The Fairy Princess is shaking her head – and Taylor Swift is not even playing. She is shaking her head because the CEO of The Ordway Theater in St. Paul, MN has caved to a small group of protestors and agreed, publicly, to never produce MISS SAIGON, the musical, again during her tenure.

Sorry, what?

Ok here is the backstory -( this is what The Fairy Princess wrote at the time)  a year ago, (this is what Playbill.com wrote) a small group of protesters formed a group and decided they did not like MISS SAIGON the musical because they did not like the depiction of Asian women in the show. Admittedly, most of them had not seen it – they just did not like the idea of it.

The idea.

Because theater is not supposed to deal with ideas? Ideas that make you think? Ideas that make you uncomfortable?

Not, apparently in St. Paul.

They do not like to be uncomfortable there, they do not like to think. You see, the “Protestors‘, such as they are, are a rag taggle group of Artists – some visual (none from musical theater), and regular folks, who have very high standards. In fact, they admitted in several interviews that many of them had not even gone to see MISS SAIGON, because their standards ARE so high and even though they were invited by the Producers to see it and have a talk back with the Artistic Staff, they refused.

The Fairy Princess supposes, they were afraid that their brain would grow two sizes too big.

Oh wait, that is a heart - well, the protestors do not seem to have that either

Oh wait, that is a heart – well, the protestors do not seem to have that either

The Fairy Princess supposes, they were concerned that once they saw it, they might…well…like it.

Let’s face it, some of those tunes are catchy.

They might have enjoyed how an entire stage filled with singing and dancing Asian Americans – Asian Americans who are on the forefront of representing Asian Americans because they spend their lives on the stage – would make them feel.

They might have felt….proud.

They might have felt….humbled.

They might have felt….inspired.

And if one is an “Artist’, one cannot feel any of those things? If you are an “Artist’ protesting a show that you have refused to see, or saw a different production of twenty years ago when, yes, the depiction by a Caucasian man OF an Eurasian man sent many of us reeling, of COURSE you do not want to see growth or advancement.

That would be expanding your mind….and what Artist wants to do that.

You just want to get your name in the papers and harass people into proclaiming, in print, that you have a voice.

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Ok. You have a voice. And you managed to harass one white lady until she caved.

Well, The Fairy Princess has seen many things, but she has never seen a CEO of a large Arts House become a coward.

Until now.

Patricia Mitchell, CEO of The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Patricia Mitchell, CEO of The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The Fairy Princess thought they were made of sterner stuff out there in St. Paul.

Wait, it could not be all about the Protestors…because the Ordway dealt with them before, so what other factor could have led to this ‘agreement’?

A third party.

It seems that this  ‘agreement’ came from commissioning a dance piece with an Annaya Dance Company for the opening of their concert hall in March.

This seems so odd – a dance group makes it a condition to never have other dancers in the space owned by the Company? Was it prompted by competition? It seems odd.

Because dancers usually have a sense of community – and it seems in this case, these dancers used their power to take away options from other dancers because they did not like the dancing they were doing.

 

 

Perhaps you should take up a discussion on dance with Lainie Sakakura, Broadway Dancer extraordinare about Musical Theater dancing, she’s the professional. She knew Gwen Verdon. If one wanted to have a cultural exchange amongst dancers, Lainie is the first person that TFP would recommend talking to.

But it seems the talking is done and the Annaya Dance Theater has spoken.

Since Musical Theater dance is not your area, what hat is it you do again?

Ah – The Annaya Dance Theater is, to quote it’s website, the leading creator of contemporary Indian dance”.

The Fairy Princess is confused.

tumblr_mn7lilBTsO1sqykc2o4_r4_250

MISS SAIGON does not depict a war in India, nor India bar girls, nor a love story between an Indian Mom and her half Indian child.

It depicts a war in Vietnam. While, yes, there have been many South Asian Americans in MISS SAIGON -

That is Manu Narayan leading the cast of LES MISERABLES at The MUNY, he has also appeared as Thuy in MISS SAIGON earlier in his career

That is Manu Narayan leading the cast of LES MISERABLES at The MUNY, he has also appeared as Thuy in MISS SAIGON earlier in his career

It does not, in fact, depict an Indian story.

So what the Annaya Dance Theater is saying, is that though they are ‘expert’ in one area, and represent proudly one area of dance that has South Asian heritage, they are going to leapfrog and become the clearing house for all Asian Americans who dance, and we now have to run it by them.

Ah.

The Annaya Dance Theater also says that they ‘invoke the work and dreams of women of color, and reframe the ground on which we dance…”

Oh, they are going to ‘reframe the ground’, which means they are going to ban certain works from being performed. How did they do that? Because that is censorship, and here in America, we have laws banning censorship.

How did they do it?  Hold please, The Fairy Princess needs to go back and check their website….

Bluegape-Jai-Shree-Ganesh-Glass-SDL491284962-1-7ca96

Oh, they played the ‘Women of Color” card.

They played it well, actually. They got what they wanted.

So let me get this straight – an Indian dance company (it does not, btw, say Indian American or even South East Asian dance company, it says Indian)  who choreographs – now this is all in response to their website statements – they choreograph in response to global issues to spark chemistry, has decided that what they can throw their weight and activism behind is…taking jobs from other Asian American dancers?

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They have decided, this one group of dancers, that they can choreograph and speak for all Women of Color, and that because they are sparking ‘chemistry’ with their dancing, we should all go along with it.

We, the Women of Color of America and the World. Well, the Women of Color and one Caucasian lady who has been bullied in St. Paul.

There are no other global issues they could throw their attention to? Like for example...honor killings, rape, education? Things that, as an Indian Dance Company would, it seems, be more important than banning a production that once every few years, arrives in St. Paul?

No, they are worried about a musical.

A MUSICAL THAT IS NOT NOR NEVER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FACTUAL DEPICTION OF VIETNAM.

So they pushed and yelled and coerced and bullied and they got their way.

Yes, The Fairy Princess said bullied – because that is what coercion is. Bullying is what small, mean people do. Bullying is manipulation, and yelling, and saying “I know better than you, I will always know better than you because I represent all Women of Color.”

Well, The Fairy Princess also happens to be a “Woman of Color”

Look at that, a color photo of a Eurasian Dual Citizen! Defacto - a woman of color

Look at that, a color photo of a Eurasian Dual Citizen! Defacto – a woman of color

 

She has an opinion about MISS SAIGON, and it is different than theirs – but hers does not count, is that the takeaway?

She now to understand that this Indian Dance Company, is now…ummmm, “the boss of us”?

The “Boss” of her?

 

Ruh- Roh

Ruh- Roh

 

No.

The Fairy Princess says no.

The Annaya Dance Theater does not, and will never, get to decide for her, what she can and cannot do as an Artist in America.

Never.

Because that is the anti-thesis of what BEING an Artist is supposed to be.

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

Joseph Anthony Foronda as The Engineer , Ken Shim as Tam, and Jacqueline Nguyen as Kim

Yes, we can ‘agree to disagree’ and decide not to go see a show, we can decide to not read an article, or decide that we do not like musicals, or that we do not like musicals where there are prostitutes – which, honestly would take out half the Musical Theater canon and most of the best songs – but WE do not have one mind.

lea-salonga

WE do not get to decide what is/is not allowed.

WE live in the United States, and even though this Mid-term election will, yes, slow any progress that is being attempted, it will not stop it.

Because WE do not have one mind  – not as Artists, not people of Asian heritage, and NOT as Americans.

 

youre-not-the-boss-of-me

You know what, Ordway and Annaya and Protestors….The Fairy Princess thinks you are missing the point of MISS SAIGON. You are all swept away in the bikinis and depictions of prostitutes and you are missing what is one of the most devastating songs in the musical theater canon - Bui Doi.

Orville Mendoza as The Engineer

Orville Mendoza as The Engineer

A song that deals with America taking responsibility for it’s Eurasian children, children that should be American citizens – or French or wherever their Fathers were from – children that should have had all the rights and freedoms and privileges of growing up in America, but they were denied that.

The point of MISS SAIGON is this:

 

“They are the living reminder of all the good we failed to do, we can’t forget, never forget, that they are all our children too”

(That is Ramin Karimloo, Stephen Rahman-Huges & Lee Mead in concert in Glasgow in 2012)

Look, if you want to look at MISS SAIGON and see evil, you are going to see evil – but ultimately, it is a love story about a Mother and her son, and what she will do to give him a better life.

It’s not evil – and neither are the women and men who so brilliantly perform the show.

You cannot call yourself an Artist or a Producer of Art if you limit people’s ability to decide for themselves – not only as performers, but audience as well. If you are an Artist – create Art – do not ban others because you do not like their Art. If you are a Producer – produce it and let the audience decide – they vote with tickets.

In other words – have open dialogue, but no way is one group or one theater to be Judge and Jury for what we, as Asian American performers are ‘allowed’ to do.

Let me quote an earlier blog in case you are missing the point:

Let me tell you something- and this is as straight as I can say it – Asian American Actors can take ANY part they choose. Period. The End. Asian American Actors are under NO obligation to make Asian America ‘comfortable’ with their personal choices. We do not stand over your shoulder at your job and tell you that you cannot do it, merely because it is our opinion that it should not be done.

Re-read that sentence, it’s accurate, but it’s kind of insane.

We are Actors.  First and FOREMOST we are Actors and WE tell stories. We do not have a group check in to get Asian American Community approval, and we do not have to have it. Because this is AMERICA.

Asian American Actors can use accents. Asian American Actors can play Pimps, Doctors, Prostitutes, Deli Owners, Thieves, Kings, and whatever else there is out there. We audition and people hire us. And if we can perform, on Broadway, or on a Television show, or in a Feature film, where it is so competitive even to get a a callback – then YOU, Mr. Joe Protestor, are not allowed to rob us of our right to do it to the highest possible level we can.

THAT is what Equality means TO US. That our choices are unlimited.

This is just sad, really, and so misguided, and hate filled – The Fairy Princess is disgusted both with the decision, The Ordway, The Aanaya Dance Theater and of course, the protestors.

10 Wacks with the Wand for all of you, and frankly, and she has rarely meant this more -

KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE

The Fairy Princess is not a Halloween fan. Not because she does not enjoy a good costume, she enjoys a good costume as much as the next person and she does not look down on anyone who dresses up their kid as a zombie or a princess or a butterfly, or any of the myriad of ridiculously cute costume choices available out there.

Some are amazing.

This is my friend's daughter...they WIN! The Russo Family wins the Internet!

This is my friend’s daughter…they WIN! The Russo Family wins the Internet!

 

Some are heartfelt.

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Some are completely inappropriate in a really fun way.

The Studs of the People's Couch - Blake as Capt. America, Scott as Elaine Stritch, and Emerson as 'The Bible Belt"

The Studs of the People’s Couch – Blake as Capt. America, Scott as Elaine Stritch, and Emerson as ‘The Bible Belt”

 

Some are culturally insensitive and donned by people who should know better. Which is why Halloween tends to not be TFP’s favorite holiday, when, honestly, it used to be.

She doesn’t like it that much anymore because of what some people choose to wear, because, well…they choose to wear Asian folks…like a coat. As someone who cannot ‘pick up, put down’ her skin and heritage anymore than a certain little girl in a certain film filled with joy and luck could pick up/put down chess, Halloween has, on occassion, become a rough holiday.

 

Yes, there are culturally offensive costumes, and they get worn every Halloween, by all sorts of people.

Like Debbie Allen.

Ms. Debbie Allen

Ms. Debbie Allen

NO! Not Debbie Allen!

Yes. Debbie Allen.

DAMMIT!

