Casey Jo Ahn Robards is a professional collaborative pianist, conductor, vocal coach, and professor based in Champaign, Illinois. Her musical journey began at the age of 4 on a toy piano, and led to her first paid pianist job at church. From there, she began accompanying everything from solo competitions, choirs, school musicals, and local events, eventually going on to play for Broadway tours like Wickedand Beautiful! On top of all this, she holds 3 music degrees from the University of Illinois, where she now teaches! Her advice to young artists is simple: “work hard.” There are learning experiences all around, and it’s up to us to “seek new experiences and challenges that cause [us] to meet new people and develop more skills.” Read on to learn more about Casey Jo Ahn Robards and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Jenna Mee Doschis a collaborative pianist based in New York. At just 3 years old, she began piano lessons that would later bring her to receive a BA in Piano Performance from Luther College. From there, she completed the Collaborative Piano Masters program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she embraced her love for musical theatre. Her favorite credits include Rock of Agesat McLeod Summer Playhouse, Next to Normalat CU Boulder, and The Last Five Yearsat ACT of CT -- all leading up to her playing with the North American tour of Broadway’s Frozen! When not performing, Dosch is an active member of MUSE (Musicians United for Social Equity) and Maestra (“a nonprofit that provides support, visibility, and community to the women and non-binary people in the musical theatre industry”). A huge self-care advocate, Dosch’s routine includes Korean skincare and meditation to reset her creative mindset. She advises young artists to “say yes, but also learn to say no,” and to ensure they have enough energy to take on a project before agreeing to prevent burnout.Read on to learn more aboutJenna Mee Doschand what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Lia Chang is a multidisciplinary artist (with an impressive resume) based in New York City! At the age of 17, she was singled out as a model for Sidney Bitterman Coats, and later made her stage debut in South Pacific, starring Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet! Chang went on to become a professional filmmaker, photographer, multi-platform journalist, social media director, and actress, and her award-winning work can be seen everywhere, from YouTube to the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room! Largely inspired to repair the “lack of positive coverage artists of color in the mainstream media” receive, the mission of Chang’s film company (Bev’s Girl Films) is to “foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera.” As an artist that believes in telling stories that truly matter, she advises young artists to “have a seat at the table,” “take up space,” “control [their] own [narratives],” and “[refuse to] take no for an answer.” In the future, she looks forward to releasing a documentary centered around the life of her mother, Beverly Umehara, “a secretary and mother of four who became a labor activist and president of the national executive board of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance,” and to play more lead roles in film and television herself! Read on to learn more about Lia Chang and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
The Cre8sian Project was founded as a way to give back to the community while empowering Asian women around the world by developing female superhero characters that envelop qualities of a strong, superhero-like woman: Determination, Concentration, Motivation, and Education. This brand is about recognizing diversity in the arts, emphasizing that representation matters, and empowering women in the arts and beyond!
The Cre8sian Project Scholarships, through Positively Arts (a 501c3 non profit) and in partnership with “In Her Purpose,” are open to female and female identifying high school and middle school students attending public, private, or home school with an interest in the arts, have some asian heritage, and live in Clark County. Students who are involved in any aspect of the arts, not just performance, are encouraged to apply. This can include writers, photographers, filmmakers, technical stage crew (carpentry, props, lighting, automation, audio, set design, stage managers), artists, graphic designers, directors, acrobats, singers, dancers, musicians, composers, arrangers, etc.
