Artists’ Perspective

Last year, I was honored by APAFT in recognition of my directing work and had the opportunity to say a few words:

 

Greetings Judge Ernie, Linda, Monica, and the entire APAFT board, honored guests and friends. Thank you for this honor tonight.

 

It is profoundly humbling to find myself named alongside my fellow honorees: Brooke, BD, Qui, Danny. These individuals are all inspirations in their disciplines (and disgustingly talented!) and I am so lucky to say that I know each and every one of them. In fact, I look around the room and am floored by the number of people present tonight who I have worked with and know. I stand here, held up by all of you in the Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Theatre community.

 

In this age of social media, it has been said that our society is now latitudinal: where we sit and look at each other's lives, comparing from side to side. But for millennia, humanity has been distinctly longitudinal -each generation shepherding the next through apprenticeship and

mentorship. I am here to bear witness to the longitudinal nature of being an artist. And to take part in the revolutionary act of taking up space.

 

This honor doesn't belong to me. It really belongs to each and every one of you in this room who make a career like mine possible. I would not be here without the Asian American Theatre community of the east and west coasts, (some east coast friends are in fact here tonight), particularly, the institutions of the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) in NYC and East West Players here in LA. They have nurtured my artistry and shaped my perspective.

My first show professional show out of undergraduate was in THE HOUSE of BERNARDA ALBA, directed by Chay Yew produced by NAATCO. After I finished graduate school I was cast in NAATCO's production of THE DISPUTE who se fight choreographer was none other than Qui Nguyen. After that, I moved to Los Angeles and I got cast in the EWP production of JOY LUCK CLUB, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, where I met actors Celeste Den, Karen Huie and Emily Kuroda, and THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE by Julia Cho directed by Jessica Kubzansky where I met Jeanne Sakata and Ryun Yu. After seeing the first professional show I ever directed (through my theatre company, Chalk Rep), Prince Golmolvilas invited me to direct for EWP's David Henry Hwang Writer's Lab. EWP Education director Marilyn Tokuda hired me to teach acting in the conservatory, and after seeing EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM by A Rey Pamatmat, with Rodney To, Amielynn Abellera and Brian Host enske, produced by Artists at Play, Marilyn and then EWP Artistic Director Tim Dang invited me to direct the youth tour Our American Voice, where I worked with Sound Designer Howard Ho. I got my big chance to direct for the EWP mainstage with ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER by Rajiv Joseph with CS Lee, Tess Lina, and Kapil Talwalker. I taught more acting classes, directed a few studio lab projects, and directed the school tours of BORN TO LEAD: THE SUSAN AHN CUDDY STORY by Vivian Keh and then RESIDENCE ELSEWHERE in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the signing of Executive order 9066, written by Andrew Saito, Anna M oench and Lina Patel. When Sn ehal Desai became Artistic Director he invited me back to direct VIETGONE by Qui, where I met Paul Yen, Albert Park, Sylvia Kwan, Scott Ly, and Jan e Lui; and HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO by Jiehae Park in collaboration with The Fountain Theatre where I got to work with Jully Lee, Elaine Kao, Gavin

Lee, Wonjung Lee, Hahn Cho, Janet Song. With each and every project I make an ever-widening circle of family whose individual journeys I am so so proud to be a part of.

 

This theatrical season I am spreading my wings and directing in historically white institutions like South Coast Rep and Antaeus Theatre Company where I'll be directing a full production of a 1939 Pulitzer Prize winning American Play TIME OF YOUR LIFE in which I will create a representative cast reflecting America - which will include Asian Pacific American actors in

non-ethnic specific roles. This small but monumental accomplishment I share with all of you because each and every one of you in this room have contributed to this moment

 

People ask me what my career aspirations are and essentially, I want access. I want access to tell marginal stories and help make those stories mainstream. I want access to have the vision that only a woman of color can have, to be that challenging person in the room saying "Is that supposed to be a white person in the publicity materials? Because she looks white to me. Are we assuming that white is universal?" I want access to make sure that Asian Americans are

truly seen for the talented, sexy, funny, brilliant 3-dimensional story tellers that you are... so that the world will know that all of you in this room are stars.