Priya Mahendra is an actor based in Short Hills, New Jersey. She seeks to be part of narratives that explore, and to play characters that navigate love, equality, humanity, hope, freedom, courage, belonging, legacy, curiosity and compassion. Her latest work, The Princess Possibility Project, brings to life the hopes, constraints, dreams and desires of seven princesses (Anastasia, Ariel, Cinderella, Mulan, Belle, Jasmine and Rapunzel) through their “I Want” songs. The intention of the video series is to raise awareness that universally known and loved characters can be portrayed in a consciously inclusive way, a topic Priya is passionate about. When not working on an artistic endeavor, Priya enjoys meditation, hiking, mindset work and spending time with her family. Her father, mother and brother have all had a positive impact on her life, teaching her the importance of hard work, staying curious and leading with joy. Read on to learn more about Priya and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Jennifer Kumiyama is a singer, actress and speaker based in Long Beach, California. Born with Arthrogryposis, a condition defined by multiple congenital joint contractures, Jennifer uses a wheelchair daily, however, she has shown the world that talent sees no limitations. She received vocal lessons at Long Beach College and California State University of Long Beach, propelling her into an incredible singing career. In 2000, Jennifer appeared on Warner Bros. reality TV show “Popstars 2,” receiving praise for her voice from national publications such as Variety magazine and TV Guide, and, two years later, was cast in Disney’s “Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular” at Disney California Adventure Theme Park. She performed four times a day in front of thousands of international guests and was the first performer in a wheelchair to ever be on any Disney stage. It was here that she became an advocate for people living with disabilities and a strong voice that would break barriers. In 2010, Jennifer was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California followed by Ms. Wheelchair America 2011, First Runner Up and used her platform, “Empowering Children with Disabilities to Make Their Own Dreams Come True” to spread the message of hope. Read on to learn more about Jennifer and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Selina Pope is an Eurasian portrait artist based in London. She has studied under portrait artist Nicole Porter while growing up in Aberdeen and has completed short courses at the Maryland Institute College of Art, the London Art Academy and the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy. Selina mainly utilizes graphite and oils in her art and is influenced by traditional “old master” techniques, such as the limited palette. A mixed ethnicity background, along with growing up in Scotland, inspires the theme of identity depicted throughout her works. In February, her drawing of TV and radio presenter Norman Busigu was accepted into the 2021 Royal Society of British Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries, one of the oldest art exhibitions in Britain. Following, another prestigious organization, the Royal Scottish Academy, accepted the piece for their online exhibition. These artistic achievements along with a creative spirit continue to ignite passion and purpose for Selina as she balances her full-time law career with being an artist. Read on to learn more about Selina and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Sujana Chand is a professional singer, actress, vocal coach, ESL teacher and food blogger based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She studied Acting, Music and Dance at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and ever since has continued to follow her love for the performing arts. Career highlights include the lead singer for three Cirque du Soleil shows; a cast member for the Broadway National Tour of Bombay Dreams; lead singer in Maui’s Ulalena; and premiering Stephen Schwartz’ “Secret Silk” on The Coral Princess as the Old Woman. Recently she produced her first CD, Sujana Chand – R&B Hits of Yesterday and Today -and has taken up food blogging, a new passion she thoroughly enjoys. She is inspired by successful people who remain humble and kind and admires her mother for her consistent and loving support throughout her life. Read on to learn more about Sujana and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Cara Mitsuko is an actress and producer based in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating with a degree in theatre performance from San Diego State University, she continued to hone her craft by studying with professional acting coaches such as Walker Clark, Stuart Rogers, Scott Rogers, Ivana Chubbuck, and, most recently, with Paul Schackman at Actor’s Instinct. One of the most memorable moments of her career was taking part in a production of “The Crucible” in Portland: the actors were cast in secret, rehearsed one-on-one with the director, and debuted the show to the audience after never meeting one another. As Cara said, “I had no idea what to expect from my co-stars, and I think what we created was really incredible.” Highlights of other projects Cara has worked on include the lead role in Luis Valdez’s play “Valley of the Heart,” Amazon Studio’s “The Man in The High Castle” and Netflix’s “You.” Read on to learn more about Cara and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
The Universal Asian and The Cre8sian Project invite you to join us in our #UniversalAsianVoices: Self Care - Part 1 panel discussion.
In this two-part panel discussion in collaboration with The Cre8sian Project, panel members will talk about some of their struggles both personally and as artists, and in dealing with the pandemic. While discussing with participants, they will also share some of their coping mechanisms and self-care techniques.
