Archives for posts with tag: erin quill

The Fairy Princess had an audition and she was required to use an Accent.

If you have been reading along, you might guess that The Fairy Princess has a problem with this, and the answer is – within parameters, The Fairy Princess does not have a problem using an accent of any kind.

Yes, some people just flat out refuse to do them, due to personal mores (which is fine), but The Fairy Princess comes from a family built by immigration and the accents she heard growing up – Irish, Australian, Chinese – and by marriage – Korean -, and through friendships – too numerous and international to be counted – means that she is well aware that accents exist on the planet, and it would be completely ridiculous not to acknowledge that when one is acting.

In her own opinion.

This post is not really for Actors, who kind of ‘get’ what the job is, but it is more for the “Activists’ out there, who I have noticed, seem to lose their mind when an Actor of Color has to use an accent.

So The Fairy Princess is going to share her very simple rules for when a Minority Actor or Actress should/can use an accent without getting flack for it from the general public, bloggers, and those who share their every thought on social media.

You know – people like me. 🙂

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THE FAIRY PRINCESS’S EIGHT SIMPLE RULES FOR USING AN ACCENT

1. If the character is an immigrant.

Asian Americans will not like this first one, but the truth is, though the API population is growing rapidly, we still get most of our population numbers from immigration. It would be ludicrous to assume that someone arriving in America is going to get off the plane speaking “The Queen’s English”, one or two – likely, every single one? Not possible.

Immigrants have accents because they have not assimilated to the new country – and this is not just an Asian accent thing, immigrants from Australia, Britain, Ireland, Wales – they all have accents to American ears – accents are not ‘owned’ by any particular group. We all have them – look at New York vs. Chicago  – Fuggitaboudit!

2. If the character comes from a region where a specific dialect is well known and expected

Examples would be, of course, the American Deep South, or Australia, or Norway. Or a particular city within the USA that has well known regional flavor…or Canada. There are lots of regional accents out there, and if a play is set in a particular city, one would expect to hear them.

3. If the character and the play are set in a historic time and the entire cast is using an accent

Well, for example, Shakespeare – even Americans sound vaguely British-y when they do Shakespeare, perhaps it is psychological or perhaps it just sounds better that way, who knows – but it is hard to say “Out damn spot!” without trying to Dame Dench it.

Judi Dench

Those are my top 3 reasons of why an Actor would choose to do them, but having said that, The Fairy Princess has rules, for herself (but she is sharing now), of what she expects of herself when doing an accent as part of her work, so here are 4-6….

4. It must be authentic.

If the character is Korean – then the accent must mimic someone from Korea who has just learned English – likewise for Hispanic, Cyrillic, Celtic, just ANY accent – it has to be authentic. If you are supposed to be from Japan, you cannot sound like you are from the Philippines.

By being authentic, you are being respectful. Which brings me to my next personal rule:

5. It must respectful.

The Actor should not allow the accent to wear them, they should ‘wear’ the accent. In practice, Actors often need to find something about a character to like, in order to do the character justice. If the accent is being used for comedy, that is fine- but have the joke be funny by performance, not by accent alone. It is a fine, fine line – yes, but the benefits are that one does not feel that one has taken a bath in sewage after every performance.

6. It must serve the play, television show, or film

Having an accent ‘just to have one’ does not really, to The Fairy Princess, have a point to it. Given that the world is getting more diverse, one expects to hear more accents on our screens and stages – or that is the dream, in my mind. The accent has to be given to the character for a reason other than to play into stereotype or to serve as a foil for debasing the character who has it.

Those are The Fairy Princess’s rules for personal use of an accent – but there are a few exceptions and we are going to go into them right now:

7. Caucasians do not get to use accents to mock the Immigrant character.

We have seen it in film,image14

television,

The Cast of How I Met Your Mother

The Cast of How I Met Your Mother

and Broadway,

Revival of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood with Andy Karl and Jessie Mueller

Revival of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood with Andy Karl and Jessie Mueller

– it is not what is supposed to happen in this day and age.

Let’s all agree to be better than that.

Otherwise what good are theater conferences and diversity panels? None at all if you are going to turn around and give us a tv show or musical without employing Actors who can take the stage/screen without browning, yellowing, or blacking their faces.

8. Other Minorities, likewise, should be judicious with assuming that because we ‘share’ minority status, that it’s ‘allowed’ to put on accents of other races.

Not so much, Folks – not so much.

Just because you are not Caucasian does not mean you get a free pass. Because you are not Caucasian means you know what it feels like when you are mocked by a stereotype that you do not embody – so let’s be kind to one another.

If, for plot’s sake, your character has an accent because it fit the ‘regional’ requirements listed above, that is, of course, different kettle of fish. Plot points are plot points.

Are there exceptions to any and all of these rules?

There are to most rules, but these, not really.

Accents are part of the costume that we Actors wear, and they will always be a part of the profession – unless we decide to get dull and boring and lose all sense of reality and humor – some are already there.

Ahem.

However, it is not the accent that makes the performance, it is the execution by the actor and the intention behind the employment OF an accent within a role.

If you hate the accent, so be it – turn the channel. But let us not flay actors who are gainfully employed by taking away their tools to do their job – if they are playing an immigrant, they WILL have an accent – and uber sensitivity is NOT going to help the great strides being taken by both Networks and Actors in breaking down the doors that have been closed to diversity.

The Cast of Fresh Off The Boat

The Cast of Fresh Off The Boat

Got it?

Yeah, I thought you did.

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The Fairy Princess‘s  toddler had four “Revolutionary Costumes for the Day’ – four, before Noon.

 

Oh HIIIIIII‘. Indeed.

