo, now a film professor at American Musical and Dramatic Academy. “It was special, we all knew it, and I can only hope [current LCC students] are having that same sense of discovery.”

LCC’s 1996 production of The Treehouse Bachelor Society Remix.

LCC’s 1996 production of The Treehouse Bachelor Society Remix.

Once they graduated, the founders did their best to structure the organization in a way so that it would survive without them. Two decades later, much of the structure has remained consistent. There are new leaders (who they call “producers”) every year and new shows every quarter, though it very quickly evolved from producing one writer’s full-length play to a combination of shorter sketches that smaller groups of people could collaborate on together.

“[The structure] can’t change so much because of the nature of college,” says Golamco. “New people come in every year, and just when everyone finally knows what they’re doing, they graduate and leave, so they always think they’re on the verge of dying, even though they’re not. You’re always looking for these moments of great acting and great writing, and that sustains it.”

Incoming “Generations,” as they label themselves (the original members are called OGs, while each year’s new cast thereafter is called G2, G3, all the way up to G20), honor and pass along LCC traditions and philosophies. They have annual camping retreats where they hold workshops, and alumni often return to mentor and give back to the LCC community.

The current producers, Mark Quintos and Peter Ngo, take the process very seriously, knowing that they’re responsible for properly passing on the torch to the next generation. “We look for things that are very ‘lapu-like,’” Quinto explains, when selecting new members. “We toss around this acronym IGYB, which means ‘I got your back.’ Because of how the group operates — it’s very small and grassroots — group dynamic is really important.”

Though Quintos and Ngo plan to pursue careers in entertainment when they graduate this year, the majority of the current LCC cast do not. Like 20 years ago, there are still the math and science majors who just happen to be great performers. That’s what makes LCC stand apart from other theater groups on campus — they’re not looking for experience; they’re looking for potential. “We’re looking for kindness, warmth and heart,” says Ngo. “People who are willing to work together to develop, experiment and try different things.” He smiles. “I love that about us!”

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An early LCC show starring Randall Park, left, and Rick Lee.

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An LCC production in 2007

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A sketch from LCC’s March 2015 show.

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The current producers of LCC, Mark Quintos and Peter Ngo.

Even insiders joke that the LCC community can seem almost cult-like — the starry-eyed nostalgia when reminiscing about their time there can last decades after they graduate — but for many, especially for creatives currently working in entertainment, LCC was one of the most formative experiences of their lives.

“LCC really gave me the confidence to write,” says Ali Wong, now a stand-up comic and staff writer for Fresh Off the Boat, who considers Park and other LCC alumni among her best friends. “I knew it was such an incredibly rare opportunity to have your work produced into an actual performance, in front of an audience, with a team, in such a short amount of time.”

Ignatz Award-nominated comic book artist Yumi Sakugawa credits LCC with shaping both her creative career and her Asian American consciousness. “I think once you’ve made a full-length theater and improv show out of thin air in less than 10 weeks while being a full-time student,” she says, “you are infected with the creative bravado to continue making your own material on a shoestring budget and sharing that with as many people as possible.”

Actor and writer Chris Dinh, most known for his work with the popular online filmmaking group Wong Fu Productions, says he often runs into fellow LCC alumni in the industry. “At the 2010 NBC Short Cuts Film Festival, Randall Park won best actor for Blueberry [directed by Lee], and Crush The Skull [a short Dinh co-wrote and starred in] won Best Short Film,” he says. “I accepted the award, and I remember looking down and seeing a bunch of LCC faces in the crowd. And I thanked Randall and David J. Lee.”

That’s not to say it’s been a smooth 20 years. That first Treehouse Bachelor Society performance set the bar extremely high, and it led to a faster and steeper crash. Their subsequent shows were unsuccessful. Some complained it was too much of a boys’ club. Creative differences led Mateo to depart from the group. Arguments erupted when actors felt they should have been cast in roles they didn’t get. And what some saw as strengths — a mix of aspiring professionals and nonprofessionals, avoiding the overtly political — others saw as limitations.

