Each month at Against The Grain, we highlight an Asian American who embodies “Going Against The Grain” in their life and work. These individuals tell a personal story, Q-and-A style, that demonstrates the challenges and successes in their chosen careers and callings and also inspires our community to pave their own paths to happiness and success. You can read these stories here, read about them in our monthly newsletterand get updates on our Facebook and Twitterpages. If you know someone who would be a great Going Against The Grain feature story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
Uyen was born in Nha Trang City, Vietnam. She grew up in a tailoring/design school, within walking distance to the beach. Her creativity seed was planted by her parents at a young age. With fabric remnants, her father meticulously crafted unique patchwork garments for her wardrobe. She sported them with pride knowing that every piece was one of a kind and made only for her. Uyen’s love for colors, contrast, and asymmetry stemmed from her extraordinary childhood. Her appreciation for one of a kind art was what drew her to marble painting. Her work is inspired by vivid memories of sandy beaches, deep blue ocean, golden rice fields, high cliffs, waterfalls and natural lakes hidden in tropical forests. Most important were memories of her hardworking parents and endless summers roaming in nature with her brothers. This was where Uyen’s Color Tales began. It was her way of expressing her deepest thoughts and bringing her fondest memories to life.
DJiun Wang is Taiwanese American designer and photographer based in New York City. He is currently the Creative Director of Voyce Global and the head designer of Prince & Bond. He has collaborated with some of the most pioneering designers at Parsons School of Design and studied retail strategies at Columbia Business School. His clients have included Tiffany & Co, Carnegie Hall, J Mendel and Lanyu Couture. DJiun’s photography as been featured publications such as Vogue, Elle, Out, and Nylon Magazine. Through his work he aims to challenge, shape and inspire a more innovative world. He was also a 2013 ATG Artistic Scholarship Winner and will be presenting his men’s swimwear and art at ATG’s 9th Annual Fashion for a Passion.
The Kinjaz are a Los Angeles based dance company formed in 2010, comprised of an all-star roster of creative directors, industry professionals and internationally renowned choreographers and instructors. They are known for their signature intricate choreography style and creative storytelling through dance and new media. The crew is extremely diverse, ranging from a wide variety of Asian ethnicities including Vietnamese and Korean as well as Caucasian, Hispanic and African American members. They were recent contestants on NBC’s World of Dance.
Born and raised in Beijing China, Chef Shirley Chung was exposed to international cuisine at an early age by her grandmother, Liang Si Yi, former Director of The Red Cross in China. Shirley immigrated to America at age 17 for college and worked in Silicon Valley for a few years after graduating. Shirley decided to follow her passion for food so she left her career in high tech behind and enrolled in California Culinary Academy San Francisco. She is trained in classic French and Italian cuisine, worked and opened restaurants for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali.
After she opened CarneVino as Chef de Cuisine for BBHG, CarneVino earned multiple awards for Best Steak House internationally. Prior to being a finalist on season 11 of “Top Chef” in New Orleans, she held the Executive Chef Position at China Poblano, by Jose Andres, which was nominated for the Best New Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. While working at China Poblano, she fell in love with Mexican cuisine and learned more about her own heritage. In 2014, Shirley opened her restaurant in Orange County, Twenty Eight, featuring modern Chinese cuisine. Recently, Shirley has been competing on season 14 of BravoTV’s Top Chef. She used this opportunity to showcase her Chinese American Cuisine during the competition and she was rewarded by being named the runner up of Top Chef. Shirley is currently working on opening her next concept in Los Angeles. Steamers Co. is a fast-casual counter service seafood driven restaurant with an oyster bar.