Yeah, the one who told us about ‘pain and sweat’ on the FAME teaser and who made us all want to be better versions of ourselves. Perhaps even, to be performers? That Debbie Allen?

Maybe there is another one?

Nope.

THIS DEBBIE ALLEN:

 

 

For that work on Fame, and A Different World, Motown 25, Amistad, the Debbie Allen Special and The Academy Awards, Ms. Allen was the recipient of 10 Image Awards from the NAACP.

Image Awards are given to those who are outstanding in her field – and make no doubt, Ms. Allen is outstanding in her field as a choreographer, an actor, a producer, a director….but The Fairy Princess is finding her choice of costume less than stellar.

The Fairy Princess could have done without this image.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 10.01.52 PM

Of course, dressing as a person of a different culture is always dicey to begin with, but the issue The Fairy Princess has is not only is this a dated image, it is inaccurate.

The mask Ms. Allen is wearing is ostensibly a Thai face and headpiece,  but she is in Chinese pajamas, and flip flops! (One supposes from Bal’i Hai or some other place that people not of Asian heritage imagine Asian people are from.) Or maybe they are Manolos, who knows?

So that is the first issue – Ms. Allen, if you are going to attempt to represent an Asian person, pick one.

A Thai Dancer - not wearing Chinese PJs now, is she?

A Thai Dancer – not wearing Chinese PJs now, is she?

Just one.

Because if you do not, it falls under that ‘all look same‘ category in my book, and The Fairy Princess takes a very dim view of culturally smashing all of the Asian groups together with little to no regard as to what makes us so very unique and different.

As you are a wonderful dancer and choreographer, had you gone ‘full tilt Thai Dancer‘ – the costume, without the mask, The Fairy Princess would have given you a pass. Because costumes are ok – The Fairy Princess appreciates if you take the time to try and be honorable and authentic.

However you did not do that. Which, is, well…it’s lazy.

Which is a word that The Fairy Princess has never, EVER associated with Debbie Allen. Never.

The OTHER issue The Fairy Princess is having with this costume is -you are wearing it ON THE SET OF GREY’S ANATOMY!

A SHOW WHICH CURRENTLY SHOWCASES NO ASIAN AMERICAN TALENT AS SERIES REGULARS ON A SHOW SET IN SEATTLE IN A HOSPITAL.

Seattle has an Asian American population that has grown 8.1 % between 2010 and 2012 – and while looking at the numbers, you might think “Hey, 7.5% of a population of a city is not that much…”, you would be wrong.

Graphic from Seattle Times showing ethnic makeup of Seattle

Graphic from Seattle Times showing ethnic makeup of Seattle

Because it’s not really just that 7.5%, you see that green triangle? 3.7% - more than one race. Which means, Eurasians. Not that all who identify as two races are Eurasian, but having spent quite a lot of time in Seattle, The Fairy Princess can tell you there are a LOT of Eurasian children running around there. So there are a few more than 7.5%.

It’s a lot for one group – one group that keeps growing.

Population-growth-2010-20121

Also, among all 50 states, Washington State has the 5th HIGHEST population of Asian Americans, according to both the US Census and this article from The Seattle Times.

So let me spell it out for you -

1. No Asian Americans as Series Regulars on the show set in Seattle.

2. Seattle has 5th highest API population in the Country.

3. APIs are dominant in the medical profession in all areas, including research, nursing, and physicians

4. You came as an amalgam of Asian parts on Halloween, mocking the people who are least represented on that show, a show that is supposed to represent a city where APIs are a large part of the population.

In fact, one would be hard pressed to walk into a hospital in any major city and not find API Medical professionals….

Except in Seattle Grace.

On Grey’s Anatomy.

A show which you appear on as an Actress and also, every so often, direct.

A show where you chose to wear this to the set:

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 10.01.52 PM

Now, you may be getting all upset about being called out on this, but here is a quick question for you:

Would you have worn that if Dr. Yang was still making the rounds as a top Cardio surgeon?

 

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The Fairy Princess thinks not.

Let’s face it, you did not come as a composite Latino, could it be because Sara Ramirez is on the show?

Just wondering….

grey-s-anatomy-10321628smlrj_2006

RuPaul? Thoughts?

 

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The Fairy Princess agrees with RuPaul – you would have thought twice about wearing this costume when Dr. Yang was racing around being Meredith’s “Person”.

original

Because you would have considered that the actress playing one of the lead characters for ten seasons on the show might have some thoughts and feelings about you coming dressed to work as a cornucopia of Asian people

You see, this is the danger of non-representation, something which, Ms. Allen, I know you have spoken about in your career.

 

 

There are no Asian Americans currently on Grey’s Anatomy as series regulars. Which means that there is no one of the group you are mocking, that you perhaps see every day as a peer, that would make you think twice before showing up to work and tweeting that photo.

A photo which The Fairy Princess, a true fan of yours, was very hurt to see. She was so hurt, she checked several times to make sure that it came from your account, and that it was you. Because she did not want to see it.

What one person thinks is harmless, can be harmful. However on ‘your’ show there are no Asian Americans around to make you think about that.

So when you needed to play ‘dress up’, you picked on a group that has minimal representation on the culture of that show, and you came as ‘them’.

Asian people are not a costume. They are not a costume any more than African Americans are a costume. They are not a costume any more than Native Americans are a costume.

Costumes are clothing, and they can be fun, and enjoyable. But putting on the face of another race?

That is not acceptable. Positioning your hands in what can be described as a stereotypical stance? Not acceptable. Not a costume.

The Fairy Princess’s tiara is tilting sadly, as she tells you this, Ms. Allen, she hopes you feel just a bit of pain and sweat as you read this and…  KISS MY FAN TAN FANNIE!

 

The Fairy Princess likes to…you know…keep up with what’s happening in the world – yesterday it was the British East Asians and their remarkable video rebuttal to The Royal Shakespeare Company entitled The Orphan of Zhao Redux and today….she had an email from Sandra Oh.

Yes, that Sandra Oh…

Sandra-Oh

And let’s face it, if she sends you an email, you are going to open it.

The Fairy Princess should add here, that yes, she does know Ms. Oh, and they have corresponded before, but they do not, say, down shots of tequila and dance on bars together or get mad and eat cookie dough raw or anything like that….although, let’s face it, TFP totes would do that if asked.

(She’s done worse)

Thus, full disclaimer in place – she does, yes, know Ms. Oh, and finds her to be one of the coolest and most talented actors on the planet.

So there, do what you will with that.

Anyway, this is somewhat of a breaking story….

Sandra Oh has decided to produce an animated film – here is the description:

 WINDOW HORSES: THE POETIC PERSIAN EPIPHANY OF ROSIE MING.
In this coming-of-age story, Rosie Ming, a young Canadian poet, is invited to perform at a Poetry Festival in Shiraz, Iran, but she’d rather be in Paris.  She lives at home with her over-protective Chinese grandparents and has never been anywhere by herself. Once in Iran, she finds herself in the company of poets and Persians, all who tell her stories that force her to confront her past; the Iranian father she assumed abandoned her and the nature of Poetry itself.  Rosie goes on an unwitting journey of forgiveness, reconciliation, and perhaps above all, understanding, through learning about her father’s past, her own complicated cultural identity, and her responsibility to it.  It’s about building bridges across generations and cultures  through the magic of Poetry.  
We hope this film will contribute a little more peace, love and understanding to our increasingly complex and conflicted world through art, poetry, history and culture.

 

OMIGOODNESS THAT SOUNDS GREAT!
Now, here is the thing – this is an animated feature about a mixed race girl in Canada. Now, while The Fairy Princess did not grow up in Canada, she has….let’s face it, a bit of knowledge about being a mixed raced little girl.
My Father and I

My Father and I

When she was a kid, she would have loved to have seen a story such as this – it would have spoken to her in a way that, perhaps, was different from other stories. She rarely envisioned herself as a protagonist because, well….there were none in the books she read, or was read to, or in the television she saw, or in the movies – she was too young for Bruce Lee and she would have looked terrible in a yellow track suit.

As a person of mixed race who is raising another one, this made The Fairy Princess very interested in this project – interested enough to provide the link so if you would like to contribute to this project, which is being produced in conjunction with the Canadian Film Centre, you can.

The other, super awesome thing about this – for fans of American Cinema, is that the belle of Flower Drum Song, the feature film, Ms. Nancy Kwan, will voice one of the characters – Gloria, the overprotective Grandmother of Rosie.

Film Star, Nancy Kwan, from World of Suzie Wong & Flower Drum Song fame

Film Star, Nancy Kwan, from World of Suzie Wong & Flower Drum Song fame

Wrap your Fan Tan Fannies around that little tidbit!

Nancy Kwan!

(Full disclosureno – have never done shots or cookie dough with Ms. Kwan)

(Yes, have met her, yes, have a photo)

The thought of that is terrifyingThe Fairy Princess would embarrass herself.

Because, when she was a bit older than in that photo, she viewed Flower Drum Song on television, and her Mother told her, “That lady is Eurasian, like you.”

Well…it was the first time that The Fairy Princess ever considered that a person ‘like her’ could do something as amazing as a musical.

Which makes the whole thing, just a bit more special, don’t you think?

ANYWAY – HERE IS THE LINK!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/window-horses-an-animated-feature

They need to raise $230, 050 Canadian, and thus far, they have almost $5,000.

You can contribute from $5 and up – and let’s be frank, if you are a person of mixed race, who grew up being asked ‘what are you?” or any of the myriad of questions we are asked, you may want to contribute simply to see more stories in which you and your experiences are reflected.

Just sayin….

In closing – Congrats to Ms. Oh and her partner in this venture, Ann Marie Fleming, who has been making award winning films for over 25 years that deal with family, history, memory and issues of identity. This is a story that comes out of a combination of her own personal experiences as a mixed race Canadian.

The Fairy Princess very much looks forward to seeing this film and sending a few bucks your way!

Break a leg with it!

The Fairy Princess once twittered that if Producers wanted to keep her from blogging, they should just keep her employed – and that is what has been happening. That, and, of course, a toddler who likes to break at least one major item a day and does not want to nap – ever. Apologies.

However, in the midst of this oddly timed employment, for which she is quite grateful, she did happen to catch the British East Asian’s answer to The Royal Shakespeare Company’s elimination of Asian faces in their production of The Orphan Of Zhao – done successfully here in the States with an Asian American Cast, in a joint production from A.C.T. in San Francisco, and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. (I still have my eye on you, La Jolla….)

To borrow some of the British parlance, The Fairy Princess found their video answer to this casting debacle, absolutely smashing, and hopes that Gregory Doran and the rest of the RSC will see it and be absolutely gobsmacked at the British East Asian talent that is RIGHT THERE in his own backyard.

And thus she wanted to share this wonderful video entitled “The Orphan of Zhao Redux” and give you all a chance to see the marvelous work that happens when creative minds attack a problem and try to open eyes and minds.

Mind, it is nine minutes – but it is absolutely worth it, and if you get a minute, perhaps you will Tweet to the RSC (@TheRSC) that you have seen it, and that you wished that they would host more productions where they feature the astonishing talent of the British East Asians…particularly when the show in question is set in CHINA...or any other local where one would expect to find Asian faces.

Or even…wait for it…put them in shows where they are not defined by their race, but by their acting!

Just a thought…mull that one over.

Congratulations to my fellow Actors, and all who put this together, you were all ‘in it to win it‘, and you certainly have.

In a world where people throw things willy nilly up on the internet, with no production value or thought, The Fairy Princess was moved to see how this video speaks to the issues raised by the Casting of The Orphan of Zhao at the RSC.

She also was thrilled to meet some of the brilliant people behind this video on a recent trip to London, and hopes to get over there more, and check in with everyone – the energy of this group is fantastic.

