By Clarissa Fe O’Francia
In movies, Asian Americans are portrayed either as the brainiac nerd or the token kung fu- knowing henchman. Is that who we are in real life? Of course not. Ever since Asian Americans started appearing in Hollywood films, there has been a false and cringe-worthy view of Asians engraved into Western society. We are the soft-spoken side characters. We are the over-achieving students who want to become doctors. We are “fresh off the boat” and don’t speak any English. For decades, Asian Americans have been struggling with these kinds of stereotypes. Many can’t find a way to express themselves for who they really are. Until recently that is, thanks to a growing organization called Kollaboration.
Kollaboration is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 by stand-up comedian Paul ”PK“ Kim, who is Korean American from LA. His mission was to create a platform for Asian/Pacific Islander American youths aspiring to entertain in the mainstream media, advocating for diversity and out-casting stereotypes. Today, Kollaboration has spread to 14 major North American cities, including New York, Toronto, Chicago, and Seattle. An annual talent contest is put on by each city to choose a representative who then competes in LA to be crowned grand winner. Kollaboration has elevated many well-known Asian American entertainers, such as AJ Rafael, Clara Chung, David Choi, and Lion’s Ambition.
As well as participating in projects outside of entertainment, Kollaboration reaches out particularly to other Asian American organizations. Whenever an Asian-based event is taking place, Kollaboration makes it a point to attend it or, at the very least, spread awareness on social media. The Seattle branch has recently contributed to the Asian Music Festival and ACRS’’ Walk for Rice.
”We’re made of passionate people,” says Kollaboration Seattle’s Marketing Director Aaron Yeung. ”We’re really passionate about the movement.” Kollaboration strides towards a future where Asian Americans won’t be viewed through a negative paradigm. Who says Asian Americans can’t be the energetic protagonist? Who says Asian Americans can’t be anything but doctors? Let this inspire us to empower each other the way Kollaboration empowers through entertainment. (end)