Round-up of PRI stories from 2018 (so far)!

Man at dinner table, surrounded by people

Yes, they came as refugees, but on ‘Queen Sugar’ this family from Vietnam gets to be so much more
July 25, 2018
“The fact that the director allowed me to breathe and thought me worthy to take up space, it’s such a simple, subtle thing, but it was startling to me,” says Elyse Dinh who plays Mrs. Phan.


Two posters side by side, one original film poster, the other remade with photos of two men in place of actors

How ’90s Bollywood movies became cool again for two desis in the US
May 28, 2018
The Bollywood Boys used to watch movies on bootleg VCDs with their parents. Now, they’re watching them on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — and rediscovering what they once loved about them.


Three women walking on the sidewalk.

A family of lawyers fought to clear their name. Now their story is in an Oscar-nominated documentary.
March 02, 2018
A small, family-owned bank in New York City’s Chinatown faced nearly 200 counts of mortgage fraud — the only company ever criminally charged in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” chronicles the legal battle fought by the Sung sisters.


Man in sunglasses in dance pose in front of white, brick wall

He’s the first Asian American dancer in ‘Magic Mike Live’ and his fans are proud of him
February 12, 2018
The fastest growing demographic in Las Vegas is Asian Americans. More specifically, Filipino Americans, who have made their mark on the city’s sprawling entertainment scene.


2018 Stories for NBC News Asian America and Center of Asian American Media

Yoshi Sudarso portrays an Indonesian American who returns to Indonesia years after his father's killing.

To play an Asian-American cowboy, actor Yoshi Sudarso needed to go to Indonesia (NBC News)

“Westerns are such a big part of American culture. But as Asian Americans, we never see ourselves in them.”


Ricky He is love interest in new Disney musical remake of “Freaky Friday” (CAAM)

Ricky He didn’t originally audition for the romantic lead role.


Kids learn how to stand up for themselves in “Always Anjali” by Sheetal Sheth (CAAM)

The actress is best known for her work in film and web series, but she’s also dedicated much of her life to youth and working with students. Her debut children’s book, a first in a series, is about an Indian American girl named Anjali.


Meet the Asian and Asian American Nominees for the 2018 Oscars! (CAAM)

We speak to Kazuhiro Tsuji, Ru Kuwahata, Ramsey Naito, and Ren Klyce about their work that earned them Oscar nominations this year.


More stories for Public Radio International’s Global Nation and The World

How ‘bad guy’ roles have evolved for people of color

As calls for a more diverse Hollywood grows, actors of color are getting opportunities to play more iconic “bad guy” roles.

A mash-up of Asian harvest holidays gets the hip-hop treatment

For these comedy rappers and hip-hop lovers, the best way to celebrate their cultures’ holidays is through a rap battle.

For some in Hollywood, the ‘remake’ is taking on global proportions

A Japanese manga is moving to Seattle for a Netflix adaptation. A Mexican film based on a Bollywood hit was released in the US. Is this the future of film?

Why this musician wants to understand xenophobia today by remembering the past

Five years ago, a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Now, small groups are coming together to remember the long history of South Asians in America.

What to say when you’re Asian American and someone calls you ‘exotic’

Paula Williams Madison wasn’t on a panel, but she brought a different take on race to the audience at Asian American ComicCon.

Bangarang (Rufio origin story) for The Washington Post!

Remember Rufio in ‘Hook’? The actor is trying to keep his cult character’s legacy alive.

By Ada Tseng (June 28, 2017)

His red triple-mohawk. His dark eyeliner. His showing midriff. His shiny black fringed leather jacket, necklaces made of bones and skulls, one long dangling earring and holey black jeans with red tights underneath.

“They really got me good,” recalls Dante Basco, laughing.

Now, Basco’s character in the 1991 movie “Hook” has become iconic for kids of the 1980s and ’90s who remember the Lost Boys crowing “Ruffi-ooooo!” for their fearless leader. Skrillex’s Grammy Award-winning 2012 dance single “Bangarang” was a shout-out to Rufio’s battle cry. A pop-punk band in the early 2000s named itself Rufio. Basco has even seen tattoos of his teenage face on other people’s bodies.