“LCC was an immediate family, for better or for worse,” remembers Kristina Wong, a performance artist who was part of the cast during the early years. Though she stuck around for all four years of college — at the time, the idea of leaving felt like “disowning her family,” she says — her experience left her feeling unsupported, tired of being surrounded by “a gang of insecure creatives” and realizing she needed to break out on her own.

As with any long-term organization — especially one like LCC, which is forced to reboot with new leadership and new members every few years — for every relationship it spawns that blossoms into a happy marriage, there are dramatic clashes, hurt feelings and bitter exes that feel distanced from a community they put so much energy into building.

Despite her “messy” time with LCC, Kristina still credits Park’s writing with informing how she discusses race in her comedy. She remembers a sketch about a Taiwanese director who had his actors play out stereotypes. But the actors all rally against him, break out of the stereotypes and become human. Half an hour before their second performance, the Taiwanese Student Union tried to get audience members to boycott the show because they were offended that the only antagonist was Taiwanese. LCC panicked and changed the ethnicity. Incidents like these caused LCC to question what they wanted their mission as an Asian American theater company to be. How obligated were they to represent Asian Americans positively? Did they want to tell specifically Asian American stories, or was it enough that they were Asian American? How much should they listen to audience feedback versus encouraging their artists to take risks that might cause them to bomb? Nowadays, Wong believes that Asian Americans must not be afraid to be political and show the ugly contradictions that make us human, but these questions often don’t have simple answers, and they need to be revisited again and again.

And the most recent debate among LCC alumni asks the most difficult question of them all: What happens when a group that is rooted in Asian America starts to become less “Asian American?”

Though G20 is still led by Asian Americans, the current group of cast members is approximately only about 50 percent Asian. The company’s diversification has been evolving for the last decade.

“To be honest, a lot of the marketing surrounding LCC when I first joined wasn’t centered around being Asian American,” says Quintos. “It wasn’t until afterward, when I was immediately cast in a leading role in my very first show, that I realized there was something different.”

For younger generations, the prospect of creating original work with a diverse team has been a bigger draw than the need to identify with a specific ethnic community. “Maybe I’m an optimist, but the world is becoming more mixed,” says Ngo. “[All Americans] have to be aware of other races. So I do cherish being Asian, but at the same time, we’re not coming from an environment that was as politically charged as it was 20 years ago. Growing up in the Internet world, the ‘other’ isn’t as scary or foreign anymore.”

That said, many, like Sakugawa, believe that LCC’s unique legacy and culture is in danger if it loses its Asian American roots. “While much has changed, we are still very far from living in a post-racial society where Asian Americans and other communities of color are equally respected and represented,” she says. “The fact that we are still fighting for one Asian American family sitcom [Fresh Off the Boat] on a major television network speaks volumes on the urgency of why Asian American creative spaces still matter.”

For Park, he acknowledges that the Asian American aspect is important. “But at the same time, it’s not ours,” he says. “It’s theirs. That’s why we let it go.” His co-founders Mateo and Lee agree. After all, they remember when they were in college, resenting those guys who couldn’t let go of the past.

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The original “coyotes” of LCC Theatre Company and friends, circa 1995.

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The 20-year reunion retreat, right, with current members and alumni.

Time moves on and LCC may well evolve — into what remains to be seen. And yet some things stay the same. For many students, college is the last time they can be pure in their creativity, without having to worry about practical, “real world” considerations that make it more difficult to be uncompromising as an artist. “That’s the blessing of LCC,” says Golamco. “You never know who’s going to be really great at something, and LCC gives them a chance to try.”

And that may be the secret to the longevity of LCC Theatre Company — it continues to capture such moments onstage. Says Mateo, “It’s humbling to know people love it with the same fire and intensity that we loved it 20 years ago.”

