Archives for posts with tag: Alec Mapa

The Fairy Princess has not been blogging much, she’s been paying attention to world events that are too sad to reiterate here, though she has, of course, written at length, sadly,  in the past.

Image by Banksy

Image by Banksy

She hopes she never has to write about the slaughtering of young men again, she is hoping America will figure out how to come together and end senseless violence towards one another.

She hopes. Always, there is hope.

She also noted that two television shows starring Asian Americans were cancelled in the last weeks – SELFIE, starring, of course, the fantastic John Cho…

 

And TBS cancelled Sullivan and Son, with the always hilarious Jodi Long….

 

However….in every cloud there is a silver lining, so the saying goes, and here is one – HULU is going to be broadcasting the rest of the season of SELFIE, which means if you fell in love with John Cho as Henry, you are going to get some manner of resolution. And who knows? If the numbers are fantastic, maybe they will pick it up again – stranger things have happened.

Oh COME ON Rex Lee, The Entourage Movie happened!

Oh COME ON Rex Lee, The Entourage Movie happened!

Also, with Pilot season approaching in January, and perhaps sooner, it is likely that those Actors will book another show, The Fairy Princess is hoping the odds will be ever in their favor.

However, as TFP went about her day, she found a letter addressed to Playbill.com ‘s advice column, aka “Hey Johnny”. Every week “Hey Johnny’ is answered by a different person, so TFP is going to retype the letter here in case you have missed it.

Hey Johnny,

I go to a high school with a really great arts program (we do three shows a year) but I’ve noticed a problem. Our (white) director keeps making slightly racist comments towards the Asian students (during Avenue Q he referred to our Christmas Eve as “that Asian girl”). Even though a good number of Asian students auditioned for our next show, he didn’t even let most of them into the ensemble. We’re planning to do Miss Saigon in the spring and he’s been heavily implying that he’s going to cast white student in the leads, because that’s what they did last time they did it. It’s been like this all four years, and it’s really been making me and the other Asian students feel awful, and we’ve been doubting if we have a future in the theatre. I’ve tried to keep positive for us, but even I’ve fallen into a gloom. Please, what should we do?

Signed,

That Asian Kid

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Now, whoever answered that letter, that week, did a wonderful job responding to That Asian Kid, but did not seem to be Asian American. Who cares? Totally fine!  The response was thoughtful and caring, and one does not need to share a skin tone to have empathy or give encouragement or wisdom.

However, The Fairy Princess thought that That Asian Kid  and his classmates could use some words from someone who has ALSO been, ahem, That Asian Kid.

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Dear That Asian Kid,

That Director is out of line. The Fairy Princess could use many other words, but if she was in the room with him, this would be the mildest thing she could come up with:

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Here is what you are going to do, and you have to be brave. You have to be ok with whatever happens, because you are challenging the status quo and that is always, always difficult. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

Either way, it is ok, the Asian Americans of “The Broadway” have got your back.

The House of Xmas Eves...

The House of Xmas Eves…these are but of a  few of us

 

1. Gather a brief written (typed and signed) statement from any student, but particularly of course, the Asian American students, who have been addressed by only their race, or who have been recipients of racial toned remarks from this Director. I would imagine if he has said things to the Asian students, he has likely said things to the African American and Latino students as well, so ask around.

2. After you have these statements, you are to ask those who wrote them if they are willing to go to the Principal and present them with you. Some will, some won’t. I agree with “Hey Johnny”, that a multicultural group is best, do what you can. I would encourage you to take someone on the Student Council, and if you can, a member of the PTA to present these circumstances to your Principal. This is too big just for the ‘kids’, you need a Parent with some clout to back you up.

3. When you present to the Principal, tell he or she that should this issue not be dealt with in some manner, you are going to present the same statements at a local town government meeting, where minutes are recorded – so that it is on record that your school is choosing to ignore issues of microagression towards Asian Americans and racial bias.

That is what you are dealing with – microagressions from this Director.

You should outline your issues in one ‘master letter’, and you should also present in that letter, your concerns about the casting of the upcoming MISS SAIGON.

That should get the ball rolling…to say the least.

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Now, in terms of Casting, what you are dealing with, with this Director is called “White Washing”.

White Washing is very prevalent in our Society, and you are not the first to have suffered from it, and you will not be the last. It sucks. What it means is they take characters or stories that are linked to an ethnic group, and when they Cast the musical or the film or the television show – they cast Caucasian Actors.

That Asian Kid, this is Mickey Rooney as Mr. Miyagi in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's - awful, ain't it?

