Because Audrey Magazine is a small publication, we rely on the kindness of our many artsy friends and interns to contribute their talents to our team. And they’re so cool, they’re off creating other cool stuff when they’re not creating cool stuff for Audrey. Cool, huh? Here are where a few of our contributors are up to in their (limited) spare time.
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.
Teen shows seem to offer richer opportunities for young Asian American actors these days. But what’s it like actually being “that Asian on that show”? We find out from actresses Ashley Argota (True Jackson, VP), Jolene Purdy (Gigantic) and Nikki Soohoo (The Lovely Bones) in our teen roundtable.
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“I prefer to be in the middle of the action and to actually see the ingredients and touch them. Hand-to-mouth, I think, really just turns me on a lot more.” – Kelly Choi
ISSUE: Winter 2010
STORY: Jimmy Lee
Hot in the Kitchen
In every kitchen she enters, Kelly Choi turns up the heat. She subjects chefs to the glare of the spotlight on shows like Eat Out NY on NYC TV, scrutinizing them as she sautés over a hot stove. And if she can torment world-class culinary artists as host of Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters, with challenges like preparing a dish using in- gredients from a gas station store, well, she relishes that, too. “It was a riot,” she says with a laugh. “Seeing the expressions on [the chef’s] faces was priceless.”
Yet the angst Choi put her own par- ents through could be considered far worse, especially by those in their peer group: Korean immigrants. For one, there was going to grad school for — gasp — journalism. But before that, when she was around 8, after she and her family had set- tled in Virginia and her parents began running a grocery store, Choi wanted to make “American” meals for her folks. “I didn’t know anything about cooking American food, but I knew that I wanted to quote-unquote cook. So I would open up all these cans of stuff and then heat up beans and get mashed potato flakes,” says Choi. “My parents were like, ‘Uh-uh, we don’t like this American food. We’re going to eat Korean.’”
Her skill with processed meats (“Lots of pork and beans, lots of Spam — best things ever,” laughs Choi) didn’t exactly compel her parents to encourage a culinary education. However, they would end up helping to prepare Choi, who’s also worked as a model and a VJ for MTV Korea, for her meteoric rise in the world of television just by being at the dinner table. There, she had to preside over one of the most notorious of all critics: a Korean father. “My dad was always [telling] my mom what was wrong with the food and what was good,” Choi remembers fondly.
If only her late father could see how far her cooking has come, especially with the techniques she’s picked up spending every workday with chefs. “I can’t get enough of it,” says Choi. “It’s great to be around that sort of energy.”
In fact, for Choi, it can be an occupa- tional hazard. “Now I’m so used to going to the back of the house with the chef that going to restaurants [to just dine] makes me antsy,” she says. “I prefer to be in the middle of the action and to actually see the ingredients and touch them. Hand-to-mouth, I think, really just turns me on a lot more.” — Jimmy Lee
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.
“I realized that no matter what was happening in my life, when I was in the kitchen, that was my safe place.” – Aarti Sequeira
ISSUE: Winter 2010
STORY: Janice Jann
Time spent with Aarti Sequeira really is a party. The season six champ of Food Network’s number one series, The Next Food Network Star, is full of life, from her cascading waterfall of dark curls to her lyrical British accent.
We all know Ms. Lisa Ling is one inspiring individual, breaking barriers and walls down left and right and paving the way for women and Asian Americans in television. When interviewing her, it was no surprise that we would get to the deep stuff. Just how deep? Take a look at the video below.
Catch Lisa Ling conversing with faith healers TONIGHT on her new show, Our America, on OWN 10/9c.
It’s been awhile since Lisa Ling has worked in an office. Though the seasoned 37-year-old journalist, who got her first television hosting gig at age 16, is one of the hardest-working women on TV, her work environment range from the set of The View from 1999-2002 to investigating gang rapes in the middle of Africa as the host of National Geographic Ultimate Explorer to even the comforts of her own home, writing the book, Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home with her sister Laura Ling. It’s safe to say it’s been awhile since Ling has had a chat by the water cooler or peeked over a cubicle.
Yet, this is the very setting where we meet, in the newly occupied citrus-hued OWN (short for Oprah Winfrey Network) offices on the Miracle Mile of Los Angeles, California, where Ling is also having a photo shoot. Ling doesn’t have an office at this space but with a new show on the OWN channel, she does call Oprah boss. And she does miss working in an office. At the start of our interview, the energetic Ling muses, “I was saying to [my publicist], there’s so many cute guys here!” Ling’s new show, Our America, delves into our very own backyard and stems from Ling’s own Chinese American upbringing and not feeling like she fit into any culture.
