“East of Hollywood”: It’s Not Easy Being an Asian American Actor When You’re Not the Asian Non-Asians Think You Are

Production photo from "East of Hollywood". (Photo credit: "East of Hollywood")
Production photo from “East of Hollywood”. (Photo credit: “East of Hollywood”)

We’ve finally entered December of 2015, and I have one end-of-the-year prediction to make: expect a deluge of year-in-review think pieces calling 2015 a Renaissance Year for the Asian American actor. Hell, a lot of these articles have already been written. There’s this one. And, this one. Oh, and this one. Hell, I’ll probably even write one before this year is out.

It’s safe to say that if you’re an Asian American who cares about seeing Asian American actors get work, 2015 was the year for you. Fresh Off The Boat is midway through their critically acclaimed second season and celebrating news of a full season order. In contrast to the multi-cam format of FOTB, Ken Jeong debuted a refreshingly conventional family sitcom in Dr. Ken, bringing ABC’s Asian American-led primetime sitcom offerings to two. On Sundays, ABC also airs Quantico, which stars the impeccably-coifed Priyanka Chopra as an FBI recruit- turned-agent- turned-fugitive (check out recurring guest contributor Lakshmi Gandhi’s weekly recaps of Quantico every Monday morning right here on Reappropriate). And, over at Netflix, Aziz Ansari stars in Master of None, a show he co-created with producer Alan Yang.

But what if you’re an Asian American actor whose name isn’t Ken Jeong or Aziz Ansari? For these folks, Hollywood is still a tough place to find work, where few decision makers can imagine an Asian face being worn by anyone who isn’t the nerd, the ninja, the prostitute, the gangster, or the foreigner.

Now, a really fantastic independent short film — East of Hollywood — uses comedy to explore what it’s really like being a struggling Asian American actor in Hollywood.

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Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival 2015 Opens Next Week with “Seoul Searching”

Still from "Seoul Searching" by Benson Lee.
Still from “Seoul Searching” by Benson Lee.

This year’s Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (@paaff)– now in its 8th year —  will once again highlight the work of Asian and Asian American filmmakers over a jam-packed week and a half of events. It will include 23 feature-length and 30 short films, including 5 East Coast premieres and 14 Philadelphia premieres.

The festival runs from November 12 to November 22, and opens with “Seoul Searching“:

Set against the backdrop of 1980s Seoul Korea and inspired by a summer exchange program that Writer/Director Benson Lee attended in the summer of ‘86, this John Hughes-esque Teen Comedy tells a universal coming-of-age story chock full of pop culture tropes, teen hijinks, and first love.

Director Benson Lee expected in attendance for post-film Q&A, followed by the PAAFF’15 Opening Night Reception featuring 80s dance music and costume contest FREE to all ticket and badge holders.

Opening Reception 9:30pm-12am

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