Well Done!

UPDATE: In a, ahem, remarkable turn around,  after Jordan Roth announced that his theaters would dim in honor of Joan Rivers,  and after this blog was published, The Broadway League has reversed it’s initial position:

“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her. Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers from our community and from her friends and fans worldwide, the marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed in her memory.” – Charlotte St. Martin, Exec Dir, The Broadway League

Tonight, at 6:45pm, Theater Lights on Broadway will dim in honor of Ms. Joan Rivers.

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Why yes we can, Ms. Rivers – yes we can.

Rest In Peace.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Fairy Princess has been reflecting on what it means to be a “theater person’ today, in light of The Broadway League’s decision to not dim the lights in honor of the passing of TONY Nominee and thrice walker of ‘the boards’, Ms. Joan Rivers.

This is what Joan said about Broadway in a recent interview with  New York Magazine,

If you don’t go to Broadway, you’re a fool. On Broadway, off Broadway, above Broadway, below Broadway, go! Don’t tell me there isn’t something wonderful playing. If I’m home in New York at night, I’m either at a Broadway or an Off Broadway show. We’re in the theater capital of the world, and if you don’t get it, you’re an idiot.”

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So guess who doesn’t get it?

Apparently, The Broadway League.

“Under our criteria people need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway – people who made their careers here, or kept it up,” Ms. St. Martin said in an interview on Monday.

“We love Joan – she was very supportive of Broadway and came to a lot of show openings – but she hasn’t acted on Broadway in 20 years,” Ms. St. Martin added. “When you say Joan Rivers, you don’t think comedy, television and Broadway. You think comedy and television. It’s certainly nothing against her.

The night before Ms. Rivers went in to that fateful surgery which helped end her life at the age of 81, she did a show – she did a full length act at The Laurie Beechman Theater in the West Bank Cafe. As that is, in fact, a theater, and the show was over an hour of solo performance, one could argue that she in fact, defined being ‘active in theater’. Her calendar was full, even at 81, she had a bunch of live shows coming up, in addition to possibly returning to Broadway, and shooting Fashion Police.

It’s hard to fathom why Ms. Rivers is being egregiously overlooked, but let’s look at who the lights have been dimmed for recently:

“Lauren Bacall had a distinct presence onstage and screen during a career that spanned decades,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League. “Along with her talent and memorable performances, her timeless beauty and witty intelligence will be remembered. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and fans.”

Ms. Bacall had 2 TONYS, 1 Honorary OSCAR, was a Kennedy Center Honoree, 2 Golden Globes, and 1 SAG Award and she had not appeared on Broadway since 1999 -  dim the lights.

Lauren Bacall

Robin Williams left us all, sadly too soon.

Academy-tweet-about-Robin-Williams

 “Robin Williams was a comedic genius with limitless talent and stunning versaitlity who left this world far too early,‘ said Broadway League Exec Director Charlotte St. Martin. “He made an impact on everyone he met or entertained. Whether on screen or live on stage, his multi-faceted talent always created memorable performances. Robin Williams will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans”

Robin Williams appeared on Broadway twice – once in concert – Robin Williams Live On Broadway in 2002, and as an Actor in Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo in 2011. He also appeared with Steve Martin in Waiting For Godot at Lincoln Center.

A comedic genius with 2 Broadway credits, 4 Golden Globes, 1 Oscar, 3 GRAMMYS, 1 EMMY, 2 SAG awards – dim the lights.

53c8109fd547558a0d7367c5_s-elaine-stritch

“Elaine Stritch’s big personality was matched by her big talent,” Broadway League executive director Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement. “Collaborating with some of Broadway’s greatest playwrights and composers throughout her lengthy career, her signature numbers and singular style created a memorable legacy.”

Elaine Stritch had 4 TONY Nominations, 1 TONY for Best Special Theatrical Event, and 3 EMMYs – dim the lights.

So, The Broadway League will, as they should, dim the lights for someone who is known on screen, known on television, and known to be a comedic genius, with a career that spanned decades but they won’t dim the lights for Joan Rivers, who was, actually all of those things combined?

Seem odd to anyone else?

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Now, you could argue, of course, that Joan Rivers received a TONY Nomination, and that, perhaps is the criteria? They will not dim the lights for her because she did not win? That could be the ‘line in the sand’, one supposes.

Until you remember that Broadway dimmed the lights for James Gandolfini, although he was nominated for GOD OF CARNAGE in 2009, he never won a TONY award.

He appeared 2 other times on Broadway in ON THE WATERFRONT in 1995 and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE in 1992. And, without putting it too bluntly, he was best known for his work on Television in HBO’s The Soprano’s. Television? Oh dear, whatever will Charlotte St. Martin say?

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James Gandolfini was a consummate actor who brought individuality to each role and inspired a true connection with the audience. Whether on screen or on a Broadway stage, he made every role believable and seemingly effortless, said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, in a statement. “Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, and certainly to all of his fans who felt as if they knew his characters.

I see.

So, no, Broadway League, you cannot argue the “she only had a nomination and 3 appearances on Broadway” because, well – so did James Gandolfini, and you dimmed the lights for him.

Rightly so.

He was a great theater person.

Joan Rivers was also a great theater person.

In fact, all of the above mentioned people were great theater people – being a theater person is not just appearing in a show.

It is being generous of spirit by continually supporting the efforts of others -

for example, attending a show….

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joan-rivers-gets-a-hug-from-rod-and-john-tartaglia-at-the-95777

At Sister Act

At Sister Act, the Musical

Attending a show where you know that Broadway Producers are going to use your image and your name to sell more seats at their show and make money off of it – money that you, personally will never see.

Producers that are all in The Broadway League.

Ahem.

She would go to shows multiple times and bring people, was a major fan of anything Broadway. Most of our conversations were about what she saw or what I was going to see, or I had seen – she was always recommending what show to watch. Our last trip she yelled at me to see HERE LIES LOVE.

One of her favorites was Jerry Herman, she thought he should have written the music for ROCKY…or ANY Broadway show. Of course she loved Broadway, she starred in her own Broadway show that she wrote! Nominated for a TONY!”

                   – Dan Glosser, longtime friend & pianist

With Arnold Steifel, Kenny Solms, Dan Glosser & Tony Tripoli

With Arnold Steifel, Kenny Solms, Dan Glosser & Tony Tripoli

Being a Theater Person means raising money for charity - she was one of the first celebrities, if not the first celebrity, to come out in support of raising money and awareness for AIDS prevention and treatment. She was on the Board of God’s Love, We Deliver, and delivered meals to those in need herself on Thanksgiving.

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She supported Guide Dogs for the Blind, a school which helps connect guide dogs to those who are in need of canine assistance due to blindness or low sighted ability.

Joan presents George Basioli with a guide dog named after her late husband, Edgar in 1988

Joan presents George Basioli with a guide dog named after her late husband, Edgar in 1988

 

Ms. Rivers served as an honorary Director at The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, having experienced that particular loss in her life. These mentioned were but a few of her many, many charities.

Joan Rivers & Tony Tripoli

Joan Rivers & Tony Tripoli

Being a theater person is having to surround yourself with it’s music and texts constantly and wear them like a coat even in your darkest hour.

“Joan was so devoted to New York Theater. She went to absolutely EVERYTHING and having done Broadway 3 times, often said it was the toughest, most rewarding place for any actor to work. She was planning a return to Broadway with a remount of her show, “Sally Marr & her Escorts”. She insisted that every loved one who came to town go to at least one show – her treat, naturally – each visit.

When I sat with her while she was in a medically induced coma, the Original Cast Album of OKLAHOMA was filling the entire Intensive Care Unit. At one point, I couldn’t take it any longer and I changed the cd to A CHORUS LINE – I secretly hoped she’d wake up and tell me again about going to it’s Opening Night.

For the Broadway League not to dim the marquee lights for Joan is an insult to the memory of one of the New York stage’s most passionate advocates and talented performers.”

-Tony Tripoli – Head Writer, Fashion Police

Being a theater person is knowing that if you make it look easy, everyone will think that they can do what you can do ‘no problem’, when you know it took thousands of hours, endless preparation, and a combination of luck and talent that is different in everyone who succeeds.

 

Being a theater person is getting back up when they knock you down, and smiling while doing it.

“Joan Rivers is the top of the pyramid when it comes to comedians – male or female. She was also a devastatingly underused actress. Over the years, I had the great fortune to meet  and work beside her several times. Beyond being funny, she was incredibly warm, caring, and full of life and love.

The world, not just the people in showbiz, have suffered a huge loss, and I for one, would dim every light in the world to honor the great Joan Rivers. Shame on the Broadway League for being too dim to realize what a disgraceful decision they have made. In the end, Joan herself probably would have laughed and said “Oh F*uck em if they’re too dumb to realize they could’ve saved a few bucks on the electric bill!”

-Scott Nevins, Bravo’s The People’s Couch

Joan Rivers & Scott Nevins

Joan Rivers & Scott Nevins

Joan Rivers was the epitome of what it means to be a theater person – she loved it, she lived it, she wrote it, she experienced it. She did the Broadway ‘8 shows a week’ time step, and she also did television, and she wrote books, and she also did charity work, and she  did films. She was also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.

Her comedy was caustic and rough at times, yes, but so was Elaine Stritch’s – and the lights were rightly dimmed for her – The Fairy Princess was there. It was special and moving, because ordinary New Yorkers and tourists and Broadway professionals stopped and looked at her image and said their own personal farewells. My group had people who were very close to her, and it comforted them.

Do not Ms. Rivers’ friends and family and extended audience deserve similar comfort?

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Did she swear? Yes.

So the f*#!k what?

Ms. Rivers surely could not have cursed more than David Mamet, and though no one wishes it, when the time comes, do we not all agree that Broadway will dim the lights in his honor?

They F*#!kin’ better!

Was she a saint? No. Are any of us? Do not we of the theater salute and embrace all our colorful people with all their eccentricities?

Yes, we do.

When did we of the theater start scorning people who started in the theater and went on to other things?

When did we become that small and petty? When, Broadway League?

When did we toss people out of our little group simply because they became successful in another area? The woman began her career starring in a play opposite Barbra Streisand!

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The Fairy Princess would like to remind The Broadway League that dimming the lights takes….

ONE MINUTE.

This woman promoted Broadway, appeared on Broadway, was nominated for one of Broadway’s highest honors and we, of The Broadway cannot turn off the lights for ONE MINUTE?

“In the ever changing world of Broadway, the ‘rules’ for the TONY Awards change every year due to ‘unique circumstances’ and a changing art form. Why all of a sudden is The Broadway League clinging to an interpretation of a random rule – especially when it comes to honoring such an Ambassador of Broadway – it is beyond me.

By the way, what are we talking about here? Someone pushes a button and then pushes it again sixty seconds later? She gave us 81 years, I think we can give her 60 seconds.”

-Erich Bergen, JERSEY BOYS the movie, Madame Secretary

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The Fairy Princess would like you to look at this next photo – (she found it on the web, Melissa, don’t yell at anyone) it is the program of Joan River’s final service

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Only a true theater person would ask to be saluted by The NY Gay Men’s Chorus singing “Nothing Like a Dame“, segue to multiple TONY Winner Audra McDonald singing “Smile“, then bring in TONY Winner and the tallest Aussie to grace our stages, Hugh Jackman to sing a song Peter Allen wrote for Judy Garland, and finally, end with a bagpipe salute of “Give My Regards To Broadway”.

