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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AAPI Run: Chris Chyung, Incumbent for IN State Representative, District 15

Chris Chyung

Once again, a record number of Asian Americans and a growing number of Pacific Islanders are running for public office at the local, state, and national level.

Every week, Reappropriate will profile progressive AAPI candidates for higher office, as well as officials serving in public office. Check back at Reappropriate throughout 2020 to learn more about these candidates and find out how you can get more involved in their campaigns.


What is your full name?
Chris Chyung

What office are you seeking?
Indiana State Representative, District 15. Running for re-election after winning in 2018.

When is the election date?
November 3, 2020

What is your party registration (if any)?
Democrat

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AAPI Run: David Kim, Candidate for Congress, CA-34

David Kim, Candidate for Congress CA-34

Once again, a record number of Asian Americans and a growing number of Pacific Islanders are running for public office at the local, state, and national level.

Every week, Reappropriate will profile progressive AAPI candidates for higher office, as well as officials serving in public office. Check back at Reappropriate throughout 2020 to learn more about these candidates and find out how you can get more involved in their campaigns.


What is your full name?
David Kim

What office are you seeking?
I am running for Congress in California’s 34th District.

The district includes Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Boyle Heights, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Little Tokyo, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Westlake, MacArthur Park, Historic Filipino Town, Little Bangladesh and surrounding neighborhoods.

When is the election date?
The general election will take place on November 3, 2020.

What is your party registration (if any)?
I am a registered Democrat.

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AAPI Run: Jackie Leung, Candidate for OR House of Representatives, District 19

Jackie Leung (Photo credit: Jackie for Oregon)

Once again, a record number of Asian Americans and a growing number of Pacific Islanders are running for public office at the local, state, and national level.

Every week, Reappropriate will profile progressive AAPI candidates for higher office, as well as officials serving in public office. Check back at Reappropriate throughout 2020 to learn more about these candidates and find out how you can get more involved in their campaigns.


Jackie Leung is endorsed by Run for Something, which recruits and supports talented, passionate young people who advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench. Since its launch on inauguration day 2017, they’ve recruited 16,000 young people to run for office.


What is your full name?
Jacqueline “Jackie” Leung

What office are you seeking?
I am running as the Democratic candidate for Oregon House of Representatives, House District 19.

When is the election date?
November 3rd, 2020 (General election). I won the primary on May 19

What is your party registration (if any)?
Democrat

Continue reading “AAPI Run: Jackie Leung, Candidate for OR House of Representatives, District 19”