Theater is another one of the mainstream entertainment arenas where finding Asian (or even minority) representation remains difficult. With the exception of dedicated Asian companies (like East West Players), it’s rare to find an Asian American in the cast of a musical or play, and when you do it’s hard to avoid the discrimination like the kind Diana Huey faced as an Asian American Ariel in the touring Broadway cast of “The Little Mermaid“. That’s why I think it’s important to find Asian American representation in theater, even if it’s just a local production, like San Jose Stage’s “Mamma Mia“, which opened on June 1st, and runs through July 7, 2019.
While none of the main characters are portrayed by an Asian American actor, Mike Wu plays the role of Pepper, one of the workers at Donna Sheridan’s Taverna and a friend and best man at Sky’s wedding, a role he reprises after performing the same role in Pacific Conservatory Theater’s production of “Mamma Mia” in 2018. The San Jose Stage production also features Vinh Nguyen in the cast as part of the ensemble.
“Mamma Mia” is a always a fun production, showcasing many of the songs of ABBA. San Jose Stage’s version is probably a little raunchier than most I’ve seen, so you may want to skip having the little ones attend this version (they do show a dildo on stage and mimic sex acts). San Jose Stage is in its 36th year of productions, and you can find tickets at www.thestage.org
I first heard of Aja Dang from this story in Yahoo Finance about a woman who paid down $100K in student debt. As I have kids in college, this story really attracted my attention. When I think of “influencer”, I think of beauty influencers like Michelle Phan and people on Instagram projecting the “perfect” life, but a student loan debt influencer? Intrigued, I decided to see what she was all about it and to figure out 1) how she accumulated $200K in student debt and 2) how she paid off half of it.
First, I asked my kids about her. Number One Son follows her (not surprising as she was a 2011 Maxim Hometown Hottie and as does The Daughter does, while Number Two Son has a friends who do although he doesn’t. The Daughter said she became interested in Aja Dang after the personal finance and debt videos started coming out. When I looked at her YouTube channel, which Dang says is her main avenue of expression, I found she had some videos you might expect, such as travel videos, beauty tips, and music video parodies. But also there were finance videos, where she goes over her monthly budgets. She even posts spreadsheets of her monthly budgets online. Seems like a weird area for an influencer to make a living, but many of the commenters on her visitors find them useful and even inspirational.
How did she accumulate $200K in student debt? In this interview (and in the video above) she says that she borrowed money to cover undergraduate private school, and then borrowed more for a masters at USC. Does she regret going to college? Not really, although one of her recommendations is that people who not sure if what they want to do should take a gap year to figure it out. She reminds that people that they don’t have to go an expensive private school, as she did twice.
My other question was how she paid down $100K in around a year. I took a look at her budget spreadsheets, and she made substantial amounts of money with “brand” deals. Her YouTube income and her side hustles (I found her video on side hustles to be very interesting) are much smaller in comparison. In the above video, she is doesn’t have that brand income yet and is scraping by making debt payments by doing things like dog walking. Her spreadsheets show that the life of a freelancer is extremely unpredictable, with very large variations in income month to month.
For some reason, this Listerine commercial has *27 million* views on YouTube (maybe it’s also used as a YouTube ad?). In any case, a little more info about Listerine® Ready Tabs™:
“With LISTERINE® Ready! Tabs™, there’s now there’s an easier way to get rid of bad breath fast. This not-a-gum, not-a-mint, not-a-candy bad breath treatment is a revolutionary chewable tablet that you can also swallow for up to 4 hours of fresh breath.”
“Come join us as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of THE JOY LUCK CLUB, one of the most decorated Asian American films in cinematic history. Written by Amy Tan and directed by Wayne Wang, THE JOY LUCK CLUB paved the way for decades of Asian American films including last year’s summer hit, CRAZY RICH ASIANS. This free, indoor screening in the heart of Chinatown will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience with many special guests and talent in attendance. “
“Fearless, inventive and outspoken are a few words to describe CAAMFest37 Spotlight Honoree Valerie Soe. From the 80’s to now, Soe’s films and video installations have been a benchmark for Asian American feminist activism and experimental storytelling. CAAM will proudly showcase Soe’s newest documentary, LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN; a feature-length documentary, looks into of one of the longest running summer programs in the world.
LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN revisits the program’s participants and explores the history and popularity of this well-known program, sponsored by the Taiwanese government, which takes place every summer in Taiwan.”
The film has one more film festival in Taiwan to “premiere” in May, then plans for distribution are still up in the air, but Soe will probably be making the film festival and college tour of the film in the near future before hopefully wider distribution plans.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, here’s you chance to see what the documentary is all about:
I’ll be sure to blog about the documentary’s wider release – hopefully online – in the future.
“One of the most popular Korean pop groups in the world is the boy band known as BTS (for “Beyond the Scene”) – the first Korean act to sell out a U.S. stadium; the first K-Pop group to present at the Grammy Awards; and the first Korean pop band to be featured on Time Magazine’s Most Influential List. Seth Doane interviews the group’s members – seven young men between the ages of 21 and 26 who consider themselves family, who’ve trained, composed music and grown up together, and who all live in the same house – and goes behind the scenes in a Seoul rehearsal studio.”
I have to say that I’m quite taken by their dance moves and kind of like their K-pop sound. Take a look at their performances from SNL:
“In an Instagram post, the world champion figure skater wrote that she was “thrilled that @joebiden announced that he’s running for President!” “I know that there is already a field of incredible democratic candidates and the 2020 election is so important we cannot lose sight of the big picture. Ultimately, I believe that the Vice President is the ideal candidate to unify our country with his experience, knowledge and track record of fighting for Americans,” Kwan wrote, citing Biden’s work with former President Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare.”
I like Biden and I wish he had run in 2016. Although Biden is currently leading and has been leading in the polls before he even announced, I don’t think he’ll have an easy time getting the nomination or even win it. He has the feeling of an establishment candidate (which he is) when the Democratic base is looking anti-establishment. But in the end, all Democrats want the same thing this time around in 2020 – to defeat President Donald Trump.
I thought that Michelle would have been supporting a female California candidate and Asian American, Senator Kamala Harris. Perhaps Michelle will join her campaign if Biden doesn’t win the nomination. I’m sure Michelle got to know Biden when she worked at the State Department and that many of Hillary’s presidential staff campaign are working on the Biden campaign, since Hillary and Biden were good friends. In any case, I look forward to meeting Michelle again on the campaign trail for Biden!
All four were originally published over 60 years ago. This cover from No-No Boy is from a University of Washington Edition published in 1976, nineteen years after the novel first appeared in 1957. The classics editions will all have new forwards and afterwards by contemporary writers and are scheduled to be released on May 21.
“Learn more about how you can get $100 instantly* when you purchase the Essilor Ultimate Lens PackageTM and a second pair of qualifying lenses at www.instant100.com.”
I’ve never heard of Essilor, but the commercial definitely caught my eye (pun intended) with a tall Asian American man. It was good to see an Asian American shown as creative and making an impact at work, although making him a gamer seemed stereotypical. Personally, when it comes to buying prescription glasses, I’m not necessarily drawn to brands but style – which could be of any brand.