Haven’t had enough Steven Yeun in your life? We haven’t either. Lucky for all us, the Korean-American actor was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night! They discussed everything from his choice of wearing no socks to his father’s disapproval of acting (thank goodness Yeun didn’t listen!) We’ll let you see for yourself.
Click on for the interview!
Actor Tim Kang takes a less-than-appealing role and turns it into what may be the studliest Asian American character on TV.
ISSUE: Fall 2011
STORY: Han Cho
With a season-to-date average of 14.4 million viewers, CBS’s highly rated show The Mentalist begins its fourth season this fall. The crime drama follows Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), a specialist hired for his “psychic” abilities, and a team of top-rate investigators, including Special Agent Kimball Cho, played by Korean American actor Tim Kang.
Viewers may find it hard to believe that the levelheaded, deadpan Cho was originally written as a socially inept, slightly overweight married man with two kids. Instead, the character has morphed into a former teen gang member with the brilliant mind and athletic physique of a Green Beret, a strong, silent type with a new girlfriend (played by Chinese-French Canadian beauty Sandrine Holt). So what happened?
“It took some juggling to shape him into something that I could believe in,” says the 38-year-old. Growing up as an avid TV and film fan in San Francisco, Kang was always bothered with the lack of positive representation of Asian Americans in the media. “They were never the heroes. Bruce Lee was the only ‘Asian American’ hero that we could look up to and not be ashamed of. And that was a little disconcerting.”
When Kang first read the script for The Mentalist, he realized that Cho “was just yet another example of not seeing a potential in a certain character. I thought, ‘Wow, some of this is really funny, but stereotypical.’ So I took some of it, kept some of it, and changed it around.
“He is certainly all the things the producers had originally envisioned,” adds Kang, “but he’s not just a book- worm. He’s a little more than that.”
Kang’s fresh take on the character can be attributed to his training in Off Off Broadway shows and the America Repertory Theater’s M.F.A. program. However, he sees “nothing sexy” about his role or his big break as a series regular on a hit show. In fact, he sees it as a “gift and responsibility.”
“To this day, I have not figured out the rhyme or reason to this business,” says Kang. “But I have certainly been afforded the kind of success that you should be proud of. And I am proud of it. I get to do something that I love every single day.”
— Han Cho
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.
Beats Per Mnet (BPM) is the Asian pop culture cable channel’s newest primetime lifestyle show, featuring everything from fashion advice to on-location segments about food to interviews with Asian celebrities. Model and actress Yvonne Lu chats with Audrey about being the face of the daily two-hour series “where Asian pop lives.”
ISSUE: Fall 2011
DEPT: Plugged In
HED: Beats Per Mnet’s Yvonne Lu
STORY: Shirley Lau
The show’s goal: I want our viewers to feel like they’re our best friends. When we go on these shoots where we go out to eat at a cool restaurant or go find a cool new shop to buy things at, I want our viewers to feel like they’re with us and we’re experiencing it together.
Working with co-host PK: He’s not just a pretty face. (Laughs) We had an instant rapport. He’s the best friend that you’ve always wanted — very cool, very funny. It’s challenging because we always have to be quick on our feet and play off each other. Whatever you see on set is literally what you see behind the scenes.
Why we need BPM: I think it’s a really cool platform for Asian entertainers and public figures to showcase their talents and skills. We have all walks of life come on our show and that’s really important because it allows you to think outside the box. Sometimes in a traditional Asian family, your parents expect you to do certain things, and now we’re showing you it’s OK to do other things, as long as you follow your heart.
Details Airs Monday through Friday at 7 pm and 10 pm. Check Mnet.com for local listings.
— Shirley Lau
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.
Returning for its second season, the hit TV drama The Walking Dead, based on Robert Kirkman’s popular comic book series, is set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. A small group of survivors, including Glenn, played by Korean American actor Steven Yeun (The Big Bang Theory), must fight for survival. Here, we pick Yeun’s brain.
If I were a zombie: I’d go to the nearest steakhouse and pick out a person who had just eaten a nice filet or T-bone. That’d be like eating a steak wrapped in bacon, but human-sized.
In Glenn’s zombie survival pack: Spam, candy and a bunch of hats.
Monster I want to be: I’d love to turn into a Gila monster. All they do is eat, sleep and sunbathe. Sign me up.
— Han Cho
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.
After two seasons on the hit FOX series Glee, Jenna Ushkowitz is hitting all the right notes.
