Archives for category: Diversity

The Fairy Princess has been writing about diversity in theater for close to two years now – and the message had been heard around the Globe – except, apparently by Opera Australia.

Luckily though, after reading this blog by Diva Knows Best, she knew that all was not completely lost – it just feels that way sometimes.

This is what was puzzling – Director Christopher Renshaw won the Tony Award for directing The King & I on Broadway, and as the King, he cast Lou Diamond Phillips, who is of Asian Heritage.

 

The Fairy Princess had several friends in that production, which was beautiful and award winning, and who inhabited the Small Musical of Rogers and Hammerstein with their usual professionalism, grace, and ability.

It is to their credit that the production was so well thought of, that Lincoln Center is planning another revival of it in 2015, which has not been announced officially, but which everyone knows is coming.

Even Playbill.com – who, no, has still not issued an amendment to their Twitter Contest to ‘name the next King” when they egregiously overlooked the fact that they published 4 Caucasian choices as potential Kings. (All talented men, all not of Asian Heritage).

The Fairy Princess is waiting, Playbill.com for that new article she suggested. Ahem. Seriously, where is it?

Anyhow, The Fairy Princess was troubled to see that though Director Renshaw had worked with talented Asian American leading men, when casting the new Australian National Tour with Opera Australia, he…ummmm…forgot?

It seems that everyone forgot that the King of Siam was a real person and this is what the King of Siam looked like:

Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha Mongkut Phra Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรเมนทรมหามงกุฎ พระจอมเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว), or Rama IV, known in English-speaking countries as King Mongkut (18 October 1804 – 1 October 1868), was the fourth monarch of Siam (Thailand) under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1851–1868. He was one of the most revered monarchs of the country.

Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha Mongkut Phra Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรเมนทรมหามงกุฎ พระจอมเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว), or Rama IV, known in English-speaking countries as King Mongkut (18 October 1804 – 1 October 1868), was the fourth monarch of Siam (Thailand) under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1851–1868. He was one of the most revered monarchs of the country.

 

How do you work on a musical that once won you one of the highest honors in your profession, and forget who you worked with and why the show ‘worked’ in the first place?

Seems odd.

Because here is who Opera Australia chose to go with for The King, and of course, they insist it had nothing to do with the fact that he is dating the woman who is currently playing Mrs. Anna:

Teddy Tahu Rhodes is The King...of????

Teddy Tahu Rhodes

He looks more like he would be the King in some kingdom we have not reached yet on Game of Thrones because we are trying to read the books in conjunction with the television show so that we do not ‘spoil’ it for ourselves.

He does not look like this:

King Mongkut of Siam, now Thailand

King Mongkut of Siam, now Thailand

 

The Fairy Princess was upset, not only because she knows this is a huge cultural mis-step – but because…wait for it…The Fairy Princess is an Aussie.

 

In Cairns, with my Grandma

In Cairns, with my Grandma, I am the baby.

Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey.

Yes, and my Chinese Australian Family has been part of the Australian Cultural Landscape since the 1870′s.

Yes, I said the 1870′s. We have all sorts of fun folks in the Family - War Heroes, Artists, Business People  – people who have helped shape Australia, so it seems odd to me that in all of Australia – which, I know personally, has been diversifying since, well, the late 1800′s, that they could not find ONE person of Asian descent to play The King.

Not one?

But they found a Tuptim (Jenny Liu), a Lady Thiang (Sh-Cheen Yu), and a Lun Tha (Adrian Li Donni) ?

Just no King.

In all of Australia, with all the Asians, and Eurasians, and Asian influx….not one? Really?

Ruh- Roh

Ruh- Roh

Dear Opera Australia, I guess you missed my speech last year.

 

And just between us, Opera Australia – The Fairy Princess could have informally polled her rellies, quite honestly, and found someone. Her Grandmother was one of 13 – she has hundreds of relations. Tons of musicians.

However, I will say this for Opera Australia – they had a bit of a backlash when they announced Mr. Rhodes as their King – (and by the way, this is not an indictment of Mr. Rhodes or his abilities, no performer hires themselves after all) and they listened to it – because people spoke up!

Way to go Oz!

Australia-flag

The Fairy Princess is going to imagine that they did not understand that by hiring Mr. Rhodes they were doing this:

Why yes, they ARE all Caucasian Actors in bad makeup and NO, they do not look Asian AT ALL

Why NO, they do not look Asian AT ALL

Perhaps they did not understand that Diversity = Dollars.

Which means, that quite a lot of people, theater bloggers and so forth, loudly stated that the casting of Mr. Rhodes was not something they were eager to see.

So when it dawned on Opera Australia that they were being ‘culturally insensitive’ and more importantly, that it would cost them money – they very quickly did this thing that they should have done in the first place when they decided that no one in Australia would ‘suit’.

They sent an email.

Isn’t technology amazing?

And they hired this guy:

2DC10F8E1-FB78-8B1C-0427F150EB53EEBE

Jason Scott Lee.

Beginning the tour in Melbourne.

He was in Hawaii.  The Fairy Princess can tell you from  many flights from the USA to OZ and back – Hawaii is actually a fairly reasonable flight Down Under- once we were in Hawaii, we were halfway there.

Right on, Opera Australia! (You should have done it in the first place, but…at least you paid attention)

So you see, my fellow Thespians – there is always hope. If people speak up, if people write, if people stand up for things that are simply right (diverse casting, freedom from captivity for cetaceans, no child trafficking), things CAN change.

My Friend, Anderson Jones always used to say “If they knew better, they would do better” and The Fairy Princess would like to acknowledge that Opera Australia and Director Christopher Renshaw have demonstrated that while, yes, it is too late to change the first leg of the tour, they can adapt to our more modern sensibilities about Casting.

As The King himself sings “Every day I do my best for one more day’

So, break a leg, Jason Scott Lee – we are all pulling for you, and that flight from Hawaii is not so bad…maybe you’ll get to fly over with these guys…

 

 

 

The Fairy Princess has had a terrible bout of food poisoning, shared by her toddler. Recommendations include never, ever eating again at a mall in Glendale. Even if you have successfully eaten there in the past.

The Fairy Princess is recommending to just say no, or if you are, as an actor, going to eat at a mall in Glendale, do it before Pilot Season because then you will be almost the exact rate beloved by television execs everywhere, which is about 30 per cent under the recommended daily weight for your personal height.

The Fairy Princess vows to not eat at a mall in Glendale till next January at least. And then she hopes to book a series regular. Other than that, this bout of food poisoning is totally wasted on me.

Although, I must say, my collar bone looks fantastic right now.

A singer who moves well, after several days of food poisoning....just LOOK at my collar bone! IT. IS. GORGEOUS!

A singer who moves well, after several days of food poisoning….just LOOK at my collar bone! IT. IS. GORGEOUS!

So to say she was feeling a bit ill, was, honestly, gilding the lily at this point – but I should have suspected that it would not be long before I was feeling like I was witnessing gilding the TIGER LILY, because then I read an article from Playbill.com on who should be the next King in the as yet, not officially announced, (but every Asian American Actor knows it’s been coming since War Horse was going to move), production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. At Lincoln Center.

Who doesn’t love The King & I?

Ummm, from what I hear tell, people from Siam. (Now Thailand). The film was banned because it was disrespectful. And likely, people from Burma. (and you have to hiss when you say Burrrrma, because that is how it is done in the show) (Burma is now Myanmar).

