What I’ve Been Up To…..

Sorry I have taken hiatus since the last blog post. So here is a little update on what I’ve been up to.

I got to see comedian Aparna Nancherla along with the rest of the Totally Biased w/ Kamau Bell cast who is just downright hilarious and amazing talented with the material she comes up with in her act. And she is such a sweet individual in person. She is just confident and has this amazing attitude when she performs and Aparna clearly does not care what others think of her. I was really impressed with her talent!

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And here is why (click the picture)

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And I’m ecstatic that Totally Biased will be airing five nights a week on FXX!

I’ve also been volunteering with the Michelle Wu Campaign. Michelle Wu is currently running for Boston City Council at Large. I first met her at an Ed Markey Campaign event when he was running for the Senate at the time. I remember sitting in a corner chair, staring at my phone while waiting for Ed Markey to speak. She then came up to me and introduced herself and stating she is running for Boston City Council at Large. Michelle further identified herself as South End Resident who is a legal guardian of her two younger sisters. I was personally impressed that she just came up to me, not knowing who I was, and just introduced herself.

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I met her again at a women and politics event. She impressed me more with her determination, confidence and dedication to the city of Boston. She has actually worked for Boston Mayor Tom Menino and was Elizabeth Warren’s law student at Harvard and has been a small business owner (Michelle is only 27!). So I decided to learn more about her and what she plans to do as Boston City Councilor.

Here are some of her plans:

  • Expand early childhood education in the Boston Public Schools Introduce healthy & locally grown foods in Boston Public School lunches
  • Support safe spaces to fight LGBT youth homelessness
  • Advocate for late night public transit.
  •  dedicated tech czar within CIty Hall could help coordinate resources for entrepreneurship, promote this city as a hub of innovation, and facilitate conferences and reporting to strengthen our innovation ecosystem.

After reading some of her plans and attending her Campaign HQ Launch Party and being inspired at her goal of being an effective public servant at the local level, I decided I want to do my part in helping her out and volunteer and spread her message! And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Expect to see more blog updates on Michelle’s campaign.

Pride and Prejudice to a whole new level: Why I Love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

I have been obsessed with the Lizzie Bennet Video Diaries (as you have noticed from previous blogs). Having read Pride and Prejudice, watched the movie adaptation with Kiera Knighley, and read the reinterpretations (Mr. Darcy’s Diary) of Jane Austen’s most famous novel, I was primarily quite intrigued by this video diary series. I heard of the Lizzie Bennett video blogs through the rave reviews from Ms.Magazine for its mentions of important subjects such as the Violence Against Women Act. So I was curious and decided to take a little work break, and watch the videos. But when I started with the first video of the diary series, I was immediately hooked!

Besides portraying Lizzie Bennet (played by Ashley Clemens) as an amazing 21st century out-spoken badass chick and Mr. Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh) as a totally handsome, misunderstood, yet good-hearted successful CEO of a multimedia company, Pemberley Digital, the video diaries incorporates incredible supporting yet outgoing characters portrayed by Asian Americans, specifically Bing Lee  (played by Christopher Sean), Jane’s love interest, and Charlotte Lu (portrayed by Julia Cho), Lizzie’s best friend…and Caroline Lee, Bing’s sister (even though she is a total backstabber!).

This video diary series smartly depicted Jane Austen’s characters to be extremely relatable to today’s audience. Like many of us millenials, Lizzie Bennet and  Charlotte Lu are struggling grad students with an uncertain future in a bad economy, whose families are facing financial difficulties, strongly emphasizing today’s dwindling middle class in America. In particular, Charlotte’s family used to live in a house, but now they live in a 2-bedroom apartment in order to pay for Charlotte and her sister’s higher education fees.

When Lizzie initially turns down Mr.Collins’s offer to work for his venture capitalist company appropriately entitled Collins & Collins, Charlotte immediately jumps to take the opportunity instead. Lizzie and she have an argument over this where Charlotte then reveals her family’s economic struggles where her sister is about to go college and Charlotte has to drop out of graduate school and take the job at Collins & Collins. Once she starts work at Collins & Collins, Charlotte is put in charge of many projects in the background (this aspect is seen too with Lizzie’s diaries where Charlotte is the video editor) while Mr. Collins constantly goes up to Winnipeg to visit his fiancée even though he is the CEO causing Charlotte to almost miss Thanksgiving. Hence, reviving the idea that Asian American women work hard and just do what they’re told (But thanks to Lizzie Bennet’s genius and sneaky tactics…Charlotte was not only get home but get a huge promotion and be recognized for her amazing hard work).

Simultaneously, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries illustrate the variation of Asian Americans in showing families at different income levels. Whereas Charlotte and her family are at the middle-low income level struggling in debt,  Bing Lee’s family are at the upper high class (maybe close to the 1 percent) where as emphasized by Lizzie, live in a huge mansion with multiple shower heads in one bathroom.