 

Click here for an LCC Alumni Spotlight.
All photos courtesy of LCC.
This story was originally published in our Summer 2015 issue. Get your copy here

 



 

LCC Theatre Group Alumni Are Making Their Mark in the Entertainment Industry


 

Audrey’s Summer 2015 issue features an article about UCLA’s LCC Theatre Company, started by Derek Mateo, David J. Lee, and Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park when they were college students 20 years ago. Little did they know that they would lay the foundation for what would become perhaps the closest thing Asian America has to our own Saturday Night Live: a group of young creatives thrown together to write, act, direct and produce an original show from scratch every quarter. LCC Theatre Company would inspire a generation of Asian Americans working in art and entertainment, creating a lasting bond among its members — despite the occasional drama — and with each incoming class, in turn, leaving its mark in LCC’s evolution.

Read the full story here.

 


 

Alumni Spotlight (Then & Now!)

Ali Wong, stand-up comic/writer (Fresh Off the Boat)

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Chris Dinh, writer/actor (Wong Fu Productions’ Everything Before Us, Crush the Skull)

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David J. Lee, writer/director (Paulie)

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Derek Mateo, director/film professor at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy

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Kristina Wong, performance artist/comedian (The Wong Street Journal)

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Hieu Ho, producer/president of Chu Studios (with director Jon M. Chu)

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Leonard Wu, actor (Revenge of the Green Dragons)

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Michael Golamco, writer (Grimm)

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Randall Park, actor (Fresh Off the Boat, The InterviewEverything Before Us)

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Tim Chiou, actor (Crush the Skull)

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Tobit Raphael, actor (The Internship)

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Yumi Sakugawa, comic book artist (Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe)

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Photos courtesy of LCC Theatre alumni.

Go to LCC Theatre’s official site for a full list of cast members.

This story was originally published in our Summer 2015 issue. Get your copy here.  

 



 

South Korean Womenswear Line, FREAKS By Designer Tae-Hoon Kim


 

For those of you keeping up with all the street styles coming out of Asia, we found a great designer with clothing accessible to stateside shopping fanatics!

Meet Tae-Hoon Kim. Since 2000, he has been curating and perfecting his womenswear line, Freaks.  Working to find a way to represent the beauty of combining masculine and feminine balance, Kim shared with Audrey, “My original designs have been very straight forward and neutral feeling, but this collection for 2015 summer season has deployed more smoothly according to the trend in South Korea.”

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Designer Tae-Hoon Kim

When looking at the collection as a whole, you can see how his brand’s characteristics of “asymmetrical organization, aesthetic draping, mathematical crossing and structural formality” come into play.  Fit for navigating a bustling, modern lifestyle, we can visualize any piece of Kim’s collection on the fashionable streets of New York City and Seoul.  When we asked about the main influences behind his work, Kim explained, “It seems I had been looking for many buildings and works of installation and objects of the everyday surroundings before [a] sample design is planned.  I discover carefully and observe these things, and express it as a wearable contemporary character fashion.”

With several pieces available on a newly launched Etsy storefront, it’s easy to get your hands on the South Korean brand.  We picked out our favorite looks from their warm, summery tones and variety in lengths and fabrics.  There’s a nice range of form fitting cuts to dresses easy to move and stay cool in.  You can find more of Kim’s work here along with several look books and fashion films.

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The Feldblume A-structural Mini Dress In Wine

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The Blue Moon Linen Loose Fitting Shirt Dress In White

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The Monica Kate Unsymmetrisch Tencel Dress In Burnt Orange

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The Linen Puppig Jumpsuit In Peach

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The Riemannian Semi-Formal Shirt Dress In Pink

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The Rhenish Silk Elegant Maxi Dress In Deep Navy-Violet

 

All Images Courtesy Of Tae-Hoon Kim

 

 



 

Get to Know Randall Park from Wong Fu’s ‘Everything Before Us’

 

Full name: Randall Park
Age: 41
Ethnic background: Korean
Where he was born: Los Angeles
Where he was raised: Los Angeles

In Wong Fu’s very first feature-length film, Everything Before UsRandall Park plays a world-weary DEI agent, whose job is to interview couples who plan to terminate their romantic relationships and determine who is accountable for the break-up. He is also responsible for doling out relationship scores. 

