Periodically, I get to participate in fun networking events through Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI). Recently, I got to share a short piece called, “What We Owe,” and directed another piece, “Being Richard Green,” by Lynne Jassem.
Had a great time hanging out with David Ngo for his podcast Best Story I Never Told where I shared the 7 Weirdest Things People Accused Me of Lying About (plus one thing I actually DID lie about!). Check out this podcast your favorite platform.
As a member of the Writers Guild of America West Asian American Writers Committee, it was an honor to collaborate in the writing of our official statement about anti-Asian sentiment and what we can do in the film industry to make things better. Anti-Asian and anti-immigrant narratives are not new, but they proliferate with the support of negative and stereotypical depictions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This statement was featured in Deadline and Variety.
In addition to providing creative representation by being a Chinese American writer telling stories, I also incorporate Chinese history and inclusive characters and worlds in the stories I tell. My play “Intertwined” portrays a fictional story of a Chinese immigrant who falls in love with a white woman during a time when a union like that is illegal. In California, anti-miscegenation laws were active until 1948, when it was the first state in the union to end them.
I am also working on a film documentary featuring an important Chinese American entrepreneur and an action comedy TV pilot centered around a fictional Chinese American family in San Francisco.
Despite the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, there are many ways to promote this community, including shopping at Asian American businesses, reading literature written by members of these communities, and choosing to watch stories written by and portrayed by Asian American artists. And, of course, every underrepresented community benefits from the same efforts.
In recent months, I have been leveraging my membership in the Writers Guild of America West Asian American Writers Committee (AAWC) to advocate for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to help organize events that elevate the voices of writers in our communities, and to address bias and provide solutions from within the film industry.
On Thursday, May 6, at 4pm PDT, the Writers Guild Foundation will be hosting a free virtual panel titled, “Subverting Stereotypes: Re-Writing Asian American Narratives in Film and TV” in partnership with the AAWC, CAPE – Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, and the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity to produce this important panel moderated by Tawal Panyacosit Jr. featuring Liz Hsiao Lan Alper, Teresa Hsiao, Adele Lim, Shireen Razack, and Alexander Woo.
On Wednesday, April 14, the AAWC, along with the support of the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity, hosted an inspiring and raw discussion with influential Asian American writers about their experiences in Hollywood along with actionable strategies for supporting our colleagues and portraying authentic characters and stories. This panel was moderated by Jenny Yang (Last Man Standing) with panelists Soo Hugh (Pachinko), Tze Chun (Gremlins), Nancy Kiu (Batwoman), Danny Chun (Speechless), Sunil Nayar (4400), and Veena Sud (Seven Seconds).
Trap Street generously gave me the opportunity to write a radio play about pandemic life and they posted it as a podcast! Look up The Radiograph wherever you get your podcasts to check it out.
Writers play a unique role in our theater and film communities and in our society as a whole. We understand how essential narrative is to understanding the human condition and to connecting with each other.
At this time, we are experiencing the impacts of a society that stifles Black voices and reinforces narratives that promote white supremacy. We should not be willing to continue to go back to business as usual. As we open this conversation, there are actions that all of us can begin now.
I invite you to participate in the elevation of Black writers using tools that are easily accessible to you.
1) Become familiar with the work of Black playwrights and screenwriters, particularly writers who are actively producing work.
2) Write recommendations for plays by Black authors on review websites, including online bookstores.
3) Promote Black writers and their work on social media.
4) Encourage theater companies that you respect to present more work by Black writers (it’s particularly powerful if you recommend two or three authors and specific plays).
5) Recommend Black writers for developmental opportunities.
6) Encourage your friends and colleagues, particularly your White friends, to get to know the works of Black writers.
7) Watch films made by Black writers and directors. When theaters open up again, make an effort to buy tickets for shows written by Black writers.
When we read the works of Black writers, we understand their concerns and their communities better, and we are better able to implement effective anti-racism strategies. When we promote Black writers, we redistribute access to opportunities to writers who may otherwise get overlooked. When we support productions by Black writers, we help ensure their longevity as playwrights and screenwriters and poets and novelists, and we often help create more acting opportunities for actors of color.
Most importantly, when we elevate Black writers, we get to experience their essential and transformative stories, and that’s really what storytelling is about.
In June 2019, I got to teach playwriting to a creative and clever group of teens through the Eugene O’Neill Studio Retreat. The students had one week to write an original play at the historical Tao House and then we had one week to rehearse the plays with students in the actor program.
It was a delight to work with Norman Gee, Brady Lea, and all of the writers, actors, and volunteers. I remain particularly grateful to the students who educated me about the significance of Vines and invited me into their funny, heart-string-tugging, and contemplative worlds.
I’m anxious to hear my play “Intertwined,” commissioned by The Vagrancy in Los Angeles, read for the first time at the Blossoming reading series on Sunday, May 26th.
This piece is thoughtfully directed by Gleason Bauer, and played by Intae Kim, Bree Wernicke, Eddie Mui, Elaine Kao, Paul Mackley, and Tamar Fortgang, with stage directions read by Megan DeHart.
Please join us at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe in Silverlake in Los Angeles. Admission is pay-what-you-want. Stay until 6:30pm for a new play, “Molly,” about MDMA by Howard Ho!