The latest episode spotlights three contemporary Asian American Veterans
By: Elizabeth Carbe
Photos: The Hollywood Times
Santa Clarita, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/3/17 – “It is important that we see each person as an individual and not pigeonhole them into a stereotype – I am a veteran, musician, comedian and radio announcer. I also happen to be an Asian American” said Thom Tran (comedian, musician and KNX-1070 radio traffic announcer) at the premiere of “My Motto (Veterans Edition),” a television special narrated by Maggie Q (from ABC’s Designated Survivor). The episode also featured a brief introduction from Congressman Ted Lieu (D – CA).
Yesterday’s screening was a breakfast event celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) – the event was produced by MYX TV in partnership with GOT YOUR 6. “My Motto” focuses on the Asian American veterans and the challenges they face in America today as Asians and Veterans. As part of a panel moderated by Traci Lee (NBC Asian America), US veteran and cinematographer Michael Goi (American Horror Story, Glee) points out that the Asian community in Hollywood has gone a long way towards breaking the stereotypical casting of the past (recall Mickey Rooney’s “Mr. Yunioshi” in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) but there is still a long way to go. He recalls how happy he was when he saw an Asian American actor being cast in a simple commercial that had nothing to do with his Asian heritage – these quiet milestones represent a step forward in casting “people” not “ethnic groups”. Casting Director Julia Kim (CSA) says that more real and substantive stories going into production are needed to better reflect the real-world presence of Asian Americans in all walks of life, which will result in more prominent roles for Asian American actors.
Opening remarks were made by Miguel Santos, General Manager of Myx TV, and Kate Hoit, Director of Content for GY6. They also told their stories of being Asian American and veterans.
Actors and panelists all concurred that being Asian is not the only stereotype that needs to addressed. “When you tell someone that you are a veteran they don’t know how to act. The reactions range from, ‘you don’t look like a soldier’ to ‘did you ever fire a gun’”. Thom Tran finds that comedy is one way to break through people’s preconceptions. “Comedy is one pill everyone can swallow”. He continued, “storytelling is another way we are able to bring veterans and civilian together”.
Similarly, Kate Hoit shared, “when I returned to college after finishing my tour of duty, I felt disconnected from the other students. The professor suggested that I write down some of my stories. This is eventually what opened the dialog between my classmates and myself.”
The real human experience of Thom Tran, Leaphy Khim and Art De La Cruz is what makes this episode of “My Motto” powerful and compelling. The stories of these three veterans are particularly relevant to our contemporary global situation and issues of cultural identity and visibility. The episode directly addresses the experiences of these specific Asian American Veterans in America. But under the surface, this program is about all of us and the importance of reaching out to people of different cultures and backgrounds without preconceptions or prejudice.