Of course there are all sorts of reasons for that, but the musical is based on a book by Anna Leonowens (who was, actually Eurasian of mixed Angl0/Indian descent born in India) which posits Anna as the great white savior-ess of the poor, befuddled, savage-adjacent King of Siam. So already, you know you are in for a bit of white-washing, ahem. There are all sorts of historical errors in the book, but you know, it was a ‘memoir’ technically, so if that’s what she remembered…?

Did you know that Tuptim was later reported to have actually married Chulalongkorn, who had 36 wives, so…no death by beating? History is so tricky, right?

But people in the United States love The King and I, and truly, The Fairy Princess loves The King and I because it was my first big ‘gig’, playing Lady Thiang, first wife, opposite Debby Boone as Mrs. Anna. (I had very good quotes, even though we tend to say we do not read reviews, actors love good quotes about the work)

With Debby Boone & Julie Garnye @ Jim Caruso's Cast Party

With Debby Boone & Julie Garnye @ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party

But this is what is made me thing my food poisoning was making it’s return:

Playbill.com playfully tweeted “who should be The King and tweet us your answers‘, and people of the general public gleefully avoided ‘nominating’ anyone that was Asian American!

NOT. A. ONE.

NOT ONE?

NOW THAT IS AN EFFIN’ PUZZLEMENT!

EXCEPT for Asian American Musical Theater Actors who actually took the question seriously and gave real answers based on both star power and those who had played the role before, some several times.

So LET’S SEE who the General Public picked which was PUBLISHED by Playbill.com as viable choices that should potentially be considered to play The King in the next up and at ‘em production of The King and I:

Hugh Pannaro - who starred as both Raul and The Phantom on Broadway was chosen by a Twitter Fan

Hugh Pannaro – who starred as both Raul and The Phantom on Broadway was chosen by a Twitter Fan

 

Three Twits chose Michael Cerveris from The Who's Tommy and Titanic - possibly because of the hair?

Three Twits chose Michael Cerveris from The Who’s Tommy and Titanic – possibly because of the hair?

 

And a Twit chose Raul Esparza who is currently on NBC's Hannibal, but who also starred on Bway in a number of shows including Company and Leap of Faith

And a Twit chose Raul Esparza who is currently on NBC’s Hannibal, but who also starred on Bway in a number of shows including Company and Leap of Faith

 

Paulo Szot who earned a TONY Nomination for 2008 's South Pacific

Paulo Szot who earned a TONY Nomination for 2008 ‘s South Pacific

 

These four gentlemen are, yes, all brilliantly talented.

The Fairy Princess has seen each and every one of them live and in digital form, and they are Musical Theater Masters, each in their own way. So, to a certain extent, she does understand the General Public ignoring one glaring fact about any of them taking the iconic role of The King, because they are Broadway Superfans and fans tend to, you know, be FANS, and ignore things like -

NONE OF THESE TALENTED MEN ARE ACTUALLY ASIAN HERITAGED MEN.

Which, in this day and age, does make them ineligible to play The King of Siam. On Broadway.

Because we of ‘The Broadway’ do not find this:

Syracuse Opera

acceptable.

The Fairy Princess was dismayed, to say the very least, that an esteemed theatrical news outlet like Playbill.com would actually publish Caucasian faces as ‘potential’ Kings for The King & I. The reason she is so dismayed is because Playbill.com has been covering the change, in the last two years, of the way ‘yellowface’ is regarded in the Industry.

Change you say? Oh yes, The Fairy Princess gave a speech about it at LA Stage Day

 

Playbill.com has, actually, been covering the changing attitudes in Casting, and doing a very good job of it, for the past two years. For example: They covered the uproar   at La Jolla Playhouse over “The Nightingale, they covered the protests at the last Miss Saigon tour, they have even quoted The Fairy Princess!

(Which, btw, I was very moved by, because I read it all the time)

As one can see it is not as if Playbill.com was unaware that Caucasians playing Asian is, thankfully, turning into a big ‘no no’.

So, they are familiar with me, and let’s face it, It is not like I have ever refrained from saying this:

photo

So if you are aware, Playbill.com, of the changing attitudes why publish this list as you did?

Wouldn’t it be a stronger editorial choice to say “look, yes, there are superfans that tweeted names that are not Asian American, and that is all well and good, but  let’s concentrate on promoting and sharing potential Kings who have both the resume and the heritage to make this ‘tweet contest’ a list that Casting could look at seriously.”

Because if, say, there were going to be a revival of, oh, I don’t know, an August Wilson play, and someone tweeted you a photo of Tom Hanks – would you publish it?

Would you, Playbill.com?

The Fairy Princess is being serious.

Because of all publications, Playbill.com is in the best position, better than almost any, to know the percentage of Asian Americans on Broadway, and to know how rare it is to have a show that can encompass a mostly API Cast, and what potential that has for us, as a group.

With all the coverage when there is a bi-lingual West Side Story, or of All The Way, which focuses on Civil Rights, or After Midnight, which so gorgeously highlights the music of an era and a people, why, when it is Asian American, is it ‘ok’ to publish a list that includes Caucasian faces?

The Fairy Princess doubts that you would do that to any of those shows, Playbill.com

The Fairy Princess is willing to bet that this was a light-hearted attempt to get everyone excited about a revival of a show that is a Musical Theater staple, as most Twitter things are, but there needs to be editorial responsibility.

While The Fairy Princess is grateful for the coverage that Playbill.com has given to Asian American representation on Broadway, and the various Casting issues that have arisen over the last two years, she does think that in this case, they could have done better. They could have drawn a line in the editorial sand and said “we are going to stand with Asian American performers because it is the right thing to do’.

Because Asian American Performers who are delighted that they may get a chance to audition or be in the new cast of The King & I did not need to flip through that list, and see that General Viewing Public would be just as glad to see this revival if there were no Asian American faces in it.

We did not need to see that.

We see that every day.

We read Playbill.com all the time, and we rejoice for any and every friend and acquaintance that has mention, and we get delighted for any and all coverage on musicals because we love them so much – but we did not need to see one of ‘our’ industry ‘papers’, ‘zines’, etc, etc, etc, throw up NINE potential “Kings’, with FOUR of them being Caucasian.

C’mon Playbill.com – you published it. Which is…kind of endorsing it, doncha think?

We did not need to see that.

We see that every day.

The Fairy Princess does not want to get into a hashtag war with Playbill.com – there is no point to it, they do good work, and she is sure that there is a way to fix this.

In fact, she has thought of one:

The Fairy Princess thinks there should be a ‘revised’ list by Playbill.com reporters – who take into account the last time the show was in The West End, on Broadway, Regionally, who amongst API Actors started in Musicals and perhaps have gone on to popular television shows, things of that nature. They should compile this list and publish it.

Publish THAT list.

The Fairy Princess thinks that Playbill.com should lead the way in enlightening the General Musical Theater Going Public as to HOW MANY Asian American candidates there are for The King – and if there are 10, or 20, all the better.

The Fairy Princess is not going to debate who, now, should be the once and future King in the revival in 2015. Mainly because she knows most of them, and no matter what order they are put in, or how they are listed, she will hurt someone’s feelings.

She is going to trust that Casting, the real Casting Directors, will do their job wonderfully well, and put together a new and inspiring production of this show.

She wishes all of the potential Kings well – may the odds be ever in your favor.

Look, to quote the show, “Every day I do my best for one more day” - so come on, let’s just do a bit better

because if not…

Jujubee-library-reading-to-filth

 

 

 

 

The Fairy Princess is not a sports fan.

