Season 4 of The Voice is here! Christina and Ceelo are sitting out this season – and I’ll say that I’m pretty pleased with Shakira and Usher filling in their shoes. Monday night’s premiere episode opened up with a big bang (complete with a lovely rendition of The Beatles’ “Come Together” by the four judges). However, what REALLY caught my eye was seeing two Asian women appear as contestants on the show (and both from Los Angeles!): Leah Lewis and Judith Hill. Fifteen year old Lewis is an adoptee from Shanghai, while singer-songwriter Hill has made a name for herself when she caught the attention of the world as she sang the lead on “Heal the World” at Michael Jackson’s funeral. Lewis didn’t get selected to a team, but Hill got all four judges to turn around for her (she eventually went with Adam Levine).
Leah Lewis performing “Blown Away”
Meet Judith Hill!
Judith Hill singing “What a Girl Wants”
This past week, Khristianne Uy took home the grand prize and bragging rights as the first season winner of The Taste, ABC’s new cooking reality competition. The Filipina American chef (who has worked as a personal chef to actor Charlie Sheen, producer Simon Cowell, drummer Tommy Lee, and the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia) beat out fellow contestant Diane “Cruella” DiMeo (who is also Persian-Korean) when guest judge Jose Andres favored her three dishes (Peking duck with chive pancake, seafood bouillabaisse and a braised short rib), which incorporated Portugese and Filipino flavors. In addition to the The Taste trophy, Uy went home $100,000 and a Ford hybrid.
A proud lesbian, Uy told Gay Star News that she had received a lot of bullying on the show: “There was not another gay person in the top 16 so there were some who thought they just kept me as the token lesbian.I got little comments from some competitors like, ‘YOU made it this far’ ‘You’re Charlie Sheen’s chef. Do you just make burgers and hot dogs?’ There was like a lot of bullying – men with big egos.”
She also commented she would trade in her prizes to make gay marriage legal and will donate a portion of her winnings to the Human Rights Campaign and LGBT causes.
Brian Malarkey (Top Chef Season 3 winner), was Uy’s mentor. Anthony Bourdain (DiMeo’s mentor), Nigella Lawson, and Ludo Lefebrve were also other mentors on the show.
This season of The Bachelor is nearing its end and with only three contestants left, we are able to get a much closer look at all of the girls. This is certainly true for Italian-Pilipino contestant, Catherine Giudici. On the most recent episode, Sean visited the home towns of the last four girls which gave Catherine time to show Sean the ins and outs of Seattle as well as some knowledge on Pilipino culture. With a middle name like Ligaya (Tagalog for “happiness”) and a mother who’s a Pilipino historian, we were not surprised to see that she was quite connected to her roots.
Before meeting her family, Catherine prepped Sean with a few helpful hints. She taught him to call her grandmother “Lola” which is the Tagalog equivalent. She then taught Sean the polite and formal method for greeting an elder- mano. This gesture is one that is performed as a sign of respect to the elders. The person bows towards an elder’s offered hand and presses his or her forehead on the elder’s hand. After the proper introductions (as well as gestures of Mano), Sean was asked to help make Lumpia with the family- a popular Filipino roll.
In the past, this show has been criticized for its lack of ethnic diversity so we were delighted to see this 26 year old graphic designer bring some of her culture into the mix. To watch full episodes of The Bachelor, click here and be sure to watch the final episodes!
We all know Asian Americans have musical talent. Have you heard Joseph Vincent croon a tune or Clara C bang on her tambourine? It must have been ingrained into us since the days of yore when our parents
forced piano lessons down our throats gently encouraged us to play piano.
Are you tired of seeing Asian American musical talent being limited to the bounds of YouTube.com? Are you an aspiring solo singer or member of a vocal group that has always dreamed of making it big-time? Well, wait no longer! Here, at Audrey Magazine, we’re absolutely teeming with excitement to present to you a once in a lifetime opportunity. THE X FACTOR, the highly anticipated show produced by Simon Cowell that is debuting on FOX this fall, will be holding auditions in major cities around the country. You or your vocal group could be the recipient of an extraordinary $5 million dollar recording contract with Syco/Song Music and on your way to global stardom hood.
For those who are still tuning in with Project Runway, I am sure you would agree that this season is filled with tension between the designers. But what makes this season exciting (at least for us!) is not only the drama but also the fact that there are two Asian-American contestants who both seem to be strong contenders.
