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Amazing Asians in the Arts

Amazing Asians in the Arts: Syuan Zeng

July 29, 2023

Syuan Zeng is a multidisciplinary artist based in NYC. She got her start on her family’s computer with online paint programs, and drew inspiration from her elementary school class mentor that led to art program enrollment. After studying at National Taiwan University Of Science & Technology for Commercial Design (BFA), Taipei National University of the Arts for Costume Design (MFA), Hofstra University (MFA Exchange Semester), and the University of North Carolina School Of The Arts for Wig & Makeup Design (MFA), her work now includes window displays with luxury brands like Coach and Louis Vuitton, costume design and build for Mon Li-ChunThe Moment Of A Loser’s RockingWeird-Looking PugFlowers Are Gone, and her UNCSA wig and makeup thesis production, Homer: The Great Teller Of Tales, Love & Depositions. When she’s not working, Zeng volunteers in the resource committee department of the Guild Of Scenic Artists, a nonprofit that educates and empowers those in that industry. Her advice to young artists? “Try as many things as possible… A lot of the time our works are experimenting with new techniques and new materials and the things we learned from other fields may be useful for future projects. You never know!” Read on to learn more about Syuan Zeng and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Sita Chay

July 22, 2023

Sita Chay is a violinist, composer, and producer based in NYC. A chain reaction of events pushed her towards the Arts – watching a friend perform on Broadway led to her eventual Broadway orchestra career, which inspired her to take on other artistic projects outside the theatre, such as SaaWee, a “Korean Shaman Ritual for the modern global citizen,”  Ritual of Le Sac, a  “music-based storytelling [film] of baby’s mysterious life inside the womb,” Tokala, a celebration of tradition that “[brings] together Japanese and Korean folk, pop music, Eastern European and Middle Eastern music,” and Multidimensionally Human, “an initiative exploring psychotherapy’s “Internal Family Systems” through theater, music, dance, and art installation.” Chay is continually inspired by live art’s ability to evolve and breathe through mishaps and mistakes, and loves discovering friendships as she continues on her path. She advises young artists looking to discover their role in the arts to “carve out a practice that feels good” and let the rest follow. Read on to learn more about Sita Chay and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Joan Almedilla

July 15, 2023

Joan Almedilla is an actress based in NYC. After competing on Amateur Nights at The Apollo, an executive producer scouted her and brought her aboard her first professional contract. Now, Almedilla’s starred on Broadway as Kim in Miss Saigon, Lady Thiang on the first National Tour of The King and I, and the first Asian Fantine on the Les Mis National Tour, and co-starred in Peacock’s Bupkis, Netflix’s Griselda, Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, and FX’s Mayans, However, her favorite role to date is that of mother to her son, CJ (who also performed with her on The King and I tour for two years in America and Canada)! Offstage, she’s a huge supporter of Honolulu Broadway Babies (organized by her friend Kristian Lei), “whose mission is to provide continuing education to individuals with disabilities after high school through the arts. Almedilla’s advice to young artists? “Understand yourself first before you try to understand other people… work more, talk less.” Read on to learn more about Joan Almedilla and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Isabelle Van Vleet

July 08, 2023

Isabelle Van Vleet is an actress based in Auburn, ME. After starring in a production of Oliver! as an orphan boy with a solo line at 10 and seeing the national tour of Phantom of the Opera at 12, Van Vleet knew her future lay with the arts. After attending NYU Tisch School of the Arts, her resume now boasts credits such as Father Figures (Dances With Films Festival, directed by her husband!) Inventing Anna (Netflix), FBI: Most Wanted (CBS) ASAP: Live (Barclay’s Center), SIGN (Off-Broadway), Sherlock Holmes (Portland Stage). Offstage/screen, she’s an avid gardener, calligraphy artist, and baker! Van Vleet is extremely passionate about bringing better representation to the arts – particularly for younger audience members – to prove that a career exists for people that look like them. Her advice to young artists? “Find your community… and find your joys outside of your chosen field… they will keep your cup filled.” Read on to learn more about Isabelle Van Vleet and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Marissa Lichwick

July 01, 2023

Marissa Lichwick is a playwright, actress, filmmaker, and mother based in Chicago. She fell into the Arts at 10 years old during her fifth grade play, and at 18 made the move to NYC with only $100 in her pocket. Now, she and Summer Hill Films are in negotiations regarding distribution of her feature film, Searching For Yoo, has worked with Goodman Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Court Theatre, and Connecticut Free, and created and toured her solo show, Yellow Dress. Offstage and screen, Lichwick is a huge supporter of Korean Adoptees of Chicago (KATCH) for their outreach work for children and adults. Her advice to young artists? “Create your own work… This is where I learned to empower myself… [and] get training, take classes, meet people, collaborate, and build relationships.” Read on to learn more about Marissa Lichwick and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Gloria John

