Archives for posts with tag: Deborah S. Craig

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’s had a Birthday, so she wanted to blog a bit about KINDNESS.

I know, I know, you are all ‘WHAT, but she is SOOOOOO Snarky!” and while that is true, you may notice that my tone tends to be more one of flabbergasted disbelief at innate stupidity, rather than horrible statements that are taking more personal jabs. Also, my last few posts have been trying to focus on GOOD things that have been happening in the Asian American theater community AND…good things for Diversity in general.

So NOW I want to talk about KINDNESS, because I have noticed particularly that it seems to be missing.

It seems to be missing MOST in the Asian American Arts community at the moment, and I want to know why.

Here is the thing with the Asian American community – we eat our own.

A small band of people cannot hold the larger group hostage to their particular ideals and spew hatred simply because they choose not to acknowledge what the other side is saying!

Oh, wait a minute….

76362Huh.

Maybe some parts of the Asian American community are taking our historical alliance with tea too seriously as they bag on some of our Artists.

In the long tradition of Tiger Moms, Tiger Children, Tiger Men, Tiger Pets who are actual Tigers, and of course – Tigerfish…nothing is ever good enough for Asian America.

Now, that is great if you are trying to become a world class speller,

or a doctor,

or a lawyer,

but the people who take the biggest risks as Asian Americans are the Asian American Artists.

We are laughed at because we do not have a ‘regular job’.

We are considered less intelligent (unless we play the piano – playing the piano is the great equalizer until someone says, “well, my son is a Doctor AND a concert pianist“, so then even IF you are a pianist you are ‘lazy’ because you did not also happen to cure cancer at the same time as practicing scales.).

Our Families apologize for us, “Uh, well…that is my Cousin she’s a…a…(whisper)….painter“.

It’s a rocky, rocky road.

Which is why WE as a COMMUNITY of Asian American Artists need to BE KIND to one another.

We do NOT have to agree, but we DO have to RESPECT that the people in the show are all highly trained members of a Professional Performers Union, and as such, we should respect the skill they have made it their life’s work to attain – even IF you do not agree with how they display it.

Name calling is not professional. It is not compassionate. It is not respectful.

We do NOT have to attend a show, but the audience who paid for tickets deserves respect for supporting the Arts, and journeying out for a night of entertainment. They should not have to sit through loud screaming during the show. They made their choice, they voted in the only way that counts in theater – THEY BOUGHT A TICKET.

In other words – YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF THEM.

You can of course, choose to protest anything in America, but if you are going to do that, be consistent.

So what is the issue, exactly? Why are there protests?

I mean, if you are going to protest based on the perception that the show in question portrays women in a negative light, you can feel free to do that, but picking just ONE show to protest based on women’s issues is…you know, discriminatory.

What are you saying? Asian prostitutes in a show are ‘bad’, but you have no opinion on Caucasian Prostitutes or Latin Prostitutes or African American Prostitutes?

Go right ahead and stand up for women (?), but show equality to ALL musicals who have lead roles where women play “working girls” or “whores‘ or “ladies of the evening“- but if you are starting on this madcap ride, you better be prepared, because you are are going to be BUSY.

WHICH shows in American Musical Theater feature “Ladies who have a lot of sex and enjoy it and occasionally get paid, but not by the guy they fall for’, or ‘maybe they do NOT get paid but they get branded ‘loose’ by the other characters in the show”? Or just have good old fashioned brothel workers?”

Off the top of my head…what is the first one I think of…oh right, RENT:

OKLAHOMA:

TWO BY TWO

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM:

I could go ON and ON like Sondheim on an arpeggio in a key with five sharps, but here are a ‘few’ musicals that are just, you know – top of my head, that you could get ready to protest based on main characters being women of ‘low moral fiber’: You can always tell who they are, because they always get the best songs…..here goes:

Oklahoma, RENT, Les Miserables, Two by Two, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Life, Best Little Whorehouse, Whorehouse Goes Public, Showboat, Pal Joey, Steel Pier, Annie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Little Shop of Horrors, TOMMY, Oliver, Chicago, Jekyll & Hyde, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Tenderloin, Gigi, Carmen Jones, Porgy & Bess, Cabaret, Little Night Music, Gypsy, Pacific Overtures…ok that is just off the top of my head….and what ELSE?