To quote that Peter Allen song:

So put your hands together and help her along

All that’s left of the singer

All that’s left of the song

Stand for the Ovation

And give her one last celebration

Quiet Please, there’s a person up there

And she’s been singing of the things

That none of us could bear to hear for ourselves

Give her your respect, if nothing else

While Jujamcyn President, Jordan Roth, has announced that his theaters will dim their lights in honor of Ms. Joan Rivers tomorrow, Tues. Sept 9 at 6:45 pm, as of this writing, none of the other Broadway theaters have announced their intention to do so.

Oh – nicely done Mr. Roth, you Sir, are a man of the theater!

The rest of The Broadway League needs to catch up – your arguments as to ‘why not’ simply do not make sense – you can honor men who have appeared on Broadway exactly the same amount of times as Ms. Rivers, or who have had exactly the same type of fame, but you cannot honor Ms. Rivers?

Not ONE MINUTE for a career that spans over 40 years?

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81 Smacks of The Wand to The Broadway League for using some made up excuse that is probably based, in part, on sexism and jealousy, to deny Joan Rivers ONE MINUTE of theatrical respect that we, The Broadway Community, should give her.

She left us asking us to “Give her regards to Old Broadway”, cannot Broadway give her regards in turn?

Cannot Broadway give her ONE MINUTE of regard?

‘Shouldn’t just everyone go to The Broadway League Facebook Page and ask them to dim the lights for Joan? Shouldn’t they?”

- Jim Caruso, Cast Party

Linda Lavin, Joan, and Jim Caruso at Feinstein's

Linda Lavin, Joan, and Jim Caruso at Feinstein’s

So from The Fairy Princess, and in Honor of Ms. Joan Rivers, please-

Kiss our (##*!?#)Fan, Tan Fannie!

And DIM THE DAMN LIGHTS!

The Fairy Princess is having a bad few weeks, along with the rest of the world. The news has been devastating each and every night. While she normally does not write about events that are ‘newsworthy’ – let’s face it, she writes about Diversity and Asian American theatrical representation, the events of the last weeks must be acknowledged.

And so…the blog:

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It bears repeating that my thoughts and prayers go out to the Family of Robin Williams, who was a superlative performer and, according to all accounts, a superlative person in his personal life.

My small son had viewed Aladin the night before the announcement of his death, and was so filled with wonder and awe, his joy so apparent, that even at that simple moment, before we knew, I marveled once again, at the talent of Robin Williams and thought “what a blessing’ to have that kind of gift, that is accessible to all ages.

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What should be spoken of is how much he gave, and how much we shall miss him, and how grateful we are to his Family, for sharing him with us all these years.

 

Thank you, Oh Captain my Captain….

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The Fairy Princess would also like to share a story, given that she has also passed now, of meeting Lauren Bacall. By all accounts she was very feisty and the life of the party, with a razor sharp wit. It seems that everyone has a Lauren Bacall story and actually, The Fairy Princess has two, and she thinks that Betty would kind of get a chuckle out of her sharing them.

The first was viewing her on stage, 6th row in the orchestra, in her TONY winning role in the musical, WOMAN OF THE YEAR.

 

Being a mere 6 rows from Lauren Bacall leaves a lasting impression.

Lauren Bacall

Luckily my Grandmother, who was a concert pianist, realized what was ‘happening’ and after the show, she bought me the Cast Album – on tape. So I ‘wouldn’t forget’. I had memorized it by the next afternoon and performed it for my Parents, and I remember my Mother looking at my Father and saying, “Well…I know how this is going to go now...”

After that, I was in love with every musical I came into contact with – except 1776 – and I set off on my merry way to sing and dance and befriend people of similar ilk. WOMAN OF THE YEAR always remained a favorite, and on my Senior recital, I even did a set of songs from the show. I could probably recite some of the songs, if not all, lyric for lyric even now.

In 2003, Lauren Bacall came to see a Broadway show that I was a cast member of, and she came backstage – well, our backstage was really an alley behind the theater, and I was thrilled to see her, almost at the same distance that I  had first seen her in person many years prior.

We had a chance to speak and I said, “Ms. Bacall, I saw you in Woman of the Year when I was a kid, and I was so blown away. My Grandma bought me the Cast recording and I had it memorized by the next day. I think that is why I am in this business!”

And Ms. Betty Bacall looked at me for a moment, and then drawled in her inimitable way, “Woman of the Year? That old piece of sh*t?”

(a beat)

And then I said, “The camera is right over there, please smile”.

Jordan Gelber, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Lauren Bacall, Erin Quill backstage at Avenue Q

Jordan Gelber, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Lauren Bacall, Erin Quill backstage at Avenue Q

Thank you, Ms. Bacall, you gave us plenty to watch, and you lived ‘fascinating’ in such a way, that we all shared a tiny bit of it.

A true legend, a powerhouse, and the last icon to leave us from a great era of American Film.

RIP Betty.

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The Fairy Princess would also like to send support and share her horror at the death of photojournalist James Foley, who the Islamic State Militant Group known as ISIS has claimed to execute. She has no words. He was doing his job, and he was killed for what he was, as much as who he was. Many thoughts of peace go out to his Family and Friends.

Photojournalist James Foley

Photojournalist James Foley

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And then we have the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Michael Brown, RIP.

Michael Brown, RIP.

Michael Brown had been visiting his Grandmother, when he was stopped for jaywalking. He wound up with six shots in his body, which killed him. Four shots to the right arm, and two to the head. His body, his corpse, was then left lying in the street for hours while law enforcement tried to figure out what to do with what had just happened. They did not call for medical assistance for Michael Brown, he was not rushed to any hospital. He died, in the street, and was left there for hours.

Michael Brown was 18 years old.

Michael Brown possessed no weapon.

The Fairy Princess has her own opinions about why Michael Brown was stopped for jaywalking. Michael Brown, who was set to start college two days after he was killed, was killed because he was not safe to walk the streets in his Grandmother’s neighborhood as a young man of color.

The Fairy Princess knows that in most places in America, it is not truly safe to walk around alone as a Person of Color….or as a Woman, or as a Elderly person, or as an openly LGBT person, or as a small child.  For a majority of the population, to be caught walking alone by someone bigger, or someone armed, or someone intent on doing harm to us who is hanging with like minded individuals is a daily nightmare.

It can be seen as women brace themselves to walk past a group of men who are likely to catcall, it can be seen in the tensing of young men in sweatshirts when a patrol car drives slowly by them or a large pickup truck filled with individuals who may have been drinking. It can be seen in the elderly, who strive to be home before dark. It can be seen in the way parents hover over their children, fearful that this day, when one is a minute late to the bus, your child will no longer be there.

We would like to believe this not to be true, we would like to believe that as we journey into far away lands to ‘fix’ things, we remain a shining light to aspire to – but this is not the case.

A shining light to aspire to in the Western World is Canada. They have Universal Health Care, Marriage Equality, Police who patrol unarmed, and great skiing. Not to mention maple syrup, Sandra Oh, and Michael J. Fox.

The United States falls far behind, and with the violence in Ferguson, we are falling even further.

Fear of other people, fear of people different than oneself is the monster under America’s bed that no one is talking about.

People fear those who have advanced learning. People fear those who have no learning at all. People fear science. People fear people who substitute religion for science. People fear skin color, but they fear more than that talking about why they fear people with different skin color than their own. People fear falling in love just as much as they fear being alone. For every fear there is a reaction – and what we are seeing in Ferguson is the reaction to fear – and it is anger, and it is being met with water cannons, tear gas, and rhetoric.

It is time for America to stop perpetuating this cycle – in the daily lives of their citizens, and as policy makers.

The Fairy Princess read an article written by Michael Bell, whose son was also killed by police, ten years ago in Wisconsin. His son too, had been stopped on a pretext, and wound up with a gunshot point blank to the temple, so close it left powder burns. There was a reaction there too, and it was spearheaded by Mr. Bell – remove the ability of the police to investigate themselves.

Mr. Bell wrote at length about it, and also is in favor of having cameras on officers and in patrol cars, which has been shown to reduce violence in police actions by 60 %.

Both of these steps sound like morally actionable changes that can improve the chances of a Person of Color surviving being stopped for jaywalking. Both of these things sound like something honorable and diligent Officers would want to have implemented. There is no reason to fear either of these actions – independent investigations and cameras on officers and in vehicles not only protects the public, it protects the police as well.

We cannot return the life of Michael Brown to his Family, to his Friends, or to himself. What we can do – all of us, People of Color and Caucasians in this country, is change the conversation from fear to legislation. Change how we respect one another, change how we listen to one another, change how we focus on differences, and instead try and focus on similarities.

Ghandi said If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”  

We need not wait.

We have waited long enough.

For Michael Brown, and so many others, we have waited too long.

Let us not wait any longer.

My condolences to the Brown Family at this wretched time.

 

Last night The Fairy Princess had a somewhat humbling moment realizing that a show she was part of has been on the New York stages for 11 years.

That’s right 11 years!

So, nothing ‘political’, no ‘message’ this time, just a few words of thanks that I was ever included in that show, and I am thrilled that it is still running and bringing the world much needed laughter.

Congrats to the current Cast inhabiting Christmas Eve, Princeton, Rod, Trekkie, Brian, Lucy T. Slut, Kate Monster, Gary Coleman and Nicki – you all did a wonderful job, and they continue to do so over at New World Stages on 50th Street – go check them out!

Here is a photo from last night:

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets - Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd - all part of the Original Broadway Company

SM Beverly Jenkins, our Original Mistress of the Puppets – Singer/Songwriter Phoebe Kreutz, John Tartaglia, Erin Quill, and Carmen Ruby Floyd – all part of the Original Broadway Company

 

Realizing it has been 11 years, really does bring home the message in “Only for now….” If you would like to read some of the tweets, because the audience was invited to do so throughout the show, please go to #AvenueQLive or if you only want to read mine, they can be found at @Equill

And…the magic ‘surprise’ at the end of “Only For Now” – SELFIES…. because as the song goes….

“Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now”

Top L-R: John Tartaglia, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Beverly Jenkins, Producer Robyn Goodman, Erin Quill, Phoebe Kreutz, Producer Kevin McCollum Lower Left Photo: Star of MEMPHIS: J. Bernard Calloway Lower Rt Photo: Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

Top L-R: John Tartaglia, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Beverly Jenkins, Producer Robyn Goodman, Erin Quill, Phoebe Kreutz, Producer Kevin McCollum
Lower Left Photo: Star of MEMPHIS: J. Bernard Calloway
Lower Rt Photo: Carmen Ruby Floyd & Erin Quill

As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,

I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list.

Of Society’s Offenders who live proudly above ground,

and who never would be missed, who never would be missed.

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There’s pestilential productions who take hatred as their guide,

Who upon their being ‘caught’ then moan ’bout ‘history and pride’.

The ones who giggle with their fans, their makeup all askew

Who never seem to question,  or accept another’s view,

Their one response it seems is  “Look, don’t tell me what to do!”

They’d none of them be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

(Chorus)

She’s got them on the list, she’s got them on the list

And they’ll none of them be missed, they’ll none of them be missed.

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There’s the self righteous Director, who proceeds without concept,

The Yellowfaced soloist – I’ve got them on the list!

Those who praise the music, but perform it quite racist -

They never would be missed, they never would be missed!

There’s the Baritone who defends his lack of knowledge and of taste,

Who oft asserts his ‘ given right’ to play another race;

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And the lady from the suburbs, who dresses like a Maid,

Who knows she does not  look Asian, but finds Caucasians ‘staid’,

She’d rather paint ‘exotic‘ than go play a Cockney maid…

I don’t think she’d be missed – I’m sure she’d not be missed!

(Chorus)

She’s got them on the list, she’s got them on the list;

And they’d none of them be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

Finally, let’s all agree this topic is just rife,

with charges, counter charges, all which causes strife.