Bing Lee, at first, does represent the Asian American stereotype in that his family expects him to succeed academically and become a medical doctor. However, as the video diaries progress, Bing ends up going against the popular stereotype (and his family) by dropping out of medical school and moves to New York with Jane Bennett (yay for happy inter-racial relationships!) and pursues a career that supposedly puts smiles on children’s faces. What I do LOVE about Bing’s character, though, is this is one of the few times in a romantic comedy/young adult video, an Asian American is the hot-shot jock that girls swoon over and aspire to be with (the other time where this happened to my memory is when Paolo Montalban plays Prince Charming in the Whitney Houston 1997 remake of Cinderella). Often times, Asian American guys play the nerd or the creepy/emo guy in these mediums whereas the hot shot jock is often played by a White guy (sometimes African American). In Lizzie Bennett, he’s not only smart/successful….he’s dashing and devastatingly good looking! It is truly awesome to visualize Jane Austen ‘s handsome charismatic character being portrayed by an Asian American. (Not to say the Charles Bingley portrayed by Simon Woods in the Kiera Knightley version was not as handsome and charming). He’s not only handsome, but he is caring, warm, and doting as we see when Jane gets sick when she stays over at Bing’s house and he goes and finds her favorite movie.

Overall, I loved how this diary series brings Pride and Prejudice to a more modern perspective filled with young women pursuing professional careers and aiming to the top of their fields instead of seeking prospective husbands no matter how hard Mrs. Bennet tries (they do get the guy in the end…but they decide to start slow in their relationships not get married right away!). And more importantly, strong female friendships/relationships where Charlotte and Lizzie actively experience ups and downs and be each other’s support person through thick and thin despite the odds and defend each other (whereas the Charlotte in the original Pride and Prejudice has a more subtle role). In other words, hats off to the Lizzie Bennett Diaries!

Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People

Here are some of the big names identified on such a prestigious list! We definitely agree!

Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California

Andrew Ng, founder of Coursera

Perry Chen, CEO of Kickstarter

Erica Kochi, Co-Lead for Tech Innovation at UNICEF

and…..

Mindy Kaling, creator and star of the Mindy Project!

for full list click here:

http://time100.time.com/2013/04/18/time-100/slide/all/

 

What’s Going On?

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act 

Elementary has been picked up for a Second Season!

In his lifetime, film critic Roger Ebert defended Asian American Cinema  

Dr. Mindy Lahiri and many other female Physicians and Surgeons like her deserve a pay raise! And get recognized!

What’s Going On?

The Mindy Project is renewed!

GOP has an Asian American problem 

The White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders released a report illustrating the federal government’s progress addressing the needs of AAPIs and increase AAPI participation in federal programs and services 

Warner Bros names first Asian American Hollywood studio head 

Kristen Kish wins Top Chef!

I’m so happy that Kristen won Top Chef Season 10: Seattle. I was rooting for her throughout the whole season. Like many others, I was totally devastated when she was eliminated during Restaurant Wars (granted she did claim the failure was her responsibility). But I was psyched to see her totally dominate the competition on Last Chance Kitchen and gaining redemption and eventually making it to the finale of Top Chef. (Did we mention she won?!)

Also her performance both inside and outside the kitchen was noticeably commendable. In the past, what I have observed of Asian American women (the rare presence of) in Reality TV competitions is of two extremes. One extreme is they are weak and submissive to their competition and fall victim to bullying by fellow competitors and becoming defenseless or relying on others to stand up for them. (Example: Beth from last season’s Top Chef Texas and Gina Choe on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 6), emphasizing a stereotype that Asian American women are quiet and shy and do not speak out. The next extreme is they are tough loud rude mouths (Example: This season’s Josie and America’s Next Top Model’s Sheena Sakai from Cycle 11). Or they are more in the background where their accomplishments are not recognized and they work within the mastermind plan but people still wonder why they are still in the competition (Example Becky from Survivor…the season where they made a social experiment of dividing the tribes by race) .

In contrast, Kristen breaks all those stereotypical barriers with her Top Chef win. On Top Chef, Kristen clearly did not show herself to be the loud dramatic one. She came to Top Chef to win it all and focus on her food and cooking and not cause any tension. However, she does appear as likeable and friendly among competitors (Stefan constantly calls her his wifey). At the same time, Kristen clearly does not come across as a quiet weakling. Throughout the season, Kristin has cooked many delicious dishes that won her quickfire and elimination challenges. She appears determined and confident that she should and will win. However, Kristen remains humbled by her wins (I love the parts when Padma announces her name in winning the best dish and Kristin says “Are you kidding me?!) She definitely is not someone who gives up after being thrown down. She gets back up and gets stronger as shown during last chance kitchen challenges. Kristin definitely learns from her mistakes and acknowledges her strengths as seen in the finale, giving her the win.  Moreover, the judges and her competitors and the Top Chef fans respect and admire her as an accomplished chef who will go so far and has a wonderful future ahead of her.

PS. I love the fact that Top Chef did a little bio of her in the finale where Kristen explains how she was adopted when she was a baby from Korea and how her family supports her career choice to become a chef and her goal of going to Korea to get to understand her cultural heritage!

PSS. Sheldon wins Top Chef Fan Favorite!

Congratulations to Ang Lee!

He won Best Director for his movie “Life of Pi” at 2013 Academy Awards. This is his second Oscar win. He won in 2005 for “Brokeback Mountain”. He has certainly come a long away since father discouraged him from being in the film industry.

Film study was considered disgraceful by my father. – Ang Lee

He certainly proved his father wrong and made us proud!

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