I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list…. MISS SAIGON is on it.

Now….there WAS, yes, a protest at the beginning of MISS SAIGON‘s journey in the United States and it was not over subject matter, or roles for women, or that the rake on the stage of the theater was one of the highest and all the dancers wound up with back problems…no, the protest was over one guy who was playing a part and he was not Eurasian, as the script called for. He was 100 per cent Caucasian and in London, he used prosthetic eye makeup to make himself look ‘more Asian”.

Jonathan Pryce, the original Engineer in Miss Saigon

Jonathan Pryce, the original Engineer in Miss Saigon

It was a HUGE fail on the part of Actors Equity (who initially blocked the show and then caved like a souffle after you clap your hands near the oven), on the Broadway Community (who should have supported the Asian Americans protesting), and actually, on the people who awarded Jonathan Pryce the TONY Award – the HIGHEST honor Broadway has – which rewarded his “Yellowface’.

It was super not cool. Not that JP was bad, he is an excellent performer, but it was a slap in the face, truly.

But, see…People liked Miss Saigon.

Because Miss Saigon is a love story.

It is a musical about a girl, standing in front of a war, asking a boy to love her. And, he DOES.

In fact, he loves her SOOOO much, he gets extreme PTSD and spends a very long time in a mental ward recovering from the devastation of losing the girl he loves when he is forced into a helicopter by his friend, unable to get her to the copter to go with him, due to a whacky misunderstanding.

(Ok, it’s not whacky, I just threw that in there, there’s got to be some sense of fun, Folks!)

While Chris has been in the mental ward, Kim has had to resort to prostitution to feed her Eurasian child because the country she is from is rocked with devastation from war. When she realizes that Chris and his new wife will not take her child to America, she kills herself so that they have no choice BUT to take her child to America and give him a ‘better life’.

So at the heart of it, it is two love stories. It is about love between two people, and about the love of a mother for her child.

AND….it HAS been done before – the Puccini Opera, Madame Butterfly.

CONSISTENCY!

I mean, if you are going to protest Miss Saigon, you have to be gearing to take on MADAME BUTTERFLY too, right? I will expect to see you protesting at each and every performance of MADAME BUTTERFLY that you are capable of getting to.

And if you are going to protest MADAME BUTTERFLY, well then FOR SURE you are going to protest any and every showing of the brilliant play by David Henry Hwang, M.BUTTERFLY, because the BUTTEFLY myth is so much a part of the storyline – and you know, you have to be equal.

Isn’t that what you want. Mr. Joe Protestor?

You do not want a show where there are characters that represent prostitutes and pimps, and, perhaps no musicals about soldiers…that last one I’m just throwing in, it is equally as valid. Perhaps you are protesting the impression that soldiers get PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?  And it seems you definitely, but definitely do not want shows that have interracial love. Nope, that does not sound bigoted at all. Carry on. I know, I know, you ARE protesting, and YOU are right. Nothing good has come from Miss Saigon, according to YOU.

Strictly speaking, Mr. Joe Protestor, you are WRONG.

Just for historical accuracy, they ALSO awarded the TONY Award that year to a young woman, perhaps you have heard of her….oh right, Lea Salonga. That Lea Salonga is a pretty good thing. So are all the other women that have gone on and made careers that began in Miss Saigon. They are Asian American faces on Broadway – that IS a good thing.

lea-salonga

Here is another something to keep in mind – since Jonathan Pryce left the Broadway production – both on Broadway and Regionally, the character of The Engineer has been  played by people of Asian descent, and they do a great job with it. It is a role which is, in the pantheon of ‘the musical theater’, one of the GREAT, great roles for men – and due to our current sensibilities, it can ONLY be played by men of Asian descent.

I should hear a cheer about that. BECAUSE there are ONLY a few:

1. The King in The King & I

2. Sammy Fong in the DHH revised version of FLOWER DRUM SONG

3. The Reciter in Pacfic Overtures

But you are right, let’s take that part away from the literally hundreds of THREE major roles for Asian American males – we should all protest because in all of the world, there has never been an Asian Pimp.

I think world sex trafficking statistics would prove you wrong there.