Does no one see in fact that Sullivan and Gilbert would be pissed!

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For that you’re on the list!

They wrote the show to mock society’s rigid chain of thought,

To say what we learn should shape us, not just what we’re taught.

The show says use your brain and heart, but it seems it’s all for naught.

For that you’re on the list! For that you’re on the list!

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It’s not enough to say you ‘want to’ and then go see it done,

We do not live in places where of opinion there’s just one.

And frankly, if you have to scream and rail about so loud,

It means that of your performance there is little to be proud.

Your show is not ‘authentic’ if you’ve re-written “Little List”

Racist shows won’t be missed, they’d none of them be missed.

I’ve put you on the list – I’ve put you on the list,

You’d none of you’d be missed, you would NONE of you’d be missed.

 The Fairy Princess is a bit late to the game about writing about The Mikado Production in Seattle, or perhaps she was ahead of her time, because she co-wrote the screenplay, The Mikado Project, several years and several film festivals ago.

(There is a lovely review  of the DVD from The Huffington Post, here)

(You may purchase it on Amazon.com here)

 

There have been many, many articles about The Mikado recently, since the first piece for the Seattle Times by Sharon Pian Chan (The Yellowface of The Mikado In Your Face) .

Journalist, Jeff Yang, wrote a thoughtful response (Yellowface Staging of The Mikado Has To End) which The Fairy Princess was interviewed for that appeared on CNN.com.

Another (The Problem With The Mikado) by Brendan Kiley from The Seattle Stranger, quotes Jeff’s article, but makes other wonderful points.

NBCNews also highlighted the issue, (Stereotypes in The Mikado Stir Controversy) and in fact, the film of The Mikado Project, in discussing it – many thanks.

Each time that someone has written about this situation, the wagons around the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan company have been circled, and they have defended themselves from charges of racism and yellowface makeup.

They even went so far as to have their African American Female Business Manager write an open letter to try to shame the Asian American community into accepting Yellowface makeup, which is a classic technique, turning the minorities against one another.

One wonders if Seattle G&S expands their repertoire to include a blackface Porgy & Bess, if she would still hold her own opinion?

Still, that was impressive, Seattle G&S. Well played.

The Fairy Princess chuckled a bit at that, because it is a technique ripped right from the Andrew Jackson playbook. Then she heard the radio interview with the DJ, Dan Ross, who refused to accept, in any way, that he might be a part of a racially tinged performance. Not surprising, the ones who know they are wrong usually shout the loudest – it is called ‘deflection’.

The Fairy Princess was still not moved enough to write about this issue.

She felt that journalists were doing a fair job of keeping the story alive and accountable, and as she had been quoted numerous times in these articles, she thought she had made herself clear – when you have a production in which satire is sacrificed in favor of racial mockery, you turn a much beloved operetta into “a racist piece of crap’.

And she was fine with that, she was.

Until this morning, when she read the response from Seattle G&S’s Producer, Mike Storie – in which he loudly proclaims two things:

1. They have an Asian American on the Board of the company who has played a variety of parts

2. The Mikado should continue to be done.

Now The Fairy Princess is mad. She is truly, deeply mad, and now she IS going to respond.

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In response to the first – who cares if you have an Asian American Board Member?

He’s played an Italian?  So what?  Italy is a seafaring nation, or was, and they traded with Asia, so there is a likelihood that there were Asians in Italy. It’s not so far fetched. That we are supposed to incredulously proclaim “Well, if an Asian American played a Gondolier, then the Company cannot have racist moments“, well, that is a failure on your part to even comprehend the issues at play here.

In addition, this API Board Member is not in The Mikado, which seems telling. There is no statement from him highlighting how he felt, walking in and seeing the show. You have cited him, fine – he’s there. Not in a visible way during this controversy, but he’s there…somewhere….lurking.

Fine, you have one.

Goody, goody.

That first proclamation was not what engendered this response, no, we’ll get to that…hold on, prepare yourself.

This is what made The Fairy Princess’s tiara tilt – none of the articles cited mentioned banning The Mikado from being performed ever again – and yet, that is what Producer, Mike Storie is intimating with his answer “It is worth performing and preserving, and can be a catalyst for better understanding“.

Aha. You see, Mr. Storie is implying that we, the ‘awful and actual’ Asians of America, are trying to reach out our little yellow hands and remove an operetta from the lily white fingers of those who would perform it with authenticity and dignity.

L-R: Dave Ross as Koko, William Darkow as Pish Tush, and Craig Cantley as Poo Bah

L-R: Dave Ross as Koko, William Darkow as Pish Tush, and Craig Cantley as Poo Bah

 

He is so convinced of this narrative, he has not only shared it, he has compelled his Business Manager to brandish her “As a woman of color…‘ sword in defense of this poor, beleaguered operetta, so sadly under attack.

 

Hopefully she will be able to pick the right one, because you know, Japanese swords all have...oh who am I kidding, they wouldn't try and get this right either.

Hopefully she will be able to pick the right one, because you know, Japanese swords all have…oh who am I kidding, they wouldn’t try and get this right either.

 

This is not the case, Mr. Storie – and this is why you have finally roused The Fairy Princess to share her personal thoughts on this issue.

You are threatening people with the thought that Asian Americans are out to erase an operetta that they very much enjoy – and this is not what happened. Asian Americans do not want to ‘kill’ The Mikado, we want you all to do better. We want you to make a Mikado that everyone can go and see, regardless of race, and feel good about seeing.

We want you to put together a production of The Mikado that we can bring our children to proudly as an example of music and art – not one where we have to usher them out of the theater and have the ‘yes, you are different and people will make fun of you for that‘ talk.

That is NOT a talk we want to have after dropping a bunch of $$$ on tickets.

Asian Americans have the HIGHEST disposable income of any group, so while you are moaning about not being able to pay your Actors for four months, you may want to adjust your thinking on who your audience is, at least in Seattle.

The argument that you are performing the piece with love and authenticity is a false one. Yes, your company may love performing it, but as every good Gilbert and Sullivan expert knows, Gilbert never intended to mock Japanese people. He went through every effort to have ‘authentic’ costumes and had visiting Japanese artists come in and advise his Cast members as to how to walk and act.

Have you followed the examples set forth by Gilbert himself in this matter? Did you have Japanese Artists come and advise you as to the the authenticity of your costumes and scenery and mannerisms? Did you even try?

 

You live and work in Seattle, a city which counts 14% of the population as having Asian heritage. Seattle also has a huge International District, which, amongst other attractions, has the Wing Luke Museum which is dedicated to telling the Asian stories of the Pacific Northwest.  The population of that area alone, just in the I.D.  is 56% Asian American. So, very easily, you could have looked in your own backyard so to speak, and found advisers if authenticity was an issue for you.

Was authenticity an issue for Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society?

The Fairy Princess guesses not.

Because here is an actual Japanese woman in the 1800′s

Vintage Photo of a Japanese Woman, circa 1880

Vintage Photo of a Japanese Woman, circa 1880

And here is what Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan did:

Production Still: Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan's Production of THE MIKADO

Production Still: Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan’s Production of THE MIKADO

Again, here are some actual Japanese women studying, so, ostensibly “Maids”

Hard at work at Geisha School, studying the art of Singing, circa 1880

Hard at work at Geisha School, studying the art of Singing, circa 1880

And…back to Seattle…

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So no, your production is not authentic to memory of Gilbert, because you have not tried to do the extra work that he did at the time it was written. In point of fact, he had much less ability to BE accurate, due to language barriers, yet he tried. You have the I.D. in your backyard, and you did not pick up a phone or send a text or even go visit the museum to see if you have the correct obis now, did you?

“Fess up. No, you didn’t.

We can tell from the photos.

Your production is also not authentic because you have likely rewritten “A Little List” and made it palatable to local Seattle audiences – which is one of the hallmarks of the show. Once a show has had a rewrite of any kind, you cannot say it’s an authentic recreation of what someone did back in the 1880′s because you have done your best to ensure it is not.

This is what is infuriating to The Fairy Princess about Gilbert and Sullivan Societies in general, and of course, specific to this production in Seattle. Citing ‘history’ as an opportunity to prance about dressed as totally inaccurate and unauthentic Japanese people, is not supposed to be the take away from The Mikado.

The lesson to be learned from The Mikado, is that blindly following something because it has ‘always’ been done that way, is wrong. The Mikado is supposed to inspire you to see the ludicrous possibilities of what can happen when people do NOT think for themselves – executions, forced marriages, breaking the law, and so on.

The Mikado is not supposed to be used as a weapon to encourage racial mockery, it is not supposed to be the last bastion of visible hatred of Asian people which is left over from the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

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The Mikado is supposed to let you know that if you follow your true self, everything will work out. It says that even if you are considered too old for love, you can find it. It says that the silliness of society’s rules, are to be taken with a grain of salt, and approached with caution. Finally, it says that if one can reason with whomsoever is in charge, and present their case, wrongs will be righted.

The Mikado ‘works’ with or without faux Japanese mannerisms – because the script and the music ring true. It has been performed in a variety of temperatures, with ethnic casts, without ethnic casts, and so it is puzzling, with the myriad of creative ways that one can perform The Mikado, that this allegiance to behavior from a different era lingers on. Not only does it linger, it seems to perpetuate and multiply.

Still from Seattle G&S Mikado

Still from Seattle G&S Mikado

The Fairy Princess does not hate The Mikado – it would be impossible to do so given it’s message of hope.

The Mikado has been present in her personal journey for years – and in fact, she was encouraged as a Vocal Performance Major at Carnegie Mellon University’s Music School to study The Mikado, because her instructors felt that at some point, her background of multi-ethnicity would lend itself to being cast in The Mikado.

You would THINK, right?

You would THINK, right?

(That this has not yet happened, despite a Broadway resume and an ability to appear Asian (ahem), is perhaps a question for the Theater Gods.)

The Fairy Princess has spent a lifetime mulling over the whys and wherefores of The Mikado, she owns giant vintage theater posters of it courtesy of the gallery FULLER + ROBERTS, she appeared in the original play by Doris Baizley and Ken Narasaki of THE MIKADO PROJECT produced by Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, she co-wrote and appeared in the movie version of the same title. She is, somewhat of an expert on The Mikado, and she has been a G&S fan since the age of 11, when she appeared in her grade school production of The Pirates of Penzance. (Which, honestly is still her favorite, and which, had she gotten to play Ruth and not a generic daughter of the Major General, may have led her on a totally different career path, perhaps accounting?)

The Fairy Princess does not hate The Mikado.

She hates the way The Mikado is often performed.

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The Mikado, as written, is not racist.

The Mikado, as performed, often is.

The Fairy Princess knows that it is fun to play dress up, and to become other characters. She has seen productions of other G&S pieces, and in those works, it seems the Actors try harder to inhabit the characters – in The Mikado, she has seen shuffling of feet, batting of fans, bowing, and giggling and scraping, but little performance. When she has seen it, it becomes about the race being portrayed, and not about the singing.

Why is that?

The Mikado is in danger of turning into the last place where Caucasians can openly mock another race without getting accused of racism.

However, if the subject arises, as it did in Seattle, everyone involved is affronted!  They cannot even begin to have a conversation about it, because it is just mean little Asian American people who ‘cannot take a joke‘, who ‘have no idea what Gilbert and Sullivan is‘, who ‘do not understand‘ the art-form.

Brace yourselves,

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The Fairy Princess is your worst nightmare – she is a conservatory trained singer, she is a scholar, she is a big G&S fan, and she is Asian American. She has worked in comedy, she knows a joke.

We are not being ‘sensitive’, we are speaking up.

We are not ‘unable to take a joke’, we are unwilling to be the butt of it.

