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- ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ (2024)
“The Tiger’s Apprentice” (2024) is a fantastical, fast-paced animated movie that sits comfortably in its seat on the streaming platform Paramount+. Filled with every familiar aspect of The Superhero Journey, the movie isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is: a fun adaptation of award-winning author Laurence Yep’s 2003 fantasy novel that kids and parents can enjoy together this Lunar New Year. The story follows quippy Chinese-American teenager Tom Lee, an excellent candidate for a rising superhero. He’s a heartfelt boy who gives off strong second-gen vibes and lives with his quirky, traditional (in the fun way) grandmother in a beautifully decked out house that is often confused for a temple. Apparently people keep leaving them oranges, but hey, free oranges! Tom has no other family to speak of, which unfortunately means that we see his grandmother’s death coming from miles away, but not before she and a seemingly random daddy-type stranger drop a huge bomb on him. All of the stories Tom’s grandmother told him when he was little are real. The Zodiac is a circle of elite warriors who each represent an animal of the Chinese zodiac, and A-ma stands at the center of them all as the Guardian of the Phoenix. Oh, and daddy-type stranger is one of said Zodiac warriors; his name is Hu, and he, y’know, can shapeshift into a handsome, muscular tiger. Things move very quickly after that. Tom gets the full run-down on the Zodiac and begins training with Hu, as he is now truly the Tiger’s apprentice. The film hits all the required beats: the full team lineup (featuring one flawless dragon with a drool-worthy hairstyle when in human form), training montages showcasing various levels of skill paired with a killer soundtrack, identity-related challenges, friction between mentor and apprentice mostly stemming from adolescent angst (who knew parenting a grieving teen was this hard, right Hu?)—all while playing an elaborate game of keep-away from the overwhelmingly evil Loo, voiced by a dark, slinky, and still elegant Michelle Yeoh. (See the full star-studded voice cast at the bottom of the page.) In the end, after the Zodiac has spent a considerable amount of time teaching Tom how to fight and the importance of fighting, what ends up defeating Loo once and for all is something that Tom’s grandmother told him in the first ten minutes of the movie. “A-Tom, we don’t use these,” she says, indicating his fists. Then she points to his heart and head. “We use this and this. We don’t have to fight. Besides, you’re not too good at it.” There is nothing surprising or new about this movie, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that the moral of this story should still ring true today. Life shouldn’t be about who’s the best at fighting, and maybe, we can solve more problems by unclenching our fists and choosing to stop. “The Tiger’s Apprentice” (2024) is now streaming on Paramount+. Directors: Raman Hui, Yong Duk Jhun, Paul Watling Screenwriters: David Magee, Christopher Yost Cast: Henry Golding, Brandon Soo Hoo, Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Michele Yeoh, Bowen Yang, Leah Lewis, Kheng Hua Tan, Sherry Cola, Deborah S. Craig, Jo Koy, Greta Lee, Diana Lee Inosanto, Patrick Gallagher, Poppy Liu Cover photo: Courtesy of Paramount
- Bao Vo's Journey from Refugee to Artist
Can you share a bit about yourself and how your Asian identity shaped who you are? Today I am an artist, music producer, and songwriter living my dream of doing creative things every day and having my work be valued. I make it one of my primary goals to collaborate with as many Asian American artists as possible. So much of my life and work is informed by my personal journey as a human, a refugee, and Asian person in America. I was born in Vietnam, in a town called Dalat. I can only remember as far back as being a new immigrant in Southern California in the mid 80s. My mom was a single parent of five children, and I'm the youngest. We were dirt poor. We had to figure out how the American system worked, learn English, and meet our basic needs. The community who sponsored our immigration helped, and we made new connections in Southern California because it has such a large Vietnamese population, but it was challenging. I remember seeing my teenage siblings getting their first jobs and learning to speak English. I really respect all of my siblings for going through that process. We used to dumpster dive and collect cardboard and recyclables to redeem for small amounts of money. When I was small, they tossed me into dumpsters so I could fish out whatever we could find that we could use at home, like toys, food, or other household items. All of that really informed the way that I grew up, and I knew that our efforts counted for a lot. What has your journey as a creative been like? Even as a young child, I discovered that I had a knack for drawing and the visual arts. When I was around 5, I remember I drew this crazy drawing of a bird hovering above a neighborhood in a bird's eye view. The teachers asked how I knew how to draw from a bird’s eye view, and it just came naturally—or supernaturally. My mother recognized