Hedy Wong is an actress, producer, writer, and rapper based in Los Angeles. This multidisciplinary artist went from booking music video gigs and commercials in California to co-writing, producing, and starring in the award-winning feature film,Take Out Girl, as well as producing her first single, “Who Do You Trust?” on Spotify. Wong got to where she is now by saying yes to trying and gaining new experiences to aid her later on. She loves that the arts allow her to “[explore] the human condition” and create familiarity with her audiences through storytelling. Her advice to young artists is to “learn everything about [their] craft” and to incorporate business management into their artistry as well. Read on to learn more about Hedy Wong and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Kelli Youngman is a performer and life coach based in New York City. After getting her start in dance from a mommy-and-me class as a child, she grew up to attend Fordham University and The Ailey School. The many paths in front of her made her consider alternatives -- but within 6 months of deciding to commit to her dream of being on Broadway, Youngman booked her first Broadway show! Her credits include ANASTASIA and THE KING AND I (including the First National Tour) on Broadway, NEWSIES at Arena Stage, and THE FLAMINGO KID, as well as becoming a life coach for her company, Kelli Youngman Wellness! Her advice to young artists? “Trust yourself and what you have to offer to the world. You are valuable and needed just as you are.” Read on to learn more about Kelli and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Alice Tuan is a playwright inspired by “human wisdom” based in Valencia, CA. She vividly remembers “the first moment [she] became a playwright at the age of 17 in the kitchen with her grandfather, but worked outside the realm of writing as an ESL teacher and Universal Studios tour guide before professionally committing to her craft with the Mentor Playwrights Project. Her works includeLast of the Suns, produced by Ma-Yi Theater in NYC, Ajax (por nobody)at SummerWorks in Toronto,Ikebanaat East West Players in LA, andBATCH:A Bachelor/ette Party Spectaclein collaboration with New Paradise Laboratories. Tuan set a goal to write 40 plays, and is currently 8 original works in! She’s also “a playwright associate with East West Players, the longest running non-white theater” in America, which places special emphasis on Asian American stories and voices. Tuan’s advice for young artists is to discover and “follow [their] values” to create a path uniquely for them and their success. Read on to learn more about Alice Tuan and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Ally Vega is a choreographer, performer, and dance educator based in Los Angeles. She was largely inspired by her father’s career as a dance instructor, which inspired her to take a similar path to pursue dance professionally. Now, Vega is the founder and director of her dance collective, Ancestral Vision Movement, as well as a choreographer for Supportive White Parents. She even married her profession with her passion, anime, by becoming the first choreographer for the largest convention in North America, Anime Expo! Vega works with the Pilipino Workers Center in LA, an amazing nonprofit that “aims to secure the dignity and safety of the Pilipinx community… and build labor leaders in the domestic worker industry.” And on top of it all? Vega is ambidextrous! Her advice to young artists is to “give [themselves] permission to explore the things that make [them] curious.” Read on to learn more about Ally Vega and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Nikita Chaudhry is an actress, activist and educator based in LA. Her fine arts school setting provided her with the inspiration and desire to become a professional performer, which led to her education at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her credits span from television, film, and theatre (under directors like Lilly Singh)! She values collaboration with fellow creatives (particularly in such an isolating industry), and loves that art can resonate so deeply with audiences and make them feel seen. Chaudhry serves as a board member for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a “national movement strategy and advocacy organization committed to racial justice through structural change.” She advises young artists to pave their own way, and to understand that everyone’s journey is different -- it’s up to the artist to “imagine and build a life, purpose, and work that [they] love.” Read on to learn more about Nikita Chaudhry and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Erica Wong was almost a civil engineer before dance called her to NYC! Now based in Union City, she got her start with a ballet company before a beauty pageant video submission booked her In Your Arms with renowned choreographer Christopher Gattelli. From that moment on, Wong knew theatre was her home. The King & I marked her Broadway debut, and since then, she’s worked on projects such as Jerome Robbins’ Broadway at The Muny and M. Butterfly, and now performs in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! She is currently hosting an intermediate ballet barre on Zoom to aid a GoFundMe benefitting the AAPI Community Fund, and hopes to begin exploring film and television opportunities in the near future. Wong advises young artists to “always be open to learning -- not just about [their] craft, but about the world and beyond,” and to practice care of one’s “mind, body, soul, and finances.” Read on to learn more about Erica Wong and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
