The Fung Bros Tell Us Why There Aren’t More Asians In Hollywood

Growing up, there was nothing in mainstream Hollywood I could truly relate to. If I did happen to see an Asian actor on television, the only thing I could do was point and say, “Hey, they’re Asian!” That’s it. There was nothing else I could identify with.

But after watching the premiere of Fresh Off The Boat, I finally found Asian characters explored more in-depth. I laughed because I experienced the same thing poor Eddie Huang experienced by bringing “weird” lunch to school, and I absolutely hated when people asked me with a disgusted look on their face, “Uhh what is that?!” If only they understood…

In a recent video by FungBrosComedy, David and Andrew Fung address the age old question: Why aren’t there more Asians in Hollywood? They took to the streets of Los Angeles to ask passersby their opinions. Here is what they had to say:

So what did the Fung brothers discover? Many are unfamiliar with the newer generation of Asian American celebrities, but are able to name popular martial artists that have been featured in films for decades. Names such as Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan are often mentioned. Why? Because that is how Asians are stereotypically represented in Hollywood. The “school girl” or “karate chopper” are roles that are commonly associated with Asians.

But after watching this video, I’m more curious about what the Fung brothers think about Asians and their lack of representation in Hollywood. I had the opportunity to interview David Fung and he shared much more than his comedic personality. We delved into deeper issues that surround the Asian American identity and what the Fung brothers hope to achieve through their YouTube channel.



Audrey Magazine: In regards to your video, why do you think there aren’t more Asians in Hollywood?

David Fung: I think there are a variety of reasons. Asians are unaware that in America, we only make up less than 6% of the population, and of that 6%, we’re really fragmented among cultural and language lines. Another huge factor is that our involvement in the entertainment industry is pretty low. Asians are disproportionately represented in medical fields or in engineering. You have to understand, Hollywood is primarily sold to middle America. You have to appeal to a lot of demographics. Most Asians live in coastal cities, so our perspective on America is a little bit different. I’ve been traveling for a show and going to places where Asians are less than 1% of the population and the people have no idea about them. They’re still in a “Bruce Lee, ka-pow!” phase in terms of their understanding of Asians. I think it’s really difficult for Asians that have been on the west coast for many years to grasp that Hollywood has to derive its profits from middle America, and middle America doesn’t go beyond Bruce Lee and Jeremy Lin. That’s it.

Jamie Chung Samurai Girl

Jamie Chung as Samurai Girl. Courtesy of ABC Studios.

AM: John Cho’s show Selfie premiered last fall but unfortunately, it is already cancelled. Now, Fresh Off The Boat is on and it seems to be gaining more popularity and a wider audience. Why do you think that is?

DF: I think if you look at Selfie, it wasn’t based on him being Asian. His Asian identity had no part in it. I think it goes both ways. I think there are some Asians that really would love for there to be an Asian leading male that doesn’t reference the Asian ethnicity. But I think there is a desire among some Asians to be represented as being just like everybody else. If you look at the content that’s really successful, it’s more about what represents identity. It’s what makes us unique, it’s what makes us special, so I think you see different methodology. There’s people that say, “Accept us like anybody else,” and there’s others that say, “Well, I know you’re not going to accept me like one of you, so let me explain to you what I’m all about.” I think Fresh Off The Boat is in that lane and Selfie was in the “I’m Asian but I’m still like everybody else.” If you ask me which is more effective, I think Fresh Off The Boat is more effective. I think for west coast Asians especially, there’s a desire to say that we’re like everybody else. But the rest of the country doesn’t understand that.

AM: Do you think there’s more diversity on YouTube? Or do you run into similar issues of underrepresentation?

DF: I think there’s a lot more acceptance on YouTube. I do think that even within YouTube, you look at each ethnicity and they have more of their own as well as a mixed fan base. I think the digital democracy of YouTube is free and anybody can post on it. It’s less marketed than Hollywood is. In Hollywood, there’s a lot of people that invest a lot of money and want to cater to the largest demographics to be successful.

AM: What goals or messages do you want to relay through your channel?

DF: Through FungBrosComedy, we want to help explain the Asian world and identity to people. Of course, in my perspective. I’m never going to say that other people are not free to think what they think, because everybody’s experiences are different and their truth is their truth. I’m just explaining my perspective, which, I hope, is very balanced, because I have taken multiple perspectives into consideration. When you grow up in America, nobody educates you on Asian American identity. You grow up on a lot of Western and European history. You get Martin Luther King Day, so they explain in school about the African American identity and struggle and history. But you never learn about Asian Americans except, maybe, a few sentences about building railroads and indentured servitude. “They just come to America for a better life.” That’s what they’re supposed to tell you. They came to America because Asia was worse and they came to a better country to make money. For some Asians, that’s what they understand about themselves, or their families and their own journey to America. What I want to do is make an appeasing, interesting way to talk about it because it goes much deeper than that. But a lot of people don’t want to talk about it, whether it’s uncomfortable or just never see it delivered in an entertaining way. And I think it’s just about making things entertaining. I think that’s why it’s so tough, because it lacks the sugar. That’s why medicine is sweet, you have to laugh at it to be able to swallow it.

Say it loud and say it proud! Although Asian Americans also have their own identities within their own communities, it’s about time Hollywood gives us some mainstream exposure to better understand our culture and experiences.



Guy Talk With The Fung Brothers : The Asian Dating Scene

Story by Paul Nakayama. Photo by Daniel Nguyen Photography. 