and supported me, and even my first grade teacher gave me free art supplies. I stayed after school to do art, and they submitted my work for exhibitions and contests. I ended up being accepted into a program called GATE, Gifted and Talented Education. As a teenager, I moved to Houston, Texas and went to a regular high school for my first year. There, I met some kids who asked me to join their pop punk band, and I didn’t know anything about music then. That was my first exposure to making music. I picked it up pretty easily, and I didn't realize I would eventually go into music. While in that band, the drummer attended a magnet high school, called HSPVA, which stands for High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. It was too late to apply, but everyone encouraged me to do so anyway. I ended up submitting my portfolio, and they actually accepted me, which changed my life. This changed my experience with art because I presented my work during critiques and actually had to verbalize why I was doing stuff. HSPVA introduced me to conceptual art, which blew my mind and definitely changed the way I thought about art. It wasn't purely about the artifact and how skillful the execution was anymore, it was about the idea and the process. To learn that as a teenager made me believe that the world really is my oyster, artistically. I'm so grateful to have had that experience and to meet all these other kids going through the same process. It was an environment where you just grew because you were encouraged by seeing everyone else grow. That high school was one of the top ten most informative moments in my life. What was your experience as an Asian American in the creative industry? During that time as a teenager, my mom told me even though we didn’t have a lot of money, I never had to feel guilty asking about money as part of my creative process and growth as an artist. That's pretty rare coming from an Asian household and a first generation immigrant household. I saw many of my friends feel so much pressure to go into careers that they were not compatible with because of the perceived stability and the obligation to honor your elders. I never felt that pressure, and how blessed is that? I always knew that I am supposed to create new things that people can engage with, and everyday I know I am doing the right thing. I never have any doubts, which feels so good and I don't think a lot of people have that feeling. However, I did have a moment after my incredible experience in high school that shattered my ambitions as an artist. I attended art school at the San Francisco Art Institute, and I found it unappealing to see the commercial side of art, hobnobbing with elites and selling fine art. This art was for a rarefied class of people, and that wasn’t who I was. I got really depressed, and I dropped out of art school because of that. However, the silver lining is when I dropped out of school, I started a music project called Ming & Ping. I just wanted to make some electronic synth-pop inspired by the Vietnamese obsession with a genre known as Italo Disco. The Viet diaspora calls this music “New Wave” for some reason. Our elders were exposed to this genre of music, and that kitschiness was endearing to me. I wanted to make a modern version of that. Ming & Ping was a viral artist for Asian representation at the time. Can you share more about that project? One day these electricians came into the cafe where I was working, and their van was parked outside with “Ming and King Electricians” written on it. My coworker joked that that should be my band name. That weekend my imagination went wild thinking, “What if my musical artist persona were twins? What if their Asian identical twins?” That’s when Ming & Ping were born. I took some photos of myself and photoshopped together these new wave twins holding hands. I knew this image would be catchy because in American culture during this time, you didn’t see two men holding hands. However, here are these two hot little new wave identical twins holding hands and looking “cool.” I put that on the Internet and gave my friends some of my music to put in their homemade skate videos, and it actually started catching on. That was the beginning of my music career. During my year off of art school, I was also concurrently applying to design school because I wanted my work to impact everyday people, not just elite collectors or museums. I ended up at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA while working on the Ming & Ping project. I used every class project to create something for Ming & Ping, which generated a lot of content to share, and we began to have a national and global presence. Even though we didn't tour globally, I fully embraced the Internet as a venue and I immediately went into digital design as a career. Ming & Ping were one of the first music acts to use a mobile app to promote our music. We designed a game called Ming & Ping Pong, which is an app where you use the accelerometer to play Pong and the soundtrack was the Ming & Ping music. The fictional personas of identical twins shielded my work from my own personal identity and allowed me to express myself in a way that was magical and not based in reality. It also gave me an opportunity to create