Not that The Engineer is representative of all Eurasian men everywhere, but there have, actually, been Asian men who have been Pimps. Possibly some of them have been Eurasian. As a Eurasian myself, I am not offended by that notion.

How do I know that? I read. The Fairy Princess does not just sit around flapping her wings getting confused by Mr. Joe Protestor, she pushes her Tiara to the side and surfs the world wide internet thingy.

According to the UN Sexual Trafficking Report of 2012, in Asian countries such as Maylasia, Thailand, and the Philippines, those convicted of sexually trafficking women, were 89%, 74% and 77% male, the rest were female- so…yes, Virginia, there are Asian Pimps.

(Seriously, only 102 pages, go ahead and read it, and THEN we can have a talk about Pimps)

I know what you are going to say now, it’s the perception. You want to protect all of America from the perception of all Asian American women being prostitutes.

I think, actually, we are safe. Because there are quite a few Asian American women on major television shows none of whom are playing prostitutes.

Sandra Oh – Grey’s Anatomy – Heart Surgeon

Lucy Liu – Elementary – Sobriety Coach and former Doctor

Ming Na Wen – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Super Secret Agent

Chloe Bennet – Agents of S.H.I.E.D. – Civilian recruit & Super Hacker

Jenna Ushkowitz – Glee – High school student

Hettiene Park – Hannibal – Investigator

Grace Park – Hawaii 5.0 – Investigator

Deborah S. Craig – The Blacklist – Bodyguard & Genius Programmer

Olivia Munn – The Newsroom – Journalist

Parminder Nagra – The Blacklist – CIA Operative & Torture Expert

Archie Panjabi – The Good Wife – Investigator

Maggie Q – Nikita – Spy

Well of course that list could be LONGER, don’t we all wish it was, but ya know….none of them are playing hookers. So the perception ‘issue’ is not really a issue, given that more people watch television in America than go to the theater. Thus the overall representation Americans are getting of Asian American women, via the Entertainment industry, looking at the roles listed above, is that Asian American women are smart -if not completely brilliant- and physically competent enough to kick anyone’s ass.

So relax.

Hey, can we break it down for a second? Fairy Princess style – and btw, you can ‘come’ for me all you like, it’s not going to make a difference in my daily life, and LEST YOU FORGET – without tooting my own horn TOO much, but it MUST be cited here like a friggin’ term paper – I AM THE ONE WHO FIRST GOT YOU ALL RILED UP ABOUT THE NIGHTINGALE AT LA JOLLA.

I am also the first in America to draw attention to what happened at THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY.

I gave THIS speech at LA Stage Day about NO MORE YELLOW FACE

I have a few ‘legs’ on this issue.

I am standing WITH the Cast of MISS SAIGON.

No one goes into a MUSICAL thinking that it is historically accurate. Who does? Oh yeah – NO ONE.

Because it is a MUSICAL! No one walks down the street and bursts into song with a live band playing and instantly appearing backup dancers in matching outfits with giant flags. (But if you hear of someplace like that, let me know, ok?) Hence, it is not real. It is not reality. The very premise of it is it’s UNreality. Because it is, say it with me now, A MUSICAL.

Protesting MISS SAIGON is something that The Fairy Princess does not understand.  And to my Asian American Blogger pals that jumped right on this clown car ride without actually looking at what you were doing, you sadden me. I thought we were known for being good at homework.

1. Most of the protestors have not seen the show. Not this version. Not only that, they have ADMITTED they have not seen the show, and they are NOT going to see the show because they think they know better.

That is like calling yourself a Doctor and not going to medical school “Oh, I can totally do a mitral valve replacement because I have used the ‘think system’ from The Music Man”

2. The Protestors were offered tickets, they were offered opportunities to come meet the Cast and discuss it, they were offered a lot of things by the Producers, in order that they educate themselves – THEY REFUSED.

So that is like getting a full ride TO medical school, and telling them you prefer the ‘think system’ from The Music Man.

3. No musical represents ‘all women’ – it only represents characters in a story. It’s a fable. Do not all lands use fables to teach? To inspire? To frighten children into good behavior? This one just happens to have a giant helicopter as a set piece. The moral of the story is, to me, “No one will ever love you more than your Mommy”

Actually, The Moral could also be “Don’t get caught in a land war in Asia“, as Vizzini said, “one of the classic blunders”

4. The American Dream is a kick ass number. Anyone would and should be proud to do it.

So….Asian American Bloggers….you highlighted the efforts of a few admitted uneducated (on this particular show) people, and you have given them a nice, big forum to spew about their ‘rights’ as a non-musical performers over what jobs musical performers are allowed to be in. Isn’t that like letting someone cheat off your term paper when you KNOW they did not study?