Grandmas should not be handing out chocolate covered strawberries like it was revenge, but there you go. (And maybe it was, I was a tough kid)

Short post today, just to ‘sum up’ as it were:

Ok, so fun things – The Fairy Princess spoke on her friend, Dennis Hensleys Podcast, “Dennis, Anyone?”

http://traffic.libsyn.com/dennishensley/DAErinQuill.mp3

Dennis is a writer, a director, and most recently, was one of the Writers for Fashion Police with Joan Rivers, on E! We have been friends for a ton of years, and I find him outrageously delightful. He also has two books I heartily recommend – Screening Party and MisAdventures in the (213)

 

The Fairy Princess appeared on Global Village Broadcasting, on the show, Cabarabia, Hosted by Director/Producer Clifford Bell. Clifford directed me in my very first cabaret show, They Shoot Asian Fosse Dancers, Don’t They?, so it was great to catch up with him.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/47491733

 

AND…just to wrap up, she found this really fun little clip from when she went on the Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius, Jim Colucci was hosting, and she talked about the 10th Anniversary of Avenue Q.

https://soundcloud.com/jim-colucci/erin-quill-of-avenue-q-w-jim

And this is what a gal dressed as a Drag Queen looks like:

The House of Xmas Eves...

The House of Xmas Eves…

Only in regards to myself, of course – everyone else looks fantastic.

And THAT is probably one of the shorter blog posts I have done, but in case you wanted to hear what The Fairy Princess sounds like – there you go!

The Fairy Princess’s wings are fluttering a bit slower today, because, MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) via their founder, Guy Aoki, have taken it upon themselves to decide whether or not “Hapas” count.

Randall no last name, at Rafu Shimpo is giving this issue a wider bigoted stance by thoughtfully expanding on this topic with this amazing title – Does an Actress Count As An Asian American if She Doesn’t Look it?” by Randall.

(article)

Does she ‘count‘?

Old Rafu (Randall, no last name listed)  read Mr. Aoki’s column of bombastic bullshit and decided he would conduct his own very scientific experiment, with his vast knowledge of mixed race people and try and decide whether or not Actress, Chloe Bennett of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘counted’ as Asian American – he asked his wife.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Chloe Bennett

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Chloe Bennett

She said no.

Who get’s to decide? THEY do.(?)

Apparently, Hapas – of which the Fairy Princess is one,

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we are the unwanted of the Asian American Community. Oh, what IS that word that they use so frequently with derision? What IS it?

Cher?

“We have a growing dilemma with Hapa actors. If they can pass for white, that’s often what their characters are. Yet the networks count them as Asian. As I’ve told them before, while that benefits their company to show how “diverse” they are, it doesn’t benefit the community if no one knows they’re part Asian.’ Guy Aoki (article)

A growing dilemma.

Well, yes – the Asian American population IS growing, but the numbers are not those of the “Purebloods’ to use Harry Potter terminology, it’s us Half-Breed Muggles that are cause for concern. According to Bloomberg, mixed race people identifying as Asian and Caucasian has INCREASED by 87 per cent in the last decade.

Oh my goodness, whatever WILL those “Purebloods” do if we get out of our cages? Although 87 per cent.…guess we are out.

WHY would we, the Asian American community, allow this kind of destructive thinking?

Everyone would rather protest MISS SAIGON, instead of looking at the intrinsic racism of the Asian American community and it’s way of having to put everyone in a box? Oh, wait of COURSE you would rather protest MISS SAIGON, it has a number where it addresses the issue of mixed race children.

Are ‘we’ really NOT going to reach out and slap MANAA and Rafu Shimpo for what is, actually, hate speech. It’s not any different than what Hitler used to say – are we going to, now as they did in Nazi Germany, start measuring our features for the purity of our traits? And if we, the Hapas, do not measure up to ‘their’ standards, we have to, forever after, be banished from the Asian American community?

No more noodles for us Hapas? That’s it?

It seems harsh. It seems….misguided.

What THINKING person would DO or SAY this? Who could endorse this way of thinking?

Norah Jones, you are mixed race – thoughts?

What IF….our hair is just a bit lighter?

Maggie Q - Go Ahead, tell HER she's not Asian

Maggie Q – Go Ahead, tell HER she’s not Asian

What IF….our eyes are different?

Actress Vanessa Hudgens

Actress Vanessa Hudgens

What IF, we wind up on TV with millions of people dreaming of us at night?

Ian Anthony Dale - Hawaii 5.0

Ian Anthony Dale – Hawaii 5.0

But perhaps, perhaps Hapas are not just focused on the small screen? Perhaps our plans of decimation of the Asian American Community go BEYOND the television, BEYOND the Broadway….maybe we are thinking BIGGER! Oh NO!

Wait a MINUTE, wait a MINUTE – what IF some of us become film stars?

Keanu Reeves - Matrix star

Keanu Reeves – Matrix star

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

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

Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Nominee, True Grit

Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Nominee, True Grit

Korean film sensation, Daniel Henney

Korean film sensation, Daniel Henney

WHAT IF….Hapa Actors take an even BOLDER STEP and change their look FOR A ROLE?

David Lee McInnis in IRIS

David Lee McInnis in IRIS

What IF….we decide to celebrate the OTHER side of our heritage and take a role THAT way?

Sharon Leal - Dreamgirls Movie - incidentally, she is the recipient of an Asian Excellence Award, which I know, because I was AT that ceremony - uh HUH

Sharon Leal – Dreamgirls Movie – incidentally, she is the recipient of an Asian Excellence Award, which I know, because I was AT that ceremony – uh HUH

What IF we become SUPERMODELS?

Naomi Campbell - DUCK!

Naomi Campbell – DUCK!

I want to be there when you tell Tyson Beckford that he 'doesn't count' as being part Asian....tell his abs first, I'm sure his fist will answer

I want to be there when you tell Tyson Beckford that he ‘doesn’t count’ as being part Asian….tell his abs first, I’m sure his fist will answer

WHAT IF…we go into MUSIC and have the WHOLE WORLD dancing and singing along with US?

Bruno Mars, he wins GRAMMYS

Bruno Mars, he wins GRAMMYS

WHAT IF WE ARE CROWNED QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE???????????

Miss Universe 1997, Brook Mahealani Lee

Miss Universe 1997, Brook Mahealani Lee

What’s that? The Fairy Princess is being too sensitive over SOMEONE ELSE deciding if she, AS A HUMAN, counts?

Maybe I should lighten up? Watch some TV?

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To sum up what MANAA and Rafu are saying – Hapas do not count UNLESS a storyline is provided to fully expand upon the Asian-ness of their character on a show, which should be done the very FIRST time they hit the screen and repeated each and EVERY time they are seen.