Well, she is not a football fan – mainly because she was in the Color Guard in High School and got pneumonia waiting for those endless games to end.

The Fairy Princess likes gymnastics, ice skating, and dressage. Yes, dressage.

Lee Cheng Ni Diani of Malaysia riding Antschar in the Asian Games

Lee Cheng Ni Diani of Malaysia riding Antschar in the Asian Games

The Fairy Princess could not care less about football.

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Which is why, of course, she would go on to marry someone who plays Fantasy Football on a competitive level. (She doesn’t get that either, it’s a fantasy! It does not exist! Picking names of superstars that are already superstars does not make y’all Mr. Roarke! It makes it another reason to ignore taking out the garbage.)

You know what is a fantasy?

This:

Here is The Fairy Princess on her yacht, cruising the islands of somewhere where there is no mobile phone access

Here is The Fairy Princess on her yacht, cruising the islands of somewhere where there is no mobile phone access

You know what is a nightmare?

This:

Here is some asswipe trying to explain why he gets to mock someone else's culture because he likes to drink and watch people in way better shape than him, make millions of dollars, even when they miss

This is NOT ‘being a fan’. Trust me, I’m in Entertainment, I know what ‘a fan’ is. THIS is being an ASSWIPE – I also know what that is from working in Entertainment. Ahem.

This is not ok.

Or this:

1But THIS is not ok either:

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Because it took away the focus of what Stephen Colbert was trying to say – which was that the name of the

24640d1217728378-hof-washington-redskins-fans-everywhere-redskins

Football team is offensive to Native Americans and should be changed. Steven Colbert’s comedic sketch was implying that the team in Washington knows that they should  change the name, but that they are stubbornly refusing due to some innate sense of white privilege.

He was saying that trying to hide the fact that they know that they should change the name by establishing a charity is bullshit. And then he pointed out that to call the  charity you are funding by the very name that is most offensive to the people you say you are going to help with this charity is, to put it in the mildest way possible – absurd.

 

cfCUgt5

This week, Asian American Bloggers have been asked to join with Native Americans whose opportunity to be the subject of a national conversation on the continued use of derogatory sports team names was co-opted by some folks very quick to hashtag.

The Fairy Princess joins this conversation, not only as an internet observer, not only as an “Asian American blogger’, but she joins the conversation as someone who has visited a Reservation.

She joins the conversation as the daughter of a man who was “Tribal Council Judge” to a Native American tribe.

My Father represented two Native American tribes as their lawyer in their quest for state recognition prior to a debilitating stroke that left him unable to work during the last five years of his life. It was one of his greatest regrets that he was unable to continue his work for those Tribes due to his illness.

You see, The Fairy Princess, as she has stated before, had a Father who was an excellent man. He was a man of learning, a man of science, and he believed in Native American rights, not because he was Native American – but because he was Irish.

My Father was an Irish American Lawyer, who grew up in New York City.

Himself

Himself

He was a Labor Attorney and he always considered himself an advocate for ‘the little guy’. My Father was a single practitioner of the law – he never joined a firm, although they were always after him to do so – he was not comfortable with the idea of ‘a firm mentality’ deciding who he should represent, he had his own moral code.

My Father, when asked by me, why he chose to devote so much time to helping these two tribes told me that Americans  – particularly he felt, Irish Americans who had done so well in this country  – had a responsibility to the Native Americans, because we decimated their cultures to make way for our own.

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My Father, who was an avid student of history, often compared what Americans did to the Native Americans, to what the English did to the Irish with their ‘invasion’, although he would of course, say that the Native Americans had it far worse.

An image from the battle at Wounded Knee

A rendering  of  the battle at Wounded Knee

My Father would go up to visit the Tribes he represented – not often, so much can be done on the phone – but frequently enough to be a part of their councils. When he came back, he would be both energized and depressed – energized to help more, and depressed that so much needed to be done.

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The Fairy Princess is not a casual observer of the fights that Native Americans have been involved in, she has been an  participant – helping with paperwork and research, phone calls and so on. She has actually been to “The Res”, where she felt the wind whip through her bones.  She has met and talked frequently with Native Americans in her life- obviously the ones her Father represented, and others whom she met and worked with in a show business career.

(The Fairy Princess does not believe this makes her better than anyone, she just wants to note that this is not her first time observing the way we ignore Native Americans and their issues.)

While The Fairy Princess is not Native American in any way, she understands, as a student of history and as a Person of Color in America, why images and names of sports teams, matter.

They matter because they hurt.

cartoon.lalo.honoring

They matter because they are rooted in cultural misunderstanding.

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They matter because they were created to substantiate the supremacy and the “Manifest Destiny’ of Caucasians in this country.

Thanksgiving-Native-Americans

They matter because a President of the United States said this about them, to justify his attempt at extinguishing them:

“After a harassing warfare, prolonged by the nature of the country and by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, the Indians were entirely defeated, and the disaffected band dispersed or destroyed. The result has been creditable to the troops engaged in the service. Severe as is the lesson to the Indians, it was rendered necessary by their unprovoked aggressions, and it is to be hoped that its impression will be permanent and salutary. Andrew Jackson

The Fairy Princess is standing with the Native Americans in their quest to have the name of sports teams changed because she is following the example set by her Father. My Father gave of his time, he gave of his intellect, he gave of his knowledge of the law.

All that The Fairy Princess can ‘give’ is a blog of encouragement, and sign a petition or two.

It is not really enough, now, is it?

The Fairy Princess has this to say to say to ‘fans’ who believe wearing face paint and bastardized Native American head dresses is not offensive to Native Americans….get ready:

You are wrong.

A Football Fan

A Football Fan

 

You are offensive.

images

You denigrate the sacrifices of the Native American community so that you can play ‘dress up’.

nativeamericangenocide87x

The Fairy Princess has said these words before, in regards to Asian American representation, but she offers them to the Native American community, to use as they wish, for she believes that it applies to their situation as well.

photo

The Fairy Princess will stand with the Native Americans – and she believes that Asian Americans have a responsibility to do so as well – because once again, some who believed they had ‘a right’, took away one more thing from the Native Americans with no regard for how it would affect them.

And it was us.

#NotYourMascot

 

 

 

The Fairy Princess has observed people having a bad week or so – and she wanted to take a moment and publicly state that she stands firmly, in regards to the issues of the last two weeks, behind Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, Kristina Wong, Calpernia Addams , and Greg Watanabe and the positions they have taken.

There is no need for any community of any kind, that acknowledges in fact, that they are a community, to turn on one another and try and destroy it based only a need to be ‘right’.

Maturity can admit mistakes, in as much as immaturity cannot be self- aware.

On to #GoodThingsThursday – here is what is going on:

1. The Fairy Princess is Co-Hosting Celebrity Doodles this coming Saturday, April 5, in Palm Springs with this handsome fellow -

International Magician of Mystery, Matthew Dowden

International Magician of Mystery, Matthew Dowden

Celebrity Doodles is an Art Auction/Fanciest Cocktail Party you have ever been to, type thing, and it is a blast! This year, they are honoring Suzanne Somers and Alan Hamel, Taylor Dayne  is singing, and the artwork is amazing. Click here for more information. There ARE still a few tix left.

Special THANK YOU to The Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius XM Radio for having me on to talk about Doodles and all sorts of other things – Frank and Doria Biddle run a great show, broadcast around the Globe, that focuses on Pop Culture, LGBT Issues, News and it is always a fun time. If you have not gotten a chance to hear them, you can click here for more information.