Whilst repeating that I do not understand this whole protest, I wonder at the motives, are they just trying to draw attention to their own work, rather than having touring companies come in? Are they launching an alternate piece, with the same benefits and paycheck to the actors that they would so easily un-employ?

Are they prepared to become the Tea Party of Asian American theater?

Can they imitate Robert Preston?

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

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

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

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

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

YOU are NOT the BOSS of US.

The Fairy Princess is sick as hell of this ‘issue’, which is not really an ‘issue’.

You don’t like MISS SAIGON? Fine. Do not go see it. End of story.

And Mr. Joe Protestor? You can kiss my Fan, Tan Fannie!

 

PS: Feel free to post comments, but do us all a favor, make them readable – check your grammar, check your spelling, and do not use profanity. If I can refrain, so can you

Last Saturday, The Fairy Princess took a coach and four horses (of the theatrical Apocalypse) to LA Stage Day, which was hosted by LA Stage Alliance, and she just wanted to reflect on a few thoughts from the day.

The Fairy Princess was extraordinarily touched to have been asked to be a Keynote Speaker – particularly because no one has ever asked her to comment on what she, in fact, wrote about…nor has she been asked to be on Panel Discussions or anything of that nature in regards to her thoughts on Diversity in theater.

She needs to thank the CEO of the LA Stage Alliance, Mr. Terence McFarland, someone that she has known for a long time, and admired, for inviting her to attend and be provocative.

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The Fairy Princess knew exactly what she was going to say, and how she was going to say it, which was why she had hoped that there would be more Asian American faces in the audience…to say that my blood pressure was under control as I watched the audience file in, would be a lie. When she did not see that many API faces attending, it just resonated how far removed most API Actors and Actresses feel from the mainstream Los Angeles theater crowd, I hope most of them missed it because they had a matinee to attend.

However, I was grateful to see Michael Seel, Exec. Dir of The Boston Court Theater,

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Drama Desk Winner (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) Deborah S. Craig,

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Andy Lowe, Production Manager at East West Players,

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and of course, Chil Kong of The Ovation Awards Nominating Committee,

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out in the audience, looking at their faces calmed me down.

There was a comment made in a review of the day by Don Shirley, that I was ‘visibly choked by her fervor’, and  The Fairy Princess just wanted to comment on that – it was not the ‘fervor’, it was looking out at the crowd and seeing Deborah S. Craig tearing up and Andy Lowe nodding yes, yes, yes at what I was saying, that had her a bit shaken.

Because she knew that they were representative of the friends who had gone through similar experiences that were named towards the end of the talk – being asked to be ‘more submissive’, told that they were ‘too bold’, told to “act more Asian”, and finally, one friend was told to change her makeup’s base color to gray, so that she would appear less ‘yellow’, and seeing them nod and agree, made her very emotional.

The Fairy Princess has been told all those things – well, not the makeup thing, but the other stuff for sure – and when you are repeatedly told those kind of negative things, it takes a toll on you. So as she looked at Deborah and Andy, and by their reactions ‘knew’ that they too, had had those experiences, the emotional response was overwhelming. Through her mind ran all the messages from friends who, throughout their careers, had had some really amazingly awful things said and done to them, in an attempt to ‘make them more Asian’ for theatrical purposes…and a moment had to be taken.

So…’fervor’…I don’t know…maybe?

The Fairy Princess could take a huge professional ‘hit’ for her comments, but if this was the one and only time she was to speak – she wanted it to count. Many people, after reading the blog, will tell her that “you are just saying what everyone else is thinking’, but it is one thing to blog, and it is quite another to stand in front of a few hundred people who may or may not choose to hear what you are saying with an open mind.

The Fairy Princess came to LA Stage Day a bundle of nerves, a bit nauseated, and she was truly humbled by the reception that she received. So many hugs, so many well wishes, so much was overwhelming…who would have thought?

