VAFF Industry presents—AIM³ Summit – Session 3
Panel 3 — Asians in Movies – Casting for Asian Leads and Standing up for Change
VAFF is taking AIM at Hollywood! Since the Oscars 2016, a.k.a. the 88th Academy Awards, there has been an outpour of indignation online over the lack of diversity in the casts of Hollywood movies and network television. In particular, Asian actors have lost ground with the increase of Caucasian actors being cast for the roles of Asian characters. This panel will bring these issues forward to a wide group of producers, actors, online media personalities, directors, filmmakers, and involved community members to identify the actions we can all take to contribute to this movement. VAFF seeks to continue the work of social commentaries such as the #StarringJohnCho campaign, while simultaneously educating Hollywood studios that the Asian Canadian/American population is enormous in economic potential.
William Yu launched #StarringJohnCho, a viral social movement that literally shows you what it would look like if today’s Hollywood blockbusters cast an Asian-American actor – specifically, John Cho – as their leading man. Yu and his work have been featured in The New York Times, BBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and The Hollywood Reporter, among many other notable publications. The project has garnered over 1 billion impressions worldwide and continues the conversation regarding the lack of Asian-American representation in film. He currently is a Senior Strategic Planner at TBWAChiatDay and is based in New York City.
Kevin K. Li is creator and co-producer of HBICtv: Ultra Rich Asian Girls. He spent the first 15 years of his broadcasting career producing Asian programming that embraced the model minority ideal. It wasn’t until URAG that he began to fight it, “why can’t, we as Asians, have the same liberties and freedoms as non-Asians to create any kind of programming we want and not have to reflect race? It is then when we can break the Hollywood stereotype that has hindered our place in media.” Kevin is born, bred and raised in Vancouver’s Eastside. He has worked for City TV, CTV and Olympic Broadcasting Services that had brought him to Rio, London, Singapore and Vancouver for the Games. Kevin has also produced House My Style on Omni TV, Brotherhoods, Clans and Secret Societies of Vancouver’s Chinatown, Azn Lifestyles TV on City TV and TV Fusion. He’s most proud of his roots in Chinatown and continues to perform Lion Dancing annually during Chinese New Years. Kevin loves sashimi but hates albacore tuna.
Judy Lee was raised in the wilds of Burnaby in the era of headbanger wars and unfortunate denim. She got her feet wet in the film industry playing roles like “Teenager #3”, “Zombie Teenager #2” and “Halfway House Woman #0” but upon deeply introspective reflection, realized she sucked as an actor. Her entry into casting was a serendipitous twist of fate and she considers herself blessed to work in the Vancouver film/tv community. Her inspirations are the actors who come into her casting sessions and demonstrate unwavering courage and commitment and her little daughter who teaches her the beauty and bravery of picking one’s self up after falling and continuing on the journey.
Raymond Massey began his filmmaking career in 1983 in partnership with cinematographer brother Nathaniel, completing a wide variety of productions over the next five years before turning his attention to feature films. In 1989, his first film premiered at TIFF while completing a producer residency at the Canadian Film Centre.
Since then, Massey has produced over 30 more theatrical, documentary, TV and cable features in varying capacities as producer, executive producer and supervising producer.
Award-winning titles by Massey include IMPOLITE, Richard Lewis’ WHALE MUSIC,
LIVES OF GIRLS & WOMEN, MY FATHER’S ANGEL, SPIRIT BEAR, Mina Shum’s LONG LIFE HAPPINESS & PROSPERITY, Lynne Stopkewich’s SUSPICIOUS RIVER and IRON ROAD, a China-Canada co-production. He continues to work on China-Canada co-productions.
Agam Darshi is a busy Canadian actress and filmmaker based in Vancouver, BC and Los Angeles, CA. Agam was born in England and raised all over Canada. She attended the University of Calgary where she graduated with a BFA in Visual Arts and Theatre, and then went on to complete the Film Arts program at Langara College with a focus in screenwriting. The last film she wrote and directed was Fade Out (2014), made possible by a BRAVO FACT grant. Prior to that Agam wrote and produced the short film Bollywood Beckons (2008) that screened at numerous festivals internationally.
Diana Bang was born and raised in Vancouver, B.C. She got her start in acting with the Asian-Canadian sketch comedy group, Assaulted Fish. Since then, she has had film and television roles in The Killing, Bates Motel, Entanglement and Master Cleanse. She is most known for her role as Sook in The Interview, and being the sister of Andrea Bang, who stars in CBC’s Kim’s Convenience.
Jeff Yang is a veteran author and cultural critic whose work appears regularly on CNN Opinion, NPR and Quartz, the business publication of The Atlantic Monthly. He was the founder of the pioneering Asian American periodical aMagazine: Inside Asian America, and has authored and edited a number of bestselling books, including Eastern Standard Time; I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (the international action hero’s official autobiography); Once Upon a Time in China; and the graphic novel collections, Secret Identities and Shattered. His older son, Hudson Yang, is the star of the groundbreaking ABC TV series Fresh Off the Boat, now in its third season.
Speaker 7: National Bank – Film Financing
Lee Shorten grew up in Australia, where he was raised by his adoptive parents, Merv and Judy. A former lawyer, Lee currently works at Emerging Pictures, where he manages Acquisitions, Sales and Distribution. Lee is known for his role as Sergeant Yoshida on Ridley Scott’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’ now streaming on Amazon.