Vietnamese American Kathy Uyen in “How to Fight in Six Inch Heels”

 

Growing up in San Jose, Calif., Kathy Uyen worked as an actress in Los Angeles for several years before she got the opportunity in 2008 to work on her first Vietnamese film, Passport to Love. Though she was quickly accepted in Vietnam’s show business world — she received a Best Supporting Actress award at the 2009 Golden Kite Awards (the Vietnamese version of the Oscars) — she still felt like a fish out of water.

“When I first moved to Vietnam, I’d go to [industry] events, and everyone would be dressed up in really beautiful gowns,” Uyen remembers. “And I’m coming from L.A.; we don’t wear gowns. But I had to get all these long gowns made in order to be respectful. I felt like this klutzy girl on the inside. Everyone was all properly posed on the red carpet, and I would just smile and pretend, even though I didn’t know what I was doing.”

After a few years, though Uyen had achieved a certain amount of fame and celebrity in Vietnam, she realized that roles for Vietnamese American women were still few and far between. Though her Vietnamese language skills had become more fluent, she still spoke with an American accent and found herself losing roles to Vietnamese locals. That’s when she decided to take matters into her own hands, come up with a story idea for a film she could star in, and pitch it to producers.

 

“I’m not a professional writer, but they say you should write from your own experiences, and that’s what makes it honest and genuine,” says Uyen. “So I’m surrounded by all these women, and, as modern-day women, we gotta have it all. We gotta make money, have a great husband, be a great wife, be social, look good, wear the latest trends. … The expectations are overwhelming, and I wanted to write a character who was trying to juggle all of that.”

The resulting film, How to Fight in Six Inch Heels, which was eventually fleshed out into its full form by scriptwriter Tim Tori and directed by Ham Tran, stars Uyen as Anne, a fashion designer from New York who has a very rigid three-step plan for career, marriage and babies. She’s got the career, and she’s got the fiancé, Kiet, but her life takes a detour when Kiet is sent off to Vietnam for work overseas, just months before their wedding day. After a late-night video chat with Kiet where he seems to be hiding something, Anne becomes suspicious that he is cheating with one of the models he works with. She secretly flies to Vietnam to infiltrate the entertainment industry and poses as a model in order to get to the bottom of her fiancé’s philandering.

Much of the comedy comes from Anne’s transformation into a believable model, which is kick-started by a boot camp led by her stylist friend Danny (Don Nguyen), a character based on two of Uyen’s closest gay friends, her real-life stylist and makeup artist.

“It sounds silly, but a lot of these moments really happened,” says Uyen, referring to how she needed to be taught (and to practice) how to pose on the red carpet and in photo shoots. “When I first walked the red carpets, the photographers would always catch me in [an awkward] half-smile. I didn’t want to be fake, so I’d do a real smile, then I’d stop, and then give another real smile. And my makeup artist was like, ‘No! You have to hold your smile the entire time you’re standing there!’ So I had to practice thinking of positive things the whole time while posing and hitting the marks.”

There’s a scene in How to Fight where Anne is on the catwalk for the first time, and she gets hit with an unfortunate bout of indigestion. But she somehow turns her violent stomach cramp into a comic catwalk pose. “That came from a joke between me and my makeup artist,” says Uyen. “At photo shoots, we’re always joking about the poses. ‘Oh, my cheek hurts,’” she demonstrates, brushing the back of her hand lightly on her face. “‘Oh, my shoulder aches,’” as she moves her hand oh-so-delicately across her chest to grasp her opposite arm. “We’re always making fun of ourselves when we’re taking pictures.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 3.22.26 PM

Anne’s journey in the modeling world went through multiple transformations before the How to Fight creative team eventually arrived at the film ending that they were most satisfied with. “It was important to show that the more Anne tries to be someone else, because she’s wearing this mask of makeup, the uglier she gets [in her behavior],” says Uyen. “Whereas when she’s not wearing so much makeup and able to show her fears and insecurities, she’s able to be herself, open up and make new friends.”

When How to Fight in Six Inch Heels premiered in Vietnam, it was the number one film at the box office for weeks and eventually earned Uyen a Best Leading Actress prize at the 2014 Golden Kite Awards. But more than that, Uyen is proud to have created and starred in a female-driven film where the male characters were there to move the women’s friendships forward and not the other way around.

Next up, Uyen will star in a martial arts comedy directed by Charlie Nguyen that starts shooting at the end of the year — another script about empowering women that Uyen calls a cross between Kung Fu Hustle and Nine to Five. She’s also looking to develop and produce more films, including a fantasy musical for teens and another women-centric drama.