We are not ignorant of either this piece, it’s music, or it’s message, what we ARE is wary of what productions like yours do to average Asian Americans who are trying to go about their day. Will people mock them to their faces, the way you revel in mocking them on stage? Will our children go to school and have some child who has been taken to see your production, shuffle their feet at them, and make the awful faces at them that your Katisha is making in the photos above?

If you are bemoaning that no Asian Americans came and auditioned to be in your Mikado, did you at any time, wonder why? Have you considered that the way it has been portrayed on American stages in the past years has been painful for APIs to watch?

Your stance that APIs are wrong to speak up is a huge injustice to The Mikado and it’s creators, who had much to say about tolerance and kindness, and the ability to see beyond what is presented as fact.

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America is changing, and if G&S Societies wish to survive and flourish, they are going to have to become more sensitive to diversity – both in casting and in performance.

If you are willing, she asks that you watch her speech from LA Stage Day…

 

She also asks that you take a look at these clips from The English National Opera’s production of The Mikado.

 

 

 

Seems to me that the E.N.O. did a bang up job there, and they made their concept work totally and completely.

It seems to me that that is truly the issue  – making the show work without making it offensive.

You can do it -  but you have to want to, and sadly, the ‘circle the wagons’ stance really implies that you are unwilling to entertain the notion of alternate viewpoints. What is saddest is that, with Seattle’s large Asian American population, you had a real opportunity here to introduce some great music to people who may not have been familiar with it – and instead, you blew it. Will you get an opportunity to grow your audience with the largest minority population in Seattle again?

Doubtful. Not impossible, but doubtful.

10 smacks of the wand to Seattle’s Gilbert & Sullivan Society – on top of what seems to be a questionable production in terms of sensitivity, you had your Business Manager write a ridiculous letter, you had your Koko on the radio blustering and posturing about that which he clearly knows nothing, AND you did exactly what they did in the 1940′s – you threatened people with what would happen if ‘those Asian people‘ had their way.

By Jingo you did.

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Finally, here is a message for you, from Asian America – stop trying to scare people with what will happen if we are allowed to speak our minds – we are going to continue to speak them, we do not CARE if you don’t like it -

in FACT….

 

KISS OUR FAN TAN FANNIES!

The Fairy Princess had a pretty busy week, and she has a busy week ahead. For those who read my blog regularly, yes, I am working on something in regards to performing PACIFIC OVERTURES without Asians in the show, however, it will take a bit of time, and you will have to wait a bit on that – although she is hoping when it is published, it will stand as a ‘definitive’ post on P.O.

However, just because you do not hear from The Fairy Princess all the time, does not mean that she is not fluttering about, paying attention to various things.

Here I am, paying attention...see - eyes WIDE open....

Here I am, paying attention…see – eyes WIDE open….

And when one pays attention, they can get their wings a bit bent, and that is what happened when she read this article in the LA Times by Betsy Sharkey on ’30 Actors Under 30 Who Matter”.

What The Fairy Princess noticed most on this list was that when it comes to ‘who matters’, the answer is quite clear – blondes. In fact, of all the women on this list – 17 in total, only 4 are brunettes. Only one, Hailee Steinfeld, is ‘ethnic’, she is Eurasian. There are no Latinos or Latinas on this list – at all. Two African American men. No African American women. One South Asian man.

To be fair, writer Betsy Sharkey acknowledges that her ‘list’ is whiter than I would like because of Hollywood’s continued bad casting habits‘, however by titling those listed as the ones ‘who matter’, Ms. Sharkey is contributing to the problem, not helping solve it.

While we can all acknowledge that television is leading the way in bringing Diversity to our screens, Indie film falls sadly behind. This is due of course, to most Indie films that make it to the big screens being written and directed by Caucasian males – and a large majority of them are based on some sort of retrospective of the writer/director’s life as a coming of age young man. Apparently they all lived in some generic American town that was quirky in the extreme and they were bereft of even a token ethnic friend, (which could be in part why they left), but really…who knows?

Bland upbringing means blonde casting. If they want the female lead to have depth, she is a blond with roots or a light haired brunette. She is wry, quirky, self-deprecating, but as this list points out, she is startlingly similar to the last Indie darling found by the last hailed Indie genius.

What is ‘wrong’ with this list is not, in fact, that these Actors are working, but that they are being held up in a way that Actors of Color are not – which takes an already un-level playing field and tilts it even further away from Diversity towards a very specific look.

Should Indie films continue their ‘all look same’ policy, the breadth of stories being told will become far narrower, their appeal far less, and all in all – it will contribute to the decline of Indie film as a place to go for exciting stories – after all, how many ‘coming of age gawky teen films full of desire for the cheerleader AND the ‘alt’ girl‘ are we, the general public supposed to swallow? We can only be sidetracked by their wearing some sort of superhero or 1970′s garb for so long before we realize they are, indeed, all looking and sounding quite similar.

What is happening to you, Indie Filmmakers? Why so bland?

May The Fairy Princess make a suggestion? Do not just ‘write what you know“, write what you can imagine. SEE people, SEE that stories come in all shades and sizes, and that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but in how the DP lights you. If you cannot cast your film with a Person of Color in a major role or large supporting, then perhaps you should look to another profession – because the art of cinema is in how you visually paint your palette – and if there are no other colors, what are you painting exactly?

It was not that long ago that Indie film was where people looked to see diverse stories – let us remember America Ferrara, who starred in the breakout film, Real Women Have Curves – which was directed by Patricia Cordoso and written by Josefina Lopez and George LaVoo in 2002. Ms. Ferrara has had a great career in television and voice over since then. Her success in Indie film helped changed the television landscape with the show, Ugly Betty.

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Another was Gabourey Sidibe who starred in Precious, which was directed by Lee Daniels, based on a book by Sapphire in 2009. She too, has gone on to a successful career in film and television.

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Or the Cast of Better Luck Tomorrow, directed by Justin Lin, in 2002. All still working.

L-R: John Cho, Karin Anna Cheung, Parry Shen, Roger Fan, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang

L-R: John Cho, Karin Anna Cheung, Parry Shen, Roger Fan, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang

2002 was a good year for Diversity in Indie Film. It is now 2014 – and now, we have this list to tell us who are the ‘breakout’ stars for this new generation, and it includes no Latins and no Black women.

Diversity behind the camera, brings Diversity to the camera.

Here’s the truth, The Fairy Princess does not have a problem with any of the Actors on this list, she enjoys their work. TFP does not even have a problem with the writing OF this list, because the list is based on box office and Q ratings and numbers, but the title of the list IS a problem. Because it says that these are the 30 ‘who matter‘, and by inference, anyone not on that list does NOT matter.

So who does ‘not matter’ in show business, which is the subliminal take away from Ms. Sharkey’s article? Latinos, Black Women, Asian Men, South Asian Women, Middle Easterns and most Mixed Raced people.

Those are who do NOT matter.

This list is now in the hands of every Casting Director, Show Runner, Executive, and Aspiring Director as a veritable ‘who’s who’ of how to get your show or film funded, the people on this list are now ‘bankable’, and bankable means green-lit.

This list gives a play by play of how to get your film to the next level of serious consideration and the great thing about it is, as demonstrated, if you cannot get Elle Fanning, you go to Chloe Grace Moretz, and if she passes or is unavailable, and you can bring yourself to even envision a brunette, you could think about offering it to Hailee Steinfeld. If you want super hot but slightly weird you can turn to Ellen Page, and if she is not available there is always Rooney Mara, who managed this year to get cast as a Native American, simply by dint of hair color!

Because she ‘matters’.

That is the danger of this list.

With respect to Ms. Sharkey, she is not ‘responsible’ per se for up and coming actors and who they are or what ethnicity they inhabit. What she is responsible for is the way in which she has them presented. To her credit, when The Fairy Princess tweeted her about the lack of diversity on her list, she responded with a request to be enlightened (something that is presented as open minded while wearing blinders).

The Fairy Princess took it as an honest invitation, but perhaps it was not.

Ms. Sharkey also mentioned via Twitter, and it is worth repeating, that Diversity is more apparent in Actors ages 30 and up, which is somewhat hopeful and yet, appalling. Because she writes about film, and she could not name Diverse Actors in their 20′s.

The Fairy Princess has asked around and has done some research and while she may not get to 30 because of the ‘rules’ of the list – she is limited to rising film stars and not television stars (where it is acknowledged there is growing diversity), she wants to be clear that the Actors and Actresses of Color who are in their 20′s working in film ALSO ‘Matter”.

In fact, they matter more – because they are the .001% of those who have the talent to already be working in the film industry despite their not being a petite blonde whose grew up in show business or the willowy one who can do stunts while being gorgeous and wry. In fact, TFP will allow up to age 30 to be considered for this list because once upon a time, those who just turned 30 were in their 20′s. For some, it may be only moments ago.

These 20 somethings have succeeded in spite of the Industry. If TFP misses anyone who should be considered, please of course, list them in the comments – her hope is that this list too, will become a ‘short list’ of who to go to.

The parameters are again, film – successful and noted Indie films and Blockbuster Hollywood Franchises. Not the short that got you a mention in the Film Festival in your town. Not the grad school film that you appeared in for a copy on DVD. No Youtube ‘stars’  who are ‘famous‘ – just because you have ‘hits’ and money from those hits to live on does not make you an actor or actress of note.

Blockbuster Films and well lauded Indie films are the requirement to be on this list. Future projects are listed, but they are not ‘required’ to be on this list – the requirement is age, and credits.

Anything else would prove the point Ms. Sharkey has unwittingly made – that there are few Diverse actors to choose from when making film, and we all know that is NOT true in the slightest.

The Fairy Princess pulled from the world wide web, her memory, and friends to make sure she had options, so come with her now and see how she did….

PATINA MILLER (29) TONY Winner for her role in the Broadway Revival of PIPPIN, TONY Nominee for originating the role of Deloris Van Cartier in the Broadway musical version of SISTER ACT. Next to be seen on the big screen as Commander Paylor in THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY.

PATINA MILLER (29) TONY Winner for her role in the Broadway Revival of PIPPIN, TONY Nominee for originating the role of Deloris Van Cartier in the Broadway musical version of SISTER ACT. Next to be seen on the big screen as Commander Paylor in THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY.

TAO OKUMOTO (29) A model turned actress, she played opposite HUGH JACKMAN in The Wolverine, and will next grace the big screen in the Blockbuster BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN

TAO OKAMOTO (29) A model turned actress, she played opposite HUGH JACKMAN in The Wolverine, and will next grace the big screen in the Blockbuster BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN

FREIDA PINTO (29) another of the breakout stars of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, and will play a heroine addicted Iranian Artiste in the upcoming film, DESERT DANCER

FREIDA PINTO (29) another of the breakout stars of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, she will play a heroine addicted Iranian Artiste in the upcoming film, DESERT DANCER

ROMEO MILLER (24) First appeared in a mainstream film in HONEY opposite Jessica Alba in  2003. In  2011 he starred in JUMPING THE BROOM. He appeared in MAEDA's WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM in 2012, and will play the lead in the Urban Strip Drama,  CHOCOLATE CITY from Writer/Director  Jean Claude LaMarr - just announced by Nikkie Finke.  Mr. Miller has 3 films currently in Post-Production: LOOSE, BROTHERLY LOVE, SHAKER POINTE, and ONE HEART

ROMEO MILLER (24) First appeared in a mainstream film in HONEY opposite Jessica Alba in 2003. In 2011 he starred in JUMPING THE BROOM. He appeared in MAEDA’s WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM in 2012, and will play the lead in the Urban Strip Drama, CHOCOLATE CITY from Writer/Director Jean Claude LaMarr – just announced by Nikkie Finke. Mr. Miller has 3 films currently in Post-Production: LOOSE, BROTHERLY LOVE, SHAKER POINTE, and ONE HEART

UTKARSH AMBUDKAR (30) began his film career with ROCKET SCIENCE in 2007, and went on to do quite a lot of TV work before appearing in PITCH PERFECT in 2012,  he is currently rumored to be reprising his role in PITCH PERFECT 2, according to IMDB.