 


About the film:

1. Describe your character in three words.
Efficient, lonely, hopeful

2. What is the most crucial part of being in a romantic relationship?
Romance. Otherwise, it’s not a “romantic” relationship.

3. What would your real-life relationship score be, and why?
I think I’m a 90. Probably more like a 65. I don’t know, ask my wife.

4. Any bloopers or memorable episodes on set?
We shot most of my scenes at a DMV. I’ve never had a more memorable time at a DMV.

5. What is your opinion of Wong Fu as film directors?
They’re total pros and really good guys. I love them.


About Randall:

1. What always makes you laugh?
Nathan For You. It’s a show on Comedy Central.

2. Your go-to comfort food?
Mexican food.

3. Currently on “repeat” on your ipod?
Alabama Shakes.

4. A guilty pleasure you don’t feel guilty about?
Judge Judy.

5. Current favorite place?
Home.

6. Favorite drink, alcoholic or otherwise?
Coffee.

7. Current obsessions?
My daughter. It’s bordering on unhealthy.

8. Pet peeve?
Self-righteous indignation.

9. Habit you need to break?
Self-righteous indignation.

10. Hidden talent?
Drawing.

11. Talent you’d like to have?
Singing.

12. Word or phrase you most overuse?
“No worries.” I am way too laid back.

13. Favorite hashtag?
I don’t think I’ve ever used a hashtag.

14. Greatest fear?
Pigeons who don’t fly away when you get close to them. They’re insane, and they will kill you.

15. If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what occupation would you be doing?
Electrician.


Want to get to know the rest of the cast? Be on the look out for their responses coming soon! Everything Before Us is currently available on Vimeo. Click below to check it out.




Feature image courtesy of Craig Stubing, unwrittenfilms.com

5 Things to Know About Kamehameha the Great


 

Happy Kamehameha Day! And no, you jokesters, this has nothing to do with Dragon Ball Z. What is Kamehameha Day you ask? As it turns out, June 11th is a celebrated day for Hawaii because it is the official day to honor the great chief and monarch, King Kamehameha. On this day we can expect to see parades, many celebratory hulas and yards of plumeria leis draped around Kamehameha’s statue. To understand more about Hawaii’s honored king, here are some things to know about Kamehameha the Great.

 


 

1. A Predicted Leader

Kamehameha was born sometime in November of 1758 in Kohala, Hawaii. Hawaiians believed that the storms and strange lights during Kamahameha’s birth were signs for the birth of a great chief. However, because of this prophecy there were threats from warring clans. So young Kamehameha was hidden away in Waipio right after his birth, only for him to return five years later.

 


 

2. Makings of a Chief

Upon his return, Kamehameha went on to receive special training from his uncle, King Kalani’opu’u. Included in his training were skills in games, warfare, oral history, navigation, religious ceremonies and all things necessary to become an ali’i-‘ai-moku (a district chief). Young warrior Kamehameha was described as a tall, strong and a physically fearless man who “moved in an aura of violence.”

 

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Photo courtesy of konaparade.org.

 


 

3. Rivalry in the family

The Hawaii islands weren’t always united. Instead, they were divided when Kamehameha’s uncle split the islands between his son, Kiawala, and Kamehameha. Though Kiawala was the eldest and direct lineage of the king, Kamehameha showed the markings of a great warrior so King Kalani’opu’u entrusted the war god Kuka’ilimoku to him and his share of the land. It set the stage for civil war among the chiefs of the island of Hawaii, and soon Kamehameha began challenging Kiawala’s authority.

 


 

4. United the Hawaiian Islands

Relations were civil until 1782, when a dispute led to a war in which Kiwalao died. By 1795, Kamehameha had a majority of the islands under his control, but eventually became ruler of the entire islands. He made Hawaiian history as the first man to unite the Hawaiian Islands into a viable and recognized political entity.