2. YELLOW FACE, the play by David Henry Hwang, is having another go-round in London! The last time it ran, just a few months ago, it had a four star rating. It will be at The Park Theater – and I encourage you, if you missed it the first time, to run off and view a great display of British Talent.

May 21 – June 16th. Break a leg, Everyone!

Gemma Chan & David Yip in DHH's YELLOWFACE, re-opening in May 2014

Gemma Chan & David Yip in DHH’s YELLOWFACE, re-opening in May 2014

This is great, because DHH’s Kung Fu, at NYC’s The Signature Theater

Cole Horribe as Bruce Lee

Cole Horribe as Bruce Lee

must close on April 6, 2014, so it is nice to know that his voice continues to be heard around the globe.

3. HERE LIES LOVE  is back at the NY’s Public Theater

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AND…they have a Cast Album! Which you can Order!

Is anyone else 'trippin' just looking at this artwork?

Is anyone else ‘trippin’ just looking at this artwork?

 

4. Tiananmen, a new musical, under the aegis of director, Stafford Arima (who also directed Allegiance), made it’s NY Concert Debut in the best room in town – 54 Below.

Cast of Tiananmen, the musical, backstage

Cast of Tiananmen, the musical, backstage

 

5. The API’s of the new Broadway musical, IF/THEN made their Red Carpet Bows:

The lovely Ann Sanders

The lovely Ann Sanders

 

IF/Then Cast Members Marc DelaCruz, Pearl Sun, and Charles Hagerty

IF/Then Cast Members Marc DelaCruz, Pearl Sun, and Charles Hagerty

Alongside these Superstars -

LaChanze, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel from the Cast of IF/Then

LaChanze, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel from the Cast of IF/Then

Speaking purely from a Diversity standpoint – this show looks to be a standout. This is one of the more diverse casts I have seen, the show is set in New York City, this is exactly what Diversity means.

The Fairy Princess says YES, this IS what New York City looks like!

Good job, Telsey + Company!

6. This next one is pretty exciting – especially if you were one of those who were sad to see the end of the TV show, NIKITA – Maggie Q, one of the most bankable API’s on Television, is back in a new pilot by Kevin Williamson.

(Doesn’t that just make you want to SCREAM!)

Meet 'Detective Beth Davis" from the new pilot by Kevin Williamson

Meet ‘Detective Beth Davis” from the new pilot by Kevin Williamson

In addition to that, Maggie Q is also in the DIVERGENT Trilogy and a bunch more stuff. The Fairy Princess is particularly partial to Hapa Actresses whose surnames are Irish and start with Q, so many congrats to her.

7. And finally – a shout out to BD Wong, who appeared in a comedy sketch on The Colbert Report.

To put a period at the end of the Great Hashtag Wars of 2014.

Thank you, B.D. Wong, our only Asian American TONY Award Winning Actor.

 

And there you have it – seven (or 8, you can count HLL 2x if you want to) things to feel good about as we wend our way out of Pilot Season and into Broadway  – Happy Thursday, Folks!

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Hi People in the Coffee Shop,

I am that Mom you hate.

My Son, My Niece, & I

My Son, My Niece, & I

You hate me because I have a stroller.

Yeah, I only use one

When I enter, this is what you seem to see…and I only use one at a time Folks

No other reason – just my existence. Just my existence, the fact that I have a child in a stroller, and that I need coffee.

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It’s not, seemingly the size of the stroller, or how quickly I get myself, my child, and my drink in and out of line – you simply do not like me because I own a stroller. Actually, I own three. (Which seems totally excessive unless you realize that my child grows and to that end, I enjoy the ability to keep him safe and strapped down when I enter places like a coffee shop.)

I only use one at a time.

I have a stroller that was great when he was an infant, because it reclined all the way – and which, by the way I am giving to friends who are planning to adopt, I have an umbrella stroller that I use ‘day to day’, which is not invasive or particularly large, and I have a sports stroller for when we take him hiking or on a run.

I have, yes, at various times, stopped for coffee with these different strollers, and every time, someone has rolled their eyes at my daring to enter,  unless I get an empty shop.

It is why, yes – oh Artsy Fartsy Coffee Shops – why I rarely patronize your stores, because I get ‘static’ from your staff in the shop as well as the customers. Sadly, I am giving you up.

But the gal with the dog in the bag is totally fine...as is the fellow looking at porn on his laptop, got it

But the gal with the dog in the bag is totally fine…as is the fellow looking at porn on his laptop, got it, but how am I supposed to order, pay, & carry my drink while carrying my kid who only likes to run, run, run? I see…that is not your problem….thanks for that.

 

Some are worried about ‘the death’ of the arty neighborhood coffee shop. I would love to help, I would, but sadly, I am not welcomed. Neither are the other Moms.

In my travels since becoming a Mom, I have found that the ‘Bucks and “The Bean have a more understanding staff, have larger doors and ramps that allow me and my detested stroller to enter with ease. Which is fine for the most part, but sometimes, depending on the area, I have to patronize a small, artsy coffee shop, and that is usually where I can get depressed for just a moment. Because they hate me. They hate me and my stroller.

It goes something like this. I open the door, the bell rings and people glance up, which is when the eye rolling starts.

I take a deep breath and start the following dialogue in my head…

“Oh hello tiny coffee shop and it’s Lord of the Flies clientele. I get it. I totes do. You do not like kids.

ls

I get that you have tiny tables, and hyper expensive muffins, and patrons that resent my existence. It’s fine. You make it pretty clear. You make me feel that  I am ‘too much of a bother’ simply by walking in the door. I am just here for today, for this moment, and I will go as quietly and as quickly as I can. I will be but a ripple in your space time continuem”

And for the most part, that is just a blip in the day, I cannot dwell on it ad nauseum, I do not even know these folks.

However The Fairy Princess wondered if she should say something about this phenomenon. Why?

There may be another Mom, at some point, who will, by mistake, wander into that arty farty coffee shop thinking that she could take just a moment, and rest. Take a moment and return emails on her phone because the kid is sleeping, or take a moment and eat, while her child is sleeping, or it could happen that she just needs a moment to think – while her kid is sleeping. She may be shocked or taken unawares, and really, there is no need for it.

None.

So this post is for that next Mom who will incite your wrath with her Uppa Baby or her Bugaboo or whatever stroller is ‘hot’ at the moment by accidentally darkening your door.

I appreciate that at some point, someone with a carriage perhaps has inconvenienced you and your daily caffeine intake. I can also appreciate that you are concerned some Mom is going to make your beloved arty coffee shop one of her ‘daily’ stops and perhaps invite a friend along who has a child of similar size, and that ‘your’ coffee shop will turn into ‘their’ coffee shop, and BOOM! Down you go on the path of ‘gentrification’. A suburban casualty. This fear, though HIGHLY unlikely will result in ruining your mood, whilst you read your paper, or your tablet, or surf the web.

You will glance up at that Mom, and you will scowl. It may not be a full ON scowl. It could be an eye roll, or an eyebrow raise, or a creased forehead (unless you are in Beverly Hills), but you will have some, noticeable reaction – and you will probably be unaware you are doing it. Or perhaps you are doing it on purpose.

(Do not worry, your Facebook posts about how horrid it is to even see the existence of my child and I at a coffee shop have set me straight. I will stick to the “Bucks or the “Bean.)

