Superheroes. We admire their extraordinary strengths, victories, failures, and struggles. When it comes time to doing battle there’s no holding back, and they will unleash their powers with brutal force!
As an Asian woman, I’ve looked up to superheroes over the years: Wonder Woman, She-ra, Supergirl. I loved Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and her magic lasso, She-ra had that magical sword, and Supergirl could fly! But even with these fond memories of grandeur, it didn’t occur to me until later in life when I’d had a few more struggles, that none of those superheroes looked like me. Sure, they were cool, battling evil with their magical weapons and powers, but where were the female Asian superheroes to look up to? (besides Hello Kitty, obviously! LOL)
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that girls (and women), will hide how smart they are because they don’t want to stand out. If you were too determined or aggressive, you were labeled “difficult.” It’s long been a joke among friends about being a “determinasian,” but more recently I’ve been thinking on this more; why was this such a bad thing? Why can’t we be free to reach for the stars without criticism? More importantly, why do we not have any superheroes to model ourselves after.
I thought about this some more and came up with a list of personality traits I admired in my successful Asian female friends: determination, concentration, motivation, and education. From there, I started formulating what I wanted these characters to look like. I had recently gotten some colored streaks in my hair and really liked the extra boldness it gave me (one less fear of doing something out of the “norm!”), so I decided the characters would all have a color streak in their hair! I wanted them to be a “regular” size, not too thin, not too busty. And, of course, they had to have awesome outfits!
I started asking my graphic design friends who they would recommend to illustrate the characters. I only wanted someone who was female or Asian (or both). One of my friends in NYC suggested someone she worked with at Sesame Street—Evan Cheng. I reached out to him, and after a few conversations, I knew he was the real deal. He came up with some initial sketches, and as we went back and forth, the characters for The Cre8sian Project (Determin8sian, Concentr8sian, Motiv8sian, and Educ8sian) were born!
The next step in the process was to find a way to have these newly created superheroes make a difference in the world. As a big believer in arts education and community service, I started reaching out to Asian-focused arts organizations. I decided to have a portion of the sales from The Cre8sian Project go towards the P.E.A.C. Program at East West Players (EWP) in Los Angeles and set up a scholarship for a student of Asian heritage with Positively Arts in Las Vegas!
P.E.A.C. (Partners in Education and Arts Collaboration) is a residency program that brings EWP programming to local schools, especially those without other arts education funding. Positively Arts uses the arts to empower, inspire, educate and heal and offers a variety of programs like Broadway Dreamers, Arts in Action, and Get Launched to give students instruction, performance, positive leadership, and mentorship opportunities throughout the year, no matter their financial status. Supporting Asians in the arts starts at the local level, and that was exactly what I intended to do!
My next and final step was to set up my blog, Amazing Asians in the Arts, which features Asian women in all aspects of the arts industry: performers, writers, directors, artists, tech designers, musicians, and more! Each Saturday, I publish a new post featuring a new Asian female in the arts! Past features have included Satomi Hofmann (actress—Phantom of the Opera Broadway), Jennifer Betit-Yen (Asian American Film Lab), Marina Kondo (actress—Frozen National Tour), and Maxine Gutierrez (Audio Engineer—Dear Evan Hansen Broadway)!
With the shutdown happening just as I was ready to launch my website, this blog was a much needed lifeline for me to not only stay connected to the outside world, but to also meet other Asians in the theater industry and be able to share their careers, accomplishments, and volunteer work with the world! The Cre8sian Project is also a proud sponsor of the Outstanding Female Content Creator Award for The 72 Hour Film Shootout, put on by the Asian American Film Lab!
I hope these newest superheroes resonate with you, and you wear your “superpowers” proudly! Because, after all, WE are the artists, the dreamers, the cre8tors!
Angela Chan is a musician, composer, and lyricist living in Las Vegas. She has performed on national tours all over North America (“Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Sound of Music”), as well as Broadway shows on the Las Vegas Strip (“Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular,” Disney’s “The Lion King,” “Jersey Boys,” “Mamma Mia”), Cirque du Soleil’s “KA,” The Las Vegas Philharmonic, and is currently the Asst. Bandleader/Keyboard 1 at “Le Reve the Dream” at Wynn Las Vegas! Angela is also an active volunteer for Positively Arts, a local performing arts non profit, a notary public, wedding officiant, and T-rex enthusiast!