Jonathan Pryce, The Engineer from the Original Bway Cast of MISS SAIGON

Jonathan Pryce, The Engineer from the Original Bway Cast of MISS SAIGON

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

Actor Lambert Wilson as The King of Siam in a French Production of King & I

 

However, casting a Caucasian Actress as Kim in MISS SAIGON would be a serious breach of theatrical ethics, as well as horribly bad historical rewriting. The part of Kim is, as everyone knows,  a young woman coming of age in Vietnam.

 

lea-salonga

Even though Cameron MacIntosh did allow Mr. Pryce to play the Engineer (a character that is written as a Eurasian man), he drew the line at casting a Caucasian woman to play the part of Kim. Which gave us our only female Asian TONY Winner, in point of fact. Casting a non-Asian Kim is not acceptable – ever. And over time, casting a Non-Asian Performer as The Engineer has become a theatrical no-no, which is wonderful progress.

Which brings us to “Yellowface“, which is what will happen in your school if Kim is cast as a Caucasian.

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Yellowface is not acceptable in our mainstream and certainly not in a high school production. If your Principal does not understand this, explain to her/him that to Asian Americans, it is the same as blackface.

Yeah, this is totally offensive and I hate posting it, but if you have never seen it, you need a visual. An awful and offensive visual. Apologies.

This is totally offensive  but if you have never seen it, you need a visual. An awful and offensive visual. Apologies.

(The Fairy Princess is choosing not to comment on why a high school would be doing MISS SAIGON, but…

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she has some thoughts about the appropriateness of it.)

The simple truth is that this Director should not even have suggested MISS SAIGON if he felt that he would be unable to cast Kim or The Engineer with Asian American students. Not in this day and age, and if that has been his intention, then he should be released from his duties as an Educator.

Would he cast DREAMGIRLS with a non-African American cast? No. He likely would not dare, and it would be the same thing.

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Meaning that even if you truly love a show, you cannot take an ethnic based story and erase the ethnic faces from that story. It is illogical and ignorant. A point which, btw, you should make both to your Principal and that Director.

Whatever happens with that, TFP wishes you much luck with it, and hopes you have success. You may not, because it is high school, and because no one likes to rock the boat, and they will call you ‘oversensitive’ or accuse you of ‘making it up’ – those things can happen.

But….TFP thinks you may prevail if you all come at it with purpose. (Which is that little thing that lights a fire under your ass)

Finally, That Asian Kid, TFP wants to let you know that you are not the only Asian Kid that has ever had a dream of being on the stage and perhaps eventually, Broadway.

For example, this guy:

BD Wong, TONY Winner

BD Wong, TONY Winner

And this guy:

R.I.P. Kevin Gray

R.I.P. Kevin Gray

And not only did they make it to Broadway, some sang in Six Languages….

Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Graig

Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Graig

Or became renown solo entertainers and do copious amounts of television roles….

America's Gaysian Sweetheart, Alec Mapa

America’s Gaysian Sweetheart, Alec Mapa

Or work, work, work in every medium….

OBIE Winner and Drama Desk Nominee, Francis Jue

OBIE Winner and Drama Desk Nominee, Francis Jue

Some go from one show to the next…..

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles - Ruthie Ann is the new Lady Thiang in the King and I revival starring Ken Watanabe

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles – Ruthie Ann is the new Lady Thiang in the King and I revival starring Ken Watanabe

Some were the headliners in their show and went West to try out Hollywoodland

Manu Narayan, star of Bombay Dreams, pictured in award winning production of Glengarry Glenn Ross

Manu Narayan, star of Bombay Dreams, pictured in award winning production of Glengarry Glenn Ross

Some have not been to Broadway yet, but are on their way…

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently starring in GIGI, the musical, which has announced it's intention to go to Broadway

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently starring in GIGI, the musical, which has announced it’s intention to go to Broadway

Or working on new musicals they hope will head to Broadway

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe - they had hella nominations, y'all

The Cast of Allegiance from The Old Globe – they had hella nominations, y’all

Or got started in musicals and made it to Portland….

Reggie Lee from NBC's GRIMM, who has also been in a ton of feature films

Reggie Lee from NBC’s GRIMM, who has also been in a ton of feature films

Or started on Broadway and then got eaten by Hannibal

Hettienne Park was 'discovered' by Creator of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, in a play on Broadway

Hettienne Park was ‘discovered’ by Creator of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, in a play on Broadway

Some are singing their tushes off in the Broadway show IF/Then

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

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

Some have had long, extensive Broadway careers like Joseph Anthony Foronda….

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 in MISS SAIGON at La Mirada

And Alvin Ing…

 

Like Lainie Sakakura, who also choreographs….

 

And of course, you would know this guy from GLEE…

 

Some are in new Broadway Shows like Raymond J. Lee….