I appreciate that you think a child might cry and you will have to acknowledge that we share the planet. You may have to face the terrible, awful fact that you too were once a crying, pooping, sleeping, breast or bottle fed infant yourself – and you like to avoid that reminder as much as you can.

What you are not appreciating is that, we, as a Mothers, need coffee. It might be our one moment during a 24 hour day, where we take a moment to enjoy a beverage.

So yes, we may roll our strollers into ‘your’ coffee shop, and  take an extra moment to pull out the wallet, because our bag is filled with diapers and wipes and sippy cups and an extra change of clothes for him, and heaven knows what else.

We  do not need your eye-roll. We have enough going on.

I realize you have a perfect life that you enjoy just as you are. Good for you.

So do I.

I do not say a word as you prattle on about Proust at the next table in stentorian tones which will wake my kid and possibly bring forth your worst coffee shop nightmares. I usually agree with you that global warming is happening, producers not getting back to you are ‘a nightmare’, and that you absolutely could not get anything done at home because your pet has a small illness.  I realize you may be hungover from hearing a DJ spin all night, or because you were working on an ‘important project’ whose ideals are so lofty,  you believe that I might not even be able to wrap coherent thought around it. (Ahem)

I get that that is your life, and I am on ‘your territory’ when it comes to your beloved coffee shop.

I  just order a soy latte, and I go right back out the door to ‘where I came from’.

However, if I chose to sit, it would not be wrong. Most often if I do, I sit outside, to prevent even the slightest inconvenience to you – because I do acknowledge that small children are not to everyone’s taste. Most Moms that I know, do this as well, we are just parents, not stupid.

So there I sit, at an outside table, hoping he may sleep if he is already doing so, or that if he drops something on the ground, a bird will get it – otherwise I will pick it up and throw it in the trash. I am usually pretty quiet, if he is sleeping. But then, some person who hates children, but loves coffee AND cigarettes will sit right next to me and light up.

In which case, I rise, lickety split, and leave.

Because your lung cancer is your own damn business.

c38

Perhaps you are single, or perhaps you have raised your own perfect children who never, ever gave you a moment of grief so you cannot even bear the sound of a child’s laughter or voice, or perhaps you are of the group that springs fully grown from the head of Medusa – I do not know.

I only know that I am not going to NOT get my coffee because of you. Nor should any other Mom.

I need it. I have a 24 hour a day job taking care of a 30 pound toddler that only knows how to run. He is a joy and a delight, and he is exhausting and fantastic all at the same time.

If I need that coffee to keep up - I am going to get it.

But if we could take the vitriol down, just a notch, I would appreciate it, because I am cranky. My kid is not a weaponized stroller dweller trying to take out your toes and peace of mind, he is a little human that I am trying to keep safe.

That is what is in those strollers you hate so much - little human beings. Those people you roll your eyes at, the ones you resent so much? They are Moms – just like your Mom, so perhaps a tad less disdain? Perhaps understand that this is a lifetime job that we do not go home from, or take a break from, so we might need a beverage? Perhaps you could just slide your feet out of the way, understanding that our line of vision is slightly hampered by the stroller containing a small human?

Could not common courtesy carry the day? Where we both politely acknowledge that our paths are different, but what unites us is a need for caffeine? That we have, as it were, common interest?

You can disagree with me, of course. But I would ask, oh you ‘perfect, only worrying about yourself‘ People – do me this one favor?

Call your Mother.

Ask her what it was like to be raising you, and if people said anything to her about her stroller – they were BIGGER then you know….

vintage-coach-built-pram-1953

However if common courtesy is beyond you, we can mutually ignore one another and I will be on my way.

But if you come for me with shade – just be aware….

This Mommy was raised by Drag Queens, and Gurl – The Library is OPEN!

Jujubee-library-reading-to-filth

 

 

The line from A CHORUS LINE is resonating with The Fairy Princess today  – “I knew it when I was in front”

 

Sheila says it. Shelia, for those who do not know the show is the ‘mature’ dancer in the show. She’s done the most shows, she has the most experience, but she sees the younger ones nipping on her heels. Shelia knows that time is the enemy of a dancer, but she is not going down without a fight.

But going to the back of the line and dancing behind the kids? When she has been in front for years?

Sheila has had it…officially!

DeTox is done, officially, too

DeTox is done, officially, too

 

The Fairy Princess is done, officially too, I’m going to make this short and sweet.

I understand “Activism”

Activism is looking at working conditions in the garment district and pressing for change in safety regulations.

The Triangle Fires - look it up, wait, here is the link.

The Triangle Fires – look it up, wait, here is the link.

 

Activism is sending children to school to combat segregation.

sixchildlg

Activism is being sent to jail for 28 years because your country needs to be united.

 

Nelson-Mandela-South-Africa

Activism is volunteering at a soup kitchen, raising funds for HIV treatment for those in need, mentoring at an after school program, donating items to a Women’s Shelter, providing free legal help at a community center, entertaining the Troops, visiting the elderly, being a Candy Striper,  running in a marathon, sending care packages – all of that is Activism. Some of it is individual and some of it is part of a larger organization, but it is all Activism. Endowing a scholarship is activism. Providing your talents at fundraisers is activism. Signing petitions is Activism. Being a “Big Brother” or a “Big Sister’ is activism.

Activism is not enabling yourself to ‘speak’ for an entire community just because you can turn on your computer.

Therefore The Fairy Princess is going to say this, just once:

YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

I AM ASIAN AMERICAN, AND YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

I realize that the Twittersphere could come for me. Oh sure,  they will ‘bring the rain’ and call me all sorts of names because they disagree with me. They will say I’m a disgrace to my race, and then they will tell me that I should not even be allowed to comment on this because I am Hapa, and not ‘really Asian“.

They might pick on my hair or my weight, or my clothes. They might spam me. They might threaten my son. They might threaten my Husband (Which would be really stupid, he is a third degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do).

Chil Kong & Erin Quill

 

The Internet Coven is ruthless….Hmmm, I should stop giving them suggestions….

(By the way, all of that sounds totes mature, don’t it?) (Totes)

By the way, (btw for the kids), these things have all been said to The Fairy Princess before...in person. 

You see, The Fairy Princess is a person, and we would all do much better if we would remember that behind Facebook Accounts and Twitter Accounts and Instagram Accounts, there are actual people.

We are, yes, a group that can be like-minded on some things, and it is a privilege to belong to the group that has the highest amount of education, the highest amount of disposable income, strong familial ties, etc. etc, etc…..

However constant ‘yelling’, flinging around words with -isms willy nilly, hurts us.

HURTS. US.

What it means is, when we REALLY need to be heard, when there is a horrible issue that must be dealt with swiftly, no one will listen.

The constant barrage of tweets and blogs and posts on social media will have worn down those who need to listen. Worn down those who would partner up with us and help us enact change. In political terms, we would be alienating ‘our base’ while ensuring that the ‘independents’ would not join us.

We have real issues in the Asian American community – Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, few API Foster Families and a rising amount of API kids in Foster Care, and yes, Racism and Sexism to name just a few – all of which could be the focus of ‘Activism’. But will they? Or will all this static have cost us the platform on which we need to stand to be heard?

You will have made our voices, white noise . (Oh, the irony)

The Fairy Princess knows that this is only her opinion. She has no power to stop different organizations or individuals from expressing their beliefs. But she has the ability to say to those people, that they do not speak for her.

Not now.

Not ever.

If The Fairy Princess wants you to know what she is thinking, she will write it down, herself.

