Flashback Friday | Top 10 Asian American High School Girls Next Door

 

High school: such a pivotal time in young women’s lives for college/career decisions, familial tension, first loves, first rejections, no-holds-barred attitude and unexpected self-discoveries.

And when high school years are depicted on American film and television, extracurricular activities may involve solving murder mysteries (Pretty Little Liars), and unrequited love is sometimes best told through song (T.V. Carpio’s cover of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in Across the Universe).

One could argue that Tamlyn Tomita’s Kumiko was the ultimate Asian American high school “girl-next-door” crush, even if, back in 1986, the Karate Kid had to travel all the way to Japan to be in the right neighborhood. But in the past 25 years, there have many memorable Asian American girls  – as well as British Asians, Asian-Scots and Asian Canadians that we snuck onto the list — that we can look up to (or reminisce with) in these classic tales of high school.

 

Below are our Top 10 Asian American High School Girls Next Door:

 

10.  Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz); Glee

Jenna Ushkowitz has been playing Tina on Glee since the first season debuted in 2009. After dating Artie, she connected with “the other Asian,” Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.), making them arguably the most prominent Asian American couple on television. As part of the glee club, Jenna has had many notable performances, covering songs such as “True Colors,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “Gangnam Style.”

 

9. Cho Chang (Katie Leung); Harry Potter

3,000 girls auditioned for the role of Cho Chang, and the Scottish Katie Leung made her debut in 2005′s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As Harry Potter’s first love interest, she also gives him his first kiss. Though Harry and Cho’s romance is short-lived, bookended by Cedric’s death and Cho’s jealousy of Hermione, Leung continued to reprise her role until the final installment.


8. Margaret Yang (Sarah Tanaka); Rushmore

Rushmore fans remember Margaret Yang as the sweet, bespectacled student at Grover Cleveland High School who has a crush on Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer. Unfortunately, the 10th grade extracurricular activities junkie is too busy chasing after the new teacher (Olivia Williams) to pay any attention to her. Yet, Margaret Yang is the one that ultimately gets to call Max out on his bullshit — “You’re a real jerk to me, you know that?” — eliciting a well-earned apology that made Noise to Signal‘s 10 Most Affecting Wes Anderson Moments.

7. Annabelle Manalo (Joy Bisco); The Debut

In 2000′s The Debut, Joy Bisco plays Annabelle Manalo, the best friend of Rose Mercado (Bernadette Balagtas), who is having her 18th birthday party (aka her “debut”). Rose’s brother Ben, played by Dante Basco, is the high school senior who clashes with his father and struggles to reconcile his Filipino American identity. Annabelle, a beautiful dancer with a dangerous thug boyfriend, easily charms Ben by putting him at ease on the dance floor (“If you’re Filipino, you can cha cha. It is in the blood.”), and, as an unexpected confidante, she makes a lasting impression on Ben and viewers alike.

6. Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell); Pretty Little Liars

The sporty Emily Fields, played by half Filipina, half Irish/Scottish actress Shay Mitchell, is one of the four leads in the murder mystery ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars, which debuted in 2010 and is currently in its third season. In the first season of the show, Emily comes out of the closet to both her friends and later to her parents (played by Hapa actors Eric Steinberg and Nia Peeples). Since then, the series has explored her difficult relationship with her mother and subsequent tragedies in the girls’ mysterious lives.

Click here to watch the Pretty Little Liars coming out scene.

 

5. Knives Chau (Ellen Wong); Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scorned by her first love Scott Pilgrim, Knives Chau is a 17-year-old girl learning about heartbreak (and boys who aren’t the best at communication) for the first time. Played by Ellen Wong, Knives is not just an ex determined to win her boyfriend back, but a fireball of passionate energy that bursts out of the screen even we discover she has all these hidden ninja moves up her sleeve.

4. Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens): High School Musical

In the popular High School Musical franchise, Gabriella Montez — played by the Chinese-Filipino-Spanish-Irish-Native American actress-singer-dancer Vanessa Hudgens – was ultimate high school dream girl to the ultimate high school dream boy, Troy Bolton, played by Zac Efron. The dream only intensified when the fictional relationship spilled over into reality: the High School Musical movies were released from 2006-2008, while the two lead actors were real-life lovebirds until 2010. While the first two movies were made-for-television, the stakes were upped when High School Musical 3: Senior Year was brought to the big screen.

 

 

3.  Jesminder “Jess” Bhamra (Parminder Nagra); Bend it Like Beckham

The 2002 film that picked up Golden Globe and British Academy Award nominations features Parminder Nagra as Jess, a tomboy in London who idolizes David Beckham and wants to play football (soccer), even though her Indian immigrant parents will not allow it. This ultimate underdog story, directed by Gurinder Chadha, not only kickstarted Nagra’s career (as she would later play Dr. Neela Rasgotra on the hit show ER for six years), but it also showcased early performances by Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Archie Panjabi.