The Flying Elvises from HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

The Flying Elvises from HONEYMOON IN VEGAS

Or cool shows that have ‘buzz’

That is Orville Mendoza with the cast of FOUND

That is Orville Mendoza with the cast of FOUND

The Fairy Princess’s point is, oh dear That Asian Kid, is that we have all felt, at one point or another, just as you are feeling now, frustrated, indignant, and powerless because someone somewhere has referred to us only by ethnicity, or categorized us only by ethnicity, or tried to limit what we could do because of our ethnicity – and, That Asian Kid….they failed.

We are ok.

Yes, there could and should be more of us working, particularly in television which is supposed to ‘reflect the American scene’, but there has been progress, and we are OK.

Asian Americans are not being silent about casting and representation.

We protest when things are wrong –

Yes, that is Tamlyn Tomita rallying at East West Players

Yes, that is Tamlyn Tomita rallying at East West Players

We are voices of change.

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson at La Jolla's talkback...they look so pissed off I feel like I need to go practice piano and bring home an A plus.  TIGER ACTRESSES! RRROOOOWWRRR

Cindy Cheung & Christine Toy Johnson
at La Jolla’s talkback…

We give speeches…

 

Those of us who are ‘coming before you’ are working on a lot of stuff.

Actor/Producer Pun Bandhu at the RepresentAsian Conference

Actor/Producer Pun Bandhu at the RepresentAsian Conference

So you worry about school.

We got this.

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Do NOT give up because of this Director, That Asian Kid,  he is ONE guy and eventually, high school ends, and you graduate. You get to leave. And when you go to college, you can study whatever you want.

Happy Dance!

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Finally, as someone who was in AVENUE Q, to clarify – the point of  “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” is not to identify everyone by their ethnicity, it’s really to show that whatever prejudices we have, we are all the same underneath.

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

The point of the show is ‘when you help others, you are really helping yourself”, whether it is opening a school for Monsters, or speaking up when something is as far out of line as this situation seems to be from your letter.

The Fairy Princess wishes you and your fellow students much luck in surviving the rest of high school, she was not particularly fond of high school when she went through it herself, but as we say at the Q…

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Break a leg, That Asian Kid – and if he still gives you a problem, tell him to

KISS YOUR FAN TAN FANNIE…

 

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

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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….

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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

 

 

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 just wanted to have a peaceful Thursday.

She wanted to watch Scandal, and see if anyone ate their arm off to escape twenty years of incarceration, and perhaps sip a hot chocolate while doing so.

There were some excellent things that occurred this last week, and while she generally sticks to commenting on theater, attention must be paid to Hollywood who has made some cool decisions this week.

To begin with, Reggie Lee– aka Sgt. Wu on NBC’s GRIMM got his own mythical creature of horror to love and rear and name Aswang.

Obviously, the Aswang is on the right....

Obviously, the Aswang is on the right….

The Aswang is so completely a creature that Filipino parents would use to scare children, that I cackled with laughter when I saw it. An Aswang sneaks into a pregnant woman’s bed and eats her unborn child. (I mean, of course, that is really, really bad, but that is definitely an Asian fairy tale – because most of them lead to someone having bodily harm, dying, or getting stuck in a mountain for millions of years – all designed to make us behave and continue to practice piano as we study to be a doctor while doing math problems in our heads.)

The ratings  were FANTASTIC – so yay for Diversity, for Reggie Lee, and for Grimm fans who, let’s face it, might like to not always have to look to a Teutonic dictionary to figure out what is going on every week. Yes, I watch the show, and yes I love the show, but change is good too.

Alec Mapa, currently seen on the ABC Family show, Switched At Birth, as Lea Thompson’s new Gay “Bestie”….

This photo screams subtle, nuanced drama...or maybe that's just my take

This photo screams subtle, nuanced drama…or maybe that’s just my take

is getting an award this coming Saturday in Hollywood – The Fusion Achievement Award from OUTFEST’s Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival – which is the only multi-cultural film festival of it’s kind – dedicated to nurturing, showcasing and protecting LGBT Media. Oh – and, speaking of OH – Sandra Oh is going to be on hand to present him with his award, and therefore I give you THIS little gem to enjoy….

Although they probably will not talk about that kind of stuff when she’s presenting him with his fancy award, which coincides with the World Premiere of his new Concert film, Baby Daddy. The Fairy Princess has seen Baby Daddy several times live, and gives it a hearty recommendation – especially if you are a Parent.

Finally, a THIRD good thing announced this week, was the completion of the Casting of Far East Orlando, formerly known as Fresh Off The Boat. The pilot stars Randall Park as the Father, Constance Wu as the Mom, Ian Chen (Gary), Hudson Yang (Eddie), and Forrest Wheeler (Freddy). It is based on the memoir by Celebrity Chef, Eddie Huang – and if it gets ‘the order’, it will give us the first funny Asian American Family on a major network since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl. 

