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Interview with Jacqueline Kong
The Asian American Bridge Incubator
of Deserving Asian American Talents

How do you stop stereotyping?

You have to educate people. How do you educate people? You have to have more exposure to our communities through the media. The media is the most powerful tool in changing people's thinking about the community. If you are not part of that process, you are not utilizing all the available options to educate people. The way to accomplish this is to provide something entertaining that accurate reflects the communities it represents.

If you look at Spike Lee's films, they educate people about the African American experience. Despite some of the controversial subject matter, I understand more about the African American psyche from watching his movies.

Who is doing that for the Asian American communities? Well, HotPopTV is taking that step with the first television show on the Internet featuring Asian American actors. You can watch that show every week and you will have a little window into the Asian American communities that is created by the Asian American communities. That is exciting because it creates opportunities, exposure and educates people. It doesn't have to be the biggest education piece - but through entertainment, people will get invaluable exposure and not be afraid of our communities.

C.Y.  Lee  
AAMD Board Advisor

C.Y. Lee is a reputed Asian-American writer with an M.F.A. degree from Yale Drama School. In 1957 his first novel, Flower Drum Song, was an instant best seller.

A year later it became a Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway musical and two years later became a Universal film.

His latest fiction works include Gate of Rage (1991) and China Saga (1987). Mr. Lee was honored in 1997 at The Golden Ring Asian-American Arts Awards for his significant contributions.

What did Spike Lee do? He exposes you to his community. I don't think that the general public are as apprehensive about the Black communities. They see Spike Lee's characters as human beings and when they see another African American person, they actually feel "closer."

Asian Americans need to do more like this.

Where I think I'm unique is this approach. I've already directed mainstream films and an additional four films for public companies. One of them became a major hit called "Night Patrol" (mainstream comedy along the lines of "Airplane") that went out "platinum" in the video market - which meant that it shipped over $5M of cassettes in the initial quarter and it gross over $25M in the U.S. while achieving worldwide success for a small independent film.

Afterwards, I went on to direct two more films. I was directing mainstream films and learned how the industry worked (i.e., how to get a film made, worldwide distribution, etc.). I also found out was that I was very alone because I was the only Asian American film director (at that time) in the commercial world and definitely the only Asian American female director who had a commercial hit.

I didn't see anybody supporting what I was trying to do, as far, as creating more Asian American content/stories as entertainment. Nobody was interested, let along anybody being interested in an Asian American female director. It was almost a visual shock to people. There was no sense of support ten years ago.

In the meantime, I directed a few more films and directed various CDRom projects. I then realize that nobody was creating any support of Asian Americans development in the media. As a result, I helped start AAMD (a non-profit organization) three years ago. The purpose was to help develop (not complain) Asian American awareness, be a support organization and providing various programs (i.e. writing contests with Yolk Magazines, TV Writing workshops at Cal State LA). People such as Ann Carli (formerly of Will Smith Productions) has helped out, prominent people from ABC Disney to talk and Lakeshore Entertainment's (producer of "Runaway Bride") Dick Tran to speak. My purpose is to try create access for our writers.

I am currently a board member of this private company. HotPopTV.Com was launched with an 8-hour live webstream from the LA County Museum of the East/West JamFest, which was a cultural celebration of Asian Pacific American heritage - including all ethnicities of Asian heritage on May 13, 2000. This event launched the broadband site, HotPopTV, for streaming ethnic programming.

We believe that we are doing something unique for the Asian American communities that nobody else is doing. This includes an episodic TV on the Internet, an Asian American short film Internet festival (where the Internet viewers can vote for their favorite films.) and other programs.

We are happy to say that minority management and technicians run HotPopTV.Com and launched in May 2000. We are not going after the mainstream market. We are after the ethnic minority marketplaces and making sure that ethnic minorities are creating the content.

Roberta   Chow   
AAMD Board Member

Roberta Chow, Vice-President, Golden Harvest - serves as an executive at a major film distribution company responsible for introducing Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films. Roberta produced Rumble In The Bronx, starring Jackie Chan.

AAMD and HotPopTV.Com are hosting the first Asian American Online Festival featuring short films made by Asian Americans where the viewers get to watch and vote for their favorite films that started on November 1, 2000. These are selected films that were either directed, starring on involving Asian American filmmakers. We will be putting ten films to be voted on with the length up to 30 minutes. The films entered have ranged from three to twenty minutes. We have already received many great entries.

A great thing about this festival is that the "stream" is a state of the art quality in "real-time." All you have to do is "click" on the film and watch without downloading anything while watching it in real time. It is the "highest quality" stream, which means it is very fluid and has a high-resolution quality.

First prize is a directing one episode of HotPopTV's "Karoake Nights" plus $500.00. The viewers will be selecting winners, as oppose to the writing contest that judges from Will Smith Production, Lakeshore Production, etc.). The winners were announced in February 2001.

What is great about this festival is that it is only for Asian Americans, as oppose to other contests, which are for filmmakers in the mainstream.

Karoake Nights is the first episodic Internet programming featuring Asian Americans. It is sad that we are the "first" in developing the talent pool within the communities. Karoake Nights was written by seven writers that were involved with the writing contest (finalists and winner) that we had with Yolk Magazine and through an AAMD-funded writing workshop produce/create a television show. These writers learned how to be a "staff writer" for a show. Various ABC/Disney executives providing training, created the "Bible" and created ten episodes within the workshop that will be produced on HotPopTV.Com.

The winners include the following: Sherry Yang (winner), Mary Park, John Hu, Dominick Nah, Jennifer Phang, Irvin Tang and others. All the participants are accomplished writers who have been published in other mediums (i.e. books), USC Masters Writing Program, AFI Graduates, etc.

Click HERE to go to Part 4
Click HERE to go to Part 1 and HERE to go to Part 2

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