 

How to Fight in Six Inch Heels is being released in American theaters this fall. 
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here


Coca Cola Invents Creative Caps That Give “2nd Lives” to Bottles

Coca Cola is responsible for tons and tons of plastic bottles discarded every day after people are done consuming their beverage. As you can imagine, this can be quite damaging to our environment.

Thankfully, Coca Cola is well aware of this and wants to put forth various solutions to the issue. One such solution is the environment-friendly campaign launched in Vietnam called “2nd Lives.”

For this campaign, Coca Cola has teamed up with award-winning ad agency Ogilvy & Mather China to invent creative, fun and usable caps that will encourage people to reuse their bottles.

There have been 16 new bottle caps created which can turn your used Coca Cola bottle into a lamp, a pencil sharpener, a spray bottle, a salt & pepper dispenser, a bubble wand, a weight, a soap dispenser, a water gun and much more.

Clearly, this campaign has heart behind it. Check out these “2nd Lives” caps in action in the following video.


Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 4.43.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 4.43.28 PM

 

Breakfast Food From Around The World

If there’s one thing that joins people together, that would be food. In fact, people often travel the world with the goal to try new types of food. This happens so often that the World Food Travel association has coined the term Food Tourism which is “the pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.”

And why shouldn’t travelers be interested in new foods? Afterall, food can tell you much about culture, traditions and taste.

Now the old saying is that breakfast in the most important meal of the day. In honor of that, Buzzfeed recently decided to create the video “What Does The World Eat For Breakfast.”

In the video, we get a glimpse of a typical breakfast in various parts of the world. The video doesn’t seem to contain entire breakfast meals, but it certainly shows the most common breakfast foods of each country including the following Asian countries:
food- china food- india

food- vietnam food- japan

Check out the entire video below:

McDonald’s Opens First Restaurant in Vietnam

Fast food corporate king McDonald’s, which has locations in over 100 countries so far, opened its first Vietnam restaurant in downtown Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday.

Hundreds of locals gathered outside the velvet ropes Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to await the grand opening of the American fast-food restaurant. Free balloons, face-painting, live performances and picture-taking with Ronald McDonald himself were some of the events held to commemorate the opening.

The Vietnam McDonald’s carries all the menu items as its other restaurants, save for one special item exclusive to the country: the McPork sandwich.

Free markets have viewed Vietnam has one of the last Asian countries with potential for consumerism following the end of the Vietnam war in 1975 and a steadily growing middle class.

McDonald’s follows other American corporations like KFC, which opened in Vietnam in 1997 and Baskin-Robbins, which opened in 2012. Starbucks opened its first three stores in Vietnam last year.

Five of Asia’s Most Breathtaking Locations

Yesterday, BuzzFeed released a list called “27 Surreal Places To Visit Before You Die.” The list has already gained over 180,000 likes on facebook and for good reason. All of the locations are undeniably breathtaking.

We were pleased to discover that five of these locations were in Asia and we decided to take a closer look at all of them.

1. Zhangye Danxia landform in Gansu, China

location 1

 

The Danxia landforms are sandstone formations most known for, you guessed it, their vibrant color patterns.The are located in a remote region in northern central China. The mountains and hills retain such color because Danxia landforms are composed of red sandstone. Mineral deposits were compressed into rock for 24 million years thus gaining a colors ranging from deep red to yellow and green.

location 2 location 3

location 4

 

 

 

2. The Hang Son Doong cave in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

location 6

The Sơn Đoòng cave is currently the largest known cave in the world and is located near the border of Laos and Vietnam. It is five times larger than the Phong Nha Cave which previously held the record for being the biggest cave in Vietnam. Although it was created 2-5 million years ago, the cave did not become public knowledge until 2009. Inside, there is a fast flowing underground river as well as cave pearls the size of baseballs.

location 7 Camp inside Hang Son Doong location 9

 3. Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan

location 10

This popular tourist destination has been given the nickname “flower paradise” because the 32,000 square metres of flowers look amazing all year long. With each passing season, a different variety of flower will blossom throughout the Hitachi Seaside park such as the Nemophilas. The popular, blue flower blossoms annually during springtime.

location 11 location 12 location 13

 

 

 

 

4. Bamboo groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan

location 14

 

These Japanese bamboo groves, located in Northwest Kyoto, are a tourist favorite. The gorgeous line of bamboo not only looks beautiful, apparently it sounds beautiful too. Amusing Planet notes “The sound of the wind in this bamboo forest has been voted as one of ‘one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan’ by the Japanese government.” The bamboo in this grove is still used to manufacture various products such as cups, boxes, baskets and mats in the area.

location 15 location 16 location 17

 

 

5. Kelimutu crater lakes in Flores Island, Indonesia

location 18

 