What do they want, for the character to say, “Well, as my Chinese Mom said….” when they begin a scene?

When they begin EVERY scene?

Hello “Number One Son” part Deux.

So that the Asian Americans at home can feel comfortable. So that the Asian Americans at home – sitting on their tukus, – can point to the screen and feel better about the fact that if they find the Actor or Actress ‘hot’ that it is ONLY because the Actor/Actress is Asian? Because why? You are afraid of finding people attractive who are not Asian?

Wow.

So as a Hapa Actor, we need to have a full array of t-shirts with our Mom or Dad’s photo emblazoned across them in order to ‘count’? And we need to appear IN them every time we are in public?

So me, I do not count – and the people above do not ‘count’.

But my son, who is 1/2 Korean, Chinese, Irish, & Welsh, would count – but only if he stands with his Korean American Dad, but not with his Eurasian Mom. And they would totally not count my adorable nieces because they are Hapa but have blue eyes?

I should have Russell Wong kick each and every one of your asses – twice!

Romeo must kick your asses!

Romeo must kick your asses!

Dear Purebloods – let me tell you something straight – the ONLY people that need to ‘count’ Hapas, is the US Census. Hapa actors are under NO obligation to wave an Asian banner every time they appear.

The fact that you cannot tell what a Hapa person looks like means, actually, that you are cloistered in a limited world, where you do not get the full benefit of what it means to be an American, what it means to be a World Citizen, and what it means to be a Human.

If you are a mixed race person of a certain age, it is because two people came together despite what society told them, and celebrated their differences and their mutual humanity. And if you are a mixed race person of a certain age, you have been THROUGH IT. So have your Parents. Your entire Family.

I salute you. I SEE you.

We are mixed race people, and we get to reap ALL, repeat ALL, the benefits of ALL our Heritages. We do not CARE if you are not comfortable with US, because you have made it your LIFE’S WORK to deny that we exist. Hapa Children have LONG been shunned – historically – by Asian Communities, so it is with GREAT humor that I tell you why you are so worried…

Because WE are Asian America 4.0, and we, like ALL upgrades, are making the Asian American community faster, and more efficient.

This makes you afraid? Well go ahead then, go ahead and be VERY afraid.

In closing, I want to address the Network Angle – that they count Hapa actors on their Diversity ‘report card’. They have every right to do so.

I say that as a former Vice Chair of the Asian American Subcommittee of SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, and as a former SAG National EEOC member.

Heritage is Heritage. If you declare yourself, if you ‘come out’ as Asian American, then you ARE Asian American. You ‘get’ to count, and you are counted. I count you, and so should the Networks.

Period.

Drop the mic and take us home, Audra McDonald….

MANAA and Rafu Shimpo can Kiss my Hapa Fan Tan Fannie!

(And BTW, I worked with MANAA Member, Aki Aleong years ago – and Mr. Aoki – HIS name was changed. So if you are going to go after Chloe Bennett for the same thing, why don’t you ask Aki why he changed his)

Last week, David Henry Hwang congratulated my lovely pal, @MsLisaChang on her recent blog posting about the Royal Shakespeare Company. Much merriment was had by all, and I realized though I had written quite a lot about a variety of subjects, I had not put in my bio so no one was really sure of who was writing.

So here goes – (Oooh, maybe I should write it in the third person….first person is soooo awkward for bios). Otherwise this is going to sound like a songwriter’s endless “And then I wrote…” cabaret – and while life IS, and I have done a lot of it, I think the third person is the way to go. I’ll put a photo up though, so we are all clear who we are talking about:

Erin Quill - The Fairy Princess

Erin Quill – The Fairy Princess

ERIN QUILL holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She was in the Original Broadway Company of AVENUE Q.  She was in the 50th Anniversary Production of  FLOWER DRUM SONG as Madame Liang. She toured as Lady Thiang opposite Debby Boone in THE KING & I. (She is obviously very grateful to Rogers & Hammerstein)

She has also appeared in NON Asian specific roles in musicals such as – Godspell, Pippin, Closer Than Ever, Anything Goes, and some straight plays, the NY Comedy Festival, The NYMPH and so on.

 

As a blogger, she has been instrumental in bringing to light the disparity of Asian American (among others) representation in entertainment, with a focus on, but not limited to, the American theatrical stage. Her writings have had an impact in several instances – particularly in the rise of theater conferences about the lack of API representation, the cancellation of the All- API production of SHOW BOAT, the replacement of The King in Dallas Summer Musical’s production of THE KING AND I, the issue of blackface and yellowface makeup in Opera, Operetta, and Broadway shows, and so on.

Her speech at LA Stage Day was the most highly viewed internet video from that particular conference, and has even been adapted (crediting Ms. Quill as the writer) into a performance piece in the U.K.

 

In August of 2015, Playbill.com named her as one of the most useful women on social media in theater.

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Her work has been linked to, quoted, or been source material for pieces on Diversity in Entertainment from such papers/internet outlets as: National Public Radio, The Huffington Post, CNN.com, Playbill.com, The New York Times, The LA Times, Backstage, Broadwayworld.com, The Wall Street Journal, The International Business Times, The Guardian, The Stage, and various papers around the world. Her blog is read internationally, and as of August 2015, has over 130,000 views.

An active cabaret performer, her show “They Shoot Asian Fosse Dancers, Don’t They?” has been seen in Los Angeles, New York, and at the Sydney Cabaret Convention. She has been seen at Therapy, Splash, Birdland, Don’t Tell Mama’s, The Ritz, and a ton of other spaces she can barely recall and which you likely will not care about – however she loves singing for her pals, Scott Nevins & Ryan O’Connor on their Musical Mondays at Eleven in West Hollywood.

One of the Musical Theater workshops she is most proud of having been a part of is Jason Robert Brown‘s Honeymoon in Vegas, where they expanded the role of Mahi from a few lines to the sidekick of Norbert Leo Butz’s character, Jack Singer with a great song.