DSC_0164

Note: The Fairy Princess does not consider herself ‘an Activist’, although she does volunteer and raise money for charities and do all sorts of things that could fall under that label. The Fairy Princess is simply a person with a point of view who shares it. She does consider herself an ‘Advocate’ for Diversity, LGBT rights, Musical Theater as an art form, and for her child.

 

 

The Fairy Princess has been watching a lot of Network TV.

DSC_0164

Mainly because she has a toddler, and as most Parents know, once you have a toddler, you do not get to go out as much as you had before.

Therefore I have noticed that some of my favorite non-Asian named but played by Asian American characters have been killed off, rather gruesomely, on Network Television and I can understand why some are getting upset. (Upset being the mildest word to describe what they are feeling)

Let’s break it down for those who cannot understand the fuss -

First to go:

1. Deborah S. Craig, aka Luli Zheng from NBC’s The Blacklist.

Luli Zheng...RIP

Luli Zheng…RIP

 

Now, Luli was a cool chick. She was. She had an MBA in Economics from Stanford, and was the youngest ever head of a Billion Dollar Hedge fund until, in a spectacular death blow to Tiger Parenting, she was charged twice with wire and securities fraud. However, she survived all of that and went on to manage James Spader’s character ‘Red’ ‘s money and was his lovah….all of which I enjoyed both as an audience member and as a fan of diversity.

And then…dum, dum, dum….Luli had her face blown off and brain matter splattered right there on Network TV in the episode “Anslo Garrick“.

KA-BOOM! Luli we hardly knew ye.

2. Julia Cho (not the playwright) aka Shelby Moss, on ABC’s Scandal

Fare thee well, Shelby Moss

Fare thee well, Shelby Moss

Poor earnest Shelby Moss, who in her work for the NSA ‘overheard’ the conversation between the “I love my Dead Gay Husband, who I just killed” Vice President played by the formidable Kate Burton and the “I let my live Gay Husband sleep with your Dead Gay Husband to get blackmail photos‘ Cyrus Beene, played by the brilliant Jeffy Perry,  in the Episode “No Sun On The Horizon”.

Poor Shelby, she was only trying to help when she turned the conversation in to Olivia Pope’s Sub-Gladiator Family, headed up by their Don Quixote, David Rosen.

But what did she get?

Bullet to the forehead, no warning, and buried in an unmarked grave by Scott Foley’s Jake, who is now ‘Command”.

Ouch. Not even a double tap.

Single shot. Brutal.

Probably Shelby Moss should have taken the hint when she walked on set, given the way Scandal handled it’s last API Character – ‘member Press Secretary Britta Kagen? 

Played by Keiko Agena.

Britta got filtered so Fitz could live....

Britta got filtered so Fitz could live….

 

Britta bit it too. Only fatality. Ouch.

To be an Asian American actor on Scandal is the same as being a ‘red-shirt’ on Star Trek.

 

Damn, they were only following orders, Kirk!

Anyhow, Asian American female characters dropping like flies in some spectacularly gruesome ways, how are the men doing?

Reggie Lee aka Officer Wu on NBC’s GRIMM

Officer Wu-tastic!

Officer Wu-tastic!

was attacked by an Aswang (Filipino monster) and wound up in a mental institution!

Alec Mapas Renzo on ABC Family’s Switched At Birth was accused of leaking Lea Thompson’s first draft manuscript!

"I was supposed to have done WHAT?"

“I was supposed to have done WHAT?”

 

Hmmm, the men, not so good. I mean, good that they are getting so much screen time, but they are dealing with a lot of stuff too.

Which is great!

Because that means more airtime, and that means that APIs are becoming part of the American Television landscape in a larger way, and that means, we are finally getting ‘our due’ as integral cast members! Bad stuff happens to Cast Members, because that is what a dramatic show is all about.

So if Reggie Lee has to go crazy, or if Alec Mapa has to defend himself, or if our Hawaii 5.0 bruddahs and sistahs have to enjoy huge character arcs, in the name of propelling their show’s drama,  all the better.

However one can see where Asian American audience members were perhaps having a rough viewing Network TV season, and then came…Beverly Katz.

Miss Katz regrets, she's unable to lunch today....

Miss Katz regrets, she’s unable to lunch today….

 

3. Hettiene Park, aka Beverly Katz, NBC’s Hannibal

Everyone likes Beverly Katz – maybe it’s the name, maybe it’s the no nonsense approach she has to science. Perhaps it is because Beverly Katz was indeed a breakthrough character in many ways, right from casting.

Hannibal Creator, Bryan Fuller first saw Hetienne in a play on Broadway called “Seminar”, and that may be where our public attachment started.

First off, as everyone knows, (but if they do not they can read this AAPAC study on the dearth of APIs on Broadway) Asian Americans on Broadway in seasons where Miss Saigon or King & I are not playing are low to non-existent. To be an Asian American on Broadway is to defy incredible odds. To then be able to propel it into a television role is exceedingly rare, so of course Asian America would embrace Beverly Katz, er…Hettiene Park, er…Beverly Katz. (because you see, she’s a character, ahem)

Here’s glam, but understated, Beverly going head to sewn-on head (onto another body, you have to watch the show), with monster Hannibal Lector, who has planted evidence to frame the mentally nimble but unsteady, Will Graham. Beverly is the only one, using reason and logic and science, who finally comes to the realization that Will is telling the truth.

So she goes to Hannibal Lector’s house. Alone.

Repeat that last part, she goes to Hannibal Lector’s house alone. Would YOU go alone to someone’s house if you thought they were a mass murderer who eats his victims?

Probably not, but it makes for good television.

Good television, good storytelling, good craftsmanship is why people watch the show. Any show.

Unless you watch reality tv exclusively.

The one, the only Honey Boo Boo

Honey Boo Boo, Ladies & Gentlemen, Honey Boo Boo

 

Now, there are many, many reasons that fans attach to a character and a show. Asian Americans in particular have been so long ignored on the TV landscape that we attach rather strongly – so there was a resulting uproar when poor Beverly Katz turned around and saw Hannibal seeing her, in his basement, pawing through his stuff.

Characters die for all sorts of  reasons on television. Sometimes it’s a production decision, sometimes it’s an actor’s decision, sometimes it is a combination. A non-meeting of the minds. Or it is a decision based on, oh, what is that thing we all tune in for?

Oh right, the story.

You can be sad when your favorite characters die on a television show, for example…

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey

 

Josh Charles as Will Gardner on The Good Wife….

 

But let’s not get hysterical.

There are really good things coming for Asian Americans who like seeing Asian Americans on television or in films -

Cast of the Pilot, Far East Orlando - Constance Wu, Ian Chen, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Randall Park

Cast of the Pilot, Far East Orlando – Constance Wu, Ian Chen, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Randall Park

And there are some really good things already up and running:

Arden Cho on Teen Wolf

Arden Cho on Teen Wolf

Rex Lee in the Entourage Movie

Rex Lee in the Entourage Movie

The Cast of TBS's Sullivan and Son

The Cast of TBS’s Sullivan and Son

Grace Park & Daniel Dae Kim

Grace Park & Daniel Dae Kim

Christina Chang and the cast of Nashville

Christina Chang and the cast of Nashville

Chloe Bennett & Ming Na

Chloe Bennett & Ming Na

So we are not NON Existent on Network TV, get that out of your head. We’re there. Not everywhere, but we are there.

Of course you are allowed to be sad about poor ol’ Beverly Katz, who likely will ‘get served’ on this evening’s Hannibal.

panch'an) refers to small dishes of food served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine.

panch’an -small dishes of food served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine.