Photo by Jeff Yang

Photo by Jeff Yang

If it gets a ‘order’ and runs at least 4-5 seasons, these small children will be able to buy and sell us all, so finger’s are crossed for you, Kids!

So everything was going good, yes? Seems like Hollywood was doing way better than Theater (Particularly theater in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, ahem). Until I read about Rooney Mara being Cast as Tiger Lily in the new big screen film being directed by Joe Wright.

Just so we are all on the same page – there is a play and a novel – called  Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, and it was written by J.M. Barrie  – who was Scottish. He wrote the play in 1904, and the novel later in 1911.

Author, J.M. Barrie

Author, J.M. Barrie

Scholars believe that the character of Peter is based  in part on Barrie’s brother, David, who died in an accident at age 14. His Mother, Margaret had a hard time with David’s passing, as he was her favorite, and the way she coped was by enjoying a fantasy that David would never grow up, and therefore never leave her. He also based Peter on his friendships with the 5 young sons of Arthur  & Sylvia Llewelyn Davies – to whom, after their parents passed, he became Guardian. The boys were named George, John, Peter, Michael, and Nicholas. He made up the “Peter Pan’ stories to keep the boys amused – but of course, he needed to create a world in which the characters lived, and so he decided upon “Neverland”.

Neverland is not a real place, of course, it is a dream. But, as with all dreams – and as even, with the character of Peter himself, Barrie based them on what was happening around him – he even named most of the characters for people that he knew. Peter, Wendy, John – all people he knew.

Though he may have known someone who was Native American, upon whom Tiger Lily was based, the odds are that she is simply a ‘made up’ character because he, as had most of the UK at the time, would have grown up hearing about stories of the American West and the British wars with the Native Populations of America, playing ‘Cowboys and Indians”.

Or, it could have been a fun story device – whatever the reason, he made up a name of a Tribe – the Piccaninny, which he based on Native American tribes, and made Tiger Lily their Princess and to a certain extent, a rival for Peter’s affections for Wendy Darling.

The description of Tiger Lily is, according to Wikipedia:

  • Tiger Lily is the proud, beautiful princess of the Piccaninny Tribe. In the book, the Indians of Neverland were portrayed in a nature that is now regarded as stereotypical.[9] Barrie portrayed them as primitive, warlike savages who spoke with guttural voice tones.[9] She is apparently old enough to be married, but she refuses any suitors because she desires Peter over all. She is jealous of Wendy and Tinker Bell. Tiger Lily is nearly killed by Captain Hook when she is seen boarding the Jolly Roger with a knife in her mouth, but Peter saves her.

Having studied literature at the University of Edinburgh,  Barrie would have been most familiar with the British image of the ‘noble savage, which became very popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. J.M. Barrie was born in 1860, so when he created the character of Tiger Lily and her tribe in Peter Pan, the images he may have seen of “Noble Savages’ might have been something like this:

Description: Portrait of a Native American woman, half-length directed to right, wearing feather headdress and holding a quiver with arrows Etching on thin paper Dimensions: Height: 97 millimetres (trimmed), Width: 71 millimetres Inscriptions: Lettered in top left corner: "Rembrandt f. / 1632". Print made by: Rembrandt (Follower of) Date: 1650-1750 (c.) Curator's comments: Possibly a later pas

Description: Portrait of a Native American woman, half-length directed to right, wearing feather headdress and holding a quiver with arrows
Etching on thin paper
Inscriptions: Lettered in top left corner: “Rembrandt f. / 1632”.
Print made by: Rembrandt (Follower of)
Date: 1650-1750 (c.) 

as this etching is in a collection in the British Museum.

He may have walked past this Ashinaabe outfit collected by Lieutenant Andrew Foster during his military service in North America circa 1780, also in the British Museum.

242000_500

However even if J. M. Barrie was not patrolling the Native American collection at The British Museum in the name of researching a character called Tiger Lily, there were dozens of images of young Native American women around, because there was this lovely invention called photography – so let’s see if The Fairy Princess can find images of NA Women from say, the 1800’s and up, upon who he could base images of his ‘Tiger Lily’ –

Portrait of Marcia Pascal, a young Cherokee Woman, taken 1880 (Collected by the Bureau of American Ethnology)

Portrait of Marcia Pascal, a young Cherokee Woman, taken 1880 (Collected by the Bureau of American Ethnology)

Isabelle Perico Enjady, a Jicarilla Apache Girl

Isabelle Perico Enjady, a Jicarilla Apache Girl

Portrait of Hattie Tom, Chiricahua Apache, in 1899 by F.A. Rhinehart

Portrait of Hattie Tom, Chiricahua Apache, in 1899 by F.A. Rhinehart

Ah, so there were images of young Native American women on whom J.M. Barrie could have based the character of Tiger Lily floating around. Now, in 1904 – it would have been HIGHLY unlikely that J.M. Barrie or anyone else was looking to cast for ‘authenticity’ when casting Tiger Lilly, but here is the interesting thing, when they made the 1924 film of Peter Pan, they cast Anna May Wong as Tiger Lilly.

