8 Asians

8Questions with Actor Scott Watanabe


Scott Watanabe in Broadway Bounty Hunter at Barrington Stage Company, Photo by Scott Barrow

Scott Watanabe in Broadway Bounty Hunter at Barrington Stage Company, Photo by Scott Barrow

Currently starring in Broadway Bounty Hunter at Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires, Scott Watanabe has had a long career as an actor, including roles in Allegiance and The Phantom of the Opera. In the tradition of 8Asians, we asked him eight questions and he offers some sage advice for those who aspire to the stage.

Tell us a little about yourself, e.g. What’s your background? How did you get into acting?

I was born in 1959 in Los Angeles, California to Japanese American parents from Hawaii. I got involved in acting in junior high school, but spent my high school education in instrumental music. I started university in Hospitality Management while working at Disneyland. Then got involved with the “Drama Club” and “Employee Madrigal Singers” at the park and community theatre in Orange County and found that I enjoyed being back in that world and discovered my singing voice. I gave up business school and went back to school earning a BA in Musical Theatre from California State University, Long Beach.

Following graduation I spent six years with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, and split my time between the opera season and doing musical theatre and summer stock theatre. I’ve been professionally singing/acting for 30 years, ten of those years in various companies of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

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I’m going to let you behind-the-scenes here at 8Asians: Publishers who have any content featuring Asians usually approach the site looking for some publicity with the APIA audience. The requests are then sent out on our internal email list, I usually see them and almost all of them don’t interest me.

However, when I saw the words, “graphic novel,” and “strong African American heroine” I wanted to give it a read. And I’m thankful that I did. But before I get into a review, let me rant a little and explain why Rayven Choi by award-winning writer/creator Shequeta L. Smith is such a breath of fresh air.

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Master of Ceremonies – Cynthia Gouw


  • 0:00:00 – 0:01:20 – So Jun Lim, Korean American Association of the Washington Metro Area
  • 0:01:20 – 0:03:10 – Bob Nash, Bob J. Nash & Associates
  • 0:03:10 – 0:05:45 – Congresswoman & Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Judy Chu (D-California, 32nd Congressional District)
  • 0:05:45 – 0:09:20 – James Lee Witt, Head of Witt Global Partners and former FEMA director
  • 0:09:20 – 0:12:30 – Andy Toy, Philadelphia AAPI Community Leader
  • 0:12:30 – 0:13:40 – Mike Fong, Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees
  • 0:13:40 – 0:14:17 – Congressman Ted Lieu (D-California, 33rd Congressional District)
  • 0:14:17 – 0:16:05 – Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-New York, 6th Congressional District)
  • 0:16:05 – 0:18:25 – Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democratic candidate for 8th Congressional District of Illinois
  • 0:18:25 – 0:20:25 – William Tong, Connecticut House of Representatives from the 147th district
  • 0:20:25 – 0:22:40 – DNC AAPI Caucus Chair Bel Leong Hong
  • 0:22:40 – 0:25:15 – Mark Keam,  member of Virginia’s District in the House of Delegates, District 35
  • 0:25:15 – 0:26:45 – California State Treasurer John Chiang and candidate for Governor of California 2018
  • 0:26:45 – 0:28:20 – Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu
  • 0:28:20 – 0:30:05 – Mayor Garden Grove, California and Democratic Congressional candidate (California, District Bao Nguyen
  • 0:30:05 – 0:31:35 – Kevin Kamenetz, County Executive of Baltimore County, Maryland
  • 0:31:35 – 0:34:30 – Moment of Silence – Black Lives Matter
  • Peter Van Do, Director of the Pan-Asian American Community House at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Melody Lam, Co-Director and Founder, Philadelphia Asian Pacific American Youth Assembly (PAPAYA) an former Mid-Atlantic Coordinator, East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) and former Co-President Temple University Asian Students Association
  • 0:34:30– 0:35:20 – Mabel Chan, Philadelphia AAPI community leader, Joy Tsin Lau Chinese Restaurant
  • 0:35:20– 0:37:05 – Chairwoman California Board of Equalization & Candidate for California State Treasurer Fiona Ma
  • 0:37:05 – 0:39:25 – Theresa Mah,  Illinois Representative, 2nd District (first Asian American to serve in the Illinois State Legislature – starting in January 2017)
  • 0:39:25 – 0:41:00 – Sheriff of Philadelphia Jewell Williams
  • 0:41:00 – 0:42:20 – Josina Morita, Cook County Board, Illinois
  • 0:42:20 – 0:43:10 – Democratic National Committee
  • 0:43:10 – 0:45:08 – Filipino Americans for Hillary
  • 0:45:08 – 0:46:30 – Congressman Mike Honda (D-California, District 17)
  • 0:46:30 – 0:48:40 – Helen Gym, Philadelphia City Council Member
  • 0:48:40 – 0:49:30 – Ronald Joseph, Temple College Democrats
  • 0:49:30 – 0:50:18 – Final Words – Andy Toy, Philadelphia AAPI Community Leader