IMG_9089

The other Keynote Speakers were engaging and all spoke in their own way, about changing the way theater and the practitioners of theater, think. On inclusion, on fundraising, on innovation, on staying true to their own mission – it was a great group of speakers and I congratulate them all.

The text of the speech has not yet been posted – yes, it was recorded, perhaps it will be released in parts, at this point, The Fairy Princess is waiting to hear about it.

Thank you to all who contacted The Fairy Princess via Twitter and otherwise to let me know you were still thinking about what was said the next day – hope it will keep us all thinking the day after that. And the day after the day after that….

Thank you for listening. The most overwhelming part of the day was being able to say what I have thought in the past – and have it seemed to have been heard, it is an extraordinary feeling.

The Fairy Princess is pleased to announce that she will be a Keynote Speaker at the LA Stage Alliance’s Stage Day Conference on May 18, 2013!

Wait, I have to do a speech? Awww nuts....

Wait, I have to do a speech? Awww nuts….

This is SO exciting! I mean, we will get to shoot the breeze and talk about all those silly kerfuffles that happened with Asian American representation in Theater over the last year, and oh MY will we laugh because it was all so….

Sorry, wait a minute – what’s that you have there?

Ah yes, Drama Desk nominations – so exciting, The Fairy Princess knows so many on this list, let’s take a look:

Billy Porter for KINKY BOOTS – well, naturally – he is amazing in that show. Christiane Noll for CHAPLIN – she’s so talented, remember her turn in RAGTIME as Mother? Oh, I loved it so much…

The Cast of WORKING is getting recognized! Nice!

Prospect-Theater-Companys-WORKING-at-59E59_Poster

Oh look, HERE LIES LOVE which is now at The Public is getting quite a few nods – Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical, Outstanding Lighting Design, Outstanding Lyrics and Outstanding Music – oh they must be so pleased!

Yeah, they look pretty happy

Yeah, they look pretty happy

Ok, going down the list and going down the list and….ummmm – hold please….let me look at this list for Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical….oh dear.

grinch

NO!

NO!

THIS CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN!!!!!!!

I thought we agreed!

I mean AAPAC made a statement!

The Roundabout Theater agreed to a close door meeting to discuss this…this…the…’Brownface’ and the faux Bollywood accents and the…I feel like I am Foghorn Leghorn and all the Award Committees are trying to prove they are chicken hawks!

Lemme get this straight Drama Desk Awards – in a musical about Asians, played by Asian Americans, there are no Individual Nominations (And btw, that is totally fine and happens a lot and it is not the reason for the following outburst).

But the people wearing heavy makeup and using crazy Bollywood gestures have Nominations for Best Featured Actor and Actress in A Musical!

For being directed to inhabit their roles with what the The New York Times said was “…silly imitation exoticism …in absurd burnt-umber makeup”

(The Fairy Princess wants to be quite clear, that no Actor or Actress takes the stage and gives any sort of performance in a Broadway revival without direction, so she is fairly certain that the choices made to portray Neville and Helena Landless were not from the Actors. This is not about the talent or a personal attack on these particular actors)

(Obviously the Actors do not go around their daily lives striking these kinds of poses – that would be RIDICULOUS)

THE MYSTERY! OF! BROADWAY BROWN!

Those two have the nominations, not these two…

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles

Mr & Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos as played by Jose Llana & Ruthie Ann Miles

Again, so we are clear…these two

Rather unfortunate photo

Hmm, -Rather unfortunate photo

And NOT any of the people pictured here

HERE LIES LOVE...and Asian Americans...er...Asian American Love

HERE LIES LOVE…and Asian Americans…er…Asian American Love

The Fairy Princess has a question for the Drama Desk Nominating Committee – If you nominate Caucasians made up to resemble what is a stereotype of an Asian person, isn’t that, well…endorsing the use of stuff like….oh, I don’t know….

THIS?

THIS?

Or, well….

THIS?

THIS?

Oh Drama Desk Committee, you have many, many things to worry about, so I will give you the answer…it’s not B.

THE ANSWER IS YES!

Because you see, the makeup is only a few kick ball changes away from..(.and I so hesitate to use this photo because, well, it’s AWFUL), but you see, by endorsing those kinds of performances with such a distinguished award, oh Drama Desk Nominating Committee, you are only a few shades away from endorsing…uh…THIS

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Yeah, remember when people thought THIS was ok? (TOTALLY NOT OK!)