 


 

5. Foreign Relations

King Kamehameha saw the importance of foreign powers and technology. Kamehameha also recognized the efficacy of foreign aid and sought assistance from Captain George Vancouver. Vancouver convinced Kamehameha to cede the Island of Hawaii to the British who would then help protect it. Kamehameha then spent the following years rebuilding the island’s economy and learning warfare from visiting foreigners.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of astonhotels.com.

 



 

Meet Andy Park, Marvel’s Lead Character Concept Artist

Story by Paul Nakayama 

It’s a warm spring day on the Disney Studio lot. I’d made the mistake of wearing a sport coat to the Avengers: Age of Ultron press conference. I’m sweating profusely. It’s not just the heat but my geek cells going into overdrive as I sit a few feet away from director Joss Whedon and the entire A-list cast, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson, as they discuss comic books and movies. It takes a lot for me to get starstruck, but this? This is too much. I bring this up later as I sit across from 39-year-old Korean American Andy Park, lead character concept artist at Marvel Studio’s visual development department, who has created many of the looks you see onscreen for the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America films.

Park completely gets where I’m coming from. Despite working on almost all of Marvel’s hits, he considers himself a fan first. He recalls when he initially began work on the first Avengers movie, a dream job for him: “The first few weeks, I’d stop painting and realize, ‘Wow, I’m working on The Avengers,’ and then I’d go back to painting only to stop again and realize, ‘Wow, I’m working for Joss Whedon.’” I nod in eager agreement. We’re both admirers of Whedon’s early television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Fanboy fist bump.

It’s clear that Park has a deep appreciation for the arts. He’s inspired by other artists and his peers. He constantly has a TV show or movie playing as he draws. He’s continually absorbing inspiration. The more I chat with Park, the more pumped I’m getting. He’s like the Tony Robbins for creative types. There’s something infectious about the way Park loves his profession. He’s confident yet humble, and there’s passion infused in his words as he talks about his projects. And it’s this passion that has driven every major career choice in his life — and many were not easy choices to make.

Park was born in the summer of ’75 in New York, but he grew up in Orange County, California. He had been drawing since he could hold a pencil and became a big fan of comic books in elementary school. It became his dream to become a comic book artist. His biggest inspiration was the legendary Jim Lee, a Korean American comic book artist who is ironically now the co-publisher of Marvel’s biggest rival, DC Entertainment.


“I had a Jim Lee wall full of his artwork,” he recalls. “My dad would cut out Jim Lee articles from the Korean newspaper, and one of them said that he had been studying to be a medical doctor but decided to become a comic book artist, and I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna do that, too!’”

The prediction proved to be incredibly accurate. When Park was only 18, he took his portfolio to San Diego Comic-Con where he met Rob Liefeld, creator of the character Deadpool, which is in development for an upcoming Marvel/Fox movie. Liefeld offered him an internship at Image Comics, then the hottest publisher in the industry and co-founded by his idol, Jim Lee. By 19, Park had dropped out of UCLA’s Fine Arts program to accept the internship. He credits his older siblings for smoothing things over with his parents when he left school. “I did the un-Korean thing,” he laughs.

But after a few years living the dream in comic books, penciling for Extreme Studios, Park wasn’t satisfied. A strong need to improve his skills led to a break from comic books, and he enrolled in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, to study illustration. He returned to comic books in 1999 with his refined abilities to work on a new comic book series based on the hit video game “Tomb Raider,” which became a number one seller and led to his ranking as a Wizard magazine Top 10 artist. This new fame would be his first introduction to Marvel, where he was recruited to be an artist for popular books like “The Uncanny X-Men,” “Excalibur” and “Weapon X.”

In 2005, passion would again pull him into a new direction, this time leaving his successful comic book career for the world of professional concept art at Sony Computer Entertainment’s SCE Santa Monica Studio. There, he worked as a lead concept artist for the mega-hit, multiple award-winning video game series “God of War” for the Sony PlayStation.

Five years later, Park would join Marvel Studios as a senior concept artist, marking his transition into movies — and not just any movies, but some of the biggest grossing films of all time. He’s done extensive designs for The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and the upcoming Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd.