 

However you must remember….your favorite characters dying on one show means that soon – they will be on another show playing someone else you can grow to love just as much. Or perhaps they can go and do a play or a musical on Broadway and you can see them live, up close and in person.

Being on a Network Television show in a role that recurs opens many doors, it is the gateway to a career that can be challenging, as a minority, to get noticed in. When Hannibal started, no one outside Broadway knew of the range and talent of Hettiene Park.  Now, as of the numbers last week show, 2.5-2.7 million people have seen Ms. Park and what she can bring to a role. She will be just fine. She will live on – not as Beverly Katz, but as someone equally cool. Same goes for Deborah S. Craig and Julia Cho and Keiko Agena….they will all be fine.

You can be angry – but be angry at Beverly Katz, who was stupid/confident enough to walk into a psychopath’s house alone without backup. While you are at it, be mad at Cousin Matthew for driving too fast, and be mad at Will Gardner for taking on an unstable client.

That anger will be equally as useful.

Flipping out to flip out is not going to get you more Asian Americans on television. Flipping out to flip out, means you become, forgive the color inclusion but it’s the term, white noise.

No one will listen.

The Fairy Princess is not down for that, nope, not at all. You cannot cry racism or institutional racism or any other isms ad nauseum. Activism is useful when it is active. Not when it’s all about yelling. I know this, because my Family has, for generations, been activists in this country.

Beverly Katz is dead. RIP Beverly Katz – your passing will enhance the opportunities for actress Hettiene Park, and the storyline of Hannibal, and for those of us who watch it, we are grateful for your sacrifice.

And remember….

IMG_1932

And if you cannot…..(I don’t know why, maybe you are a vegetarian, as am I) then it really may be as Elementary as…

Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson in Elementary

Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson in Elementary

 

 

After the Panel: Stop talking. Start doing.

by Erin Quill

in Diversity & Inclusion

Post image for After the Panel: Stop talking. Start doing.

(Ed. note: The following interview series builds on Seema Sueko’s report on the Diversity: Through the Director’s Eye panel, “Jump into the Gaps.” Diversity & Inclusion online curator Jacqueline E. Lawton shared a series of questions with attendees of the panel to expand and continue the conversation.) 


JACQUELINE LAWTON: First, tell me about the work you do as a theatre artist or administrator.

ERIN QUILL: Primarily I am a Performer – I hold a BFA from Carnegie Mellon in Vocal Performance. I was in the Original Broadway Company of Avenue Q, the 50th Anniversary production of Flower Drum Song, toured as Lady Thiang in King & I, your general musical theater resume… On Los Angeles stages, I am known for my work with Lodestone Theatre Ensemble’s productions of The Mikado Project and Closer Than Ever. I have been a sketch comedy performer in New York and in LA, and have studied quite a lot of improv. I have had recurring roles on two television shows that shoot in NY – Damages and NYC 22, and appeared in the film, Man on a Ledge.

As a writer, I have a blog that I started right before my son was born, called www.fairyprincessdiaries.com where I write about Diversity in theater and anything else that tickles my fancy. In 18 months, I have over 50,000 views from all across the globe.

I have produced, worked in casting, written screenplays turn into features – I have done just about everything I could do to maintain life as a theater artist. As Sondheim wrote – Art isn’t easy…

JL: In a conversation about Diversity, identity and representation is important. How do you identify? How has this identity influenced the work that you do?

EQ: Ethnically, I am Chinese, Irish & Welsh, and am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia. My Parents strived to make sure that I understood both the joys and the burdens that being multiracial encompassed – we celebrated Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day with equal fervor. I studied the histories of my diverse heritages, as well as the fairy tales, the music, things that were cultural touchstones.

As my Mother is Chinese Australian, we spent a great deal of time traveling back and forth to Australia in order to maintain family relationships – so I would say that I feel I am a world citizen.

Everywhere I travel, I try to visit a museum and grab a sense of where I am in that city’s timeline. I read histories, biographies, I hang at the ‘local’s’ spot – I look for differences and similarities no matter where I go.

I think that travel and study open your mind, and in terms of being an actor, to be exposed to various accents and ways of viewing the world – it all helps. In my writing, I pull from my world view, which is perhaps the reason my blog has hit such a nerve in the international scene.

JL: Why was it important for you to attend the Diversity: Through the Director’s Eye panel discussion?

EQ: I wanted to attend the Diversity Panel, because I was the first one to write about what was going on at La Jolla Playhouse and it’s production of The Nightingale. I wrote a blog post called “Moises Kaufman can Kiss my Ass and here’s why“, and within a few weeks, it was at 25,000 views. And the resulting ‘fallout’ from that blog post caused quite a stir, and a rush to have panels to discuss diversity – none of which I was invited to. People, many many people gave interviews, based on the fervor surrounding that post, but no one asked me to speak on it, or why I wrote it – so…I wanted to attend the Diversity Panel because I wanted to see where the chips had fallen, so to speak, a year later. Did my work have any influence? Were people willing to ‘get it’ in regards to casting Asian Americans on theatrical stages?

JL: Can you share one or two moments of discovery that happened for you during the panel discussion?

EQ: The first is that East West Players theater, and its Artistic Director, Tim Dang, are ahead of the crowd. They really are – here is an ‘ethnic’ theater that decided to broaden its horizons with a multi-racial cast and do the musical, CHESS. They took a leap and the audience was there for it. They are thinking outside of their comfort zone, they are creating space for the next wave of theater goers to feel welcome. Which means, thankfully, that East West Players is going to be here for many years to come, which makes me happy.

The second is that out of the four Caucasian men on the panel – there are two that are actively embracing Diversity, one who seemed to be shamed into having Diversity, and one who does not, absolutely does not give a damn about Diversity. I think we, of the “Diversity’ camp have to look at is as a win – we have 2 out of 4 for sure, perhaps 3 – and let’s face it – you cannot win them all. 2 out of 4 is progress. They know who they are.

JL: What is your biggest take away from the panel discussion?

EQ: My biggest ‘take away’ from the panel was that people who are concerned with Diversity and with building their audience are going to practice Diversity. And then there are those that seem innately satisfied that having a’ liberal upbringing’ and proclaiming it loudly on a panel negates them from any obligation of serving the Diverse community of Los Angeles. You cannot force a horse to drink, and you cannot force people to open their minds when they have been quite comfortable with the status quo.

My biggest question coming away from the panel is ‘Why?’. WHY are we continuing to have panels? Why hasn’t everyone ‘gotten it’ yet? Because they do not want to. They do not SEE Diversity. They will NOT see Diversity and we cannot MAKE them.

How could we sit for 90 or so minutes and hear NY’s Public Theater lauded for Diversity and Art and choose not to see what makes The Public Theater so great? It is the theater of New York City – and it reflects New York City. In Los Angeles, it is equally, if not MORE Diverse than New York – and yet, when we look on our stages, you would think it was 1950′s America. It’s embarrassing. No wonder Los Angeles does not have a National reputation for theater – how can we? We do not reflect the Nation.

Do you know what happened after the panel?

A Director in the crowd, who sat through an entire 90 minutes of talking about diversity approached Chil Kong, and demanded that he give her the ‘go ahead’ to do a show about Chinese history. She was very angry – which both I and Terence McFarland can vouch for – were ‘we’ (and by that I assume she meant ‘we Asians”) going to stand in the way of the play she was intent on producing just because it was a play about China that was going to be performed entirely by Caucasians in Chinese dress and manner?