It was definitely disappointing to see Korean contestant Ivy Higa eliminated from PR just three weeks ago. Fortunately, Andy South from Hawaii still remained in the competition, so Asian-inspired pieces continue to be represented on the runway. Surely he’s had his ups and downs, but who could ever forget the winning dress he made for the party store challenge, or the avant-garde look for the L’Oreal Paris make-up challenge?
In this week’s episode, South stayed true to himself and his point of view as a designer is really shining through. It was a little nerve-wrecking when his fellow contestant, Gretchen Jones, stated his design ‘looks like the mistress you’d pay a high, high price for to have her spank you.’ He even played off the joke and said he translated his inspiration to ‘the head waitress at this tea house who does happy endings.’ But he managed to ‘make it work’ (in Tim Gunn’s words) at the end and made a little black dress with lines that really flatter a woman’s body. I was ecstatic when Heidi told him he was going to create a collection. However, he is among four who were given the opportunity, but only three can show at New York Fashion Week. As much as I love South’s edgy warrior-woman looks, I’m hoping he’ll surprise us with something new in his collection! The judges are waiting for him to design something different as well. It’s been a while (since Chloe Dao in season two) that an Asian-American landed in the top three of Project Runway. Go Andy!
Don’t forget to catch the next episode (Finale Part 1) on Thursday, October 21 at 9pm on Lifetime!
Love it or hate it, but one thing is left undisputed. Americans love reality television and Jersey Shore was one of the most talked about hits to break out into the airwaves last season. As the upcoming reality television show K-Town, dubbed as the “Asian American Jersey Shore” is currently in production, rumors and gossip are swarming the filming process. From America’s favorite paparazzi site TMZ and journalism powerhouse The New York Times, to cynically critical Asian American bloggers chiming in on K-Town, curiosity over the show is increasing by the minute. To curb my own prying nosiness, I held one of the three producers of the show, Eugene Choi, hostage on the other end of the phone. He addressed some of the swarming rumors, but hesitates to give away too much of what’s to come.
Q: There are so many videos and clips of K-Town circulating online. What’s real and what’s not?
Eugene Choi: That’s the crazy part of all the attention that we’ve been getting over the show — most of the things that are circulating online were not released by the producers or the official production team. Given how connected everyone is through the internet, it’s become so easy to snoop and scoop. We [the production team and cast members] have password protected a lot of the footage to get edited internally, yet somehow it got out of hand real quickly. Now, we’re receiving emails with links from acquaintances with production footage even before it’s edited.
Q: So are the photos and videos not accurate representations of the show?
EC: They are not the finalized version. Many of the videos on Youtube are also uploaded by fans and critics outside of the actual production team so it’s not our official material. All this attention is good for publicity, but it’s also misleading since we are still in the filming process and we’ve only shot the pilot episode.
Q: Tell me more of the parody of Ke$ha’s Tik Tok on TMZ starring the cast of K-Town. It says that it’s not an official trailer/teaser, but somehow managed to reach the American public through TMZ of all places!
EC: The quality of the video that was released through TMZ is no way near what you should expect from the upcoming show. The video and the lyrics were actually part of Jasmine Chang’s (one of the cast members) audition process and we were just talking about how it was cute and funny and decided to put the rest of the casts’ auditions into it. About 95 percent of the video is footage cut from the cast members’ audition videos and not actual footage from the show.
As a matter of fact, we ended up selecting the cast members partially based on their audition videos. They were very impressive high quality videos where it was shot and edited by professional videographers.
Q: Are the cast members going to be 2.0 Asian American versions of the Jersey Shore cast?
EC: We are using K-Town as the setting and drawing from what really goes on in Koreatown. The similarity is that both shows will feature a selected group of young adults going through a rite of passage in their [respective] settings. In this case, it’ll be K-town where it’s truly unique with a character of its own.
Q: How do you think that the show will be able to distinguish itself into its own and away from the Jersey Shore?
EC: Well, it’s the very first reality show of its kind with an all Asian American cast, so that’s the selling point and challenge when pitching it to the networks.
Q: Well, the mainstream American media that have reported on it so far have all called it the Jersey Shore — but with Asians. How do you think that’s going to play with the major networks?