 

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[1] Ant-Man promotional poster for San Diego Comic-Con 2014, illustrated by Andy Park. [2] Park’s illustrations of Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson.

What makes Marvel so successful? Park knows the answer without a second thought. The usual movie model for concept art is to hire freelancers on a project-by-project basis, but Marvel decided to create a centralized visual development department to work on everything related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (affectionately referred to by fans everywhere as the MCU). He adds, “Marvel [Studios] is working like a start-up. Everything is interconnected and agile. You’re creating a family, and you’re creating consistency. And now everyone is emulating the Marvel model.”

There’s a freedom and a sense of ownership as each lead artist owns the iterations of each popular character, building on previous films and evolving them. In Park’s case, he’s been in charge of Hawkeye and Black Widow, or as he calls them, the “normies” (human characters without any superhuman powers). He’s designed for Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow for every movie after Iron Man 2. (At this point, we take a break as I feel an overwhelming need to pelt him with rocks.)

Park remembers the day when he felt it all came together for him. He was painting a key frame for a scene in The Avengers, where Iron Man is flying towards an alien rift in the sky. “Joss walked up to my desk, saw that frame and said, ‘Oh, we’re gonna have an awesome movie.’ And I was like, ‘Ahhh!’ and a little tear came out of my eye,” he says with a laugh.

After Age of Ultron, Marvel will be releasing in July what some consider a risky move: Ant-Man, about the superhero with the ability to shrink himself. Park was one of the leads on this project and has complete faith that Marvel will once again pull it off. He has a lot of trust in Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “A lot of people were like, Rocket Raccoon? Groot [from Guardians of the Galaxy]? Ant-Man? What? But [Feige] continues to prove everyone wrong. It’s nice to have a leader you can believe in and trust.”

 

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[3] Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen.

As parting words, I ask Park if he has any advice for aspiring artists and creatives out there.“Measure your own work against professionals, not against fellow students,” he says. “Because professionals will be your competition. Get to that level. That’s how you judge your own work. Professionals are drawing every single day and improving. I meet too many artists who just occasionally draw, and they’re discouraged that they can’t improve. That’s why — you only improve in anything if you’re doing it every single day and working hard at it.”

See? Didn’t I tell you that he’s the Tony Robbins for creatives? These are words to live by, and Park’s exponentially growing career is all the proof you need.

 

Feature image courtesy of Frank Lee.
This story was originally published in our Summer 2015 issue. Get your copy here

 



 

How Suboi Became Vietnam’s Biggest Female Rapper

 

Though she’s Vietnam’s Queen of Hip-Hop, Hàng Lâm Trang Anh (better known as Suboi) still remembers being a shy teenager writing sad poetry. “I’d show it to my aunt and uncle, and they’d be like, ‘This is so silly!’”

Suboi learned English by listening to Will Smith and Eminem, who inspired her to turn her poetry into music. “It was very emo-rap,” she says, laughing. “The first song I wrote was called ‘Cold.’ It was like, ‘I’m a teenager, and nobody understands me!’”

Her stage name is a combination of her nickname “Su” combined with “boi,” because all of her friends in school were boys. “They used to say, ‘We’re going to call you Suboi, but since you’re not a real boy, we’ll turn the ‘y’ into an ‘i,’” she remembers. “So now, I’m like, ‘Look at me, I’m all grown up!” She laughs. “I still like the name, though.”

She first began performing when one of her skateboarding friends wanted to start a nu-metal band like Linkin Park and needed a rapper. She was 17, and it was her first time being on stage.

“I was kind of quiet, but when I got on stage, it felt like, ‘This stage is mine,’” she says. She loved shocking people in the audience who assumed she was a vocalist. As seen in her music videos, she struts and smirks with the best of them, dressing up her standby baseball jackets and hoodies with giant ghetto-fabulous earrings and blinged-out knuckle rings. “That’s how I made friends. Even now, I don’t socialize much or communicate very well, but I can write everything in my songs.”