Daniel C. Eng is an owner of several real estate brokerages and commercial investment shopping centers in the DFW market as well as an ATG 2017 Year-Round sponsor, community activist/leader, and father of two children. For the past few years, he has been and still is a great supporter of ATG, and for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month we would like to highlight this extraordinary individual who knows what it means to give and exemplifies #beCAUSE. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas as a Chinese American, his family roots date back from Chinese immigrants since the late 1800’s when his great-grand father came to build railroads in the US. Daniel’s father, T.K. Eng immigrated from Hong Kong in the mid 1950’s where he later on established the real estate foundation for the Eng family. Growing up watching and learning from his father, Daniel gained an interest in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage & Management at an early age.
Steve Hyun is the President & CEO of Siva Group & SIVA Select, entrepreneur, leader & mentor. Siva Group is a full service entertainment and talent agency that specializes in event marketing, tour management and production, and concert promotion, working with artists from the US, Korea, and Japan. SIVA offers services in event marketing; tour management and production; tour booking; publicity; sponsorship acquisition; fan engagement; viral marketing; grassroots marketing; experiential marketing, and more.
Steve ensures that through his company, he is able build relationships with fans through direct-to-fan marketing and engagement that generates excitement and sales and keeps them talking for days and weeks before an event. He hopes to close the physical barrier fans usually have with artists from Korea and Japan by bringing live concert performances from Asia to the West.
Hoang-Kim Cung is a reporter and fill-in anchor at WTKR News 3, a CBS affiliate in the Virginia Beach area. She is a former Miss Nebraska USA and was the first Vietnamese-American woman to compete at Miss USA in 2015. When she’s not reporting in the newsroom, she’s working on her fashion & lifestyle blog colorandchic.com. She believes in helping men and women find clothes they feel confident and powerful in and living an elevated, positive lifestyle. At WTKR News 3, Hoang-Kim has been able to affect change through her stories. She also had the honor of flying in an F/A 18 Hornet with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. She is also passionate about raising money for wounded South Vietnamese Veterans living in communist Vietnam.
Like all kids that enjoy dancing, Andrew D. Nguyen started by learning from music videos at home and with his friends. At the time, he was not aware with many other genres of dancing or that being a dancer would be a possible career path for him. In 2007, he saw dance team Wyldstyl perform at a date auction event and immediately became interested.
He later on eventually auditioned and became a member of Wyldstyl himself. From there after many years of training and being on the team, he built his way up to be director and opened up Soundbox Studios, a place for anyone with the desire to dance.
Speech Language Pathology Assistant Sarah Bryan Hickey is a 20-something from Dallas, Texas, living out her lifelong dream of being an artist. She’s always had a passion to create, make people smile, and leave a lasting impression. This season, she has been blessed with the flexibility to work in a pediatric home health setting as well as do the very thing she loves: painting.
For Sarah, her art is slowly evolving as she continues to explore the media of acrylics. Each abstract piece stems from scripture, which is the foundation of each painting. Her desire is to illuminate God’s already impressionable word with color and movement. She also wants to paint with a purpose. For every painting she sells, a portion goes towards feeding the poor in third-world parts of the Philippines through the nonprofit organization Compassion for Asia.
Ayden Nguyen is a 7 year-old dancer, actor and model from Garland, Texas. From a very young age, Ayden has always been a natural performer, entertainer and lover of dance. Those characteristics have launched him onto a path that leads directly into the entertainment industry. He enjoys all aspects of performing and juggles a pretty hectic schedule of school, photo shoots, casting calls/auditions, rehearsals, soccer and dance training.
He has been in several print ad campaigns for department stores such as Belk, JCPenney, and Neiman Marcus. He has also been featured in various industry videos for Chuck E. Cheese and Hasbro. His main passion is dance, hip-hop specifically, and has trained with some of the best choreographers in the world – even had the opportunity to dance on stage with Justin Bieber.
Ultimately, he’s just a little boy, with very big dreams. Follow Ayden on his journey, to make his dreams come true. Against The Grain had the privilege of featuring young Ayden at Fashion for a Passion this year. Stay tuned for our highlight video to watch his moves in action! Read more