Ian Paget, Erin Quill, Raymond J. Lee

Her TV Credits include NYPD Blue, Damages, NYC 22, The Following, Nurse Jackie, and several pilots.  Her Voice Over work is showcased on the E! Show, Starveillance. She did a pilot for Bravo called DISHIN’

and another called SCREENING PARTY, based on the book by Dennis Hensley. She plays a cop in the film, MAN ON A LEDGE (which got her an email from her Cousin in Australia, and other things like screen time)

She appeared on SIRIUS Radio as a sidekick to Dennis Hensley who was Guest Hosting.

She appears in and is a Co-Screenwriter on the Feature Film, THE MIKADO PROJECT, now avail on DVD on Amazon.com

You can read The Huffington Post‘s review of the film, HERE

Her second feature script as a writer, QWERTY is in Post Production, and another feature script, K-TOWN, P.I., has been optioned. Erin has written on Diversity based on her experiences working as a Casting Assistant, a Commercial Director’s Rep, and her being chosen by both FOX and CBS Networks for their Diversity Showcases. Her article “Why Are There No Asians On Television” was widely circulated and one of the highest read articles on the website IMDiversity.com

Asiance Magazine profiled her as an Irish Asian, read the interview HERE

LA Times Review of Closer Than Ever, read it HERE

Asianweek Guest Blog by Erin Quill for Closer Than Ever, read it HERE

LA Times Review of the Play, The Mikado Project, read it HERE

She has done fundraisers for Broadway Cares/EFA, Desert AIDS Project, Los Angeles GLBT Center, Sparkle Concert in Palm Springs, Celebrity Doodles in Palm Springs, The Trevor Project,  The Matthew Shepard Foundation, Victims of 9/11, and many more.

Review of Sparkle, read it HERE 

EQ is thanked in a few books – Screening Party by Dennis Hensley, 101 Must See Movies for Gay Men by Alonso Duralde, Queens In The Kingdom by Jeffrey Epstein & Eddie Shapiro, Exile In Guyville by Dave White – because, just like Sharon Stone in The Muse, she’s a muse. All of those are avail on Amazon.com and you should buy them, because my friends are amazing.

She started her blog at the request of her Husband, Chil Kong, probably so he did not have to listen to her rants at home. When her post “Moises Kaufman Can Kiss My Ass & Here’s Why” hit over 20,000 views, he demanded a thank you. All right, all right – Thank you.

Chil Kong & Erin Quill

So now you know.

Erin is represented by The Luedtke Agency in New York City.

The Fairy Princess would like to talk a moment about Diversity in Casting.

Yes, it seems odd, given that this blog tends to be about Women who love Gay Men who love them back just as much, but one must have outside interests, and I did state at the beginning, that I would perhaps sound off on this issue.

To give a brief background on my particular tiara and wings, my heritage is Chinese, Irish, and Welsh and I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia. I am married to a (straight) man who was born in Korea and came to the USA when he was 8 years old. I have traveled to countries that include Turkey, Greece, Australia, Ireland, Canada, China, Japan and I plan to add Europe in general when my son is a bit older. My point is, I’m well aware of what the world looks like – would that Musical Theater looked the same. Broadway is not where one goes to find much diversity in casting. For example, I, (see me, I’m posting a photo of me as well as a little performance done for the 50th Anniversary of Flower Drum Song )

This is me, Erin Quill

This is me, Erin Quill

am not going to be called in for a lead in some of these shows currently on Broadway, shows like Once, Memphis, War Horse, Book of Mormon, Clybourne Park, End of the Rainbow, Evita, Fela, Porgy & Bess, Ghost the Musical, Harvey, Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins, Nice Work If You Can Get It, One Man Two Guvnors, Streetcar Named Desire, Peter & the Starcatcher…I would make a fierce Elphaba, and who would know what I look like, but to my knowledge there has never been an Asian American Elphaba, and it was only recently they had the first African American Elphaba, Saycon Sengbloh, so…I’m not holding my breath. I could go into Sister Act as a Nun, but it is closing, and I have not been asked…I could go into Mamma Mia as Rosie, but that part is currently being played by Lauren Cohn

That’s Lauren Cohn…on the right…doesn’t look like me, does it?

So with all the opportunities currently available to Asian Americans on Broadway, ahem, imagine how excited I was when I learned that La Jolla Playhouse is going to produce a new musical by Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater, creators of the hit show, Spring Awakening! What? It is going to be directed by acclaimed New York director, Moises Kaufman, who helped create The Laramie Project. Awesome!  It is called The Nightingale, and it is based on a Hans Christian Anderson fable about AN EMPEROR IN CHINA WHO IS CONFINED WITHIN THE WALLS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY AND THE BIRD THAT CHANGES HIS LIFE.

CHINA!!!! Well, I happen to be CHINESE! Which would mean, in a perfect world, that I should get a call…or other Asian American Musical Theater friends should get a call – because it’s set in China.

Please read that last sentence again –  China. In Feudal China. The play is set in Feudal China. Guess who is playing The Emperor?  Not living legend  Chinese American Actor Extraordinaire, Alvin Ing, the man who holds the record for the MOST Flower Drum Song appearances, EVER. Nope. They went with  This guy:

Jonathan Hammond, The Emperor of China

Now, this story has a Young Emperor, he’s the one who falls in thrall with the Nightingale, and let’s face it, I’m Eurasian, my Daddy is white, so let’s give them a second shot at correctly representing those who might actually rule Feudal China….

Bobby Steggart, Young Emperor of China

Oh…my…ok, WELL…let’s take a look at the casting notice from Tara Rubin’s office. Aha! There is an EMPRESS DOWAGER! Which means that is the ruling Emperor of China’s Mom. What do they look like? Let’s find one – oh HERE’s one…Imperial Empress Dowager, aka Dowager Empress Cixi…

Imperial Dowager Empress Cixi

If I were to think of who might be fabulous as the Empress Dowager, I might call in Jodi Long who was on Broadway as Madame Liang in Flower Drum Song

Jodi Long, Extraordinary Actress

OR perhaps Amy Hill

Amy Hill, Amazing Actress

OR Christine Toy Johnson, who is not LA Based, but who did the National Tour of Flower Drum Song and is a longtime NYC Stage Actress

Christine Toy Johnson, NY Actress and active AEA Committee member

…….but here’s who they went with for the Empress Dowager of China:

Charlayne Woodard, Dowager Empress of China

You are probably sensing my frustration…and if you are not, your name is probably Moises Kaufman. Now, I have read that La Jolla Playhouse is calling the casting of this show “A Rainbow”. Here’s the funny thing about rainbows – the color yellow is rarely in that rainbow when it falls on other shows. Also, diversity has a time and a place – it’s usually an unnamed place in the future, in a multi-racial world, or set in modern times – it’s not in Feudal China. Let’s get one thing straight about Feudal China – diversity was never an issue.