UTKARSH AMBUDKAR (30) began his film career with ROCKET SCIENCE in 2007, and went on to do quite a lot of TV work before appearing in PITCH PERFECT in 2012, he is currently rumored to be reprising his role in PITCH PERFECT 2, according to IMDB.

 

KATIE LEUNG (26) this Scottish Actress is best known for playing Cho Chang in the HARRY POTTER film franchise. Her acting career seems to be growing most on stage - WILD SWANS, WORLD OF EXTREME HAPPINESS (The Shed at The National Theater 2013), and on the BBC in the Father Brown series. She was also named one of Scotland's Most Stylish Females

KATIE LEUNG (26) this Scottish Actress is best known for playing Cho Chang in the HARRY POTTER film franchise. Her acting career seems to be growing most on stage – WILD SWANS, WORLD OF EXTREME HAPPINESS (The Shed at The National Theater 2013), and on the BBC in the Father Brown series. She was also named one of Scotland’s Most Stylish Females

KARAN SONI (25) Appeared in the Indie hit film, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, which won numerous awards.  He is currently filming a GOOSEBUMPS movie and an indie called B-Roll in addition to appearing in numerous TV shows.

KARAN SONI (25) Appeared in the Indie hit film, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, which won numerous awards.
He is currently filming a GOOSEBUMPS movie and an indie called B-Roll in addition to appearing in numerous TV shows.

NATHALIE KELLEY (29) this Aussie is of Peruvian and Argentinian descent. Best known for appearing in THE FAST & THE FURIOUS; TOKYO DRIFT she also appeared in the feature TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT and will reprise her role in FAST & FURIOUS 7

NATHALIE KELLEY (29) this Aussie is of Peruvian and Argentinian descent. Best known for appearing in THE FAST & THE FURIOUS; TOKYO DRIFT she also appeared in the feature TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT and will reprise her role in FAST & FURIOUS 7

 

NATHALIE EMMANUEL (25) this UK Actress has a combined heritage that included Dominican, St. Lucian, and British. Though most may know her as Missandei,  the Interpreter for Khaleesi in GAME OF THRONES, she is set to light up the Big Screen in FAST & FURIOUS 7. She has also appeared in the stage musical of THE LION KING in The West End playing Nala.

NATHALIE EMMANUEL (25) this UK Actress has a combined heritage that included Dominican, St. Lucian, and British. Though most may know her as Missandei, the Interpreter for Khaleesi in GAME OF THRONES, she is set to light up the Big Screen in FAST & FURIOUS 7. She has also appeared in the stage musical of THE LION KING in The West End playing Nala.

TYLER  JAMES WILLIAMS (21) starring in the upcoming Indie film DEAR WHITE PEOPLE from writer/director Justin Simien.

TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS (21) starring in the upcoming Indie film DEAR WHITE PEOPLE from writer/director Justin Simien.

VANESSA HUDGENS  (25) has a mixed ethnic background of Filipina, Irish and Native American, she is known for the Indie film THIRTEEN, THUNDERBIRDS, SUCKER PUNCH and SPRING BREAKERS. Her next project is a Pre-Broadway workshop of the musical, GIGI by Lerner & Lowe

VANESSA HUDGENS (25) has a mixed ethnic background of Filipina, Irish and Native American, she is known for the Indie film THIRTEEN, THUNDERBIRDS, SUCKER PUNCH and SPRING BREAKERS. Her next project is a Pre-Broadway workshop of the musical, GIGI by Lerner & Lowe

KEKE PALMER (20) shot to fame as the lead character of Akeelah in the indie, AKEELAH AND THE BEE. She has a long resume that includes the Animated feature ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, JOYFUL NOISE, THE CLEANER, and BARBERSHOP 2:Back In Business. She will next reprise her role as Peaches in ICE AGE 5, she has a film called THE PIMP in Pre-Production, and another film, BROTHERLY LOVE in Post Production.

KEKE PALMER (20) shot to fame as the lead character of Akeelah in the indie, AKEELAH AND THE BEE. She has a long resume that includes the Animated feature ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, JOYFUL NOISE, THE CLEANER, and BARBERSHOP 2:Back In Business.
She will next reprise her role as Peaches in ICE AGE 5, she has a film called THE PIMP in Pre-Production, and another film, BROTHERLY LOVE in Post Production.

ADAM BAKRI (26) star of the Palestinian film OMAR, which was nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD for Best Foreign Film in 2013. The Film won the Special Jury Prize in Cannes. He self identifies as a Palestinian Israeli, who now lives in the US full time. His next project is the feature film ALI AND NINO directed by Asif Kapadia. The story is regarded as 'the jewel of Azerbaijiani literature' and charts a romance between a Muslim Prince and a Georgian Christian Princess, the book was published in 1937 and written by Kurban Said

ADAM BAKRI (26) star of the Palestinian film OMAR, which was nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD for Best Foreign Film in 2013. The Film won the Special Jury Prize in Cannes.
He self identifies as a Palestinian Israeli, who now lives in the US full time.
His next project is the feature film ALI AND NINO directed by Asif Kapadia. The story is regarded as ‘the jewel of Azerbaijiani literature’ and charts a romance between a Muslim Prince and a Georgian Christian Princess, the book was published in 1937 and written by Kurban Said

HANA MAE LEE (27) This Korean American Actress started modeling at 16 for major brands before making the leap to Acting. She is known for her roles in PITCH PERFECT and will reprise it for PITCH PERFECT 2.

HANA MAE LEE (27) This Korean American Actress started modeling at 16 for major brands before making the leap to Acting. She is known for her role in PITCH PERFECT and will reprise it for PITCH PERFECT 2.

JAMES FLOYD (28) This UK Actor who is half Indian-Singaporean and half British won the Best Newcomer Award last year at the British Indie Film Awards for his role in MY BROTHER THE DEVIL. He has also been seen in THE INFIDEL (2010) and EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE (2011)

JAMES FLOYD (28) This UK Actor who is half Indian-Singaporean and half British won the Best Newcomer Award last year at the British Indie Film Awards for his role in MY BROTHER THE DEVIL. He has also been seen in THE INFIDEL (2010) and EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE (2011)

TESSA THOMPSON (30) - WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2006), MAKE IT HAPPEN (2008) ,FOR COLORED GIRLS (2010). Next up for her, the highly anticipated Indie DEAR WHITE PEOPLE

TESSA THOMPSON (30) – WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2006), MAKE IT HAPPEN (2008) ,FOR COLORED GIRLS (2010). Next up for her, the highly anticipated Indie DEAR WHITE PEOPLE

BRITTENY ALGER (25) is listed as having Mixed Ethnicity by her Agent, and hails from New Orleans. She has appeared in the films PITCH PERFECT, 21 JUMP STREET, and THE DEMENTED. She will next appear in FAST & FURIOUS 7 as Jasmine.

BRITTENY ALGER (25) is listed as having Mixed Ethnicity by her Agent, and hails from New Orleans. She has appeared in the films PITCH PERFECT, 21 JUMP STREET, and THE DEMENTED. She will next appear in FAST & FURIOUS 7 as Jasmine.

DARREN CRISS (27) appeared opposite comedic heavy hitter Kristen Wiig, in GIRL MOST LIKELY. Mr. Criss is Eurasian, having heritages of Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, English, German, and Northern Irish

DARREN CRISS (27) appeared opposite comedic heavy hitter Kristen Wiig, in GIRL MOST LIKELY.
Mr. Criss is Eurasian, having heritages of Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, English, German, and Northern Irish

ODETTE ANNABLE (29) She has been seen in CLOVERFIELD (2008), THE UNBORN (2009), AND SOON THE DARKNESS (2010), YOU AGAIN (2010) She will next appear in the feature film, THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES, which is in post

ODETTE ANNABLE (29)  whose heritage is French, Italian and Cuban took her Husband’s name, her original surname was Yustman. She has been seen in CLOVERFIELD (2008), THE UNBORN (2009), AND SOON THE DARKNESS (2010), YOU AGAIN (2010)She will next appear in the feature film, THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES, which is in post. She was raised in a Spanish speaking household and is fluent.

TRISTAN WILDS (24) has appeared in THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES (2008), the Indie HALF NELSON (2006), and RED TAILS (2012) TRISTAN has been quoted as saying "I get offered a lot of black roles because apparently, I don't look Latino enough"

TRISTAN WILDS (24) has appeared in THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES (2008), the Indie HALF NELSON (2006), and RED TAILS (2012)
TRISTAN has been quoted as saying “I get offered a lot of black roles because apparently, I don’t look Latino enough”

ALEXA PENAVEGA (26)  started off her film career with the SPY KIDS films, and also appeared in the film REPO, THE GENETIC OPERA. She has 5 new films coming out - DWELLER (pre-prod), SPARE PARTS (post-prod), SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Post Prod), 2 BR/1BA, 23 BLAST, and THE REMAINING.

ALEXA PENAVEGA (26) started off her film career with the SPY KIDS films, and also appeared in the film REPO, THE GENETIC OPERA. She has 5 new films coming out – DWELLER (pre-prod), SPARE PARTS (post-prod), SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Post Prod), 2 BR/1BA, 23 BLAST, and THE REMAINING.

LEILA BEKHTI (30) is a French Actress of Algerian descent. She won the coveted Cesar Award for Most Promising Actress for her role in TOUT CE  QUI BRILLE,  which was a critical and commercial success. She starred in THE SOURCE, competed at Cannes in 2011.  In 2013 BEFORE THE WINTER CHILL, and in 2014 Maintenant ou jamais.

LEILA BEKHTI (30) is a French Actress of Algerian descent. She won the coveted Cesar Award for Most Promising Actress for her role in TOUT CE QUI BRILLE, which was a critical and commercial success. She starred in THE SOURCE, competed at Cannes in 2011. In 2013 BEFORE THE WINTER CHILL, and in 2014 MAINTENANT OU JAMAIS

DESIREE AKHAVAN (29) is a Writer, Filmmaker, and Actress whose feature, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR is being shown at LA's OUTFEST 2014. She has been called "The next Lena Dunham" and refers to herself as a Bisexual Iranian American.  This film was her thesis for NYU's Graduate Directing Program, and premiered at Sundance Film Festival.  The LA Times just did a feature article on her - coincidentally, the same paper that the 30 under 30 list appeared.

DESIREE AKHAVAN (29) is a Writer, Filmmaker, and Actress whose feature, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR is being shown at LA’s OUTFEST 2014. She has been called “The next Lena Dunham” and refers to herself as a Bisexual Iranian American.
This film was her thesis for NYU’s Graduate Directing Program, and premiered at Sundance Film Festival.
The LA Times just did a feature article on her – coincidentally, the same paper that the 30 under 30 list appeared.