When’s the last time you reminded yourself that you are amazing? Like not just “pretty cool,” but a literal freaking miracle! Your existence is such a gift to the world!
I like to include a positive affirmation as part of my Morning Routine. When you get up in the morning to use the bathroom, make sure to look yourself directly in the eyes in the mirror and tell yourself something loving to remind yourself that You Matter.
Jenelle Catherina is an actor, singer and musician based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She stays very active in the local theater scene, having worked on productions with Super Summer Theater, Las Vegas Little Theatre, Vegas City Opera, and UNLV Opera. Her favorite credits include recognition as a Top 3 Finalist in BroadwayWorld’s Next on Stage; being part of the Swing It! Girls; and her role as Extraordinary Girl in Majestic Repertory Theatre’s production of Green Day’s American Idiot. Jenelle is currently in her last semester at University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she is completing her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Bachelor of Science in Human Services. Her future plans and dreams include being part of a Broadway production, leading a neo-soul/jazz group, traveling the world while making music and honing her musical instrument playing skills, which include focus on the piano, guitar, violin, and cello. The talented and busy artist also has made time to give back to the community. Jenelle recently was an intern at the Garden Foundation, an educational program for special needs adults. Read on to learn more about Jenelle and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
For me, especially now during this pandemic, I find helping others is my form of self care beccause so many people are feeling isolated, lonely and afraid right now. When we help others - and it can be done in very small, easy, safe ways - we actually boost our own serotonin levels and lower our blood pressure, making us feel calmer and happier. So, from fostering a shelter dog to zoom tutoring at risk youth to helping people transition to plant based eating through peta’s virtual mentoring program, we can virtually and safely connect with others and make them feel better and more connected, while making ourselves feel better and more connected at the same time.
Melissa Akiko Slaughter is a Blogger, YouTube Correspondent and Podcast Host/Producer, based in Brooklyn, NY. She has a theatre degree from the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design in New Mexico, working with Tony-award winning director Jon Jory, but has since transitioned her career to focus on the digital arts. Melissa is passionate about Asian American representation in TV and film and, as a result, provides regular commentary and insights on the topic for her movie review podcast, We’re Not All Ninjas. The popular online show was a Top 5 Finalist at the 2018 WNYC Werk It! Festival, an event focused on empowering women and others in the digital media landscape. Along with hosting, Melissa loves to blog for Nerdophiles, The Nerds of ColorandHapa Magin addition to working as a producer for Pineapple Street Studios, a podcast studio who’s work includes multi-episode narratives, branded podcasts, talk shows, investigative journalism and more. Read on to learn more about Melissa and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Obviously exercise is great for your health and well-being. But even on those chill days, and even those all-day computer days, it's important to take breaks to stretch your body that has been sitting stagnant and building stress. Stretch it out. Take a dance break!
Aside from being part of her high school’s Bella Voce Choir, this spring Determin8sian Scholarship winner Samantha Gracia is taking a Set Design Class under the instruction of Ms. Kris Blake at Seedling Theatre Company. She enjoys the hands-on training and likes learning about what it takes to create the stage for a live play. Samantha also just opened a shop on Etsy selling her own digital art drawings and canvas paintings. She recently entered a local Valentines drawing contest and won 1st Place with one of her digital art pieces. Even during quarantine, she’s found ways to expand her artistic and creative skills. Keep your eyes open for this rising #AmazingAsianintheArts as she continues to reach for the stars!
Naomi Takata Shepherd, an artist and creator based in San Jose, CA, is the founder of 6 Degrees of Hapa, an inclusive online and in-person platform that celebrates mixed cultures through art, apparel, storytelling and community building. Her goal in creating the brand was to celebrate hapas as individuals, along with the family, friends and communities that hold them up and make them who they are. Through pop-up activations at festivals, #ShareYourHapaStory blog posts that feature amazing hapas, stories about their experiences and identity; food and cultural events and more, Shepherd has continued to champion the culture through thought, word and action. On the 6 Degrees of Hapa Threadless Artist Shop, a limited edition “Mixed Communities for Black Lives” t-shirt is available with 100% of proceeds being donated to Black Lives Matter. Along with her successful business, Shepherd is passionate about writing, designing and creating art and films with a focus on intersectional and inclusive narratives. Read on to learn more about Naomi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
I’ve heard a lot of different definitions of “self-care” so I decided to look it up. The definition I found is: the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness during periods of stress. I’m going to go ahead and expand that too, REGULARLY.