“Now it’s cool,” he says of the costume. “But when you’re 15, you’re like, ‘Dude, what are we doing? I have my belly button out? Really?’ ”

Basco, 41, is now older than Robin Williams was when he played the 40-year-old Peter Banning in a story that imagines what would happen if Peter Pan grew up and had to return to Neverland to save his children from Hook. But he’s still trying to keep the character’s legacy alive — and take advantage of its strange cult fandom — by helping to produce a new, Kickstarter-funded short film about Rufio’s origin story, called “Bangarang,” which premiered online on Monday.

Read more here!

Watch the Bangarang short film, starring Sheaden Gabriel as Rufio for the new generation:

Round-up of recent work for PRI’s The World and Global Nation

With ‘The Great Wall,’ is China buying its way into Hollywood?

For all the controversy around the casting of Matt Damon in a “white savior” role in a story set in ancient China, director Zhang Yimou plainly acknowledges that Damon’s involvement was a Chinese strategy to attract non-Chinese audiences.


Portrait of man in beard and t-shirt

Justin Chon seeks to fill a hole in the history of the Los Angeles riots

The feature film “Gook” takes place on the first day of the riots, which Korean Americans refer to as Saigu — Korean for April 29. It premieres this week at Sundance.


How Far East Movement took success into their own hands

The band has been around for a long time — but they’ve never been just about making it big. They’re about making it possible for others to make it big too. Here’s how they did it.


Hashtags might not get your favorite actor the part, but studios do hear your pleas  

#MakeMulanRight. #RyanPotterForTimDrake. #AAIronFist — these campaigns don’t always work perfectly, but they do get people’s attention on diversity.


One of the world’s most famous people has been detained at US airports three times since 9/11 — and still jokes about it

September 13, 2016 What good is it to joke about airport security? Shah Rukh Khan and other celebrities tackle a serious issue in punchlines.


Want to know what it would feel like to have a woman president? Ask Taiwan.

It’s not just that my daughter’s generation will be able to see a woman president, or dream of becoming a woman president. They will take it for granted, writes Ada Tseng.


Mainstream comic? Hari Kondabolu is changing the definition.  

And what’s so great about being mainstream anyway?


Australian school official banned this film about kids of gay parents, but you can stream it now

Not all publicity is good publicity for two filmmakers in Australia who chronicled the lives of kids with gay parents. But now, you can stream their film

Kids shows that adults will like! My stories on Julie’s Greenroom and Andie Mack

Image result for giullian yao gioiello nbc

Giullian Yao Gioiello Is Julie Andrews’ Right-Hand Man on Netflix Show

(NBC News Asian America)

When Giullian Yao Gioiello was in high school, his friends used to joke that he was so animated that he’d fit in perfectly if he was the only human in a cartoon world. Little did he know that one day, he would find himself surrounded by Jim Henson puppets as the star of “Julie’s Greenroom,” a kids’ show which premiered on Netflix in March. He plays Gus, the assistant of Miss Julie, played by the one and only Julie Andrews.


ANDI MACK - Disney Channel's "Andi Mack" stars Lilan Bowden as Bex, Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Andi and Lauren Tom as Celia. (Disney Channel/Craig Sjodiin)


(Center for Asian American Media)

Andi Mack is Peyton Elizabeth Lee’s very first leading role, and she can’t believe how fast it’s all coming together. All 13 episodes have been filmed, and while the show will officially premiere on the Disney Channel on April 7, the show is already available to watch on Disney Channel’s digital platforms.

Congratulations to PRI’s Global Nation!


Yay, the Kickstarter for the PRI’s Global Nation Reporting Fund funded at 102%!!! Happy to support and represent through the campaign video, as a Global Nation contributor.

“Just 13% of radio reporters are minorities, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). At newspapers, 12% or reporters are minorities, according to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).”