Aha! THIS is the part where everyone is going to get mad, and argue that using Brownface or Yellowface is fairly standard in our industry – alive and well since the 1800’s, and that Caucasians wearing exaggerated makeup to resemble Asians is, in no way, comparable to Minstrel performances that characterized and dehumanized African Americans shamefully in this country.

Because… let’s face it – everyone did The Mikado in High School, and they LOVED wearing the Yellowface, they thought it was fun! They did not, and do not think absurd shuffling, and forgetting consonants and wearing eyeliner from the corner of their eye till it nearly touches their ear was bad! They had a good time!…. And then they went and lost their virginity at the Cast Party afterwards – and yeah, they were probably still wearing the makeup because…’that’s hot’.

Cuz to us….

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…they look pissed, huh?

Yellowface or Brownface is the SAME as Blackface.

It really, really is.

Because what it says is – and think about this just a bit before everyone flies off the handle and starts bashing me on Broadwayworld.com – (and yes, I have seen the posts – nice grammar, Crackpots) – when you erase Asian faces from roles where they are possible, have them played in heavy makeup by Caucasians whose very portrayals mock their heritage, and then endorse those portrayals with an AWARD, it tells us one thing – loud and clear.

It tells us we don’t count.

And here’s the thing…if there is one thing we are known for, it’s being able to count.

It says “We are so used to not seeing you, that when we do see you, well…you are not as we had imagined, so we’d rather just forget the you that is you, and you know…make it up.”

Etcetera, Etcetera, Etectera….

I mean, if you can see this from space….

FROM SPACE

FROM SPACE

But when you go to the theater where there is a South Asian character and you don’t see this…

Manu-Narayan-03

You see this…

MED12_andy

Something is rotten, and we are nowhere near Denmark.

What are ‘we’ supposed to think? What would YOU think?

The Fairy Princess is NOT calling The Drama Desk Awards racist, because that would be absurd!

There have been many past winners of the Drama Desk Awards who are, in fact, Asian American – Francis Jue for David Henry Hwang’s YELLOWFACE

220px-FrancisJue1

(In context, a title disturbingly appropriate.)

Deborah S. Craig won for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for her breakthrough performance as Marcy Park.MV5BMjI4MTA4MDU1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTExNzQ3Ng@@._V1._SX467_SY700_

So it is NOT that The Drama Desk Awards are racist – and let’s stop throwing that word around like a frisbee – it is that…it is that they are so used to seeing Caucasians play Asian, that it didn’t mean a damn thing to them. And that is the saddest part of all.

Theater is supposed to break the stereotypes, not endorse them.

It’s supposed to lift you up, and by ‘you’, I mean everyone.

The Drama Desk Awards DO have 3 Nominations this year for Asian Americans –

Joel de la Fuente: OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE – Hold These Truths

Jane Wang – OUTSTANDING MUSIC IN A PLAY – Strange Tales of Liaozhai

Eugene Ma – OUTSTANDING MUSIC IN A PLAY – The Man who Laughs

The Fairy Princess wishes them well. She actually wishes everyone well – but truthfully what would be great is if the cast of HERE LIES LOVE sits right in front, so no matter WHO wins, they are seen.

We. Are. Seen.

And, scene.

Finally, for all the people who comment, who are sooooo threatened by the ability to see something a different way, I just ask you – why do you like theater? Do you like it because you learn something when you go? Do you like it because it can make the world brighter? Or, do you just like calling me a bitch?

Because the reason I write this is not because I ‘like’ theater, it is because I love theater. I have devoted my life to it. I just want it to be better, for everyone. I want people of all races to be able to GO to the theater and see themselves.

Seeing yourself is powerful. Seeing yourself is empowering. Seeing yourself is halfway to becoming the person you want to be.

I had a friend who is unfortunately gone now, and what he always used to say is “If they knew better, they would do better” – and this blog is to point out that sometimes people do not know, and I just try to explain to them that they need to do better. So simple. I just say it…well….

In a really snarky way.

Because…that’s me.

Anyway, this is a thrilling awards season, and I wish all the Nominees of everything well, besides….

Werd!

Werd!