Because you see, as she told it, this play is ‘allowed’ to be performed by Caucasians in Chinese dress, because this play she is doing, was written by a Caucasian man who adopted his daughter from China and wrote it for her – to help his Chinese born daughter learn the history of China. As performed by Caucasians in Los Angeles.

We had JUST exited the Diversity panel. We were at the reception. In the courtyard of The Pasadena Playhouse!

So my ‘take away’ is that Diversity is only going to happen when Artistic Directors ‘get it’ – it is not going to happen otherwise – what will happen, is that there will be a division of theater in Los Angeles – there will be the ‘white’ houses that will only play to Caucasian audiences, and there will be “ethnic theater’ which will appeal to everyone else. And eventually, one type will die out – and we will then, and ONLY then, know the winner.

May the odds be ever in our favor.

JL: What areas still need to be addressed in your community? What conversations still need to be hand?

EQ: There have been enough conversations to sink a battleship. There needs to be less conversation. There needs to be action – who cares if people are talking if they are not doing? Actions, as every actor knows, speak louder than words.

JL: What practical action steps would you recommend to local, regional and national theatre companies to address issues of Diversity and Inclusion?

EQ: Begin with your Boards – Diversify your Board of Trustees. Those are the people that raise money for your theater. Oddly, money tends to influence what shows are produced – if your Board is diverse, the theater company tends to incorporate Diversity.

Theater Staff – if your staff is multi-racial, they are going to think in a different way – they are going to suggest different types of plays – because their background will make them open to different kinds of playwrights, directors, actors. Listen to your staff.

If you have a larger theater, then you have to start your own casting files – have ‘meet and greet’ auditions or open calls specifically targeting one group at a time. Look at your season – look at where the play is set, which city, which time period – who would be there? Then go out AHEAD of time and LOOK for those people. Call companies known for having Diversity and ask for recommendations – both for Actors and Directors. Share. Grow. Act.

If you are an Artistic Director, then plot the direction you want your company to travel in. You cannot sit back and say “I’m the AD, the Director I hired is in full charge of this play” – you, as the AD are ultimately responsible for your theater company and every show that you produce. If you, as the AD are not helping guide your guest Director, as to the whys and wherefores of your company – then you are not an AD, you are Human Resources.

Finally – stop being lazy. You know why your company is not Diverse in it’s material or staff or board or casting? Because of laziness. It takes effort to change. You have to want it – you have to want it just as much as when you wanted to be an Artistic Director, or an Actor, or a Set Designer, or a Choreographer. If you want something, you act upon it. If you want change, you make it happen.

Stop “having conversations about diversity every day” – just practice it. Stop talking. Start doing.

If you don’t do anything, I know you are not serious – don’t waste my time. Excuses are so 2013.


ERIN QUILL holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon. She was on Broadway in the Original Company of AVENUE Q, as Madame Rita Liang in the 50th Anniversary Production of FLOWER DRUM SONG at AMTSJ, toured opposite Debby Boone as Lady Thiang in KING & I, other productions include THE MIKADO PROJECT, CLOSER THAN EVER, ANYTHING GOES and so on. TV Credits: Damages, NYC 22, NYPD Blue, Movie Club w/John Ridley, Bravo pilot DISHIN’, Screening Party, Feature films: Man on a Ledge, The Mikado Project. Her blog www.fairyprincessdiaries.com has had over 50,000 views since it’s ‘birth’ 18 months ago – she has spoken about Diversity at LA Stage Day, on Speak UP with Jimmy, appeared in Network Diversity showcases, and most recently, was a Finalist in the Writer’s Program at NBC for the Diversity Showcase. She has written 2 screenplays that went to feature production, and is exhausted about talking about Diversity. She also has a sense of humor and a toddler.


Jacqueline E. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. She resides in Washington DC and is a member of Arena Stage’s Playwrights’ Arena. jacquelinelawton.com

The Fairy Princess does not generally watch a ton of videos – they are a time suck, and I really do not care about kittens and the darndest places they get into. (I am a dog person).

Growing up, I had a Cocker Spaniel just like this one named Linda (My sister named her, I got to pick her out)

Growing up, I had a Cocker Spaniel just like this one named Linda (My sister named her, I got to pick her out)

 

However there have been some videos that have come up, which I enjoyed and I wanted to share them.

Top of the list – Alec Mapa’s Acceptance Speech from the OUTFest Fusion Awards:

 

Lenny Henry’s Speech at the BAFTA Television Lecture – it’s long, but it is totally worth it!

 

The Fairy Princess could totally identify with this speech, because in a way, it reminded her of when she had to give this one at LA Stage Day:

 

And building on that last one, I wanted to throw a nod to British East Asian Artist Daniel York and this piece that he put together, which explains so much about what lack of representation can do to one’s self esteem and artistic journey – or rather, the artistic journey that they are ‘allowed’ to have, when people are not as in charge as they would like to be:

 

Enjoy!

The Fairy Princess has had an interesting few days since St. Patrick’s.

Kate Middleton in BEST ST PATRICK'S DAY OUTFIT OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!

Kate Middleton in BEST ST PATRICK’S DAY OUTFIT OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!

 

Several long Facebook discussions that were completely and totally agitating – all on race, casting, perception, and the words we use to describe one another. It’s been exhausting. However there was one today, and I feel it is worth sharing where The Fairy Princess stands on this ‘line in the sand’.

Today there is a piece in The Advocate about a word often used on TV, and by different folks within the LGBT Community, and that word is (I’m just going to type it, I don’t use it myself in conversation or well, ever) -

tranny.

Trans people have explained it again and again why they do not want the word used, but again and again, people who have ‘grown up’ in the LGBT community and who are, tis true, of a certain age group or community status, feel that they can use the word, and are accustomed to using the word, to describe transvestites.

Dame Edna - perhaps the most Internationally famous man in a dress

Dame Edna – perhaps the most Internationally famous man in a dress

When I first heard the word years ago and when it was first described to me, I will agree – it meant transvestite.

It never occurred to us then to use it to describe transgender, because truth to tell – we did not talk much about Transgendered back in ye olden days because…well…there was not the same awareness that there is today.

Chaz Bono, who identifies as Trans

Chaz Bono, who identifies as Trans

Words and meanings evolve. Who would have thought that a pile of sticks used to burn heretics at the stake would evolve into a Gay Slur? Probably no one at the time. But it has, which is the point.

The point is, it is ok to say Well, I did not realize, sorry, duly noted, will not use it again.” which should be followed with “Thank you for letting me know.”

Gabourey Sidibe had to apologize, and honestly, The Fairy Princess does believe that she did not know it was offensive, and congratulates her for taking the initiative to apologize and learn a new way to speak

Gabourey Sidibe apologized, Thanks Precious!

It is true that this is a relatively (RELATIVELY) new issue, not NEW NEW, just…it’s been around but a lot of people seem to not be paying attention – on purpose.

The Fairy Princess gets that people  have differing opinions on this word, but this is her only question:

If it hurts someone else, and you KNOW it hurts someone else, why are you still using it?

 

 

Isn’t this an easy fix?

Yeah, it is – and that is truly, the point. Not whether you think someone is being too sensitive or unable to take a joke – that is the not the point. The point is – are you the type of person who knows you are hurting someone and will continue to do it?

Duck Dynasty anyone? Is it really that different?

It’s all words right?

Yes, it’s words – and how they are used, and how they are heard.

 

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