ISSUE: FALL 2011
DEPT: Cover Feature
Photographer: Diana King
Wardrobe: Lyndzi Trang
Makeup: Allie Lapidus
Hair: Gaelle Secretin
Photo Assistants: Kevin Burnstein, Kevin Kozicki
Styling Assistant: Jacqueline Nguyen
Location: Park Plaza Hotel
Story: Janice Jann
Two years ago, when I first interviewed Jenna Ushkowitz, she was in the middle of shooting the first season of Glee, an innovative new show with a lot of promise, hype and a heart-stopping cover of “Don’t Stop Believin.’”
Jenna was excitable and chatty, like any other 23-year-old with her first big break would be. I had asked her then if she was prepared for her impending fame.
Jenna replied, “We can just take it step by step. Do we feel that [the show’s] special? Yes. But I don’t think any of us are thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to be so famous.’”
Flash forward to the present. How things have changed. If Jenna didn’t think she was heading towards fame back then, she has to face that she is indeed famous now. Glee has become a cultural phenomenon, nominated for 19 Emmys and four Golden Globes, its songs topping iTunes every week. Chris Colfer has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Important People for his portrayal of gay teenager, Kurt Hummel. And Jenna, along with her on-screen boyfriend played by Harry Shum, Jr., are two of the most recognizable Asians on television.
The now 25-year-old Korean American, raised in New York by her adoptive parents, realized this when the cast headed to the Big Apple to film an episode last season.
“We thought we would go shoot and a couple of fans would be there,” Jenna remembers. “It was insane. Hundreds and hundreds of kids showed up. There were barricades everywhere. It was overwhelming, amazing and kind of wakes you up, going, ‘holy crap, this is my life now!’” For Jenna, life over the past two years has taken her from bartending to singing on Broadway’s Spring Awakening to playing goth-girl Tina
Cohen-Chang on one of the most influential shows on primetime television. And yet Jenna maintains she’s still the same. “Your life doesn’t have to change if you don’t want it to,” she says. I sat down with Jenna at Los Angeles’s exclusive members-only Soho House (one indication of how life has changed — Jenna’s a member),
catching her in between shooting the show’s season 2 finale and the Glee summer concert tour. Just like I would with any girlfriend, we chatted about boys, clothes and Glee.
Audrey Magazine: Life seems to be going very smoothly for you right now. Can you take us back to a time when this wasn’t the case?
Jenna Ushkowitz: In 2007/8, before Spring Awakening, I had just graduated from college and was bartending. I was really unhappy and was like, “I need to be getting a job right now singing and dancing and not slinging drinks,” you know? I was with my friend at lunch in New York one day and he asked, “What do you want to do?” I was like, “I want to be on a TV show and I don’t want to have to give up theatre.” And here I am. It’s weird. I will never forget that.
Because I did it. I don’t understand people who can just sit and be comfortable and not do something about it when they’re unhappy with their lives. I was always, “Get whatever you want, when you want it, and if you’re not happy, change it.” Life’s too short, why not be happy every single day? That’s why I was like, “I have to do this.” Even if it takes years just to get a show.
AM: We’ve heard some of your co-stars’ crazy Glee audition stories. (Lea Michele’s car crash minutes before her Glee audition.) What was yours?
JU: The whole cast [of Spring Awakening] basically went in and read for Glee. AlI I had to do was say “w-w-we’re d-d-d-dooomed” with a little bit of a stutter and Tourette’s. I didn’t realize I had to say another stutter line and they were like, “OK, do the other line.” So I was like, “Uh, yeah ….” I walked out of the audition and was like, “I didn’t get that.”
A month later, Ryan Murphy was in town and they asked me to sing and improvise for them. He asked, “Who do you think Tina is?” I did this whole improv in the stutter about how my mom thought glee club was a really good outlet for me and Ryan said, “I liked how you kept her really positive.” I passed and went to test for the network in L.A. I had to take a red eye and I couldn’t sleep, I was anxious. I had never been to L.A. by myself before. Two hours [after auditioning], they said, “you got it!”
I called my friend and she said that’s amazing [because] her boyfriend had just gotten a [beer bottle cap] and it said “Never flee from glee.” I framed [that]. It’s all about syn- chronicity; it was the right place at the right time. [In] two years I had gone from bartending to Spring Awakening to Glee with no breaks in between. I’m going in the right direction right now, I know that.
AM: I thought one of the breakout moments for Tina in the show was when she made the speech about how there were no Asian sex symbols to look up to, so she wants to become one herself. Did you realize that speech is just as relevant to Jenna Ushkowitz as it is to Tina?
JU: Now that I think about it, yeah! Subconsciously, it’s totally true. When you are a minority, especially in this show, people focus in on that and I’m glad I got that storyline. I never really thought about it, but my idols were Lea Salonga and Sandra Oh and they’re Asian, too! It wasn’t, “they’re Asian so I idolize them.” It’s just that they are amazing and broke barriers and are who I aspire to be. We are the few in Hollywood making a name for ourselves so I do think about young girls who aspire to do what I’m doing now.