MALESE JOW (23) has appeared in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, BRATZ the movie. Upcoming she has the film, PLASTIC

MALESE JOW (23) has appeared in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, BRATZ the movie. Upcoming she has the film, PLASTIC

Ki HON LEE (24) has appeared in SHE HAS A BOYFRIEND (2013), THIS IS HOW WE NEVER MET (2013). He will be playing Minho in the film adaptation of James Dashner's THE MAZE RUNNER

KI HONG LEE (24) has appeared in SHE HAS A BOYFRIEND (2013), THIS IS HOW WE NEVER MET (2013). He will be playing Minho in the film adaptation of James Dashner’s THE MAZE RUNNER

AML AMEEN (28) this UK Native appeared in Lee Daniel's film THE BUTLER playing a younger version of Forrest Whittaker's character, Cecil Gaines.  He will appear in THE MAZE RUNNER Trilogy later this year, as well as in the the feature LILA & EVE opposite Jennifer Lopez & Viola Davis. He will also appear this year in the feature BLACKBIRD alongside Minnie Driver and Danny Glover.

AML AMEEN (28) this UK Native appeared in Lee Daniel’s film THE BUTLER playing a younger version of Forrest Whittaker’s character, Cecil Gaines. He will appear in THE MAZE RUNNER Trilogy later this year, as well as in the the feature LILA & EVE opposite Jennifer Lopez & Viola Davis. He will also appear this year in the feature BLACKBIRD alongside Minnie Driver and Danny Glover.

NATASHA WANGANEEN (30), This Aussie Native is shown here with her 2004 AFI Award for her turn in the film RABBIT PROOF FENCE. She also appeared in JESSICA in 2004

NATASHA WANGANEEN (30), This Aussie Native is shown here with her 2004 AFI Award for her turn in the film RABBIT PROOF FENCE. She also appeared in JESSICA in 2004

JESSICA HILDA MAUBOY (25) is an Australian Actress who gained International notice when she starred in the Indie film, THE SAPPHIRES (2012). She earned a AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She appeared in the Aboriginal Musical Film,  BRAN NUE DAY. She is also a Pop Star in Australia  and was nominated in 2013 for "Young Australian of the Year". She is of Indonesian and Indigenous Australian descent.

JESSICA HILDA MAUBOY (25) is an Australian Actress who gained International notice when she starred in the Indie film, THE SAPPHIRES (2012). She earned a AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
She appeared in the Aboriginal Musical Film, BRAN NUE DAY. She is also a Pop Star in Australia and was nominated in 2013 for “Young Australian of the Year”.
She is of Indonesian and Indigenous Australian descent.

QUVENZHANE WALLIS (10) is known for her roles in 2 Oscar Nominated Films - BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012) and 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013). Next up for her is starring in the reboot of the latest film version of the musical, ANNIE

QUVENZHANE WALLIS (10) is known for her roles in 2 Oscar Nominated Films – BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012) and 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013). Next up for her is starring in the reboot of the latest film version of the musical, ANNIE

KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES (24) nothing like launching an Indie career by riding in on the back of a Cetacean, but this actress from Western Australia is known for her debut in WHALE RIDER (2002). She also has been seen in THE NATIVITY STORY (2006), STAR WARS REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005), RED DOG (2011), with a rumored part in GAME OF THRONES coming up. She has completed filming on 2 features - MILLION DOLLAR MATE and QUEEN OF CARTHAGE

KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES (24) nothing like launching an Indie career by riding in on the back of a Cetacean, but this actress from Western Australia is known for her debut in WHALE RIDER (2002). She also has been seen in THE NATIVITY STORY (2006), STAR WARS REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005), RED DOG (2011), with a rumored part in GAME OF THRONES coming up. She has completed filming on 2 features – MILLION DOLLAR MATE and QUEEN OF CARTHAGE

Well heavens, The Fairy Princess made it to a list of 30!

Now, of course, Dear Reader,  this will spark your memory and you will OF COURSE comment on who was left off of this list – AS WELL YOU SHOULD. Let us make the list longer!

One group which she wanted to include was Native Americans, there are quite a few from The Twilight Movies, however – they generally did not have their birth dates listed on IMDB, so The Fairy Princess could not determine – given the parameters of the list – whether or not she could include them on this particular list.

The Fairy Princess did want to let you all know that there is a wonderful list of NA Actors on IMDB, and if you click HERE, you will find it – and Congratulations to them all, TFP was glad to know that there were so many.

The Fairy Princess is not a professional writer who patrols screenings and looks for new talent as part of her job, she is someone who blogs about Diversity and what lack of Diversity does to our culture at large – and this list took her one day to compile.

ONE. DAY.

And, there is NO DOUBT that she could have written more, there is not a doubt that she could have gotten higher than 30, but… she has to go to bed. That is the truth. The Fairy Princess has a toddler who will be awake and chatty at 5:30 am, just as he is EVERY morning, and simply put….she has to call it a day.

However, she wants you to remember, that the next time someone deigns to tell you who or what ‘matters’, that it is clearly something to ignore.

We all matter – whether it is to your Family, your Friends, your Career – YOU matter. Do not let Hollywood and it’s lack of creativity in Casting have any effect on your personal feelings about yourself because The Fairy Princess SEES you, she does, and take it from her – YOU MATTER.

10 smacks with the wand to Ms. Sharkey, who in one fell swoop, managed to push the Hollywood agenda steadily forward, by paying lip service to the problem, but not, in any way, becoming part of the solution.

Dear Ms. Sharkey The Fairy Princess has no idea why your list was so heavily stilted towards blonde actresses…

Betsy+Sharkey+AMPAS+Celebrates+30th+Anniversary+XyLiSO04rtZl

but she could take a guess.

Let’s do better next time.

Also, please take a look at this new film’s trailer…because we are getting restless, and when we do, we People of Color,  we get funny….

 

 

The Fairy Princess has a two year old – most people who read my blog know that. She blogs, generally, about diversity in theater and representation on television – and Diversity is an ongoing conversation.

The reason the conversation about Diversity is ongoing is because the world is not run by, this is a generalization and The Fairy Princess knows that, however it is a generalization for a reason – not because this is intended to be a rallying cry – the world is not run by People of Color.

Unless you work for Shonda Rhimes.

Are there People of Color everywhere?

Yes.

However The Fairy Princess and her Family reside in the United States. She is also a Member of the UK Commonwealth by Citizenship, so in HER world – barring The President of the United States – the world is run by white people.

White, straight people.

Caucasian Cisgendered People who enjoy a greater sense of Privilege.

Now, The Fairy Princess‘s Father was a Caucasian Cisgendered male – so she has nothing against people who identify themselves that way – unless in impacts the way in which she lives, or  the way her family lives -changes their ability to walk about the world doing whatever it is one does all day – with us, it is generally auditions, drink coffee, creative meetings, physical health maintenance and making sure that my child lives the fullest life for his age group that any child can live. Your regular creative nightmare.

Today, she took her child to the local pool. Her child, whose heritage is Korean, Chinese, Irish and Welsh, is one who, by appearance, looks 100% Asian. He is gorgeous. The Fairy Princess has been told this by People who work in Entertainment, so of course it must be true because People in Entertainment are always honest.

Ahem.

Personal attractiveness aside, she will say, her kid has an amazing personality and a love of life that reminds her every day that we should all strive to be as full of the wonder of the world as we can.

Anyway, today she took him to the local pool – he looked very cute. He was running around enjoying himself, with Mommy only a few steps away because…well…there was water and he was in the pool, capice?

Everyone who looked at him enjoying himself and laughing, smiled.

Even the very cute little 5, possibly 6 year old girl who was near him in the water. It is a wading pool, and kids younger than 8 generally stay in this area.

As this lovely little Caucasian girl with the long lovely brown hair looked at him, she smiled. She looked up at me and she smiled. She looked at The Fairy Princess‘s son, who was laughing and splashing, and smiled again. Then she looked at The Fairy Princess and asked her a question.

“Can he see?”

The Fairy Princess took a second, because well…she had to watch her son, and also, she wanted to take stock of the situation in full, to see if she understood it correctly. Which is when the question was expanded.

“Can he open his eyes?”

Because The Fairy Princess‘s son has beautiful and expressive Asian shaped eyes. Asian eyes tend to be smaller in appearance than Caucasian eyes, but they are not. They are the same sized eye that everyone has -  generally, Asians have an epicanthic fold – which is just skin, Folks, it’s just skin. The eyeballs are the same size as anyone else.

Yes, we can see.

This is why Diversity on our television screens and on our stages and forty feet high in the movies matters.

This little girl, it seems, has has no interaction with Asian Americans, and her question was simply her trying to understand something that she had never seen. So she asked a question that, had The Fairy Princess‘s son been older and more aware, probably would have hurt his feelings. It might have made him, had he been older and more able to understand, question his own worthiness. It might have, had he been older and more able to understand, might have made him shut down and feel isolated.

The Fairy Princess never wants that to happen to her son, so she has surrounded him, since birth, with people who all walk different paths. He is awash in the love and kindness of so many, that it gives him a confidence and an armor to go out into the world where he will, no doubt, hear this kind of question again – only not given so innocently.

The next time he hears it, it could be to belittle him, or used as a tool to make him leave a situation. The next time he hears it, it could be the prelude to violence – the thought of which keeps The Fairy Princess up at night, because no matter how safe you feel in America, a Person of Color – like any woman walking around the world anywhere, has to keep an awareness of personal safety that straight, white, cisgendered males do not.

This little girl was not, herself, being racist. She was trying to understand because in her daily life, and in the life her Parents have allowed her to enjoy – she does not, it is clear, encounter People of Color. No one has explained to her that the world is large, and that people come in all shapes and shades, and that love can be all manner of things to all manner of people. No one has shared with her the notion that there are questions that are inappropriate, or that just because someone looks different to you or acts different to you, it is not your ‘right’ to demand an answer for their existence.

This little girl and her question are why we need, at a young age, to be exposed to different peoples. Not just racially – there are people with disabilities, and people who love people of the same sex. There are people who come from cultures where facial tattoos are a right of passage, or people who have lost limbs to war. There are people who began life as one type of person and have found that they are another type of person. There are people who have weight issues, or people who have scars…there are so many different types of people in the world.

They all deserve to walk about the planet without having answers demanded of them, with no notice, from someone who only knows one type of world – even if the person asking is only five. Or six.

The Fairy Princess‘s answer to this little girl, who smiled so innocently while asking was brief, “Yes, he can see.”

The Fairy Princess‘s look at this little girl’s Mother, bikini clad in a Lily Pulitzer transparent cover up, standing outside the water but able to hear every word her daughter asked, said a bit more.

Ahem.

The little girl’s Mother pulled her out of the pool rather quickly, and, one hopes, took her home to give her a talk on the Diversity of the planet, perhaps she popped in a DVD of Disney’s Mulan or something to explain it further. Hopefully, this little girl’s Mother now realizes that what she is giving her child – confidence, charm, inquisitiveness – perhaps needs to be expanded by visiting museums, and venturing to other areas like New York City. Perhaps she will realize that she is doing her child, and my child, a disservice by presenting only one world view.

Perhaps she will not.

However, if our television screens continue to diversify, if our films continue to show different types of people, if our stages start to represent our entire populations – that little girl will have exposure to other peoples. No one will be ‘foreign’ to her, she will have seen a world that encompasses many things.

As she grows, if she sees Diversity, her questions will hopefully focus less on appearance and more on…oh, science or art or music or the environment or…there is so much more to focus on, when we all can just accept one another without demanding answers for another person’s existence, for when we stop asking why someone looks the way they look. Perhaps if she can stop with the questionable questions, she will be able to set about finding answers – to things like world peace, conservation, global warming, sex trafficking…that little girl seemed very bright, The Fairy Princess bets she could do it.

That is why Diversity matters, because lack of Diversity makes the conversation stop and focus only on one aspect, and there is so much more to see and do, than ask if Asian people can open their eyes.

The Fairy Princess hopes that, in hearing her child ask an Asian American child if they could see, that little girl’s Mother learned a lesson today too.

Because the next time, that Mother might get more than a look from The Fairy Princess, she might get an earful too.

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