Angel Yau is a performer and comedian based in Queens, NY. She started with xanga (an online journal/blog) in high school to provide herself with an outlet for her thoughts, and went on to make a start in her professional career at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in both LA and NYC! Now, Yau’s work has been featured on the BBC (An Asian American Family’s Taboo) and Amazon (Soojung Dreams of Fiji). She can be found on Youtube for her stop-motion film, and onstage with Azn PoP Comedy! Yau’s advice to young artists is to “just do it,” leave second guessing and the desire to reach perfection aside, and to tell their own authentic stories – after all, “the world just needs to hear voices that are not from straight white men!” Read on to learn more about Angel Yau and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Angel Yau
Heritage: Chinese- American
Hometown: Queens, NY
Current City: Queens, NY
Current projects: New personal stop-motion about things I hide, a pilot script about adult English as a Second Language school, AzN Pop! 30 minute Pilot, a memoir about my childhood called “I rather give birth to char siu” or “You don’t have that… thing,” or “Too Fast, Too Furious” (just kidding on the last title)!
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Here are some links to my favorites!
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Just do it! It’s hard especially for us (AAPI) because we second guess ourselves, we feel the pressure to say or make something so perfect. But you have to trust that whatever you have to say to the world is so much better than everything that has been out there. And even if it isn’t, the world just needs to hear voices that are not from straight white men!
How did you get your start?
I would say somewhere in high school. I had a xanga (online journal/blog) and having a platform for people to read my thoughts, really gave me a sense of confidence of being unique. My peers at that time were also very supportive of my words of choice.
And as for career, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (LA started then NYC) did give me one of my first stages and platforms to do comedy at.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
There was one time I pretty much got fired as a background actor on the set of ER because I looked like I was “wandering around, with no purpose…” I sure showed them, I’m still wandering around with no purpose but with style!
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Definitely myself. I am my biggest critic and because of that, I am insecure to start anything. As I mentioned before, there are so few AAPI voices in the media, it is extra pressure to create something that stands out or get a chance to. If I write something about an awkward Chinese- American woman, living in Queens, finding her voice.. It won’t get eyes on it because hey, there is already a show about that… imagine TWO SHOWS ABOUT A CHINESE-AMERICAN WOMAN IN QUEENS??!?!
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I can eat a whole lobster, head and all, in 5 minutes!
If you come from parents that aren’t in the arts, what parts of them do you see in yourself that have helped you succeed in the arts?
Their awkwardness, their silliness, and their overthinking of every tiny thing.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
When I was 5 and singing and dancing around for… no one. When I began writing stories about quiet people, and how they are the strongest people around. And when I realized I’m actually not a big fan of school.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between shows to pay the bills?
Logger and Transcriber for a few reality tv shows like “The Bachelor” and “Billy on the Street.” Saw a lot of naked people… on both shows. Also the Videographer for the Dept of Education where I would film math classes for little kids.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Being about to work around a video camera, editing- I’m able to showcase myself acting, comedy, etc without needing to rely on someone else. Being nice is also a skill I think is helpful. Just be nice to each other!
Where did you study at?
Townsend Harris High School (Go Harrisites!), Ithaca College (GO Parkies!), Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (GO …GO!!!)
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
Finish writing my 2nd-person autobiography, do a TED talk, to have one line on “Law and Order,” and I guess to be the second Asian-American cast member on SNL!
What do you love most about what you do?
How I can change people’s lives for the positive. People’s laughter and the tears always help me to keep going and when I keep going, I know I’m creating laughter and tears (the good kind of tears… well, sometimes the sad kind…but uh anyway) and it's a cycle that I never want to end. I also think my comedy and art community is the best community I have ever been in. I always feel lifted, I’m also never bored.
What inspires you?
12 year old me. 12 year old me would have never, ever dreamed that adult her would be an artist, a performer, a person that would say words in front of a crowd of people every week?! I’m doing it for her.
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
When I decided to run for High School Student Government. I didn’t care about winning (even though I did), I really wanted to use that 5 minute of speech time to show my fellow students who I am! It didn’t quite go as I planned. A few things revealed itself: I can learn 3 chords on the guitar, I have a memory problem, I can’t sing, and I am incredibly awkward – but mainly, I have balls!
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I always ask myself, why am I an artist? Why am I a comedian? I'm talking about myself way too much- am I being narcissistic? The creative type will always question their careers, am I really contributing to society? Yes. It's our responsibility as artists to make sure no one feels like they're alone – through art, through music, through story... Feeling like you are the only person who feels a certain way in the whole world is scary. It's okay to talk about yourself. Someone is listening, even if it's just one person. Even if your story is simply about peeing on yourself in public as an adult. Your story might save someone. What I'm trying to say is that I peed on myself a lot as an adult and I hope other people have too.
To find out more about Angel, please visit her at:
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