Kelimutu is a small volcano central Flores Island of Indonesia. It has gained popularity because the volcano has three craters- each contain a lake with a different color. The lakes periodically change colors from red and brown to turquoise and green, independent of each other. The lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Sprits, or Enchanted Lake). The scientific explanation behind the colorful lakes  chemical reactions from the minerals in the lake triggers by the volcano’s gas activity.

location 19 location 20 location 21

 

(Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

‘Boat People': The Horror Stories of The Vietnam Exodus

Story by Ethel Navales 

When I began reading Boat People: Personal Stories from the Vietnamese Exodus, I had no idea what was in store for me. I didn’t expect to find each page more difficult to digest than the one before it. I didn’t expect that I would need to pull away for moments just to process what I had read. I certainly didn’t expect to be on the verge of tears, but that’s exactly what happened.

In riveting detail, Boat People brings together the heartbreaking stories of those who survived one of the largest mass exoduses in history — an exodus which had more than a million Vietnamese citizens fleeing their homeland after the Vietnam War. The book’s editor, Carina Hoang, was only 16 when she took part in this journey in 1979. Despite previous hardships — including her father being taken away for 14 years as a political prisoner, her house being confiscated, and nearly unbearable poverty — nothing could have prepared her for the difficulties that were to come as a refugee. “I was not aware of the risk involved,” says Hoang. “I did not realize that once I [stepped] foot on the boat, my chance of survival was very slim — it was something like 10 percent.”

Hoang’s account of her own experiences proves to be just as horrifying as the other stories in Boat People. “There were 373 people on board. It was so crowded that most of us sat with knees to our chins for nearly seven days,” she says. “We were tossed about by a violent storm; we threw up all over each other, and sat with the vomit and the stench for the rest of the trip.” As difficult as this may seem, the hardships of the journey were far from over. Hoang and the others on her boat were attacked by pirates, faced starvation and dehydration, and were quickly overcome with disease. “There were times when I didn’t think we would make it,” recalls Hoang. “It was God’s will that we lived while hundreds died and were buried in the jungle.”

Now, 34 years later, Hoang has dedicated herself to telling her story, as well as the stories of the other survivors. “My main motivation,” Hoang explains, “is to help my daughter, my nieces and my nephews know about their heritage and to understand why and how their parents fled Vietnam.” Of course, a task like this is no easy one. After months of searching and interviewing, Hoang and her co-editor, Michelle Lam, found many people who resisted the idea of digging up their past. “Not everyone we approached was willing to share his or her stories. Some found it difficult to relive their tragic past,” says Hoang, “especially when we touched the subject of the boat people being brutally and inhumanely attacked by pirates.”

Despite these obstacles, Hoang continued to work on Boat People because she understood how important it was to tell these stories. She points out that although the Vietnam exodus was one of the largest in history, many people do not know the enormity and details of this event. To help heal and educate, Hoang organizes trips back to the refugee camps. “Many families lost their loved ones while in refugee camps,” she says. “It is part of our culture to visit the graves of our loved ones regularly, but more importantly, it’s just hard to grieve as the loved ones died in such a tragic way and the families were unable to give their loved ones a proper burial. In some cases, people just couldn’t let go; thus revisiting the graves of their loved ones gives them a sense of comfort or a form of closure.”

Whether through organized trips, public speaking or Boat People, Hoang continues to fight to give voice to these stories. “I believe that as people are more informed, they will have better judgment about refugees and will hopefully approach the matter with more compassion.”

carina


This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.  

Vietnam Talks Marriage Equality

Over the years, Vietnam has gained a rather poor track record when it comes to human rights issues. USA Today notes, “Vietnamese bloggers, folk singers and journalists are behind bars for deeds and words that in many countries are considered birthright freedoms.” Conditions didn’t appear to be getting any better. In fact, within the first few months of 2013, more Vietnamese citizens were convicted in political trials than all of last year.

Because of their history with human rights issues, we were all pleasantly surprised to discover that Vietnam could be the first Asian country with marriage equality. In what feels like a complete turn-around, Vietnam’s National Assembly has agreed to begin debate on legalizing same-sex marriage. The LGBT movement in Vietnam truly took on its voice within the college campuses. Within recent years, a number of student organizations fought to endorse marriage equality.

While we do not know the final verdict of this debate, we can all agree that this is most certainly a large step for Vietnam and quite the progressive step for the Asian community as a whole.

Source 12

Neal-Handel-300x250-Ad

<iframe src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=audremagaz-20&o=1&p=26&l=ur1&category=shoes&banner=1AAZ3S6TGK13RMMNTXR2&f=ifr” width=”468″ height=”60″ scrolling=”no” border=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ style=”border:none;” frameborder=”0″></iframe>