We’re acting, but we’re also making a difference and I never thought I would be able to do both at the same time. To make sure that arts in education is pushed and the message that different is beautiful and good. Be who you are and never be ashamed of it. We’re showing the world what most schools are like and what kids in schools are like. Not the Gossip Girls, not the 90210’s, with more of the glamorous lives. I love those shows, but kids are more like, “you were me in school, you’re representing me.” So it’s cool we’re lucky enough to do that.
AM: You seem to get along well with the rest of the cast, always saying, “We did this and we did that.”
JU: We’re a family. We came up creating this thing with Ryan and we did it for ourselves, basically. It’s our baby and now we’re sharing it with the world. We really do love each other. We all hang out, we all go to dinners. We have wonderful relationships outside the show.
AM: Has the dynamic changed now?
JU: We’ve only gotten closer. We now know each other really well. We know how we work, we know what clicks. We’ll have tiffs, we’ll argue, but in the most lovely way. Literally, we are each other’s cores. They’re my family and I’ll be sad when they all go away ‘cause I won’t be able to see them every day like I do now. We’re all lifelong friends.
AM: Who are you closest with?
JU: I have different relationships with everybody. Those girls are my sisters. Kevin [McHale] and I are peas in a pod. We get each other. We finish each other’s sentences. We’re all extremely close. It’s weird, I know people say, “You guys are just faking it, you all hate each other” and the tabloids try to do weird stuff, but it’s just this organic thing and I think that’s why it’s so successful. The chemistry worked, you know?
AM: Speaking of chemistry, let’s talk about Tina’s rela- tionship with Mike Chang.
JU: Mike Chang is amazing. We’re the longest standing couple on Glee now. Not everybody lasts on Glee, as you’ve seen. But I love working with Harry and we have a great time together. I would like to see Tina and Artie get into it. Not necessarily get back together, but we never really resolved [the breakup]. I still feel unresolved about it and I don’t know if they’re doing it on purpose. I’d like to do a triangle, [but] I couldn’t pick which one to be with ‘cause I think they’re both great.
AM: What is it like kissing Harry?
JU: [Laughs] A girl never kisses and tells!
AM: What else is off-topic for you?
JU: Relationships. Off-topic. My family, I won’t talk too much about. You can hit on me all you want, but don’t touch my family. I try not to talk about them too much ‘cause that’s my safety zone. When you go home, nothing changes.
You want to share things with the people who know and appreciate you. I’m a pretty open book. But my personal life is my personal life. The tabloids have plugged me with Kevin and if you don’t give them anything, it just becomes boring to them and they kind of leave you alone. That’s why we Twitter, to let people see a little more into our lives rather than reading a tabloid. We prefer that, saying I had a lovely dinner with my friend rather than the tabloids saying, “walking into a bar drunk.” Once you get to the top, people love to bring you down. I don’t think we should give them a chance to do that.
AM: Do you even have time to date?
JU: Not really. In New York it was a lot easier ‘cause I had a lot of friends. Here it’s really hard — I didn’t even have friends. So to meet a guy? It’s just hard. Especially now. You have to be careful when you meet people and be aware of what they want. You never know. I’ve finally met some friends of friends.
AM: What kind of guys do you like?
JU: I said I would never date actors, but that’s a lie. Who else do you meet then? I’m a very honest and open person and I just hope someone will give the same to me. You don’t have to be successful, you just have to know where you’re going.
It’s weird, I thought I would be married by 26 when I was younger. Now it’s like, “Oh my god, no way.” Just a good person. Someone who makes you laugh every single day.
AM: Speaking of people you like, you’ve mentioned how you idolize Sandra Oh.
JU: I watch Grey’s Anatomy for Sandra Oh. She’s my favorite. She can do no wrong in my eyes. I still haven’t met her, but I’m dying to. I’m trying to get her on my show. As crazy aunt Sandra or something. She plays crazy so well.
AM: Are you hoping for a similar career path?
JU: I want to be remembered as an actor who really cared about her craft and her work. I want to do what Sandra has done, which is make herself an actress and not an Asian Amer- ican actress. And doing great work and people seeing past the, “Oh, she’s not blonde and blue-eyed.” I want to be able to break those walls and make it socially wanted — not “acceptable” ‘cause I think it is acceptable — to see an Asian girl on the cover of any popular magazine. That’s where I want to go.
Purchase Jenna Ushkowitz’s Fall issue here.