costumes and fantastic sets so our stage show was extremely elaborate visually. For over a decade, I created music while also expressing myself as a visual artist by creating visual art experiences for the twins. What does community and giving back mean to you? The Ming & Ping project coming to its evolutionary end and having a design career as a Creative Director in digital marketing brought me to a point where I was not very satisfied with what I was doing. I was using all of my creative capital to further somebody else’s career at a big corporate office. This depleted my creative energies, so I quit everything and reevaluated my values. I realized I do want to be an artist and create music, but I want to share that with the community and work with younger Asian American artists so that they have the resources, knowledge, and support system that I didn't have when I started my music career. I tried to start a nonprofit and wrote a mission statement about supporting specifically Asian American artists. A few weeks later, Simon Tam from a band called the Slants whom we used to perform with called me up and said their band is retiring but they will replace it with the Slants Foundation. Their mission statement was almost exactly the mission I wrote for my nonprofit, so I decided to abandon my idea and join his. Simon had already gone to the United States Supreme Court in a multi-year civil rights battle, made a lot of connections from that, and worked in the nonprofit space. And so The Slants Foundation was the perfect venue for me to live out those intentions of supporting younger artists from the Asian American community and hopefully inspiring them to incorporate activism into their life and work too. We've organized events with thousands of people, where we’ve registered hundreds of people to vote. We've given tens of thousands of dollars to creatives, musicians, and writers to produce their work, start their podcast, etc. The Slants Foundation also introduced me to a community of collaborators and friends, and I think that's where I am now. That's the culmination of my journey, and has allowed me to explore who I really am and what my values are in network with other creatives. Do you have any final words or advice? I actually never set goals, but I uncover intentions that I’m passionate about. I realized the universe delivers your wins in forms that you never could imagine they would come in. The wonderful place I am in now is a reflection of how my intentions came together in such unexpected forms. I set these intentions years ago then forgot about them. I didn’t write them down, but I fully believed in them every day. If I were to give any advice to people, it'd be to find the most true intentions deep inside you and not worry about how they manifest. Don't set such hard goals as they are actually limiting to how beautiful things eventually take form. Just put a pin on the map and keep moving in that general direction, and embrace the detours and all.
- 'aka MR. CHOW' (2023)
You either know exactly who Michael Chow is, or you’ve never heard of him before. For the first time in his life, the mysterious figure behind the swanky restaurant chain MR. CHOW is allowing us a deeply personal glimpse into his life and history. “The first time I met him [in person] was the first day of the shoot,” says producer Diane Quon. “I would have to say, just like the film, you see all sides of his personality. It was an amazing experience meeting him.” “He was in his full artist outfit, a white coat,” editor Jean Tsien adds. “And he was really warm. He was super warm.” There are many parts of Michael Chow’s life and career that some would say belong in the spotlight more than others. He built an international empire with his chain of restaurants with locations in London, New York, California, Miami, Las Vegas, and Riyadh. He regularly rubbed shoulders with the crème de la crème of the art world, Hollywood, and miscellaneous social elite. He provided opportunities to immigrants of all backgrounds, making it a point to hire diverse staff at his restaurants. His career is absolutely astounding. And yet, that’s not what this documentary is truly about. “aka MR. CHOW” peels back that glittering curtain, pushes aside the Wikipedia page bullet points in favor of pure, stark honesty. Michael Chow’s story is not “just an immigrant story,” Jean Tsien explains. “I see Mr. Chow as someone who had to leave everything behind. And this story is really the universal story of the consequences of war.” Michael Chow was born Zhou Yinghua 周英华, in Shanghai. His childhood was cut short by the devastating impact of the Cultural Revolution, leading to his immigration to England at age 12. There, in a completely foreign land with no grasp of the language, he faced racism and discrimination as he tried to adapt to his new surroundings. He never saw his parents again. His father, a beloved master of Beijing opera, was imprisoned until death; his mother, beaten to death. Mr. Chow may be a larger-than-life persona, but Michael Chow’s tragedies and trauma are all too real. They shaped his life just as much as his successes did. That’s what this documentary sheds light on, especially in the political and global context of the film’s release. It’s an endorsement of empathy, an acknowledgement of pain, and a reminder to look for the human behind the headlines. “aka MR. CHOW” is currently streaming on Max. Find information about M aka Michael Chow’s art here. Cover photo: Courtesy of HBO