June 24, 2023

Gloria John is a performer based in Los Angeles. Second City provided her with a start in the Arts through sketch comedy shows, and now her resume boasts credits such as The Consultant on Prime Video, Shifters, and Dear Tony. Offscreen, John puts in work with organizations that help domestic violence survivors, provide mental health resources, and aid to veterans, and finds her center through workouts, massages, friends, and meditation.Her advice to young artists? Be the role models you needed growing up – “We need more Asian American representation in the arts. I believe we have so much talent, history and culture to share with the world.” Read on to learn more about Gloria John and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Nanrisa Lee

June 17, 2023

Nanrisa Lee is an actor and certified scuba diver with 20 years of bartending experience based in L.A. After a friend convinced her to perform in a scene for a school assembly, she knew she’d found her path. Her resume lists credits such as NBC’s Quantum Leap and Unflinching Triumph, a mockumentary, and teachers Larry Moss and Lesly Kahn. Lee hopes to take up directing in the future, and would tell her past self to wear more sunscreen! Her advice to young artists? “Build a community. Try hard. Trust yourself, and don’t be afraid to fail.” Read on to learn more about Nanrisa Lee and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Chloe & Alfie Adona

June 10, 2023

Chloe Adona is an actress based in Atlanta. At 6 years old, she entered the world of community theatre and signed with an agent at 8. After some background work in Mark Walberg’s Instant Family, she fell in love with on-camera acting. With her mother Alfie’s assistance and support, Chloe took up private lessons to cross over from theatre to film. She can be found in Stranger Things 4 as Nine and most recently in Universal Pictures’ Renfield as Mandy. Alfie keeps her daughter’s career on track by providing Chloe with autonomy to navigate her work while emphasizing the importance of education and making herself available to Chloe when the workload becomes too stressful. Chloe’s advice to fellow young artists? “Everyone is on their own path… If you don’t get that role you hoped to book, it wasn’t meant for you.” Read on to learn more about Chloe and Alfie and what makes them Amazing Asians in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Qin Sun Stubis

June 03, 2023

Qin Sun Stubis is an author and poet based in Bethesda, Maryland. Growing up in a shantytown in Shanghai, she sought refuge in reading to shut out the Great Chinese Famine on the other side of her door. Inspired by the stories her mother passed down, she put pen to paper and was offered a monthly column in the The Santa Monica Star. Now, her work includes publication in USA Today, GRAND Magazine, The Other Side Of Hope, a variety of short stories, essays, poems, and traditional Chinese Tall Tales – and most recently, released Once In Our Lives, a historical saga recounting the the lives of “four generations of Chinese women who struggle  to survive war, revolution, and the seemingly unshakeable power of an ancient Chinese superstition that affected their lives for nearly 100 years.” – a project 20 years in the making. When she’s not creating, Stubis advocates for her community through organizations such as American Humane, KidsPeace, The National Center for Kids Overcoming Crisis, WIllow’s Wish, and The United Negro College Fund. Her advice to young artists? “ If you develop your craft and believe in yourself and your passion, you will succeed.” Read on to learn more about Qin Sun Stubis and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Sally Imbriano

May 06, 2023

Sally Imbriano is a performer, composer, and coach based in Washington, DC. After a theatre camp that provided her a single line in the summer musical, she decided to pursue the Arts as a career. With an education from the University of New South Wales, Australia and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (and experience working as a dodgeball and zorb football referee, wedding dress model, and cake decorator!), Imbriano went on to perform as Amy in Company, Annabel Glick in Lucky Stiff, Patsy in Always…Patsy Cline. Now, she’s working on both sides of the table as the composer for My Imaginary Friend at Willow’s Bend and an actor in Seussical the Musical – and will be attending the Helen Hayes Awards rocking a hand-knitted dress of her own creation! Offstage, Imbriano is collaborating with Michelle Lynch to create a new musical as “an ode to [their] younger selves… and how [they] can grow by loving every chapter of [their] journey.” Her advice to young artists? “Just take one step at a time; your career will flourish with little, yet significant steps.” Read on to learn more about Sally Imbriano and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Paula Yoo

