In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we wanted to highlight an organization that pays tribute to and keeps us aware of what’s going on in our Asian American community. Thank you for keeping us engaged and in the know of all the fabulosity! Cheers to NEAATO!
NEAATO (Network of Entertaining Asian American Talent Organization)
Give us a brief bio about yourself:
I was raised on a healthy dose of Magic Johnson, Byron Scott and Chick Hearn. Weekends were for boogie boarding at the beach or eating Vietnamese food in Little Saigon. My parents came from Vietnam, and the first time they went back, my dad had not seen his mother in 18 years. 18 years! That story still blows my mind, and I was there to witness it. I think that’s why I love sharing stories so much. They are very powerful.
What made you decide to develop/start NEAATO?
It started with a Bruce Lee quote: “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”
In California, everyone is an actor/actress, writer, model, director, you name it. All my friends were working on their own projects, yet I never heard of them in the news. I started subscribing to different Asian American film fests and would get postings for casting calls. Since I wasn’t an actor, I needed somewhere to post them for my friends who were. I started posting more castings, more projects and created my blog to put it somewhere. It moved to MySpace where that used to be relevant and now Facebook. To be honest, I don’t even blog that much anymore. It’s pretty neat that now we can get Asian American news delivered right TO us, when before we had to LOOK for AA news. Basically I just share things on Facebook now. Sharing is caring.
What do you hope to achieve?
To promote my friends. My favorite movies and bands never get press. I don’t know if America has bad taste or what, but it’ll always be like that, from Arrested Development getting canceled to Persepolis not winning the Oscar. My favorite groups, De la Soul, The Roots…Most Def will never sell as much as Black Eyed Peas. People will always overlook the little guy making this great content. I’m just trying to give some press to the little guy, not because they are the little guy, but because I really think it’s better content.
Who inspires you and/or who are your biggest influences?
Dustin Nguyen’s hair. Ysa Le, director of VIFF, Leslie Ito of VC Film Fest, Leann Kim of the San Diego Asian Film Fest, Kym Pham of Kollaboration and Vascon, comedian PK, Stephane Gauger of Owl and the Sparrow, Tim Bui of Green Dragon, Tammy Nguyen Lee of Operation Babylift, Jared Rehberg, Kieu Chinh for just being classy, David Nguyen of Queen of Virginia, Tuan of Anh Oi, the Susan Trans, the Danny Dos, Isabelle Dus, Gina Trans, Nadine Truongs, Brittany Trans, Jenni Trang Les , the Viktors, Tiffany Duongs, Caroline Vus, Charlene Phans, Heather Nguyens out there. I’m missing a million people, but all these people inspire me on the daily with words/images/blogs/work ethic/etc. Lac Su, author of “I Love Yous Are For White People,” Steve Nguyen of Channel APA and Flip HD Interviews, Johnny Nguyen, artist Vudoo Soul, cousin Jennipho, the Kate Agathons and May-lees out there. Then there are the nonprofit workers, the Project Vietnams, Pencils of Promise, the VietActs, the Boat People SOS, Against The Grain. There are so many that don’t get the recognition they deserve.
What is the most important lesson/advice you would give?
Don’t complain. Just do. And back to Bruce Lee’s quote above: “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” People always complain about racism, but Bruce Lee did it. How? He created his own opportunities. Don’t complain, just do.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment and why?
This interview. LOL. I like when people randomly message me and tell me thank you for sharing other people’s stories. Very small, very simple, but those are the best things in life. The little things. Kym Pham approached me to help her out with the ‘Hay Qua’ event in NYC, where I met ever more talented filmmakers and artists. That, so far, is probably the highlight of my life.
What’s up next (upcoming projects or plans for the coming months)?
I have some documentaries to finish. As for NEAATO, I’m not sure either. Maybe I’ll do my own film fest. Maybe I should start blogging more and interview more people. Maybe podcasting? Just continue to promote my friends really and figure out what’s the most efficient way to do that.
If you have any ideas, let me know. I would love to have this huge database of all my friends’ work in easy to find categories. I started it with http://www.neaat.wordpress.com and need to post more artists on the newer NEAATO Blog. I also need to start updating my Ao Dai News Blog for a documentary I was working on and VietQ News Blog. I have a lot of work to do.