EC: The main goal from the beginning was to get the show picked up and aired through a major network and that’s also the real challenge. Networks are in the business to pick up what’s profitable. Last year, Viacom’s biggest moneymaker was MTV, much credit to the popularity of the Jersey Shore. So when approaching the network executives, it’s a selling point to be able to address that, “Look, we have something here that can be successful. The risk you have to take is that the cast will be all Asian American instead of Italian-Americans,” and they’re more willing to listen. The hype and media attention that we are receiving now is an indicator that America is ready and interested enough to watch a reality show with an Asian American cast about their particular subculture within America. The content’s going to be different from the Jersey Shore because the people [cast] are different and the producers are different.
Q: So all this attention, even though it’s negative, is essentially good publicity.
EC: It was shocking to receive so much attention from the very beginning. Even from the very first Criagslist ads to the audition process, we’ve been getting a lot of attention and negative criticism. There’s been so much negativity from the beginning from the Asian American community trying to tear us down, but it hasn’t affected us from moving forward with this project. Surprisingly, the public American media, whether it’s Chelsea Lately, CNN or TMZ have not been negative.
Q: What made you guys place a Craigslist ad looking for Asian American Jersey Shore-types?
EC: I was studying the Jersey Shore and how it’s a simple depiction of a subculture in America, following young people through their rite of passage and thought, “why not in K-town?” Koreatown has so much going on as an enclave for Asian Americans to soak up its own unique lifestyle and nightlife. Some people are complaining over the cast members’ nationalities — on how not every cast member is a Korean American. I think it goes to show that Koreatown, in addition to its namesake that harbors Korean businesses, has been naturalized as a Asian American hang-out spot. The production team is not entirely Korean either, but we [the producers] all want to do what many other Asian Americans in the entertainment industry are working to do, which is to breakdown the stereotype that we [Asian Americans] are not all nerdy or that we can’t be mainstream.
Q: Is the goal to break the stereotypes and to have a successful reality TV show?
EC: The goal is not to show the rosy picture, but to show that Asian Americans are more multidimensional through the individuals that they’ll meet through the show.
Q: Multidimensional through drunken debauchery in Koreatown?
EC: Well, reality TV is about drama.
Q: I have to agree. Looking at other popular reality TV shows like the Real Housewives or the Real World, it’s all about people and their hot, messy drama. I shall expect to see Asian Americans and their hot, messy drama then.
EC: Speaking of the Real World, there was an interesting Facebook page that points out how there have been zero Asian American males cast on the show, with only three Asian American female cast members in its long-running history. That says a lot about American television and what this K-Town reality show is trying to do. We have interesting characters and the only difference is that they’re Asian Americans.
Q: Then don’t you think that the critics and haters are almost giving you too much credit with the show? After all, it is only a reality TV show.
EC: I guess I haven’t looked at it that way. But we want to create a good show that is entertaining and to put a different perspective of Asian Americans.
What I gathered after our thank-you-and-good-bye was that the producers are in the business of making good reality television as opposed to creating a new set of Asian American role models. It’s reality television — not reality as it is.
It’s no surprise that the religion of Islam tends to make some Americans a bit testy. After the name “Osama Bin-Laden” started making news hour rounds, the name “Muhammad” immediately lost all rights to dinner table conversation, except in reference to boxing movies with Will Smith (or attacks on Danish cartoonists).
Then there’s Young Imam, the Malaysian reality show. Think American Idol minus Sex And The City 2. Ten young, good-looking men compete for the favor of a judge, who eliminates one contestant every week. Sounds familiar, except the contestants are all devout Muslims, and the judge is a former grand mufti of the Malaysian national mosque. And the grand prize? A free trip to Mecca, a scholarship to al-Madinah University of religious studies in Saudi Arabia, and a job as one of the country’s premiere religious leaders. That’s Imam for you.
Calling this an unusual perception of Islamic culture would be sort of like calling Caddy Shack a different take on golf culture. Islam is the second mostpracticed religion in the world, and yet in America our views are shaped by the actions of a relatively small number of extremists. Young Imam gives us a version of Islam that is decidedly moderate — and, as it turns out, crowd-pleasing. After three weeks, the show’s Facebook page has garnered plenty of fans; among them are a good number of mother-in-laws trying to marry off their daughters to the show’s rising studs.