APA Spotlight: Konrad Ng, University of Hawaii & the Smithsonian Institution

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Konrad Ng is a Professor of Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution and to top it off, brother-in-law to President Barack Obama. He recently completed a term as Acting Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. Before joining the University of Hawaii, Konrad was the Curator of Film and Video at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (a fine arts museum in Hawaii) and a film programmer for the Hawaii International Film Festival. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Asian American Media and the Global Film Initiative. Konrad’s dissertation examined constructions of Asian identity in narrative, experimental film and video. He is a happy husband and proud father of two girls.

What is the mission statement of your life?

Do no evil. Remember the importance of empathy. Lead by example. Be a good father, husband, family member, friend and citizen. Help others. Contribute to the communities around me.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

Stayed true to my mission statement while nurturing my interest in cinema/digital media and the politics of community representation and organization.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Well, it isn’t far-fetched to think that Hollywood may one day make a movie about my brother-in-law. If my character makes the final cut, I hope that they cast a young, terrifically talented Asian American actor. If the film includes Obama’s time in Hawaii and Indonesia, then the filmmakers can cast many young, terrifically talented Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians in the film.

How can people find out more about your organization or get involved?

Check out the University of Hawaii’s Academy for Creative Media…We need talented storytellers. Check out the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and its  Twitter [feed], Facebook , RSS [news feed]. The APA Program needs the community in its effort to better reflect the history, art, culture and contributions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians across Smithsonian collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach.

If you had a crystal ball, what do you see for the future of the Asian Pacific Islander American community?

A set of communities who helped build a nation and who will be able to move it.

Bonus Question: What are your comfort foods and what memories do you have associated with them?

The sound and smell of rice cooking in the kitchen reminds me of my parents.

Bonus Question: What’s your guilty pleasure?

Film, food and a game of Scrabble with my wife where I win (which is rare).

Know someone we should highlight on 8Questions? Send an email with their name and contact info or website.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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