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#HYPHENATEDASIANS Ana Clancey Entertainment Bao Vo's Journey from Refugee to Artist Can you share a bit about yourself and how your Asian identity shaped who you are? Today I am an artist, music producer, and songwriter... FEATURED Ella Wu Entertainment An Adoptee’s Reaction to ‘Joy Ride’ (2023) Available in theaters July 7. “Joy Ride” hits like a solid punch to that white kid’s face: satisfying, but maybe not quite right. For... Ella Wu Entertainment 'Everything, Everywhere All at Once' Warning: possible spoilers ahead! Available in cinemas on March 25th On behalf of The Universal Asian, I had the privilege of attending... RECENT POSTS Bao Vo's Journey from Refugee to Artist Entertainment 'aka MR. 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ASIANS IN ENTERTAINMENT Ana Clancey Entertainment Bao Vo's Journey from Refugee to Artist Can you share a bit about yourself and how your Asian identity shaped who you are? Today I am an artist, music producer, and songwriter... Ella Wu Entertainment 'aka MR. CHOW' (2023) You either know exactly who Michael Chow is, or you’ve never heard of him before. For the first time in his life, the mysterious figure... Ella Wu Entertainment An Adoptee’s Reaction to ‘Joy Ride’ (2023) Available in theaters July 7. “Joy Ride” hits like a solid punch to that white kid’s face: satisfying, but maybe not quite right. For... Ella Wu Entertainment Introducing Jessica Henwick and ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ (2022) Tonight is the last chance to catch English actress Jessica Henwick in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (2022) in select theaters!... Join our mailing list! Get updates and subscribe to our newsletter! Subscribe Thanks for subscribing! FINDING OUR CULTURE Ana Clancey Entertainment Bao Vo's Journey from Refugee to Artist Can you share a bit about yourself and how your Asian identity shaped who you are? Today I am an artist, music producer, and songwriter... A.D. Herzel Adoptees Korean Adoption Documents: The print portfolio The meaningful and meaningless documents that make up the story of my adoption inspired this set of digital composites. The first step in... OSH Lifestyle Food: Truly colorblind glue As I walked the streets in the Asian part of Rome near Termini Station, the Asian stores were mostly empty, perhaps as a result of COVID... OSH Entertainment Introducing Cathy Lu & 'ABCs for the American Born Chinese' Artist Cathy Lu, a 20-something American born Chinese, has launched her debut children’s book. She shares this with The Universal Asian,... 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- Resources | The Universal Asian
Sometimes we find ourselves not knowing where or who to turn to when things get hard. But we're not alone in our mental health struggles. The Universal Asian has put together these resources that can offer support when needed. Remember that we are an open and safe space, so reach out if you can’t find what you're looking for. We're here to help. And if you’d like to see a resource added to this list, please complete the form at the bottom of this page or email us directly. Organizations: MentalHealth.gov Resources for Immediate Help This webpage provided by the U.S. Dep artment of Health & Human Services provides information on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 ( 726-4727) National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. HelpLine staff and volunteers are experienced, well-trained and able to provide guidance. Asian Mental Health Collective Asian Mental Health Collective seeks to raise awareness about the importance of mental health care, promote emotional well-being, and challenge the stigma concerning mental illness amongst Asian communities worldwide. Their goal is to build a community for Asian mental health support. Korean American Mental Health A website with a mission to make psychotherapy culturally appropriate for Korean Americans. They hope to show the world what challenges Korean Americans endure in their daily lives. MentalHealthPH #MentalHealthPH is an organization that champions and builds mentally healthier communities around the Philippines. They believe that mental health is a fundamental human right and aim to make mental health support more accessible for you—from stories and resources that inspire and educate, to professional services, facilities, and more! Active Minds Active Minds is a nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for young adults that is dedicated to saving lives and to building stronger families and communities. The site offers an immense variety of resources, ranging from statistics, up-to-date news, and tips regarding mental health, many of which can be found by clicking “Resources.” Seeking Counsel: An Expert Panel in Mental Health Shares Wisdom This is a general guide offered by I AM ADOPTEE on how to find counseling as an adoptee. Beyond Words Psychological Services Adoptee-Therapist Directory This directory provided by