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Amazing Asians in the Arts

Amazing Asians in the Arts: Manna Nichols-Wong

February 25, 2023

Manna Nichols-Wong is an actress based in NYC. She fell into the industry thanks to (positive) peer pressure from friends to overcome her shyness. After shifting from biology/premed major to music education, she’s gone on to perform in the Lincoln Center’s First National Tour of The King & I (Tuptim), Arena Stage’s My Fair Lady (Eliza Doolittle), as a vocalist for Disney’s live action Beauty & the Beast, and is currently working in City Center Encores’ Dear World (Ens. and Nina u/s)! As a multiracial artist, Nichols-Wong continues to challenge the way the industry perceives performers like her and contributes to change with her onstage presence. Her advice to young artists? “Get as much experience as you can, anywhere that you can… do whatever makes you happy – even if it doesn’t seem popular.” Read on to learn more about Manna Nichols-Wong and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Heather Makalani

February 18, 2023

Heather Makalani is an actress (and avid fisherwoman) based in NYC. Taking a Hula class at three years old led to a lifelong love for performance and storytelling (fueled also by watching Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana!), which brought her to study at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. One Bachelors of Arts in Musical Theatre and 21 countries later, she’s workshopped Betty Boop with Jerry Mitchell, performed in RentEmojiland (Kissy Face), and is currently working for the Mouse as Princess Jasmine in Broadway’s Aladdin! Offstage, she’s a huge advocate for Guam Animals in Need (GAIN), the shelter back home that gave her pup Lupa a forever home with her! Her advice to young artists? Keep other interests alive outside performance that ground you. “There will be a lot of highs and lows, so don’t let the anticipation of the lows steal the joy of the highs. Have other passions/hobbies that make you happy.” Read on to learn more about Heather Makalani and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Christy-Anne Lopez

February 11, 2023

Christy-Anne Lopez is a multidisciplinary artist based in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. After getting a taste of emceeing in middle school, she fell in love with entertaining and pursued it (between odd jobs as a zumba instructor, cheerleading, and go-go dancer!). She’s since worked on the Food Network docuseries Chef Dynasty: House Of Fang on Food Network and Fox's America's Most Wanted. Offstage, Lopez reigns in the pageant realm as CEO and Director of Regency International West Coast Pageant and owner of Studio Sash Pageant Consulting, a pageant coaching business for International, National, State, and Local pageant winners. She also serves as a content creator and advocate for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to bring endangered kids to safety. Her advice for young people in the arts? “Be brave and never give up.” Read on to learn more about Christy-Anne Lopez and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Joanne Chew

February 04, 2023

Joanne Chew is an actress based in LA. Acting began as something to get her a few extra credits to graduate high school with, and became a full-time passion at 17. After several masterclasses and auditions (and between stints as a waitress, admin assistant, and chicken mascot), she’s gone on to work Street Kings (with Keanu Reeves!), Showtime's Shameless, The Hangry Dead, and most recently, the crime thriller, Dead Wrong. Chew finds inspiration from the human spirit, naming it a contributing factor for her involvement in the industry, valuing the vulnerability performance allows her to encompass. Offscreen, Chew is a huge supporter of her friends behind advocacy groups, such as Black Women Lead, Hire Survivors Hollywood, and Artists for Trauma.Her advice to young artists? “Trust that wherever you are, there is unlimited potential to improve. Don't be afraid. Just start.” Read on to learn more about Joanne Chew and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Alex Lin

January 28, 2023

Alex Lin is a playwright, journalist, and ex-STEM kid based in Saddle River, New Jersey. Initially starting out as an actor, she attended NYU Tisch and began working at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. After receiving direction from Pirronne Yousefzadeh and Marc Bovino, she decided to pursue writing full-time. Currently on a Sloan commission with Manhattan Theatre Club, her work includes Bad Chinese DaughterLASTHUNTERChinese Republicans39 Revolutions, a song cycle in the works, and more. In addition to this, she also serves as “head writer for A24 Film/GrandArmy’s frontline space media agency, Supercluster,” where she’s worked hand-in-hand with SpaceX, NASA, Netflix, AppleTV, and SpaceX and “provided coverage for missions… Perseverance, ISS 20, Crew-1, and Inspiration4.” Lin’s advice to young artists? “Always keep applying. Every no is one step closer to yes.” Read on to learn more about Alex Lin and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Pia Hamilton

January 21, 2023

Pia Manalo Hamilton is an actress and dancer (that hasn’t eaten chocolate since 8th grade) based in New York City. Inspired at 3 years old, she pursued performance and began dancing professionally at just 6, and acting at 8. Since then, she’s gone on to book Lion King on Broadway (including performing in the 20th anniversary with Elton John!) and the role of Min in Barney and Friends. Offstage, she founded her own nonprofit (Intrigue Performance Dance Company), which “raises over $10,000 each year for dancers with financial need,” has a red belt in Kung Fu, and earned her B.S. in Sports Medicine from Pepperdine University. Her advice to young actors? "Dream big, then dream specific.” Read on to learn more about Pia Hamilton and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Kendyl Sayuri Yokoyama

January 14, 2023

Kendyl Sayuri Yokoyama is a Rubik’s cube master, ramen enthusiast, and actress currently all over America with Hamilton’s First National Tour! She got her start at the prompting of her vocal coach and tap teacher, she auditioned for Aladdin Jr. and booked the role of Jasmine! Since her time in Agrabah, she’s gone on to join the Angelica Tour as the standby for all 3 Schuyler sisters, the cast of Allegiance, and to sing in the 90th Oscars performance for The Greatest Showman! Offstage, she’s a huge supporter of Go For Broke, “a nonprofit organization that supports and educates people about the Japanese American incarceration and the Nisei veterans who served in the 442nd regiment during World War II” that “remind [her] of how proud [she] is to be Japanese American. Her advice to young artists? “There is no one else like you. You are interesting and deserve to take up space. You are what people are missing.” Read on to learn more about Kendyl Sayuri Yokoyama and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Yuko Torihara