Suboi is the first young female rapper to make it big in Vietnam. In 2009, she signed with a label, Music Faces, and rapped on Vietnamese pop star Ho Ngoc Ha’s chart-topping singles “My Apology” and “Girls’ Night.” In 2010, she released her first album, WALK.

She was an instant star, with millions of followers on Facebook, popular music videos and endorsement deals for Adidas and Samsung. But all the attention and fanfare felt very superficial to her. “Everyone would come at me with champagne, but to me, that wasn’t really success,” she says. “I still lived in a normal apartment. To showbiz people, I wasn’t very glamorous, so I didn’t feel like I belonged. People would ask me what it’s like being the number one female rapper in Vietnam, and I’d say, ‘It’s cool, but I still have to find a way to pay my electricity bills.’”

Though she thought she had won the lottery career-wise, in reality, she was losing money. When her contract ended, she had a hard time finding a manager she could trust, so she set up her own company, Suboi Entertainment, and began work on her next album, RUN.

On her own, she was free to travel the world, step back from the spotlight and get re-inspired. Her new songs run the gamut of topics and emotions, from “Saigon,” about her love/hate relationship with her home city, to “Cookie Song,” where she raps about baking weed cookies. But Suboi has to be creative with her lyrics. “It’s very different,” she says. “Vietnam is a Communist country, and I can’t talk about money, drugs and sex. So people are like, ‘Girl, what do you write about?’ I do write about that, but you have to use a lot of metaphors. In English, you can be direct and say whatever, so it’s a little better for the flow. But it’s cool. Writing in Vietnamese challenges me, because I have to find another way to say things.”

In March, Suboi performed in the United States for the first time, with stops in San Francisco; New York; Orange County,California; and Austin, where she was the first Vietnamese artist to ever perform at South by Southwest. She also recently made her acting debut in Ham Tran’s horror film Hollow.

At this point in her career, she doesn’t care about stardom anymore, because she knows all artists have their ups and downs. She points to one of her songs, “Trời Cho.” “In Vietnamese, it means ‘God gives me,’ but if you switch the words to trò chơi, then it means ‘game,’” she explains, of her word play. “Every verse is a funny story about my life, even if it’s about having bad luck. So even though it’s about what God gave me, it’s also a game. He makes us laugh while we’re playing this game of life.”

 

Feature image courtesy of Frank Lee
This story was originally published in our Summer 2015 issue. Get your copy here

 



 

Mindy Kaling & Joseph Gordon-Levitt Team Up for a Whimsical HitRecord Short


 

Going on its forth year of production, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s open collaborative production company, HitRecord, got picked up for a second season of HitRecord on TV.

Levitt’s HitRecord company doesn’t quite function like the typical Hollywood production company. Instead of dealing with the struggles of the traditional route, HitRecord calls on the online community to come together to create collaborative art and media of all kinds. Any HitRecorder can upload their own audio, images, animation, or video, and can download and remix any project on the site. As a matter of fact, Levitt encourages anybody with internet access become a HitRecord member.

Back in January 2014, Levitt moved the HitRecord projects from the internet to TV screens by creating a variety show called HitRecord on TV. In each episode, Levitt sets a particular theme and people are welcome to submit content according to the proposed theme. For the first episode of the second season, the overarching concept was “The Dark.” Sounds mysterious and alluring, right? Mindy Kaling sure thought so.

On the set for the upcoming comedy movie Xmas, Levitt asked Kaling if she would be interested in participating for newest HitRecord on TV season. After Levitt proposed a list of themes, Kaling found herself drawn to idea of “The Dark.” Kaling then wrote the script for “Anchor’s Away,” a bizarre, dark comedy that Kaling and Levitt — along with The Mindy Project‘s Chris Messina — star in.

In the short, Mindy Kaling plays a nurse that is a practicer of the dark arts and is madly in love with her patient (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an ex-dancer who tragically lost the feeling in his legs. Catch the sneak peek below.

HitRecord on TV returns with a season 2 this Friday June 12th at 10:00 PM E/P on Pivot.