In the first episode of Wong Fu Productions’ new YouTube series, “Yappie,“ one character says that Asian Americans “get the sampler platter of racism.”
Wong Fu Productions, an Asian-American digital production company, wants to challenge traditional Asian-American stereotypes through short films. Its newest Youtube series is called “Yappie,” which centers on the identity crisis of Andrew, a “yappie” — a young Asian American professional.
This Friday, Wong Fu spoke at the University about this series and held a Q&A with officers from the University’s Asian American Students Association (AASA). Wong Fu co-founder and design lead, Wesley Chan; senior editor, Taylor Chan; and production coordinator Jessica Lin represented the team at the talk, but co-founder and executive producer Philip Wang was unable to attend due to inclement weather. AASA Vice President Chelsie Alexandre ’20 and Alumni Relations Chair Lloyd Feng ’19 moderated the Q&A and asked questions that audience members sent in prior to the event.
The event opened with a screening of the first two episodes of “Yappie,” a five-part Youtube comedy series exploring the contemporary social and racial issues faced by Asian Americans.
The two episodes centered on the comfortable life that Andrew had as a result of choosing the “safe” and stereotypical Asian path by going into engineering.
While the episodes satirized the stereotypical engineering career that many Asian Americans pursue, the team clarified during the Q&A that Asian Americans should pursue any career that they are truly passionate about.
“If you're passionate about what you do, whether that’s accounting or engineering, then that’s incredible,” Wesley Chan said. “But if there’s a little piece of you [that wants] to do something else, but you just haven't taken that leap yet, we really encourage you to do that.”
However, the Wong Fu team recognized the difficulty of going against Asian parents’ wishes for more traditional careers like engineering.
“The challenge of exiting the safe route is convincing your parents that you’re going to be okay,” Taylor Chan said.
For example, Lin explained that she entered University of California, Irvine, intending to major in biology, but instead graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies and a minor in Digital Arts. After college, she worked as an accountant for three months before joining the Wong Fu team.
Wesley Chan, on the other hand, stated that he wanted to become a graphic designer as soon as he entered the University of California, San Diego.
“What [our parents] think is successful revolves around stability,” Wesley Chan said.
However, he pointed out that the language of success has shifted across generations and that young adults now also consider what career path makes them happy.
The team also talked about how Wong Fu’s content has changed since their launch in 2003.
“The content was appropriate for our age, but our perspective has changed a lot over the years,” Wesley Chan said.
Content shifted away from breakups and relationships to a “more mature, broader outlook.”
In fact, in the beginning, there was not an explicit focus on creating content about the Asian-American experience. It wasn’t until the huge response from the Asian-American community that Wesley realized their videos were a “much bigger deal.”
Moving forward, Wong Fu is passionate about tackling LGBTQ+ and mental health issues in the Asian-American community.
Taylor Chan stated that there are also so many other issues that the team wants to address, but they just “aren’t fast enough.”
For instance, Wesley Chan also aims to increase racial diversity and personality types among the cast and crew of production.
Wesley Chan concluded the talk by encouraging young adults to not be discouraged by obstacles.
“I know there’s a lot of things that can discourage you from creating, but your focus needs to be on what you have and what you can do with it,“ he said.