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crash3Conflict with a child can be painful to deal with for any parent – for an Asian American parent, when the conflict stems around one’s ethnic Asian background, it can be extra painful.  If that child’s life is cut short by a drunk driver before that conflict is resolved, the pain must be unimaginable.  Paul Li was put into that situation.  But instead of retreating from the world, he did two things to try to ensure that other parents would be spared the pain that his family suffered.

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GreenCardGreen Card: A New Musical takes on immigrant artists and the American dream in a new musical from young director Dimo Kim. Playing at Theatre at St. Clement’s until August 26, it focuses on the story of Han, an actor and a South Korean immigrant living in Harlem with an expired visa who, as a result, can’t find work. And because he can’t find work, he can’t get an artists visa. Hijinks ensue. Han finds himself entering a fake marriage for a green card with Mia, in exchange for a sizable sum of money. They fumble through immigration interviews and the turmoil of a new relationship, fake or not. As to how Han’s girlfriend Kim feels about it? You’ll have to watch to find out.

This is an energetic musical with young talent and carries a relevant and provocative story in need of telling.

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I saw this “Back to School” Walmart commercial while watching the Olympics and really liked it:

“Smell that? That’s the new school year approaching and you are ready for the challenge. At Walmart, we have everything you need to own the first day and every single day of the school year. With our low prices, there is nothing you can’t have and nothing you can’t do!”

I felt nostalgic for the Eighties with Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” rocking in the background (and who can forget the music video with hottie  Tawny Kitaen on the hoods of two cars).

Screenshot 2016-08-07 at 11.03.38 PM

But mostly, I liked the fact that Walmart included an Asian American boy rocking to the song, with glimpses of his parents.

Screenshot 2016-08-07 at 11.05.56 PM

But the Walmart commercial doesn’t beat my all time favorite Target ad.


Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) &  Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) co-hosted the 2016 Presidential Election Forum on Friday, August 12th:

“Since 2008, the Presidential Election Forum has served as a forum for AAPIs to push for AAPI issues to be addressed and on the radar of campaigns and the media. In giving presidential candidates a space to directly address AAPI community members, leaders, and organizers, the Election Forum has become one of the few spaces geared specifically for candidates to speak directly to AAPIs, about AAPIs. “

This year, all four major party candidates were represented:

Attendees used social media and the hashtag #PowerUp to note the importance of having four presidential campaigns address the AAPI community — former President Bill Clinton represented Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes represented Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Libertarian presidential nominee former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.


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BonesGraceTahmina Anam’s The Bones of Grace is a beautifully written love letter that weaves in family, desire, and the fossil of a walking whale. Zubaida, the woman at the center of this novel, is on the eve of leaving her PhD program at Harvard when she falls in love with Elijah. After a whirlwind of days, she leaves for a paleontology dig, in search of an elusive fossil. After the dig falls apart, Z returns to her family in Bangladesh, and the man her family has always assumed she will marry.

This book is her letter to Elijah, the man she loves through it all–an attempt to offer an explanation, in hopes that their story might continue despite everything that has happened. Zubaida, as the letter writer, serves as narrator, and the reader takes the position of Elijah, the “you” that the entire story is directed to.

Tucked throughout are wondrous stories–a piano in the body of a cruise ship set to be dismantled and wrecked on the coast of Bangladesh, the dig allowed under tenuous circumstances. These take their place alongside the more mundane–the push pull of family expectation and personal desire, the tug of unknown history and the search for answers.

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Almost four year ago in September 2012, I attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and first met Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), where she was being honored for her work as its founding Executive Director from 2006-2008 and returning in Janutary 2011 to serve again as its Executive Director.