 

 

2. Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk): Smallville

Though Smallville ran for 10 seasons, during which the relationship between Clark Kent and Lana Lang would reach greater highs and lows, involving a time travel crystal and eventual break-up, we will focus on the high school years — Seasons 1-4 — for the purposes of this list. The half Dutch, half Chinese Kristen Kreuk played Lana Lang, Clark Kent’s literal girl next door. Clark Kent (as Superman) saves her again and again, without her knowledge, but as their feelings for each other deepen, his secretive behavior continues to be a source of distrust. Smallville‘s ultimate high school moment has to be when Lifehouse comes to sing at their prom, and Clark asks Lana to dance. In that pure, fleeting moment, all other potential love interests understand that there’s no coming in between them.

1. Lane Kim (Keiko Agena): Gilmore Girls

And my personal favorite has got to be Lane Kim, Rory Gilmore’s best friend in Gilmore Girls, which ran from 2000-2007. The character of Lane was loosely based on Helen Pai, a Korean American producer on the show who was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist. Because Lane’s super strict mother (played by Emily Kuroda) disapproves of everything loud, and non-Christian, and non-mother-approved (which is most things), the aspiring drummer has secrecy perfected to a tee — hiding her rock CD collection under the floor boards of her room and concocting elaborate stories so she can date without her mother finding out. And, as an actress, Keiko Agena perfected delivering Amy Sherman-Palladino’s cleverly complex lines at super speed, a fun requisite for being on Gilmore Girls in the first place.

Click here to watch the scene where Lane reveals her scheme to get her mom to like her new secret boyfriend, Dave.

 

Tell us who your favorite Asian American high school girl next doors are!

 

 

JK Rowling Thanks Kevin Tsujihara for New “Harry Potter”-Inspired Film Series

September 12, 2013 was an exciting day for Harry Potter fans.

This was the day that Warner Bros. announced that they had entered into a partnership with JK Rowling for a new movie franchise set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The spinoff will be based on the Hogwarts textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and follows its writer Newt Scamander 70 years before Harry Potter. Rowling has stated that the film is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter films; instead, it is an extension of the wizarding world, with its particular laws and customs of the hidden magical society.

The eight Harry Potter films grossed more than $7 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, and helped Warner Bros maintain their spot as one of the highest grossing studios in the world this past decade. Clearly, Warner Bros. was not ready to give up on a good thing.

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JK Rowling released a statement in which she personally thanked Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara for making this upcoming franchise possible:

It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of Fantastic Beasts, realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood. As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros. …

I particularly want to thank Kevin Tsujihara of Warner Bros. for his support in this project, which would not have happened without him. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.

 

Kevin Tsujihara was promoted to chief executive of Warner Bros in January of this year and is the first person of Asian descent to run a major Hollywood studio.

(source 1, 2)

 

 

Illustrator Kazu Kibuishi Creates New HARRY POTTER Covers

One of the biggest fears that Harry Potter fans face is the end of the fandom. With the final book and the final movie behind us, what more is there to look forward to?

Yes, we will no longer have to worry about finding our way to Orlando since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, also known as the “Harry Potter theme park”, is being built in Universal Studios in Hollywood. And yes, there are now stores dedicated to the fandom sprouting up everywhere such as Whimsic Alley. And yes, sites such as Pottermore continue to give us new information provided from J.K. Rowling herself.

But is it enough to keep our Potter-fan hearts satisfied? Apparently not.

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Thankfully, creators seem to be well aware of our yearning and continue to appease us. For instance, in honor of the 15th anniversary of J.K. Rowling’s series release in the U.S., Scholastic released newly-designed paperbacks available individually and in a box set.

Eisner Award-nominated comic book artist and author Kazu Kibuishi designed the new covers. Kibuishi spoke with Bookish to discuss the pressure and honor of being chosen to do such a task:

Bookish: What are you most excited about regarding the Harry Potter covers?

Kazu Kibuishi: That I’m done? [Laughs.] I’m excited to go back to work on my own book, but at the same time, as far as the reveals go, I’m of course excited to see how people react. I’m actually most excited to see what people think of the entire set, because that’s really how I was looking at the whole thing. I’m really excited to see what people think of the back covers because that’s something I think that’s going to be unexpected. That was a last-minute thing I threw in there. I wasn’t sure if Arthur [Levine, vice president and editorial director of Arthur A. Levine Books] was going to go for it, but I said, “This is the way to go!” There’s a surprise.

A lot of people have asked me to talk about Mary Grand Pré’s work, and I keep telling them, “Look, we wouldn’t know Harry Potter without the scenes she envisioned.” She had the most difficult task of defining the look of Harry Potter. She has a tremendous amount of influence over what I do and what everyone else does [with the series] from here on out. I tell everyone, my job is easy compared to what she had to do. My job is to be a historian and take a look at how we perceive Harry Potter–how Mary actually designed it, and also to find some way to re-introduce it to the readers that I already have on my books. How would my readers want to move into reading this kind of fiction? I would take something from Harry Potter that I think my kids would want to see.

