APA Spotlight is a weekly 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).
Tammy Chu was born in Seoul, Korea and adopted to the U.S. She studied Cinema and Photography at Ithaca College. Her award-winning first short documentary, Searching for Go-Hyang, was broadcast on PBS, EBS (Korea), and screened at film festivals internationally.
Tammy has been living in Korea for several years and is a co-founding member of Adoptee Solidarity Korea, an adoptee activist organization based in Seoul.
Resilience is Tammy’s first feature documentary, which won Best Documentary Film at the 2010 Asian Film Festival of Dallas and DC APA Film Festival, among other awards.
The mission of the Adoptee Solidarity Korea is to address the problems associated with Korean overseas adoption. Through education and activism, we aim to raise awareness, advocate change and support alternatives to intercountry adoption.
What is the mission statement of your life?
To have impact on the world, even in small ways. Not in the sense of being rich or famous, but in the sense that at the end of my life I can say, I did something worthwhile.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
When I was growing up, there were a lack of Asians and positive role models in the media. My interest in art and social issues, combined with the desire to tell stories about the Asian American experience and other underrepresented people led me to filmmaking. Because film is a powerful medium, I wanted to use it as a tool for creating awareness.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Well, at first I would have said Lucy Liu since I love her attitude and spunk, but in the end I’d have to say Maggie Cheung – since she embodies a certain kind of strength and vulnerability.
How can people find out more about your organization or get involved?
Adoptee Solidarity Korea was founded in 2004, and it is the first political/activist adoptee organization. ASK’s goal is to create greater awareness about important issues related to Korean overseas adoption and to advocate for increased rights for adoptees, birth families, and single mothers.
We are a completely independent organization, and aren’t funded by any government organizations or adoption agencies. We operate on a small budget completely from donations so a great way to support us is to give contributions, or by helping to spread word about us.
If you had a crystal ball, what do you see for the future of the Asian Pacific Islander American community?
I think there will be a fuller, more in depth representations of Asian Pacific Islander Americans in film, TV and media. We will also have greater voice and political power in the U.S. My hope for the Asian Pacific Islander community is for it to become more united and less fragmented, despite our immensely diverse histories, cultures, and languages.
Bonus Question: What advice do you have for young Asian Pacific Islander American professionals?
To persist and do what you love, even if it doesn’t fit a certain type of status or make a lot of money. Also, to explore and figure out who you are and what you want to do, and not be pressured to do just what your family/ society expects you to do.
Bonus Question: What are your comfort foods and what memories do you have associated with them?
Kimchi Chigae (stew made with spicy pickled cabbage)- I remember eating this as a child in Korea, and there is nothing as fulfilling, delicious and satisfying as a hot, simmering pot of Kimchi Chigae.
Bonus Question: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Watching TV shows like LOST, The Office, Desperate Housewives, Glee, and The Simpsons with some excellent chocolates.
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