May May Luong is a film producer based in fabulous Las Vegas! After leaving the tech company she worked for, Luong began honing her craft in Las Vegas by joining the Film Department at UNLV. Since getting her MFA in Writing for Dramatic Media, she’s accumulated some impressive credits, including filming the Stanley Cup tour for the VGK’s first season, controlling the Bellagio Fountains and the Mirage Volcano, and the film Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West! Luong also works on advertisements and commercials, and teaches at Nevada State College and UNLV. She names writing, collaboration, and empathy as some of the most important skills in her arsenal, and advises young artists to “notice that everything around [them] is art,” and to press on as creators, no matter the obstacles ahead. Read on to learn more about May May Luong and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Christine Toy Johnson is an actress, writer, and activist based in New York City. Her upbringing in NYC exposed her to the world of theatre, and inspired her to begin auditioning. With her equity card in hand after graduating from high school, Johnson went on to join Broadway’sThe Music Man(recent revival) and the national tours ofCome From AwayandFlower Drum Song. In addition to her impressive resume, Johnson explored writing her own shows! Her original work includesNo Wave(with Charles Randolph-Wright),The Secret Wisdom of Trees,Empress Mei Li Lotus Blossom,Barcelona(with Jason Ma),Till Soon Anne(with Bobby Cronin), andPaper Son. On top of all this, she “was recently elected treasurer of the Dramatists Guild” as the very first Asian American guild officer, serves as the “Chair of the Guild’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee,” and co-founded the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC)! Her advice to young artists? “Do the work and keep showing up!” Read on to learn more about Christine Toy Johnson and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Courtney Liu is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer living between New York City and Durham, NC. She initially began her ballet career performing corps de ballet at age 14 years old with theCincinnati Ballet. However, her college path almost led to her becoming a clinical or research psychologist! She’s performed in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera (Ensemble, Meg Giry u/s), Kristen Sandler’s Gilded, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Queen of the Night, and the Broadway Dance Lab. In addition to performing, Liu recently completed her MFA at Duke University! This summer Courtney is the Artist-In-Residence at Thistle, a NYC-based company. She is also teaching various summer intensives and on Zoom, performing/choreographing locally, and co-choreographing wedding dances with her fiance through their company, Save the First Dance. She advises young artists to seek out alternative sources of income to the Arts to help better provide for themselves, and states from personal experience that these “odd jobs” can be enjoyable! Courtney will be returning to New York this fall for reopening rehearsals for the Broadway company of Phantom of the Opera! Read on to learn more about Courtney Liu and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Melissa Tong is a musician, yoga/AcroYoga teacher, and co-creator of “B Neutral” based in NYC. After moving to the city, she pushed through temp jobs until an old friend connected her with her first NYC opportunity. She’s played for Broadway (Ain’t Too Proud), String Quartet (Five for Fighting), the Met Gala (with Rhianna!), and for artists like Sara Bareilles, Riley Etheridge Jr., and performed with an artist who opened for Leon Russell! In addition to her artistry, Tong serves as a Broadway Ambassador with Broadway for Arts Education, which is currently working with children from India and Haiti, as well as a Teaching Artist with Buffalo String Works (a program that works with refugee communities). She’s also involved in the Youth Pride Chorus and Urban Assembly Programs in New York City, and supports Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (where her sister is the Associate Artistic Director), which is currently producing a project entitled "Unboxed," which was included in a piece called “Final Bow for Yellow Face” to acknowledge Asian stereotypes within the dance industry. She advises young artists to “stick with it… be someone with whom you want to work… [and] do [art] for the love!” Read on to learn more about Melissa Tong and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Kristy Choi is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles. Initially a competitive pianist, Choi went on to fall in love with writing, and began to study screenplays to better her work. She picked up the fundamentals for filmmaking from the many projects she dedicated herself to, later going on to writing, directing, and producing her own film for the New Yorker (“Herselves”)! She finds collaboration with other professionals inspiring, particularly with non-binary, female, and POC creatives. Choi hopes to “write and direct [her] first narrative feature film” in the future, and to “further experiment with hybrid documentary techniques.” She advises young artists to practice self care and seek out a circle of fellow artists that will both encourage and celebrate their work, as well as adopting a growth mindset and a regular routine to practice their art. When she’s not working on a project, she enjoys hiking and karaoke, and lists whistling as a special skill!Read on to learn more about Kristy Choi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!