By Sara Clayton
Danny Pudi and an audience member do the “Troy and Abed handshake” at the Mixed & APA in the Media event held on October 6. Photo: Sara Clayton.
In order to promote awareness of mixed Asian Pacific Americans in film, television, and the Internet, HapaSC and the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly came together this past Thursday, Oct. 6, to host “Mixed & APA in the Media.”
The panel event, which took place at USC’s Rosen Family Screening Theatre, featured a number of notable and influential Asian American guests. Panelists included Danny Pudi, the half-Polish and half-Indian actor best known for his role as Abed Nadir on NBC’s Community; Susan Hua, director of marketing at Spyglass Entertainment; Christine Yoo, director of Wedding Palace, an upcoming movie satirizing love and family in Asian American culture; the K-Town Cowboys – Peter Jae, Daniel “DPD” Park, and Shane Yoon – who run a webseries dedicated to their glory days in Koreatown; and Velina Hasu Houston, a multiracial professor, Associate Dean of Faculty, Resident Playwright, and director of the undergraduate playwriting program here at USC.
Houston led the discussion by recounting how her ethnically diverse background – a mix of Japanese, African Native American, and Blackfoot-Pikuni – affected her way of viewing the world around her. Houston felt that she had the privilege of “having a foot in two countries.” She went on to ask the panel about their opinions on the lack of mixed race actors as well as Asian Americans in the media.
Pudi, a multiracial actor familiar with playing only single-ethnicity roles answered, “Most people look to artists you would like to emulate… but when you’re mixed race, there’s not a lot of that… you have to forge your own path… but in this sense, you get to explore yourself more than other people.”
Christine Yoo shared how she faced rejection after rejection for the longest time because of her film’s all-Asian cast.
“There was nobody in Holly wood that would by Wedding Palace… it was a kiss of death for financiers.”
However, after explaining how her perseverance finally paid off, she added, “you can find strength in what people find a weakness.”
After discussing their personal experiences, the panelists showcased their talents as well. Pudi read a self-written monologue on how he has played four different Sanjays in his career, Hua and shared a preview of Wedding Palace, and the K-Town Cowboys played one of their videos, which included a cameo by Mad TV’s Bobby Lee.
And after all was said and done, the panelists took time to meet with audience members, pose for pictures, and sign autographs.