“This series is kind of a window into who we are as Americans and what it means to be an American. We explore the ugly parts as well as the challenging parts. It really is, I hope, an all encompassing experience.”
What makes Ling’s series unique is the positive, hopeful edge ever-present throughout the series. “My hope is they will look at things differently than they may have looked at them before and they might have a little more compassion than they had before. It’s so easy to think about any topic or issue in a really black and white way and what we’re trying to do is go beneath the surface and try to provide a different perspective. No matter the topic that we’ve been covering, we feature people who ultimately came from a mother who love him or her. That’s something I keep in the back of my mind.” Ling understands the opportunity that Oprah and the OWN channel have given her in telling these stories. “It’s hard,” Ling says, “TV’s all about the lowest common denominator — what’s the most sensational. It’s so unusual to work for a woman or an organization that seeks out intention in work. Usually it’s like, okay, how’s it going to rate and while that is important, equally as important is what the intention is. I’m really grateful.”
Some issues the show will attempt to shed light to include mail-order brides, sex-offender colonies and faith healers. Faith is something Ling has also personally been exploring. I have seen a lot of things in my life and career that have made me question God and the idea of faith,” Ling explains. “Kids trafficked to other parts of the world and forced into sex slavery, women being gang raped in the middle of Africa and no one paying attention to it. A lot of these things I’ve seen and experienced made me think, if there’s a God, how could he/she allow these things to happen?” But through her exploration and with the help of her husband, Ling’s view on God and faith has been shifting. “There’s a Catholic nun here in LA, she’s kind of a guru of mine — big sister Margaret — she’s become a mother to these transgendered prostitutes and people have been kicked out of their homes. People who nobody accepts, this catholic nun accepts. To me, that’s when I see God in people like that. She never talks about God, she just acts in a God-like way — whooo we’re getting deep here!” Ling gasps. The whole room cracks up. “But you can probably see I’m fascinated by this topic. I can’t stop thinking about it. Am I completely there yet? I can’t say definitively. Faith has always been a real exploration for me but it’s one that I’m enjoying and learning a lot from.”
On the subject on beliefs, Ling is grateful for one person that has faith in her. “I have worked with Oprah more than five years now,” Ling gushes about her boss. “She’s just awesome. The only reason I have this series on this network is because she believes in me. Just the way she led her life with such integrity. It’s really rare to find people like that in this business and that’s a reason why she’s as successful as she is, because she never deviated from that.”
Americans can dilute the origins of any creation by umphing up the volume to the next level. Just look at the U.S. version of BBC’s television series The Office (partly created by Ricky Gervais who just hosted The Golden Globes).
Then, there’s freedom fries, melted milkshake-looking cappuccino, and drug-induced Skins.
MTV premiered the U.S. version of Skins last Monday. The television series follows the nine lives of a disorderly and mismatched group of teenagers, including part-Filipina Camille Crescencia-Mills(above) as boobsy Daisy Valero, who live the typical party wreck of a juvenile lifestyle that takes Degrassi to the next exponential degree. There’s problems, problems and only more problems due to drugs, partying, school, relationships and growing up in general.
The UK teen-hit is where actors such as Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy) continued his career and where British Indian Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) jumpstarted his career, and who knows what future (and mayhem) the U.S. ultra fresh cast has in store.
We’re totally appreciating the extra color Camille and Indian-Canadian cast-mate Ron Mustafaa will be adding to the mix and hoping that they will be more than 2-dimensional side characters. Crescencia-Mills’ character intro looks promising:
Tune in to MTV on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET to catch the insanity.
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!
Time spent with Aarti really is a party. The season six champion of Food Network’s number one series, The Next Food Network Star is full of life; from her cascading waterfall of dark curls to her lyrical British accent. Aarti Sequeira was born in Bombay, India and grew up in her mother’s kitchen. Though her mom’s flavorful Indian spices had always surrounded her childhood, Aarti didn’t try her hand at cooking until she got married and moved to LA. Instead, the TV personality worked as a journalist for many years, producing for CNN in Chicago and New York. After taking some classes at a local cooking school, Aarti knew that she wanted to make food her career. But how to go about it? Aarti decided to combine her love of journalism and food together- creating an online cooking variety show and blog called Aarti Paarti. The show caught Food Network’s attention and the rest is history. Or just starting. After winning the reality show, Aarti’s show Aarti Party premiered on August 22 for six episodes that ran through the end of Sept. to great audience feedback. 13 more episodes for a new season are currently in production. From conjuring up the perfect summer picnic to warming up a cold rainy day, Aarti brushes up classic American dishes with a touch of her Indian heritage. Audrey caught up with the next food network star in Culver City, CA, fresh from shooting her first season.