Me & Christine Chen, Executive Director, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Since then, I’ve seen Christine many times during her visits in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as at this year’s APIAVote event at the 2016 Democratic National Convention – Briefing & Kick-off Reception. APIAVote is a national nonpartisan organization that works with partners to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in electoral and civic participation.

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  • 0:00:00 – 0:03:00 – Pledge of Allegiance, Welcome, Moment of Silence for Congressman Mark Takai (D-Hawaii, 1st District) – DNC AAPI Caucus Chair Bel Leong Hong
  • 0:03:00 – 0:07:48 – Tribute to Congressman Mark Takai (D-Hawaii, 1st District) – Jadine Nielsen, DNC AAPI Caucus Vice Chair & delegate from Hawaii
  • 0:07:48 – 0:17:20 – Congresswoman and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair, Judy Chu
  • 0:17:20 – 0:28:15 – Congressman Mike Honda (D-California, 17th District)
  • 0:28:15 – 0:34:25 – Congressman Ami Bera (D-California, 7th District)
  • 0:34:25 – 0:44:30 – Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)
  • 0:44:30 – 0:50:15 – Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-California, 34th District)
  • 0:50:15 – 0:58:00 – Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)
  • 0:58:00 – 1:05:10 – Mayor of San Francisco, California – Ed Lee
  • 1:05:10 – 1:10:20  – DNC AAPI Caucus Chair Bel Leong Hong
  • 1:10:20 – 1:25:40 – Panel 1 – “Seize the Moment”
    • Dilawar Syed, entrepreneur, Silicon Valley executive
    • Jenny Yang, Chair, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    • Irene Bueno, consultant & formerly served in the Clinton administration
    • Professor Taeku Lee, University of California at Berkeley
  • 1:26:50 – 1:32:00 – Congressman Mark Takano (D-California, 41st District)
  • 1:32:00 – 1:38:25 – Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democratic candidate for 8th Congressional District of Illinois
  • 1:38:25 – 1:58:45 – Panel 2 –“ Our Persona, Our Fight For Visibility”
    • Kesha Ram, candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, Vermont House of Representative
    • Constance Wu, actress, Fresh Off The Boat
    • Mark Keam,  member of Virginia’s District in the House of Delegates, District 35
  • 1:58:45 – 2:00:32 – Final remarks – DNC AAPI Caucus Chair Bel Leong Hong

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8A-2016-08-04-JeremyLin-SpaceJam3ParodyWith all kinds of grim videos out there from police shootings to cringe inducing videos about “Neenjas” and Xenophobic videos about Chinese buying American farms, this NigaHiga/Jeremy Lin collaboration really made my day. 

It pulls in some popular Anime characters and even has a quick jab at Pokemon Go! 

Note that Space Jam 2, the actual sequel to Space Jam, starring LeBron James, is said to be under production, with Justin Lin possibly directing.

Visual Communications is now accepting applications for its prestigious Armed With a Camera Fellowship!

In its 15th cycle, the Armed With a Camera (AWC) fellowship has helped over 120 emerging filmmakers to launch careers and give voice to their Asian Pacific American heritage and communities. This program offers six months of training, funding, mentorship, facilities and equipment and an elite world premiere venue – the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival!

The AWC Fellowship will award up to ten fellows a cash stipend to complete a four to five-minute digital video. In addition, Fellows will attend an all-expenses paid animated filmmaking workshop to LAIKA Entertainment (KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, CORALINE, CORPSE BRIDE, PARANORMAN) in Portland, OR.

AWC provides the springboard for emerging media makers for their career. Many alumni have gone on to produce feature films, documentaries and other media. Past fellows include Daniel Hsia (SHANGHAI CALLING), Eugene-Lee Yang (BUZZFEED MOTION PICTURES), Kristina Wong (WONG STREET JOURNAL), Evan Jackson Leong (LINSANITY), AYA TANIMURA (music videos), ERNESTO FORONDA (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW) and Erin Li (KEPLER X-47).

Apply today. Eligible applicants must be of Asian Pacific descent and residents of Southern California. If accepted, Fellows must be able to attend mandatory meetings and workshops in Los Angeles. Women, Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders, South Asian, and Southeast Asian filmmakers (particularly animators) are highly encouraged to apply to the AWC Fellowship.

You can find the application information here: vconline.org/awc. The AWC Fellowship application closes on October 7, 2016.