Anna May Wong in the 1924 film, Peter Pan

Anna May Wong in the 1924 film, Peter Pan

As most people know now, it is believed that an land bridge  of some kind existed, and that people crossed over from Asia into what is now known as North America.

DNA Migration Pattern detailing the now widely accepted 'Land Bridge" theory of migration, which indicates that 'the ancestors of the First Americans came from an East Asian Homeland"

DNA Migration Pattern detailing the now widely accepted ‘Land Bridge” theory of migration, which indicates that ‘the ancestors of the First Americans came from an East Asian Homeland”

Ah, science says that Asian peoples and Native American peoples share some DNA, and are somewhat, super distantly, related! This is not a stretch to believe, after all, we have some shared traits in eye shape and hair, the difference in skin tones would have been because of growing up in different climates and exposures.

Anna May Wong was Chinese American, and our first Asian American film goddess.

Wasn't she gorgeous?

Wasn’t she gorgeous?

Which means that the casting of Anna May Wong as Tiger Lily in 1924 was much closer to the mark than the casting of Rooney Mara in 2014!

Before she had a Dragon Tatoo...

Before she had a Dragon Tattoo…

No one denies that Rooney Mara is a talented actress, or that she is fully capable of investing into a role. But while it is perfectly fine for an actress to dye her hair, or lose weight, or gain weight to play a part, or allow herself to wrinkle, or present herself as a total mess in the film, but totally glamorous on the red carpet promoting the film – in 2014, this casting strikes a bad note. The mildest description would be ‘insensitive’.

Or you could read this article on The Huffington Post, they have a few words for it.

Now, on the off-chance that Ms. Mara was going to claim some percentage of Native American heritage, a la Johnny Depp, in order to divert attention from the fact that in today’s world, this casting is in poor taste, I looked her up. Her Dad’s Family owns the New York Giants football team and they hail from County Down in Ireland. Her Mother’s Family owns the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they are Irish and Italian.

My Father, who was 100 per cent Irish American, was a lawyer. His people were from Kerry. He passed away in 2012.

The One and Only, Himself

The One and Only, Himself

In the course of his practice, he represented two Native American tribes who were fighting for State and Federal recognition. My Dad did not get paid as the tribes did not have the money to hire an attorney such as himself, because they had all sorts of internal issues.

When I asked him once about why he chose to do this – because it was hours and hours on the phone talking to the Chiefs, and so on, he told me that America could never make up to the Native Americans for all the crimes that were done to them. He told me that America had been very good to the Irish people, that they had done very well in this country, and that Irish people and Native Americans should stick together – because the English had treated the Irish almost as badly as the Americans had treated the Native Americans – almost.

It struck me, as I was reading about Rooney Mara’s casting that my Father, who was made “Tribal Judge’ for one of the tribes, would not approve of the casting of an Irish American, whose family had done particularly well in America, to be portraying a Native American.

Even if it is a mythical tribe in Neverland, which is based on an idea, but which does not truly exist. The Piccaninnys may not exist, but they are based on people who do.

Native_American_map[1]

But you know – no Actress casts herself, she is offered the part. So while we can question Ms. Mara’s decision to accept it, it’s perfectly within her rights to do so.

I have read some quotes from the director that this is a ‘re-imagining‘ and it is going to be a multi-cultural cast but I will say this again – and again, and again, and I will keep saying it until people who are trying to justify their insensitive casting decisions get it:

Multi-racial is not an excuse for when you want to culturally ‘skin’ a minority & wear us like a coat

Multi-cultural is not supposed to take away from people whose representation is already marginalized.

Multi-cultural is not supposed to be a buzz word defense for being ‘called’ on casting choices that amount to appropriation.

Also, as The Fairy Princess looks to see who has been announced as the Cast of this film – Rooney Mara, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund – she does not see a lot of ‘diversity’.

Maybe she’s being silly. Maybe Director Joe Wright is one of those guys who claims he ‘doesn’t see color’ –

MV5BMTMyNTI5NjUxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzI3ODQ1MQ@@._V1_SX214_CR0,0,214,317_

Here’s the thing, Joe – may I call you Joe?

If you don’t see color,  how do you drive?

Ten smacks of the wand to Director Joe Wright – because you could have helped move everyone forward, and you chose not to. It’s not a ‘creative’ decision you made there, Joe – may I call you Joe? It is a decision steeped in a  ‘world view’ that does not view the world at all.