But here – take a look at the article from Broadwayworld. It’s a little perturbing to see that only Kimiko Glenn has been cast in a show set in China, Feudal China – and for those who may not have picked up on it, Kimiko is  a Japanese name – I don’t care, happy she is working, I’m just using it to point out – there are NO CHINESE PEOPLE IN A SHOW SET IN CHINA.

This is not, Folks, like the time a Texas Children’s theater did an All Caucasian Production of HAIRSPRAY and you can claim, as they did, that they had no African Americans around to cast – this is a professional theater with a budget and access to any and every Asian American Actor in the country. It also boasts a Director of International Fame (a New York City based Director) and a Writing Team that have won TONY Awards – all they had to do was say, “Hey, this show is set in China, let’s cast some Asians up in here .”

OR, if you are simply going to use the concept of the fairy tale, just do not set it in China, Feudal China!

Let me be clear – I do not have any thoughts on the talents of the Actors hired, I have worked with some of them and they are ALL great – ALL! Actors have no power in terms of Casting, they are brought in, they sing, and they wait. This Diversity Debacle I lay directly at the door of the Creative Team – at ANY point, someone in the process could have stated the obvious, that if no Asian Americans were to be Cast, perhaps the setting should change from China, Feudal China.

So five spanks with the wand to Moises Kaufman, he is the Director, the buck stops with him and…looking at his past castings, doesn’t look like he would ever hire me anyway, as I AM MY OWN ASIAN AMERICAN!

And Moises can Kiss my Fan Tan Fannie!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

UPDATE: I posted this in comments, but there are a lot of comments, and so I will post it here as well, as not everyone wants to scroll all the way through:

Hi All,

As you know, the initial objection that I had and wrote about on this blog – this post – stirred a lot of people and as the objections grew and were written about, La Jolla Playhouse decided to have a talk back to discuss the casting. Over 19,000 people have read this post, for which I thank them.

There were many articles written on what started as my own annoyance, and I am going to post the links here, in case you want to read them.

I would hope that the people who wrote anonymously and bitterly of the notion that Asian Americans would and should speak up, would pay particular attention to the fact that both the Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse and the Director of the play itself, Moises Kaufman, apologized. Also in the audience but not on the panel was the writer, Steven Sater, and the Composer, Duncan Sheik.

I also ask you to consider this – just because you may be a member of your own minority group, it does not give you a co-op experience and permission to use your own minority status to devalue or denigrate this issue. Your experiences are yours, and mine are mine. It does no good and a great deal of harm to decide that because you are a particular ‘kind’ of man/woman that you have the right to decide when and where Asian Americans belong. I take issue with that. Many of the more objectionable comments were prefaced with “Well, as a ____ man, I think…”

It is not cool to use your status to keep ours where it is now, which is barely visible. We are only doing what scores of people have done before us. When my Grandparents, my IRISH Grandparents came here, they were faced with signs that said “Irish Need Not Apply” – this is much the same thing. And Bravo to Moises Kaufman for his comments in Part 2.

Here are 2 small videos from You Tube – it is supposed to be 1-7, but I have only found 1 and 2. In 2, we have ‘our’ apologies:

Part 1: http://youtu.be/NN3ilkvnZ7I
Part 2: http://youtu.be/uz6-uODcSKU

And here is a video I was sent by Pun Bandhu which is the whole talk: http://vimeo.com/46243248

Article from Playbill.com
http://www.playbill.com/news/article/168285-Facing-Criticism-for-Lack-of-Asian-Artists-in-Musical-La-Jolla-Playhouse-Hosts-Panel-Discussion

Article from Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/nightingale-asian-american-actors_n_1686270.html

Article from International Business Times, I am quoted twice, not by name, and called a ranting blogger (which struck me as odd, but…the writer apologized for that when I called him on it)
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/363035/20120714/la-jolla-playhouse-asian-actors-sterotypes-colorblind.htm

Article on Talkback from U-T San Diego:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/22/forum-on-plays-cast-evokes-harsh-criticism

Article from LA Times on the Talk Back at La Jolla:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-heated-exchanges-at-la-jolla-playhouse-over-nightingale-casting-20120722,0,6438118.story

Article from LA Times hearing from Prominent APIs in Theater:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-asian-american-nightingale-la-jolla-playhouse-20120718,0,7027101.story

Article from LA Times on Controversy
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-la-jolla-playhouse-asian-casting-nightingale-20120717,0,2686930.story

Article from LA Times’ Critic’s Notebook, which I emailed a response to, and I will post the response I sent: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-critics-notebook-la-jolla-playhouse-nightingale-20120723,0,4429707.story

Dear Mr. McNulty,
It was with great interest that I read your article about the controversy at La Jolla.It was because I am the person who wrote the original blog that started all this hubbub
It struck enough of a nerve that as of this writing, my blog has has over 19,000 views and it is only 2.5 weeks old.My name is Erin Quill, I was an Original Bway Cast Member of Avenue Q and I have been reviewed in the LA Times for my work in the play, The Mikado Project
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/27/entertainment/et-stage27
, also for my work in the musical, Closer Than Ever,
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/08/theater-review-closer-than-ever-at-gtc-burbank.html which was produced by Lodestone Theater Ensemble.I am a Graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. I am also one of the screenwriters for the feature film, The Mikado Project, avail now on DVD, which was reviewed in The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-heymont/the-mikado-project-troubl_b_851865.html

I only mention this because I am trying to show that I am a legitimate stage Actress whose work has been covered BY the Times and yet, when it was time to cast a show that could have API performers, my phone did not ring. And, should you watch the video of the talk back, you will see that the CD will say that this show did not have a proper audition process, they made calls and offers. My friends who are API performers did not have their phones ring either.