Beyond Words Psychological Services includes licensed U.S. mental health professionals who identify as adoptees & work with adoptees/adoptive families in a variety of public & private settings. Only providers who have voluntarily submitted their information have been listed. The Recovery Village The Recovery Village is a free web resource that provides information about addiction, eating disorders, and mental health issues. The Adoptee Group’s KAD Village KAD Village is a community that showcases businesses, art, music, podcasts, multimedia, books, research, and other projects that are led by Korean adoptees. The village also lists adoptee support groups that are effective for the unique journey of adoptees. Directory: The following is a list of mental health profess ionals, counselors, and life coaches. Laure Badufle Korean-French adoptee, Laure is a certified kundalini yoga teacher, transformational coach and the founder of RAJAVTAR. she helps Adoptees to heal and empower through yoga classes and individual support, both online and in-person. her offerings focus on reconnecting with the body, building self-esteem, befriending emotions and manifesting life mission. Jeannie Celestial, Ph.D. **Currently serving clients at capacity & am not taking new individual clients at this time. Feel free to message for waitlist or group workshop options.** Dr. Celestial is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience in supporting people through personal and collective healing and transformation. She integrates EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), CBT, ACT, and other evidence-based practices with a culturally responsive, holistic, and social justice-oriented care approach. It’s her honor to bear witness to and facilitate healing from trauma and stress. Vivi Wei-Chun Hua, Psy.D. Dr. Hua is a Clinical Psychologist & International Student Success Coach. Originally from Taiwan, she obtained her Doctor of Psychology degree from Yeshiva University in New York. Dr. Hua serves a diverse population, with a focus on first and second generation immigrants, Asian families, intercultural couples, and international students. Services are available in both English and Mandarin Chinese. Dr. Hua provides a brief free consultation call for individuals interested in working with her. Sun Mee Martin Sun Mee is a Korean/German adoptee, holistic coach, and founder of Numaru, an international community and safe space for transcultural adoptees to explore the meaning of identity, belonging, and holistic healing. Sun Mee’s own healing path has led to her mission to help fellow adoptees find clarity, compassion, and emotional courage in their adoptee journey. She offers virtual 1:1 and group support, in-person retreats, creative and mindfulness workshops, and monthly community circles to connect, be heard, and feel seen. You can connect with her @numaru.truebelonging. Kyla Mitsunaga Kyla Mitsunaga is a Depression Overcomer/Subconscious Mind Expert who works WITH women millionaires to help get their lives and their businesses out of depression using a growthspirational toolkit that helped me do the same. Kyla coaches clients globally in masterminds and 1:1 sessions on zoom. “Feel free to schedule a FREE consult WITH me — Can’t wait to meet you and work WITH you and your subconscious mind!” Kate Powers Kate Powers is a life coach who specializes in helping people use their potential and purpose. She focuses on career coaching helping people make a career transition. Kate has a holistic and comprehensive integrated perspective from previous work in mental health counseling and as a massage therapist and yoga teacher as well as corporate Human Resources and recruiting. Kate can be found on Instagram @itskatepowers and @mysuperpowerssay Cam Lee Small Cam Lee Small, MS, LPCC provides resources on this webpage, including information on an Adult BIPOC Adoptee Support Group. You can follow him on Instagram @therapyredeemed. Angel a Wu Angela Wu is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Empowerment Coach who is passionate about de-stigmatizing mental health in the AAPI community as well as helping women of color reclaim and raise their voices in order to embody their empowered authentic selves! In her therapy practice, she helps individuals find healing from trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief, as well as navigate acculturation and intergenerational issues, difficult life transitions, and relationship issues. Her approach to therapy is strength-based, culturally affirming, and anti-oppressive. In her coaching practice, Angela helps Asian American women break free from perfectionism, people-pleasing, and imposter syndrome in order to reclaim and embody their true selves. Angela offers free consultations with those interested in working with her. You can follow her on Instagram @thesassyasiantherapist. Disclaimer: The information provided by The Universal Asian on our website is for general informational purposes only. All information on our website is provided in good faith; however, we make no representation or guarantee of any kind—express or implied—regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of the provided information. Resource Suggestion Box Submit Thanks for submitting!