April 29, 2023

Paula Yoo is a writer and musician based in LA. She got her start through journalism, where she learned the fundamentals of reporting, research, and efficiency. These skills transferred to her eventual career as a fiction and nonfiction author and TV producer/writer, and eventual degrees from Yale, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and Warren Wilson College! Her work includes  From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement, an “award-winning YA nonfiction book” about a “famous AAPI civil rights case” in addition to selling 3 TV drama pilots to well-known streaming platforms. Her latest book, Rising From the Ashes, a “narrative nonfiction YA book about the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising and the solidarity formed between the Korean American and Black communities” is set for publication in 2024! When she’s not writing, Yoo is an advocate for national and local issues dear to her, and supports the LA Food Bank, Orlando Youth Alliance, Stop AAPI Hate, and We Need Diverse Books. Her advice to young artists? “Embrace your individuality by finding your voice and working hard at your craft to let that voice blossom and grow.” Read on to learn more about Paula Yoo and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Donna Weng-Friedman

April 22, 2023

Donna Weng Friedman is a multidisciplinary artist based in NYC. Taking her mother’s advice to find a “stable job,” Weng graduated from Princeton and became an assistant agent for ICM before recognizing music as her true passion and pursuing a Masters in Music from Julliard. After a traumatic encounter with racism in March of 2020, she decided to create change herself, and founded Heritage and Harmony to connect the community around her through music and stories Through this organization, Weng established “an educational role model program to help school-age girls of color find their artistic voice” and combined the voices of BIPOC artists to produce an EP (Heritage and Harmony: Silver Linings) during the pandemic to raise funds for an anti-racism foundation. Weng is currently collaborating with Chun Wai Chan on a short film, Never Fade Away, which narrates her immigrant father’s life through dance (starring fellow Amazing Asian in the Arts, Xiaoxiao Cao!). Her advice to young artists? “... Be strong and resilient… Listen to people who you trust, but most of all, listen to your heart.” Read on to learn more about Donna Weng Friedman and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Sophie Lin

April 15, 2023

Sophie Lin is a multidisciplinary technician and artist based in New York City, with skills ranging from fabric painting to jewelry design and wig maintenance. She was called to art at the age of 9 after a spilled ice cream cone led to a sketching session that changed her perspective on life. When she saw her first theatrical production in 2016 at Taipei National University of Arts, she knew where her talents needed to be put to use and ended up studying at Purchase College for Costume Design/Technology. Post-graduation, she’s worked alongside Hochi Asiatico on Sweeney Todd and Hadestown for the distressing, and on Santa Fe Opera’s  2022 season (including CarmenThe Barber of SevilleFalstaffTristan und Isolde, and M. Butterfly) for an apprenticeship, and many more operative productions in between. Now, she’s touring with Into The Woods as the associate Wig Supervisor! Her advice to young artists? “ You need to be confident, stay calm, and bring joyful energy to the room! And never stop learning!” Read on to learn more about Sophie Lin and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Jasmine Forsberg

April 08, 2023

Jasmine Forsberg is a performer and singer/songwriter based in NYC. By the time she was six, Forsberg was involved in dance, piano, and voice lessons – all preparing her for her first production (101 Dalmatians) at a local community theater, and eventually to attend Penn State University for her BFA in Musical Theatre. After booking her first off-Broadway credit with Broadway Bounty Hunter, she went on to open the world premier of Love in Hate Nation at Two River Theater. Now, she’s reigning cross-country with the First National Tour of Six as Jane Seymour! Offstage, Forsberg is “the biggest supporter of therapy for all,” crediting it as an integral part to telling meaningful stories onstage and maintaining long-term actor wellbeing. Her advice to young artists? “... Show up as your authentic self, not who you think someone wants you to be… you owe it to yourself to be free of that burden.” Read on to learn more about Jasmine Forsberg and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Austin Sora

March 25, 2023

Austin Sora is a dancer based in NYC. After a small stint in amateur paleontology, snowboarding, swimming, and running (with plenty of exposure to live theatre growing up), she settled on dance and took up training professionally at Canada’s National Ballet School. Now with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Arts Administration from Marymount Manhattan College, her work includes touring the States with The Phantom of the Opera, performing with Bruce Wood Dance at Jacob's Pillow, and now rehearsing with Woman In Motion. Offstage, Sora serves as the Program Manager for Broadway Green Alliance, an organization that “[advocates] for sustainability in the theatre industry.” Her advice to young artists? “Work hard and be a nice person!” Read on to learn more about Austin Sora and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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