 

Bookish: Describe the moment when you first knew that this would be your next project.

 

Kibuishi: [Graphix editorial director] David [Saylor] came to me and asked me. I was kind of surprised, like anyone else would’ve been–”I’m the cartoon guy. Why would you want me to do it?” He had a poster of one of my “Flight” covers on the wall, and he said that when he looked up at that, he thought, “That’s what we should do.” It was actually really good to know that, because the Chamber of Secrets cover was actually influenced quite a bit by the Flight Volume 3 cover on his wall.

 

I’m also a writer. I actually have people do this kind of [illustration] work for my books. [Laughs.] I tell them, “Can you make those backgrounds look better?” I’m the guy who draws less and less on my own books.

 

Bookish: Which project are you returning to now that these covers are finished?

Kibuishi: “Amulet”–that’s my full-time job. I believe a lot in focusing on just a few things. When David came to me to do [Harry Potter], I initially thought, “I don’t know about that.” For one, that’s a lot of responsibility, and I have my own series to focus on. It took a while for me to realize it would make sense for me to try it. Once I decided that, I gave it my all while bidding for it. I showed them my sample images and said, “I’m going to take a very different approach because I’m an author, and I think I can empathize with J.K. Rowling a little more than the designers can. I know what she deals with when she’s sitting in her room, and I know what she deals with when she goes to the schools–I do all those same things.” I’m in a unique position to be able to empathize with how I want to see my series reinterpreted.

Bookish: What are you most excited about while working on the new “Amulet” volume?

Kibuishi: One of the things I’ve done is set up a mythology that allows me to be very flexible. Every time I do a book, I feel like I’m on a new adventure. I kind of like not knowing some things. I trust my process enough that I just fall into the story. I let the characters take me somewhere.

Bookish: Do you outline?

Kibuishi: I do outline, but I only use those as signposts that tell me, “You have to go in that direction, you have to be done here,” and then I let the characters do the rest of the work. I’m excited to see what the characters do, because I’m putting them in a really crazy situation.

Bookish: Over the course of your life, what’s the book you’ve most often recommended to people, and why?

Kibuishi: I have recommended Harry Potter a lot. People will ask what my favorite books are; my quick answer is that three books are my favorite: Cannery RowThe Old Man and the Sea and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. That’s my triumvirate; every time I make a book, I’m chasing those three books. I’m trying to replicate the feeling I get from those three books and combine it with all the fun, cartoony stuff.

Bookish: Is there something about those three novels that complement one another?

Kibuishi: They’re very much like graphic novels because of the length; they’re very short. I like writers who write for the memory of the reading experience and not so much for the time that it takes to read it. I think the best writers can create a memory that stays with you for a long time. It doesn’t matter if it’s only one page long or 500 pages long. As long as that memory can hold, you’ve created literature in somebody’s mind.

 

When I draw my books and I know I only have 200 pages to work with and it’s going to be a very short time–I have only a half hour to an hour and a half with somebody–then it has to be about the memory that I create and not the story that I’m writing. The story’s only a tool to create the memory.

 

Bookish: Would you say that with graphic novels, it’s specific pages or images that stick in a reader’s mind?

 

Kibuishi: I encapsulate a moment. I look at the moment and say, “I want you to remember that moment really, really well,” so I will write to make that happen. I think that’s why [kids] like the “Amulet” books, because it holds. For me, as a young reader, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy reading when I started; it was that I didn’t understand a lot of it, so it didn’t hold. Then, when I read books that were clear enough for me–they didn’t necessarily have to be short, just clear enough–the memory held.

 

The Phantom Tollbooth is a fantastic example: The combination of Jules Feiffer’s images and Norton Juster’s writing created really clear images in my brain about the space, and I wanted to revisit it. Chris van Allsburg’s drawings create memories that don’t leave your head. Harry Potter has that, as well: You remember the moments and the spaces and the places.

 

Bookish: When you recommend Harry Potter often, is it in response to a specific request from people, or is it just your go-to?

 

Kibuishi: When I recommend Harry Potter, often it’s to somebody who doesn’t always read. It’s something that will introduce them to a great story. They’re going to read it and say, “Hey, I really enjoy reading!”

There’s more difficult fiction that I would recommend to some [more experienced] readers who want that special book. My wife is like that; she loves Philip Pullman [and "His Dark Materials"]. It’s like Harry Potter, but there’s a different flavor. For some of my friends, Ursula K. Le Guin is the way to go. I try to find the book that would mean so much to that person if they’re that kind of reader. But… I think books like Harry Potter and “Amulet” were made for the kids who didn’t find an interest in [reading]. They will move on to all sorts of wonderful things that we can point them to.

 

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This article originally appeared on Bookish.com

 

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