You could have done a remarkable thing and cast the first Native American as Tiger Lily on screen since, ummm, well, EVER!
(Apologies to Anna May Wong). But YOU chose not to, and that makes The Fairy Princess’s wings do a ‘sad flap’- because once again, the white guy refuses to ‘see’ people of color.

Which means that as in days past, the White Man is trying to erase Native Americans from the cultural landscape.

Man, The Fairy Princess just hates when people do not ‘get it’! You would think people were tired of being stupid and lazy, but apparently not. Frightening.

I guess, Mr. Wright, you can join the ever growing list of cultural arbiters with little progressive vision and…

Kiss My Fan, Tan Fannie!

The Fairy Princess is pleased to announce that she will be Co-Hosting the charity event, CELEBRITY DOODLES, which is held annually in Palm Springs, and benefits Desert AIDS Project on APRIL 5th, 2014.

Here is the Doodle I did for them 2 years ago –

It raised $600 for Desert AIDS Project! WHAT? YES!

It raised $600 for Desert AIDS Project! WHAT? YES!

The Fairy Princess loves Palm Springs, and she is thrilled to have been asked – she began her love affair with Palm Springs 4 years ago with the SPARKLE Concerts produced by Scott Nevins and Mark Jones, and has made many wonderful friends and had a brilliant time each and every time, so – thank you Doodles for asking, see you in April!

The Fairy Princess has not been blogging that much, because well, everything has been depressing, right?

The last few weeks, in terms of the news, have been truly, truly awful – there’s people being attacked in Russia because of the way they were born…

 

Ireland decided to take away the right to use the word Homophobia from GLBT people and hand it back to actual Homophobes, because it’s defaming (Say WHAT?)

 

 

Science came under attack from people who like to…well, I guess, NOT read things and learn stuff…

 

 

and a wonderful Actor is no longer among us….

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

Philip Seymour Hoffman, RIP

What this last one means, honestly, is that there are three young children who are no longer able to get a hug or anything else from their Dad, and this just about kills me – because The Fairy Princess has lost many people to addiction, and whatever your personal thoughts on the addict or the substance, to lose a person to addiction is a horrible, sad thing.

There has also been quite a lot of attention paid to Dylan Farrow, who came forward after years of silence, about abuse she suffered…and that has been an absolute HOTBED of debate on both the mainstream media, social networking, and print journalism fronts – and that, again, is horribly sad.

Because statistics…well…

ChildAbuse-stat-1

Which means, if your little girl or boy has a birthday party, and you invite 20 or so children over, statistically, more than one child in attendance at a party – in your own home, could have been sexually abused.

Which is pretty damn disgraceful, and even as rational voices have tried to be heard, the constant attacks on Ms. Farrow – both Sr. and Jr. -would likely guarantee that if there is a young child out there, being abused,  they are probably going to look at this and remain silent.

And THAT, America – is the wrong message to send – even if you like someone’s movies.

Statute of Limitations has gone by in this case, however the DA at the time,  Frank Maco stated that there was ‘probable cause‘ to move forward with a prosecution, but that his office chose not to. As a Lawyers Daughter myself, that ‘probable cause’ is telling, as is the Judge’s statement -which I have lifted from The Washington Post;     “1993: State Supreme Court Acting Justice Elliott Wilk denounces him as an inadequate, irresponsible and self-absorbed father. The judge says he doesn’t know if the molestation happened, but bars Allen from seeing Dylan for at least six months and limits visits with other children. He also criticizes the Connecticut investigation that found no abuse.”

And this is the last word on some of the facts from Vanity Fair (here)

So NOW we are going to focus on some GOOD things that happened this past week, HAPPY things that have to do with song and dance and all things not Olympian, Russian, Drug Related, blah, blah, blah – because we need it. Well, The Fairy Princess needs it.

1. REX LEE IS IN THE ENTOURAGE MOVIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Squeeeeeee!

WERK that headset, Rex!

WERK that headset, Rex!

 

2. The Book, NOTHING LIKE A DAME by Eddie Shapiro is NOW out!

dame

If you love Broadway, or you know someone who does – THIS is what you can get them for Valentine’s Day, Birthday, whatever holiday you claim in December, it is truly so candid and inspiring – and I am so grateful that I have a copy of my very own!

See, there's my copy in the left corner - don't get distracted....

See, there’s my copy in the left corner – don’t get distracted….

 

3. ALEC MAPA is on SWITCHED AT BIRTH (and yes, I separated those posts so you would not think that he is Rex or Rex is him, because that is truly ridiculous at this point, folks)

 

And what this means is that ABC Family is now reflecting MY Family, and The Fairy Princess LOVES that!

