By: Lara Pena
This is an article produced in partnership with Lune Magazine
In the world of 2019, there is still not enough change. Our mainstream media displays exactly that: a long line of actors that are not a representation of the true population, only a portion. It was only Crazy Rich Asians came out when I felt like I saw a reflection of me pop onto the big screen, yet it was still not enough.
I have watched people on Youtube formulate their craft for years, and it does not surprise me that I’ve naturally gravitated to viewing videos that featured people who look like me. Michelle Phan was there for me when I experimented with my mother’s makeup for the first time. Ryan Higa provided a quick laugh when I wanted to watch movies in minutes. There are endless singers and cinematographers that I wished I could become. In my suburban town, in my suburban life, I couldn’t find similarities in the people in my surroundings until I opened my laptop and searched online.
Wong Fu Productions was one of the first channels I remember watching on Youtube.
It’s 2013, and I’m peering over my sister’s shoulder to watch light-hearted dramatics unfold before me. I recognized the actors: Piper Curda and Ryan Potter. I’ve seen them on some of the television shows but it was the first time I’d seen anyone like me in a short film. This was a whole new world and with every video they released, it was food to my soul. Suddenly, my views transformed because their work wasn’t the kind of shows that I watched growing up.
To the team of Wong Fu Productions, originated by Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, and Ted Fu, representation is always a priority. Each of their videos, whether it be short or their long projects, like Everything Before Us, their first feature-length film, features Asian talents in all ages, sizes, and colors.
Most recently, their series, Yappie, follows Andrew and his journey to make his life mean more than just his job and it explores societal and racial issues that are often glossed over or brushed by the surface. Instead, Wong Fu takes on the challenge to dive in deep. One topic Wong Fu Productions tackles is how Asians are seen as the “model minority.” In the last episode, Andrew and his girlfriend Kaleena, who is half black and half Asian, meet with Kaleena’s friends at a party. One of the people at the party, Kaleena’s ex-boyfriend, berates Andrew for being Asian and “acting” as if Asians face the same sufferings and problems as black people. The series makes a good point: even though no every two people have the same experiences, nobody can deny you of the feelings that you attain by being that minority.
Their constant drive to bring Asians into the spotlight does not go unnoticed. Over the course of last year, team members from the production company traveled around North America for their Yappie tour and went around a second time exclusively to colleges. Sold out theatres welcomed the crew and the tour consisted of watching the series in its entirety and tuning in for a question-and-answer portion with the group afterwards. When Wong Fu stopped in New Jersey, I was fortunate enough to meet the members who came and thank them for their consistent drive to showcase an unrepresentative minority where it matters most.
Like the first lines of the first episode narrate, “Hello, America. I’m an Asian…you think you know us and that’s why you never ask about us,” Wong Fu Productions will never lose sight of their goal: to fight for Asian visibility in the media.