We know the whole universe has a crush on The Office‘s super-talented executive-producer/star, Mindy Kaling but we’re going to make a list of reasons we love her anyway!
Mindy likes shopping at Target, eating junk food, and sleeping in until 2pm. She has everyday girl struggles and despite being a super-famous TV star and Emmy-award winning writer, homegirl keeps it real. Continue Reading »
Lisa Ling, Margaret Cho, and Jan Yanahiro have joined other females to speak out on media’s poor representation of women in a new documentary out aptly entitled Miss Representation.
With shocking stats of the low percentage of women in power, combined with tell-tale images captured from various music videos, television shows, and computer games from the media, the trailer for the doc has already caught on like fire over the internet.
“The media can be an instrument for change, it can awaken people and change minds. It depends on who’s piloting the plane.” — Katie Couric.
What are your thoughts on the stats and statements made from the Miss Representation trailer?
Fall to me is TV season.
Sure, I like the leaves changing colors and the fresh feeling of returning to school/work/normalcy and all but what I REALLY like is being able to snuggle up to Hulu (can you even do that?) in the coziness of the evening.
Audrey Magazine already highlighted Glee star Jenna Ushkowitz in our Fall issue but this TV season seems promising, with plenty of Asian American actors making waves across the tube.
Some show developments that have caught my eye.
-Tamlin Tomita plays Harry Shum, Jr.‘s mom on Glee!
-Nicole Sherzinger tearing up contestants on The X Factor (but in actuality, she seems like a sweetheart so maybe not.)
-Mindy Kaling got promoted to executive producer on The Office! She’s always been hugely praised for her storytelling skills on the show so excited to see what fresh eye she can bring to the sitcom while wearing the bigger hat.
-Rex Lee‘s unforgettable role on The Entourage may be ending but he’s found another one on Suburgatory.
-Charlyne Yi drops the funny and picks up a stethoscope playing a doctor on House.
-Reggie Lee in Grimm.
- Joy Osmanski brings the adorable to animated series Allen Gregory.
- Matthew Moy‘s obviously fake Asian accent on 2 Broke Girls is a bit jarring but in a series where stereotypes are not what they seem to be, I’m hopeful his character will also break out of the racial shell.
-Kal Penn charms Colbie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother! SO EXCITED FOR THIS.
-Lucy Liu in Southland. Lucy Liu in anything, I’ll pretty much watch. Except for those Tinker Bell movies.
What are you looking forward to watching on TV this Fall?
Can’t get enough of Jenna Ushkowitz‘s Fall cover shoot?
Feast your eyes on some more select Jenna outtakes!
“Making someone laugh is the best. Laughter is the best medicine in the world.” — Dilshad Vadsaria
ISSUE: Summer 2011
STORY: Jennifer Chen
Greek actress Dilshad Vadsaria aims to please in the summer comedy 30 Minutes or Less.
For a girl whose first name means “happy heart,” Dilshad Vadsaria knows how to deliver one-line zingers.
And audiences will get a chance to see her do so as she made her film debut in 30 Minutes or Less this past August, playing fellow South Asian American Aziz Ansari’s sister and Jesse Eisenberg’s love interest, along with funny men Nick Swardson and Danny McBride.
Was Vadsaria, fresh from her role as Rebecca Logan (Becks, to fans) on ABC Family’s hit show Greek, intimidated to be working with such a funny cast of characters for her very first film role? No, she was too busy flying back and forth from Los Angeles to Michigan, shooting the final season of Greek and
filming her first scenes with Eisenberg. “There wasn’t time to think about it,” she says. But she did love every minute of it, especially since Kate, her 30 Minutes character, is the polar opposite of wealthy sorority girl Rebecca. As Vadsaria puts it, “Rebecca is filthy rich and has a jet. Kate, on the other hand, is working her way up and pursuing a career.”
It’s something Vadsaria could probably relate to. Born in Pakistan, Vadsaria decided to pursue a career in acting despite her parents’ desire that she become a doctor. So instead of telling her family she was taking acting classes in New York City, she told them she was “looking for a job.” After landing a starring role in Greek, she finally admitted she was moving to Los Angeles to be an actress. It was her first acting job, playing the girl everybody loved to hate. “I like to say she is misunderstood,” quips Vadsaria.
From teenage angst to grownup comedy, Vadsaria learned a new skill set watching her 30 Minutes comedian castmates on set — improv. “I couldn’t stop laughing,” she says. “Coming from TV where you have to stick to the script, here these guys were, throwing stuff in. It was so cool.” For this would-be doctor turned actress, Vadsaria has already learned what no degree can bestow: “Making someone laugh is the best. Laughter is the best medicine in the world.”
— Jennifer Chen
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.