While I would never deign to tell a Director or Creative Team who to hire, I will (and did) point out the ridiculousness of their casting choices. Not because the Actors were not fabulous – I fully believe in the talent of the Cast, but because they set the show in China.

China is not a mythical place. China is a real place with a real people. Our history looks a specific way. The titles Emperor and Dowager Empress mean something when said in China.

It is not for other minority groups (I only say that because you brought up your own status) to decide for other groups what is their ‘place’, what they are allowed to comment on. Moises Kaufman himself pointed out that usually in debates of this kind dealing with underrepresentation, that he is the one clamoring, and during the controversy he realized that he was doing the same thing that had been done to the GLBT community to Asian American Performers. He said we were right to protest, and he apologized.

The debate for us was not multi-racial casting. It was not to infringe on a Creative Team’s right to choose the cast they want, but the costumes, the sets, and the names of the characters were all Chinese. That we were asked, that all the audience was asked to please accept 2 Caucasian Emperors of China. Not a ‘mythic land’, it was CHINA.

If this was Porgy and Bess, and the leads were Caucasian, you would not think to write
“underserved communities need to recognize the right of artists to establish their own conventions of representation”

You would be scared to, even with your own minority status that you established.
You would know that using your own status and including the above quoted sentence to African American Artists would be looked upon with dismay, distrust, and anger.Yet you have used them to the Asian American Acting Community.I ask you why. It is met with just as much dismay, distrust and anger as if you said it to someone African American or Latino. Asian Americans are angry. We are angry with the co-opting of our heritage and then being told that while our heritage is useful, our talents are not wanted.We have a right to be heard, and we have a right to not receive a ‘scolding’ from a Critic who is held in high regard.We do not need someone to tell us how to listen to the excuses of why we are not asked to be a part of a world set in OUR world.

In that audience, there was Drama Desk Winner, Deborah S. Craig, there was API Theater Luminary and the man who holds the record for most Flower Drum Songs ever, Alvin Ing. There was Tim Dang, Artistic Director of East West Players – a theater that always ‘somehow’ manages to cast with Asian Americans. Cindy Cheung who was on the panel has been in several Feature Films and Christine Toy Johnson is a staple NY Theater Actress.

There were many more with just as nice a resume and yet a Caucasian lady stood and asked if there was an Asian American Acting Talent Pool. There are API Drama Grads from Yale, CMU, Julliard, NYU, Northwestern – some of the top programs in the country, and yet here is this Caucasian Lady telling us that she ‘doesn’t see color’ and asking why we are complaining that the Emperor of China is Caucasian.

It is because when there IS debate, there is always someone, such as yourself – held in high regard, that expresses the opinion that we should ‘listen‘ or ‘stop making hubbub’. And by doing that, you are ensuring that people who are uncomfortable with APIs protesting have an excuse to dismiss WHAT we are saying – that we want to look onstage, at a production where the setting IS CHINA, and see Asian American faces.

The Nightingale is a fable, and thus, children are being taken to see it – what does it say to Asian American Children when they see that it is acceptable to make the Emperor of China a white man? It tells them they do not count.
I am a long time supporter of the GLBT Community, with fundraising efforts for The Matthew Shepard Foundation, BC/EFA, Desert AIDS Project, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, The Trevor Project, I sing regularly at Musical Mondays in WeHo…I live and work in the GLBT Community, and yet I would never say “well, I know what it’s like to be a Gay Man”. Because I cannot. Do I know TONS of Gay men? Yes. They are my closest and dearest friends. And Always Will Be– but I cannot know what it IS to be a Gay Man. Just as you cannotknow what it is to be an Asian American Performer.I thank you for your coverage of this issue, but I was dismayed by the end of your article. Truly. And, do I think that there will be more API’s when this show continues? No, I do not. I think they will just move the setting from China and then still cast exactly the way they want.Which is totally fine. Because in a mythic land of Far, Far Away, it can be as multi- cultural as they want it to be – but they cannot have China without Chinese people. They cannot portray China without Asian Americans.

Thank you for your time,

Erin Quill

Silver Fox – Anderson Cooper

Oh Anderson….Anderson, Anderson, Anderson – this Fairy Princess congratulates you on your exit out of the closet – not that we all didn’t know, but perhaps some didn’t – people in Nebraska maybe. They obviously have never seen you in Hell’s Kitchen eating at 5 Napkin Burger just one table away with your Main Man, whereas this Fairy Princess is omnipresent and always on the lookout for a big Gay reveal. Let me break it down for you, Folks:

My Gaydar could bring down Sputnik – if Sputnik was a Drag Queen from Moscow who came over during the Cold War.

That being said, in a “Perfect World” it would be exactly as Mr. Cooper himself stated, that simply because you lead a public life there are things you are able to keep private. Lest we forget, he is a journalist who travels to places where being Gay is punishable by death, keeping his sexual preferences private is a safety issue – not just for Mr. Cooper, but also for people he travels with.

He came out because he felt he could no longer be content with NOT coming out, given the rise of bullying facing the Gay Youth of today. That is a great reason to come out – not because of gossip rag taunting, nor because of trying to ‘control the situation”, or because he touches massage therapists inappropriately and they sue – he came out because he thought it was the right thing to do. He came out to help kids who may take this information and hang on one more day, who may look at his face and find that bit of inspiration that changes their lives internally enough so that they are one day able to change it externally as well.

(Anderson Cooper Laughing Fit VIDEO!)

And let’s face it, his Mom is Gloria Vanderbilt…like Gloria Vanderbilt probably didn’t tell him he was Gay when she caught him watching Poor Little Rich Girl over and over on Betamax!

For allowing his personal life to possibly inspire and save kids, Anderson Cooper…I grant you 5 waves with the wand, and send you many good wishes. (Although if we had met in college, I probably would have thrown you out of that Lion, Witch & Wardrobe...not, as I have stated before, that I advocate that. Fairy Princesses EVOLVE People, we EVOLVE!)