 

4. ANTHONY RAPP is back on The Broadway in a new musical called IF/THEN – and here is a clip of the great work we have all been missing – and yeah, that is Tom Kitt at the piano

 

 

5.  LILLIAS WHITE is doing a Valentine’s Day concert! Yes, click here for information! I was so happy to see her at the Book Launch of Nothing Like A Dame, and she wants everyone to come to her concert! Norm Lewis does too!

Lillias White & Norm Lewis

Lillias White & Norm Lewis

 

6. The Webseries SUBMISSIONS ONLY is back for Season 3, featuring people we all know from the Broadway stages – it’s got cameos from big stars and from your Broadway regulars (it could use a bit more racial diversity, honestly, I would be remiss not to point that out) – but to me, as a member of the Broadway community, it’s a great way to get to know the ridiculous side in a way that is obviously absurd, and not just SMASH absurd.

(Cuz SMASH was totally absurd)

 

7. Canada made a protest video for the Olympics and it features a song by Human League!

 

Well played, Canada, well played…

 

8. PAGEANT, the musical has added a show to it’s existing 4, because they were SRO! What a great thing for Broadway Cares/EFA – do not wait to get tickets to the show added on the 24th, because they are going quickly

Oh Marty Thomas, how I love thee

Oh Marty Thomas, how I love thee

 

9. JUSTIN LIN is directing a new Pilot (this is not so much singing and dancing, but it’s diversity) for CBS called “Scorpion” (and no, it’s not about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in a speedo – we can’t get THAT lucky). It’s about a Super Brainy Guy that becomes a “real life Professor X”. Anyway, Geeks inherit the Universe and save it at the same time is what I am getting. Congratulations Justin Lin!

10. The David Henry Hwang play, KUNG FU, is in previews at The Signature Theater in NYC – and it looks AMAZING! WOW!

 

 

So if you are a Bruce Lee fanatic, or a DHH fanatic, or if you just want to see some Asian Americans on stage acting in what looks to be a great piece – check it out.

There you go – ten things that have helped me make it through the past few weeks, and I hope they help you and give you something to look forward to. Normally, The Fairy Princess is not so rah-rah, but…it has been an AWFUL few weeks, I have just been gobsmacked.

If I had my druthers, I would grab a mug of hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, and go vacation, well….HERE:

Sometimes when blogging, the world seems to be a negative place, filled with Monsters from your closet who would like nothing better than to ruin your day, consistently with some nasty stuff.

Whether you are trying to sell a cereal,

cheerios-memeor sing the National Anthem,

Public_Shaming_-_Racist_Basketball_Fans_PISSED

San Antonia, AMERICA!

or star in a tv show in a role traditionally given to a man – haters gonna hate.

Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson in Elementary

Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson in Elementary

Sometimes it seems, that no matter HOW you are trying to spin it, it’s gonna be a bad day….wait a minute, WAIT A MINUTE!

To Quote James Thunder Early from DREAMGIRLS “THERE HAVE GOT TO BE SOME GOOD TIMES!!!!”

Let’s shake it off –

(Who DOESN’T love to tell people what they really, REALLY want?)

READY – DANCE BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel better. How do you feel? Some things lately have been awesome…and I’m going to tell you some of them RIGHT NOW!!!!!

(I KNOW, THIS IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT, RIGHT?) (Don’t be scared)

It was TOTALLY AWESOME that several days ago THIS happened:

2013 TONY Winners - BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL - PATINA MILLER (Pippin) and BILLY PORTER (Kinky Boots)

2013 TONY Winners – BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL – PATINA MILLER (Pippin) and BILLY PORTER (Kinky Boots)

How was it awesome? Let me count the ways….ok, I hate math, nevermind counting – and don’t judge my math. Several weeks ago, I gave a speech at LA Stage Day.

They had a Graphic Artist do a rendering of my speech as it was occurring, isn't it fabulous? I think so!

They had a Graphic Artist do a rendering of my speech as it was occurring, isn’t it fabulous?

In it, I stated that Diversity means Awards and Dollars that make you holler! So let us just take a gander at what kind of musical KINKY BOOTS is – It is a musical written by a Heterosexual woman and a Gay Man, where the story involves a friendship and a mutual respect between a Straight man and a Gay man, who also happens to be a Drag Queen.

(In a nutshell….. In a nutshell enclosed in six inch stiletto thigh high boots)

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity.

This show makes me cheer – it did in the audience and it still does now – because it is the personification of what I was talking about. You can say similar things about PIPPIN – it’s a diverse cast, it has a female Director who took the role of “Lead Player” and changed the space time compendium and made the part that had traditionally gone to a man, go to a woman. BAM – TONY AWARDS!

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity!

Congrats to the three Carnegie Mellon grads who garnered TONY Awards – (in the order in which they were received) Judith Light, Billy Porter, and Patina Miller. Bravo!

Now you MAY ask yourself…HOW did the Fairy Princess get here – and you may ask yourself….nevermind, this is getting long and I have some things to say….

