I sing, I act, & I like to dance. I got me some boobs, an ass, and then some.. I'm also very bad at math. I am an Asian-American.
Believe it or not, YouTube didn't always exist. *gasp *what?!Not to completely age myself, but Facebook wasn't a thing until maybe the end of high school. It was still a start up and you needed to get an "invitation" to join so it was pretty exclusive. YouTube was still new in 2007 and that's when I started posting covers - out of sheer boredom, a push from friends who lived far away after I moved that wanted to hear my voice, and honestly? A little inkling feeling that maybe, just maybe, someone would discover me. I was 17... ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!
I kept my videos very simple with singing over karaoke tracks I randomly found online. I shared on my facebook (it was just starting to become a thing), posted on singing forums, & got really lucky when one day my cover of "No One" by Alicia Keys was featured on a Hip Hop website. Truth be told, I don't even know if they liked my cover. I just recall them headlining the feature with "Asian girl singing Alicia Keys." It was my first video where I hit over a million views. A lot of the comments I got were racist, maybe trying to be encouraging? "Oh.. if only you didn't have an accent you'd be so good!" (My korean is definitely worse than my English btw) But many were "pleasantly surprised" because they "didn't expect an Asian girl to sing like that." Sing like what? I personally don't fancy my cover too much and ended up doing it over as a "one year anniversary" but that really raises the question.. what do others expect from an Asian girl?
Expectations are developed by conditions & experiences. There is a reason why the vast majority of Americans expect us to be a certain way. The only Asian-Americans I could attempt to identify myself with growing up with on film and TV were Rufio from Hook, Chun Li from Street Fighter, Mulan, Jackie Chan, or Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid. I was a huge fan of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon though & sang the English version of "A Love Before Time" sung by Coco Lee in 6th grade at my middle school talent show but all of these "characters" were still nothing like me. I wasn't a lost boy from Neverland, I didn't know how to jump over buildings & trees (nor did I really want to), or get into physical fights enough to ever take Martial Arts seriously. And let's be real, none of them were Korean so I didn't really understand their culture or what they were saying unless I was reading subtitles (in regards to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). And yes, there are many differences in Asian cultures. This may have been the reason why many of my Korean friends and I sought after Korean Dramas & Korean Pop because we were pretty under-represented in the media.
Personally for me, I couldn't really identify myself with Korean Pop because as much as I enjoyed singing some tunes, I wanted to sing in English because that's the language I express myself best in. I grew up with Whitney, Mariah, Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera! Yanno.. the greats! :D
Alas, I was constantly told I was too fat to ever become a singer or entertainer.
Great. Not only am I fat, but I'm Asian so it's close to impossible for me to have a chance in the Entertainment Industry.
I would be told time and time again if I wanted it bad enough I'd lose weight and I'd have a better chance, but most likely only in Korea. BUT ONLY IF I LOST WEIGHT. Actually, if I lost weight, I wouldn't even have to sing or dance that well so just focus on losing weight.
Now at the age of 23 I look back and know how I've always known myself. I was definitely an emotional eater/comfort food eater but didn't struggle with anorexia or bulimia - I knew plenty of people that did & hated how it controlled them - but I did deal with emotional/insecurity issues my whole life and still do from time to time. Shout out to Beyonce & J. Lo for making curves super sexy. I got me some jelly to work with and it's been such a pain growing up to learn how to deal with it, but by the grace of God and the loving support of people in the world wide web, I got cut some shnazzy slack and began a pseudo-YouTube/Music career because people enjoyed my voice/songs and learned to accept me for me. There still aren't many voluptuous Asian-American celebrities I could look up to though if I think about it.. most of them be 1/3 my size, yo - no exaggeration. But hey, my husband loves all of me completely so what do I have to worry about? I just gotta be the best me I could be.
I've been on this craze of watching The Mindy Project though and I freaking love the show. Mama Mindy be doin' her thaaaang! Writing, acting, producing... & representing. She randomly brings up her culture, but she also "pokes fun" at her weight about being "chubby." But that doesn't ever stop her from being fabulous or meeting love interests! We just need more story lines out there that show different people with different cultures in different settings.. or familiar settings.. (She's still a doctor lol) but etc. etc. We gotta enjoy it all for what it is but not be scared to show it! Embrace what is! It's going to give more opportunities for all of us.
I continue to emphasize the need to love myself & accept who I am first in order for me to love upon others so learning to be comfortable with who I am is a constant struggle, but I never wanted to harm myself or have it become possibly something detrimental to my possible future - the many possibilites of becoming the entertainer, singer, or PERSON I was destined to be. My look and size didn't define me, but it was a part of me. Even me being a Korean-American doesn't define me, but it's an important part of me because my culture/upbringing shaped me.
Either way! We've come a long way, but the way is still being paved and there's much work to be done.
I decided to join a community for Asian-Americans in Media & the Entertainment Industry on Kumbuya to create a space for others who may need encouragement or just want to stay in the loop about what's going on. Here's the description of what I wrote in the community:
A community to encourage Asian-Americans in their pursuit of the Entertainment Industry. I hope this community becomes a place of encouragement filled with articles, interviews, or news about projects with Asian-Americans. I also hope others can further network & collaborate!
You can join the community here.
I went to UC Irvine which is predominantly Asian-American. However, I was a theater major and the school of the Arts in general is completely secluded from the rest of campus. I was a minority there fasho and diving into the theater world, I could see all the odds against me and how little opportunities there may be for me in terms of roles but I was there for a reason and I was learning everything I could and enjoyed every moment.
Luckily I had a great support group of other artists throughout my college community that I could be encouraged by from just observing their lives or sharing small conversations here and there. Mike Song, Joseph Vincent, Victor Kim - just to name a few were all Asian-Americans pursuing what they loved and they happened to also be my friends from school.
I know not many of you have that type of community so I hope I can be an encouragement to you or you can meet others who push you to be better and not lose hope. My journey isn't over so let's keep on keepin' on.