December 17, 2022

Yuko Torihara is an actress based in NYC, but she’s tried just about everything in-between offstage – from wardrobe styling, photography, producing,, set design, and more across the UK, US, and Japan! Over the pandemic, she directed a short film (Chinatown Beat) in collaboration with prominent Asian artists (such as Henry Chang and Corky Lee), was recently seen in the new Starbucks Reserve campaign, and currently stars as Miko Kaplan in the hit Netflix show, The Watcher. Her advice to young artists? “Work on cultivating a solid and deep self love, a healthy relationship with yourself… Keep on saying yes to change and transformation, as you don’t know where you will end up.” Read on to learn more about Yuko Torihara and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Rachell Wong

December 10, 2022

Rachell Ellen Wong is a violinist, pickleball fanatic, and bunny mom based in New York City. She began her musical journey at six on the violin thanks to her father’s influence, and went on to attend the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School to further her education. Now, Wong has performed with “the Academy of Ancient Music, American Bach Soloists, Jupiter Ensemble, Bach Collegium Japan, Les Arts Florissants,” and more – and is the co-founder of her own ensemble, Twelfth Night! Her advice to young artists? “Make sure you really love your art and that you always have a goal in what you want to do with it.” Read on to learn more about Rachell Ellen Wong and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Rumi Oyama

December 03, 2022

Rumi Oyama is a multidisciplinary artist based (and ex-fortune teller!) in NYC. She got her start dancing at 15 years old in high school, taking up part-time jobs to support her dancing and singing lessons. After getting her B.A. in law, she went on to make her Broadway debut in Allegiance, starred in Running for Grace streaming on Amazon Prime, and is currently working on a new film, Spirit Box! In addition to performing, Oyama founded her own film company, Kuma Dakko Productions, to “unite people despite race, gender, class and sexual orientation.” Her advice to young artists? “Don't be afraid to be “you”. You don’t have to shape yourself to please other people.” Read on to learn more about Rumi Oyama and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Jessica Wang

November 26, 2022

Jessica Wang is a freelance musician based in NYC. She got her start from her mother at 4 years old with the piano, and picked up the cello at 6. However, music wasn’t always the path she envisioned –  Wang also held an interest in psychology and therapy, and recieved her B.A. in Psychology from Harvard before realizing music was her true passion and obtaining her Masters in Music from Julliard. Her work includes playing on “the first North American tour of An American in Paris Saturday Night Live with musical guest Shawn Mendes, …Radio City Christmas Spectacular Orchestra… [and the] NYC premiere of the off-Broadway show "Between the Lines.” She also collaborates with her husband for Chips n Cellos (a chiptune music project)! Wang’s advice to young artists? “Work hard, show up prepared and be nice to everyone.” Read on to learn more about Jessica Wang and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Saki Kawamura

November 19, 2022

Saki Kawamura is an interdisciplinary artist and award-winning director based in NYC. She got her start at just two years old dancing, but it wasn’t until she spent more time observing directors while onstage as an actor that she realized directing appealed to her too! Now, her work includes Disney’s Broadway HitsSerenity and Delight by Momo Akashi, The Tree by Barbara Anderson, and directing The Man who Turned into a Stick as well as Assistant Directing CLUE at Paper Mill Playhouse.  Now, she serves as the Associate Director at George Street Playhouse for Joy (The New Musical)! Kawamura also recently became the “Associate Artistic Director of Ren Gyo Soh, a butoh theatre company in NYC” where she plans to highlight stories about immigrants, and is collaborating with Mudita, a non-profit interdisciplinary show. Her advice to young artists? “Always remember to listen to your heart. Keep creating and don’t forget to learn!” Read on to learn more about Saki Kawamura and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Kai An Chee

November 12, 2022

Kai An is an actress based in New Jersey. Thanks to extracurricular involvement encouraged by her mother, Chee found a passion for music at every school she attended. In middle and high school, she began picking up theatre – upon graduation, she toured with Miss Saigon as a Kim alternate and was most recently seen in Mr. Holland’s Opus at the Ogunquit Playhouse! As a performer, Chee finds it important to prioritize health above all else and to take comfort in knowing her concerns and perceived shortcomings are shared by fellow artists. Her advice to young artists? “There are no rules… be open to working on other things at the same time… and financial stability is nothing to laugh at.” Read on to learn more about Kai An Chee and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Jeena Yi

November 05, 2022

Jeena Yi is an “actor, crafter, baker, and eater” based in NYC. She got her start interning at a theatre in L.A., where she came to realize how much she loved storytelling through her work. After moving to New York and getting her MFA at Columbia University, Yi saw a production at the Belasco Theatre that inspired her. Four years later, Yi made her Broadway debut in that very theatre in Network. You can also find her in popular TV series such as Only Murders in the Building, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Succession, and soon to be in the film NYAD on Netflix and Good Enemy at the Minetta Lane Theatre! Offstage, she enjoys crafting and sewing, finding that creative outlets without the pressures of expectation or perfection help enrich and destress her. Yi’s advice to young artists? “No job is too small. Use every gig as an opportunity to work on your craft and watch your peers work. You can learn so much from each other and help one another.” Read on to learn more about Jeena Yi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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The 2022-2023 Cre8sian Project Scholarship Winners

November 01, 2022

The Cre8sian Project is thrilled to announce the winners of the
2022-2023 Cre8sian Project Scholarships! Because we had so many outstanding applicants, our scholarship committee decided to award an additional top prize this year! Click here to see this year's winners!
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