When watching the TONY Awards, I was asked a question by my Mother “Do you think there will ever be an Asian American winners for Best Lead Performance in a Musical, both a man and a woman in the same year?”

Proving indeed that she is MY Mother…and my answer was….drumroll please….

“I don’t know.

Seriously, I have no idea

Seriously, I have no idea.

Because there are a LOT of things that go into winning an award like that as a performer and the first rule is – YOU NEED A PART. Yes, you need a role that you can play to the best of your ability that helps people see past the color of your skin. So that answer begins with the writers out there – the composers, the lyricists – but who knows? Maybe it will happen. It has happened…once before in a musical..

lea-salonga

But let’s see what OTHER good things happened this week:

Joel Grey selected Raymond J. Lee for the 2013 Theater Hall of Fame Fellowship for Emerging Artists! That is VERY cool! Ray has been on Broadway in Mamma Mia and Anything Goes, he just finished ACT’s production of Stuck Elevator in San Francisco and he is heading off to do a show that will be at The Papermill Playhouse – Honeymoon in Vegas, by composer Jason Robert Brown, but anyway THAT is TOTALLY AWESOME THING NUMBER 2

Back to Mom’s question and my answer – it begins with the writers – so I was very ‘chuffed’ to hear that Chicago Actor/Writer, Danny Bernardo, has written a new play that is being mounted at The Baliwick Theater, MAHAL – a story about a Filipino family trying to come to grips with the loss of it’s Matriarch. It deals with cultural identity, assimilation, homophobia, inter-racial relationships, and inter-generational relationships which leads to realizing what it means to be an American Family.

Mahal 1

TOTALLY AWESOME THING 3!!!!!!!! (Look, my math is holding up!) And there is my pal from Flower Drum Song, Joseph Anthony Foronda playing the Patriarch! That is pretty awesome too! Congratulations to Danny, who wrote this play, in part, to come to terms with the loss of his own Father – having dealt with that the last year, and tomorrow being Father’s Day, I think it is a wonderful tribute and one his Dad would be very proud of, on so many levels.

AND….in terms of Diversity, Diversity, Diversity – it’s a WIN!

Speaking of plays…and I do, often – I wanted to share a HUGE Diversity Win with everyone – the FIRST PLAY ON THE INTERNET – specifically, YouTube and it is David Henry Hwang’s play Yellowface. Many congratulations to the YOMYOMF on this huge accomplishment!!!! Particular ‘shout out’ to Philip Chung, Jeff Liu, Justin Lin and my fellow cast member from The Mikado Project, Ryun Yu who stars at DHH

AWESOME THING NUMBER 4!!!!!!

Finally – again in Chicago – there was a kerfuffle this last week, in regards to The Jungle Book – which is being adapted by the Goodman Theater – here is a piece of what they are going for:

In a nutshell, Mary Zimmerman gave an interview in which her answers seem…well, they don’t seem cool. Here is the Chicago Tribune article about the situation, HERE. And here is the interview with Chicago Magazine that started this situation –HERE.

Which prompted THIS response from Silk Road Rising Theatre Company‘s AD, Jamil Khoury to take to his blog about the situation. (Read his first post HERE)

This was exciting to The Fairy Princess, because Mr. Khoury’s blog post began with “For years I have bit my tongue…” and that, to The Fairy Princess meant “Some SHIZ is going down…and you are gonna be sari…” because nothing says ‘prepare for total domination…’ like starting with how long you have held it in!

How long? YEARS! Grab an umbrella, ella, ella! There’s a fight coming and for ONCE…I didn’t have to start it. The Fairy Princess’s tiara was starting to get dented from all the knocks she had taken in this whole thing, and thank heavens Mr. Khoury was going to go fight the windmill.

Right, Mapa?

"Oh no he DIDN'T?"

“GURL….and THEN what?”

Anyway, Mr. Khoury – who no, I do not know – spoke up! He said what he had to say, and YEAH, he said it like THAT and you know what it led to?

A conversation. A conversation with Mary Zimmerman. (Read about it HERE) and there came a meeting of the minds, and there came…peace. And just like that, an understanding bloomed in Chicago – and things are going to change.

Things are going to change because Silk Road Rising had had enough, and they demanded clarity and they demanded response – AND THEY GOT IT.

So the next time someone tells you to just suck it up and go about your business, when you know you should say something, when you KNOW in your GUT that something is not kosher – I want you to think about the tremendous risk that Mr. Khoury took, and that it led to resolution.

And THAT is AWESOME THING NUMBER 5 ABOUT THE PAST TWO WEEKS….

Which means that my answer to my Mother will perhaps change to “Absolutely’

 

Drop the Mic, Ms. Audra McDonald – and take us home…..