Recently, an Asian guy friend of mine handed me a Scotch and proceeded to ask me for an introduction to a girl — any girl. I didn’t know what to say, so I downed the whiskey and got drunk. It wasn’t what he asked, but how he asked it. His level of despair prompted me to consult outside help. So I sat down with David and Andrew Fung, also known as the Fung Brothers, the popular YouTube entertainers with a unique perspective on all things Asian, to get some tips on how to help a single Asian brother out.

Q: You guys grew up in Kent, Wash. What was that like?
David Fung: Growing up, there weren’t that many Asians in our area. We always sort of felt like the “Others” in our school. A lot of Asians that grow up around Asians are comfortable, and they don’t think about being Asian. But where we were, there were a lot of tough questions that people posed to us. Our high school was really into sports, so we got involved in leadership roles in sports. That was good training to put ourselves out there, but it put us in an environment where we got made fun of. We were trying to be the cool kids, but sometimes we weren’t accepted.

Q: So what was dating like in high school?
Andrew Fung: It was pretty hard to date. I mean, just to put it in perspective, we were at a school where some guys wore cowboy hats to school.

Q: But once you got to college …
AF: Yeah, UDub [University of Washington] is like 30 to 40 percent Asian so we made the most of it. We could exercise our talents, and it was easier to be considered cool.

Q: By college, you were already performing comedy. Did that help the dating scene?
AF: A lot of girls liked it, but they also assumed we were players. That’s kind of the life of an Asian American entertainer. A lot of us aren’t players. We weren’t raised like that, but people think that’s what entertainers do.

Q: What about dating after college? You’re in L.A. now, after all.
AF: Dating after college is much harder. This is a message to guys: If you cannot date in college, you are going to have an even harder time after college. It’s like camp. If you can’t meet people at camp, then … yeah.

Q: [Laughing, maybe a little too awkwardly] So, what’s a good strategy for the Asian 40-year-old virgin? And I don’t mean me. Purely hypothetical, guys.
DF: We know guys like that — dudes that don’t meet a lot of girls. Bottom line: Get rid of the self-defeating attitude. We all deal with whatever factors leading to less confidence, like our culture, parents, whatever legitimate excuses that only work in a vacuum. At some point you gotta step up and take responsibility.

Q: We’ve all heard that Asian men have a disadvantage in dating. True, or is it more about the attitude we come in with?
DF: Me and Andrew played varsity basketball at a high school where people on our teams went to the NBA. Can you imagine two short, nerdy Asian kids being raised in a system where everyone’s got NBA dreams? But it never made me think that I shouldn’t try out for the team or play against these guys. You have to have the same mentality in other aspects of your life.
AF: I feel like as an Asian guy in America, if you stand up knowing what people think about you and say, “Yeah, I am like that and I’m proud,” people will respect you more, and you’ll probably get more women that way.
DF: Like if they think Asian guys are gross, you say, “Yeah, I am gross. I am a little gross. There!”
AF: And some women will be like, “Hey, that’s a strong man.” Women like confidence. Turn that negative into a positive. Gotta learn to play the cards you got.

Q: What about guys helping each other out? Being a good wingman and all.
DF: In the Asian scene, the wingman thing isn’t as sophisticated as it is with white or black guys.
AF: For sure. I heard this story about some Asian friends at a party, and it turned out they had all talked to the same girl and asked her the same exact questions and all asked her out for the same week. Ridiculous. No strategy or defining of roles. Asian guys are still figuring it out, and it makes sense ’cause none of our dads did any of that. With other races, someone will pass on some knowledge about how to talk to girls.
DF: Yeah, there’s no teamwork. In football, there are guys on the team whose only job is to block. With Asians, because we’re taught to “achieve, achieve, achieve,” everyone thinks he’s the quarterback. You can’t win with a team of just quarterbacks.

Q: As brothers, you probably have a better system than most. Hand signals, bird calls, a Venn diagram.
DF: It’s all about being on the same page. Everyone has to know the game plan. But to be clear, I don’t wanna misconstrue what we’re talking about here.
AF: Right, it’s not about getting laid. It’s more about meeting people successfully and making sure everyone can have a good time.
DF: And not have everyone immediately placed in the friend zone. A good wingman will make sure that everyone’s got a drink in their hand and is talking. And never interrupt a conversation with anything other than more drinks, not even compliments, because unless you know how to do it without coming off douchey, you’ll be blocking the quarterback.

For more of David and Andrew’s tips, visit

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

Asian Guys Respond To Cyberbullying Over Lorde’s Asian Boyfriend

Last week, much to our dislike, New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde faced what can only be described as racist cyberbullying.

Rumors began to spread that the 17-year-old singer called Justin Beiber and the members of One Direction “ugly.” As a result, Beiber fans and One Direction fans chose to retaliate. Their main focus? Lorde’s 24-year-old rumored boyfriend, James Lowe.

The worst part about all this is that the cyberbullies chose to use some of the worst stereotypes about Asian males. Although he did nothing to deserve the insults, Lowe was called ugly, scrawny, nerdy, Psy gone wrong, and a number of other derogatory terms.

While many Asians expressed anger about the racist remarks, comedian Andrew Fung tried to focus on some of the positives of this situation.

“I was like, ‘Oh, he’s a skinny Asian guy! It’s not like he’s a buff K-Pop guy,'” said Fung. “That’s very cool.”

Fun pointed out that the situation would be much less controversial had Lorde been dating a more “conventionally attractive Asian-American male,” but is glad that a “nerdy Asian guy is in the spotlight.”

Fung and his brother David expressed their full views on the situation through the following video. Though it was uploaded less than a week ago, the video has already gathered over 66,000 views on YouTube.