This week, we ran three stories about artists on our front page. We showcased movie producer and director Christina Yao, award-winning fashion designer Gahee Bae, and famed South Korean visual and multimedia artist Do-Ho Suh.
We found these artists to be rather modest, despite having so much obvious talent.
Perhaps they were even too modest.
All three confessed that they never set out to be artists.
“It was never my goal to be successful,” Suh said.
“I thought it was impossible to be a fashion designer,” said Bae.
“I never set out to be an artist,” said Yao. “Even now, I flinch when I hear myself labeled as one.”
Similarly, in the past weeks, we have showcased our Top Contributor’s Diversity at the Top honorees, and we have found some rather reluctant to talk about their accomplishments and leadership skills. Some wanted to downplay it all, preferring to shine light on others, such as their staff members.
While all of these individuals are admirable for their humility and willingness to share credit, we are wondering if this tendency for Asian/Pacific Americans (APAs) to be modest can be a detriment.
On the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, a sidewalk that is lined with terrazzo stars that are trimmed in bronze and engraved with the names of celebrities in the arts, only 0.4 percent of the 2,354 stars represent Asian artists — 3.4 percent represent Latinos, 5.1 percent represent Blacks. That is, only 10 of those stars belong to APAs.
Naturally, it’s easy to blame Hollywood, art museums, or clothing boutiques for not showcasing more APAs. However, that’s not fair or productive. It is just as important to look inward, as a group, and try to proactively figure out a solution for ourselves.
Part of the solution involves taking a risk.
There are many APA dreamers out there who end up going down the wrong path because they felt pressured to. Last week, we ran a profile on Dr. Anthony Youn. Both Youn and his brother, Mike, were pressured to be doctors when they were young. Youn ended up in that field because it was the right one for him, but his brother broke free of expectations and today is an executive in Hollywood.
Bae’s mother originally wanted her to go into the medical field, but through the gentle support her stepfather she eventually became an award-winning designer.
The other part of the solution is to think outside the box, follow a nontraditional route. If mainstream television is too hard to break, consider ‘internet television.’ Many singers and musicians we know are promoting their work on blogs or YouTube, for instance.
In fact, last month, in our entertainment column, it was reported that YouTube will offer a line of original programming. Notably, many of the original channels are showing APA talent.
Take a chance and follow your dreams. (end)