Audrey: So Aarti, you started as a journalist, what made you switch career paths?
I started working at CNN a week after I graduated from university. I loved working there. There’s so much integrity and intelligence there but when I moved to LA, I really had to hustle for freelance jobs. I realized that I’m not a lazy person but I don’t really have that drive anymore for journalism in that form. A couple of years after I moved here, I worked with a Peabody award winning director on a documentary about Darfur that ended up being bought by HBO. That made me feel like, “okay, this is what I was supposed to be doing.” The same journalistic ideals and we’re going deep, deep, deep into it figuring out what is going on. But right around that time, the economy was starting to tank and no one wanted to make docs about Africa anymore. So that was when I started cooking it became the highlight of my day. It really helped me realized that no matter what was happening in my life, when I was in the kitchen, that was my safe place, that was my quiet place. That’s where I could control things.
Audrey: How did your online cooking show and blog catch the attention of Food Network?
Food Network started doing their casting for The Next Food Network Star and people popped up randomly telling me to audition for this show. I was really hesitant. I didn’t think I had the culinary chops to compete with these people and the challenges that were requiring you to cook in 15 minutes or something. But my husband said to me, “listen, we’re going to make a video, we’re going to send it in and we’re going to see what happens. You have nothing to lose. And so we did and that was it.
Audrey: It seems like your husband is very supportive of you.
My husband has always been my champion. We’ve been together 14 years and he’s always seen so much in me that I don’t see in myself. When I happened upon this cooking show idea, he hopped on it. He’s an actor-director and he understands forging your own way and trying to do what you want to do until someone comes knocking on your door and says, “I like what you’re doing and I want to pay you to do it.”
Audrey: As artists, did you guys ever struggle financially? How did that reflect in your cooking?
Brendan and I have definitely struggled. A year ago, I wasn’t even sure if we could make rent so we’ve really had to make a lot of sacrifices. But it’s been entirely worth it. So that kind of thinking is always going to pop up in my show anyway. Even in the competition, they would give us a budget and I would always spend the least money out of everyone (laughs). Even though I was making these things that were- for lack of a better word-exotic, I always came up really under budget. That’s just the way I cook. With Indian food, at least the kind that I grew up eating, there are so many vegetables, lentils, beans and things in the cuisine- it’s really a budget friendly way of cooking.
Audrey: Speaking of Indian spices. How does your Indian heritage influence your cooking?
I think what I’m trying to do is open the door for Indian cuisine for America. There are people out there who have been championing Indian cuisine for years. What I’m trying to do is take those traditional Indian flavors and wrap them around some classic American dishes so they’re not that intimidating. Here is a whole new way to enjoy Indian spices without overextending yourself. I try to use the spices that you can find at the regular supermarket- tamarack, cumin, and oleander-all those things. I’ve been kind of astonished actually by how many people have run out, bought the spices, come home, made what I made and would upload pictures. I’ve just been floored by that.
Audrey: If you get a season 2, where do you think you will take your food to?
I’m always on my Facebook page. So I post on there, “what do you guys want to learn how to make?” I got 300 comments within a couple of hours and people are asking how to make these really traditional Indian dishes. They weren’t asking for fusion, they were asking me for the authentic stuff. That was so encouraging to me, I was like, okay, after this season, god willing if I get season 2, there’s an appetite out there. People are willing to order the ingredients online. Or they’re willing to hunt them down in Indian stores.
Audrey: Being a cooking show host is partially about the food but partially about the host’s on-camera personality. Have you always been this telegenic?
My husband is an actor and he would take these improv classes. I would go to his shows every week and I was floored that there were so many things about improv that was affecting his personality in a really helpful way. The great thing about improv is that there are so many things you can completely carry over into real life. Focusing on other people more than yourself or just making a decision and trusting your gut. So I took these classes and it really gave me a sense of confidence. It helped me realize I really do have good instincts and I just have to trust them. That helped in being willing to improvise in the kitchen and trusting my palate. It really helped with my personality because it pulled me out of my shell and it made me feel like I was worthy of being heard, I guess.
Judging from the positive reviews the show has been receiving, it would seem like the rest of America feels like she’s worthy of being heard as well.
Check out Aarti Party Sundays at 12PM ET/PT on the Food Network. You can also read more about Aarti at www.aartipaarti.com