Five Wands Up Mister Cooper – I would hang with you any time!

Wigs, Weaves and Whatever….

Many women wear wigs, either because of illness, or fashion or they watch too much Bravo and they ordered a Kim Z special at a weak moment.

Some women think you just jam a wig on your head and off you go. FAIL. You need a ‘wig cap’ underneath – even if you are bald. Your head sweats and you do not want to sweat in your wig, because they it smells and you need to wash it, it’s a pain in the ass.

I have worn tons of wigs because I have been in period musicals and they needed my hair to look sort of like Imelda Marcos in 1975, and I didn’t have enough hair or energy for that. Who does?

A wig cap is a small piece of stocking like material, they sell it at wig stores – it looks like someone cut the foot off of panty hose (some people do use panty hose as a wig cap). You need a wig cap and pins. Bobby pins AND Hair Pins.

  1. If you have hair that is going under the wig cap, you need to pin curl your hair, depending on the length. What this is, is taking small sections of hair and twirling it so it becomes a spiral and goes close to your head, where you then pin it with bobby pins.
  2. After your head is entirely pin curled, place the wig cap on, pining it securely to your hair underneath – if your wig cap goes, so goes your wig – it’s like France in WW2.
  3. When your wig cap is secure, place your wig on top – you want to go and duck your head, carefully putting the back part on first, get your head really in there, and then adjust the front.
  4. You will then use HAIR PINS – not bobby pins, HAIR PINS that they sell at the drug store, to secure your wig. You pin the wig to your HAIR, through the wig cap. Get it – through the wig cap to your head. Do not skimp on the hair pins. Once it’s on, shake your head, HARD – if it doesn’t come off or move, you are good to go – get your Harajuku Girl on.
  5. Falls and Fake pony tails do not usually require a wig cap, but they do require hair pins and pulling your real hair back and putting on the fake ponytail OVER your own. Falls are the same, they go OVER your own hair so that you look like a Kardashian.

Extensions come in various lengths and styles, and it’s only in the last couple of years that Caucasian women have really started investing in good extensions, African American women are waaay ahead on the art of fake hair. In general, Asian and South Asian women aren’t that big into extensions simply because – it’s our hair they are using for the extensions! In general, if Asian women want full heads of hair, they can grow their own.

There are two kinds of extensions that I will discuss, because I am not a Hair Stylist, and because they are always advancing – clip ins, and sewn in. My friends that have had them done with glue, generally have had a problem. I know that there are always exceptions to this rule, your Stylist may be great with a  glue gun, but I am of the opinion that ‘crafting’ and hair are two completely different situations and should be treated as such. Glue on your scalp is a huge no no, and can be very damaging.

If you purchased a celebrity clip in extension, you should totally be able to handle it – and they are fun for the weekend,  or a show – and that is about it – I call those your “Party Hair”. They can be really cheap, or really pricey. What makes the difference is the quality of hair – is it real hair, or synthetic? I say, you pay what you feel comfortable with – and no one really looks that closely.

When you get extensions ‘sewn in’ to your hair, you want to get ‘real human hair’ and you need to go to a high quality place to have them done. I have not heard of a high end extension job costing under $500 in a major city. You want to spend the money on the high end for a few reasons:

  1. lasts longer – at least six months
  2. with your very experienced stylists, you will have less permanent follicle damage’ because they will know how to do it without ruining your scalp.
  3. there will not be telltale ‘bumps’ where your extensions are attached
  4. your color will probably be better matched than with synthetic, and possibly, if you are going uber-fancy and the color does not match, they can dye it to match if it’s real hair.
  5. Your hair always looks like what you paid for it, always. You can’t get around it, much as certain shampoos and companies say you can. They lie. It’s advertising.

There you go, a few lessons from you to me, Pinky Lee…wasn’t GREASE a crazy movie? I mean, now we have 50 year old teenagers on every television show, but THAT movie set the bar! Ah…BLESS…

Hiding Yo’ Junk, Punk!

(a)   Drag Queens know the power of the second pair of panty hose. Yes, you heard me, hose over hose will keep you tucked in better than almost anything. If you wear Spanx or other kinds of cantilevered underwear – and we all do – try one pair under the Spanx and one over. Yeah, you’re going to sweat like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News, but sometimes those Spanx ride up on the thigh, so the hose give the rubber on the Spanx something to grip. Or, you can do the two pairs over the Spanx – see what works best for you, since you are not tucking, either way should be bearable.

Whichever way you do it, remember, the hose smoothes it all out – no VPLs (Visible Panty Lines) for Fairy Princesses, EVER. It offends me.

(b)  Nothing is off limits if you have an area you want to disguise, you need corsets, body stockings, and steel girders under your clothes – ALL GOOD GIRL, ALL GOOD!  Do NOT be ashamed to go into a store and ask for what you need. (Actually, don’t be afraid of that in any aspect of your life) In my experience, if you ask the more experienced Sales People in a department store, they will know EXACTLY where to find what you need, they know their territory – yes, Virginia, just like in MUSIC MAN and if you are VERY lucky – your Salesperson highlights as a Drag Queen. But Grrl, do not forget that second pair of hose!

(c)   If you wear fish net stockings – wear nude or black stockings under them – it will save you from looking like a mermaid who got stuck ashore when you go to take them off, and it will keep the fishnets where they are suppose to be – on top of the leg, creating illusion, not sinking into your skin creating train tracks.

(d)  Petals – if you are wearing something that does not allow for a bra, go get yourself some stick on petals to hide your necessaries. Petals are basically band aids shaped like a flower that you place over your nipple to prevent yourself from becoming Janet Jackson, they are self adhesive.  Believe me, if your boob pops out, if there is a petal over the nipple, it is not half so embarrassing. Ask Tara Reid, she knows. All of that could have been avoided with a good petal!

Hey Girl!

Everything is better with fake eyelashes,

Elphaba gives good lash – just kidding…kinda

but not everyone puts them on correctly. Which is why they fall off halfway through the night leaving you looking like your Gays turned on you before you picked your Red Carpet outfit.

She said her toddler chose it, and by ‘toddler’ she meant “Twink who picks up my laundry for his showbiz internship’

(We always say that, when we see a bad RC…Her Gays Turned on Her!)

