Finding Peace in the End: In Conversation with Blue Bayou’s Linh-Dan Pham

Linh-Dan Pham as Parker in Blue Bayou. (Photo credit: Focus Features / Blue Bayou)

Asian American filmmaker Justin Chon’s latest film – Blue Bayou – opens today in theatres nationwide. In the film, Linh-Dan Pham plays Parker, a Vietnamese refugee who has resettled with her father in the New Orleans area and who is in the end stages of her battle with cancer.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to chat with Linh-Dan about her role as Parker in Blue Bayou.  The following is a transcript of our conversation. It has been edited for length and clarity.


JENN: Hi, Linh-Dan – thank you so much for taking the time today. I’m really excited to have the chance to talk with you about Blue Bayou. I found the film really powerful, and I really loved your performance as Parker.

One of the things that really strikes me is how few in-depth and complicated representations of the Vietnamese refugee experience there are in media. Can you talk a little bit about what drew you to this character and what aspects of the refugee experience you were trying to portray in your performance of Parker?

LINH-DAN: First of all, I have to admit that in the beginning I had no clue who Justin Chon was! (laughs)

My reason is because I’m French and I don’t live in America. I’m not American; I’m French Vietnamese. But of course, I’m always interested in knowing Asian American – and Asian, in general – artists.

When Justin first got in touch with me, he was so modest. He said: “I wrote this part and I think you would be perfect for it. These are the links to my two movies Gook and Ms. Purple, and here is the script.”

When I watched both of his films – Gook and Ms. Purple – I just fell in love with his work. And, along with the script for Blue Bayou? It was really a no-brainer. On top of all that, Justin’s female characters are always so beautiful and strong, and they always have a storyline of their own. And so really, I was like – yeah, take me! (laughs)

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Bringing a Transnational Korean American Adoptee Story to Film: In Conversation with ‘Blue Bayou’ Filmmaker Justin Chon

Writer-director Justin Chon (Antonio LeBlanc) alongside actors Sydney Kowalske (Jessie LeBlanc, left) and Alicia Vikander (Kathy LeBlanc, right). (Photo Credit: Focus Features / Blue Bayou)

Asian American filmmaker Justin Chon’s latest film – Blue Bayou – opens today in theatres nationwide.

Blue Bayou tells the story of Korean American adoptee Antonio LeBlanc as he faces a deportation order by ICE that threatens to rip apart his family and expel him from the only home he has ever known.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with writer-director Justin Chon, who also stars as Antonio in the film. The following is a transcript of our conversation. It has been edited for length and clarity.


JENN: I saw Blue Bayou over the weekend with my husband and it was incredible — truly an amazing film. So first of all, I just want to say kudos to you for making it.

As you know, there are roughly 120,000 transnational Korean adoptees in the United States, but Blue Bayou is seemingly one of the first American dramatic films to tackle this subject. Why do you think that this story — which seems so integral to the Asian American experience — is so overlooked in film and what inspired you to tell this story in Blue Bayou?

JUSTIN: I think for that reason — because it’s overlooked. I know certain adoptees aren’t going to like that I’m telling this story because I’m not an adoptee, and so I’ll never know what it’s like to grow up as an adoptee. I understand that and I honor that. But, at the same time: how long are we going to wait? When is there going to be a substantial story about an Asian American adoptee — but, specifically also a Korean American — because we all know that the idea of international adoption started in South Korea.

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Delaware State Representative Who Used Anti-Asian, Misogynistic Slurs in Email Won’t Seek Re-election

State House Representative Gerald Brady at a press conference. Screenshot of footage by NBC10.

Content warning: Racist and sexist slurs

In late June, Delaware State Representative Gerald Brady (D) sparked backlash after an email he wrote was published by Delaware Online / The News Journal. In the email (which Brady sent from his official government email address to the email sender rather than to its intended recipient), Brady criticized efforts to protect sex workers using racist and sexist slurs referring to Asian women.

The email sender had forwarded to Brady a Princeton study that had found that decriminalization of sex work in New York City had led to a reduction in sex crimes, and had called on Brady to support efforts to decriminalize sex work in Delaware. Neither the original email nor the attached study made any mention of Asian or Asian American women.

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I am a (Southeast) Asian American Woman

Woman in silhouette in a field against the setting sun.

By Guest Contributor: Mandy Diec

Trigger warning: this blog post discusses sexual harassment and assault.

It has been over three months since the series of mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian American women. I am still tired, I am still processing, and I am still in pain.

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Are you a good desi or a bad desi?

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

By Guest Contributors: Avani Chhaya & Soham Sengupta

Truth is, you can inadvertently be both a good and bad desi.

A desi, an individual of South Asian descent, is dropped into two buckets. If you are a desi like us, you have probably also heard your aunties and uncles refer to “good” and “bad” desis. “Bad” desis are the lower-wage earners in South Asian communities, including teachers, taxi drivers, artists, convenience store workers and motel employees.

“This is your last year of teaching, right?” was the oft-repeated question from our parents. “To what?” was often our reply. Our parents’ responses came swift: “To other things.” This conversation plays out across South Asian households with desi parents wanting their children to become a Dr. or L.L.B — the “good” desi careers that were decidedly not our M.Ed’s. Those “other” occupations include medical school, business school, or law school —  careers steeped in prestige. Teaching, on the other hand, is hardly given a nod of recognition and is more commonly regarded as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things.

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