This campaign is to give PRI’s Global Nation the resources to bring in more journalists who are embedded in these immigrant communities to tell deeper, more nuanced stories. They pledged to showcase 50 new voices in public media, one a week for a year,

Next step: Journalist/writer friends, contact PRI’s Global Nation digital editor Angilee Shah (@angshah) with your ideas. Or if you’re not a writer but know great stories about immigrants in America that aren’t being told, let us know so we can help tell them!


Honored to be profiled in OC Weekly’s 2016 People Issue!

ocweeklyprofileAda Tseng Covers the Asian-American Pop Culture You’ll Find Out About Next Year

by Taylor Weik

Today, Asian-Americans everywhere can rejoice when they turn on their televisions—they finally see people who look like them, such as Randall Park as an American Dream-chasing immigrant dad on Fresh Off the Boat or dreamboat Daniel Henney as an FBI agent on the recently premiered spin-off series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. But for arts-and-entertainment writer Ada Tseng, who wrote cover stories on both actors before their big breaks, a more diverse Hollywood couldn’t come soon enough.

“I’ve just been following these people’s careers because that’s always been the question: Is Hollywood finally going to get more diverse?” the Placentia resident says. “Now things are changing, and it’s exciting to see people I covered years ago finally getting the roles they deserve.”

The 33-year-old Tseng has been reporting and writing on Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry for more than a decade, long before social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter made it easier for people of color to spread awareness on social issues and raise their own voices. Shortly after graduating from college, in 2006 Tseng was named the managing editor of Asia Pacific Arts, an online ethnic arts publication started at UCLA.

“In the beginning, no one was really writing about diversity in Hollywood because it was a pretty rare deal, so it felt like we were a part of a secret club,” Tseng says with a laugh. “We thought all these small Asian films and directors and actors were cool, but no one else knew about them.”

Journalism was a profession she adopted hesitantly. Born to Taiwanese-immigrant parents in the Silicon Valley, Tseng felt pressured to pursue a more practical career, and to the delight of her engineer father, she first majored in computer science at UCLA. It wasn’t long before she realized she had a knack for writing, and after a couple of internships at pop-culture magazines, she knew where she wanted to be.

Now Tseng has racked up an impressive number of bylines in the likes of LA Weekly, KoreAm Journal, Audrey Magazine and NBC Asian America, covering everything from high-profile stars such as Lucy Liu to a surprisingly well-managed fan club honoring the K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation. She earned her MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College in 2011 and was named a Society of Features Journalism diversity fellow last year.

But to many, Tseng is known as the woman behind the infamous Haikus With Hotties series, a silly-but-clever idea that featured attractive Asian-American male stars and their handwritten haikus among the pages of Audrey Magazine; it gained so much popularity it was turned into a smokin’-hot calendar, à la Sports Illustrated. She has since taken her storytelling abilities further into the digital realm with her podcast Bullet Train, on which she examines trends in pop culture from the “hot mom” phenomenon in China to the popularity of Japanese dating games. And while she’s pleased to see the amount of diversity in the media today, Tseng doesn’t think her job will ever really be over.

“We have a handful more Asian-Americans being represented than we did back then, but that doesn’t mean that now we have a sitcom that we’re done,” Tseng says. “We’ve got a long way to go, and there are an unlimited amount of untold stories out there, so how can I not tell them?”



Round-up of my Oscars coverage for PRI’s The World

Listen to me on PRI’s The World here!

What it’s like to be the butt of the joke. One of the kids at the Oscars speaks out.

The precocious child star who was on stage as an “accountant” at the Oscars didn’t know she’d be the butt of an anti-Asian joke when she agreed to take the part. Neither did her mom


However you feel about Chris Rock’s Asian joke, it takes guts to talk openly about race

One of the child actors who was the butt of a joke about Asians at the Oscars told us how it felt. And the Internet reacted.


Ang Lee and George Takei signed the letter, but here’s who wrote it

25 Asian and Asian American members of the Academy protested tone-deaf jokes at the Oscars. And the Academy apologized.