Tilda is wearing “The Snow Queen Cometh’ inspired by her Dynasty loving Gays who lied and told her Joan Collins is still a trendsetter, and Rose “Bridesmaids’ Byrne is a bit ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Oy VEY” when she was told everyone was coming as their favorite Studio 54 flashback

Pick up the lash carefully and place a very thin line of eyelash glue on it, THIN Girl – if it’s too think, it’s going to move around. Now, after you put the glue on, you have to WAIT – don’t try and stick that on right away, it will run like a Republican caught in a men’s room with a glory hole while the press is outside.

The longer the lash, the closer to DIVA!

One trick is to put on your eye shadow FIRST, and then glue the lashes OVER it, that usually gives the glue enough time to get tacky without getting rubbery. You have to leave a small, non eye makeup lash sized line where the lash goes, in order to get the glue to stick to the lid if you put the eyeshadow on first.

These look like lashes that would go with Cher’s Half-Breed Ensemble

Why wait till the rest of your eye makeup is on? You don’t want your lashes to look ‘dusty’, leave enough room for the lash to be applied, put on your eye makeup, and THEN apply lashes – DUSTY LASHES ARE BUSTED, GIRL!

He’s always been Divine, but Girl, these lashes are BUSTED

If you cannot get the hang of putting eyelashes on last, then do put them on first, but take a piece of paper and place it over the added lash when you do apply the eyeshadow, again, so it doesn’t get ‘dusty’. If you get eyeshadow on your lashes they sort of ‘fade’ in their effectiveness, the pop is not so great if they are more a grey color from your contrast color than the diva black that was intended.

Here’s a tip a lot of women do NOT use – CUT the lashes. Yes Girl, you can cut the lashes if they don’t fit your eyes, which makes it glam and not like you have been rooting around in your Momma’s old Mary Kay tackle box.

Don’t hate the lipstick, love the lashes!

Yes, I know you went full tilt boogie for Halloween and bought the expensive ones from the MAC store with the feathers – I still say, CUT THEM so they fit your lid. Be smart about it, not in half – you just hold it up to your eye, without glue and see if the edge of the lash comes more than a 1/4 inch past where your lid ends. If it does, unless you are doing a stage show, you cut them. (And here’s a shout out to my Asian sistas – Girl, it is a momentary slip from being a sexy vamp out for a night on the town, to being thought of as a ‘Lady-Boy”, so watch the lashes and that base that doesn’t match your skin tone. Talking to you, K-Town, you heard me! And while we are at it, STOP dying your hair red! Do brown highlights for heaven’s sake, your hair is black!)

You want the longer lashes at the end of your eye, which will open it up and make it dramatic. To be honest, I have been having a lot of success with individual lashes, but they are harder to put on, you need a tweezer and double the time. However, if you have an extra half hour or more to kill, putting on individual lashes will make your look pop but in a more natural way.

OK, I digress, the glue is tacky enough now to apply the lashes -you should look straight ahead and apply them if you can, not pull your lid down and put them on, because they will have the wrong angle. Don’t close your eyes, press them on your lid and pray – this ain’t church. You gots ta LOOK at what you are doing! EYES OPEN! LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD INTO THE MIRROR! NOW PRESS THEM ON! HOLD AT LEAST 30 SECS!

What I like about this is, it’s subtle….

How’d you do? Well, it takes practice, just like Carnegie Hall. Make sure you don’t wait till the big night to practice putting on those lashes, get a few cheap pairs from the drug store and drill them like they are scales and you are Lang Lang.

Practice, practice, practice

Some of the best people in my life are Drag Queens. A Drag Queen is a man who dresses like a woman, and creates the illusion of a woman, on stage.  Usually, if you go to a Drag Show, you’ll see men dressed as some of our culture’s favorite Divas and they are on stage either doing comedy or lip synching to a famous song, or both. Some Drag Queens walk around in 1/2 drag all day, some only do it for performance. Some Drag Queens are Impersonators, and some are Originators – there is a hell of a lot of talent in pulling together a successful Drag look – there’s creative concept to ‘see’ it in their heads, sewing the outfit, makeup, and of course, ‘tucking’. Tucking is…look at the Gay Glossary in the back, but it’s sort of self explanatory.

I think there are lots of lessons to learn from Drag Queens as women, because to create the illusion of being a woman, they have studied women. Not just Divas, but real women – how we talk, how we hold ourselves, in fact, the best Drag Queens are better women than I could ever be – and their foundation makeup is flawless.

Here are a few lessons that I have learned from the Drag Queens in my life

Compassion

My Cousin from Australia was coming over to see me for two months – her Parents were going through a Kelsey/Camille divorce and she was an emotional wreck. Her dream was to be a makeup artist, and she had been taking courses at school, but she needed practical knowledge – which was why her Parents sent her on an impromptu trip to Los Angeles to stay with a Cousin she had not seen since she was six years old. Ahem.

The first day, we had a bit of a breakdown that happened when she told me about what was going on at home, and it was clear that she had not been taking care of herself emotionally or physically.

Anyway, as a stage performer, I know a lot about makeup, but I do not consider that I am a makeup artist, so I looked around for things for her to do. One of the best things I thought of was to take her to a Drag show that one of my friends, Calpernia Addams has every week at Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood. After the show, we went backstage and she met DeTox Icunt, Willam Belli, Miss Barbie-Q, Shangela. When I introduced her, and she talked to them about what she wanted to do, they all fell in love with her a bit, and they all offered to help her learn makeup. On various nights, they would come to the theater early, without makeup, so she could watch them put it on. Willam even allowed her to come to his house, and enter his amazing closet (it was a bedroom) so that she could see what he did. Also helping me out was my dear friend, Danny Cassillas, aka Ms Freida Laye from Chico’s Angels and my pal, Celebrity Makeup Artist, Brett Freedman.

When she went back to Brisbane, she was a changed girl. She was confident, she was a B.I.T.C.H. – Broad In Total Control (of) Herself! Cuz RuPaul is exactly right – If you don’t love yourself, how in hell you gonna love anyone else? Give that man in six inch heels an AMEN!