Vox pops with PJ Madam, Jane Park, Yu Ye Wu, Joy Hopwood, Andy Minh Trieu


AAFFN co-chairs Indigo Willing and Amadeo Marquez-Perez posed the following questions to several AAFFN speakers:

Why is it important to have Asian Australian participation on or behind the screen and who has been an inspiration to you. What are you working on now / next?

Here are their responses.

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Peta Jane ‘PJ’ Madam landed her first role in journalism in 2004 as an intern with Channel Nine News in Brisbane, earning her stripes before heading south to work for Nine News in Sydney. As a reporter and producer, she got a real taste for life in broadcast journalism – spending time on the road reporting, as well as in studio producing stories and bulletins. PJ joined SBS as a reporter for World News Australia in 2008. During her time here she has covered major local and international events, including the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, two Australian federal elections, Kevin Rudd’s fall from leadership and the dumping of two NSW Premiers, the aftermath of the Samoan tsunami in September 2009, and Cyclone Yasi in February 2011. She was also SBS’s correspondent from London for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April 2011. As well as reporting, PJ is one of a team who present SBS World News Australia – you’ll often find her anchoring the 9.30pm news bulletin.

When I was studying journalism almost a decade ago, there was only one other ‘Asian’ in my class. I like to think we were “Claytons Asian”. We were both half-Asian, couldn’t speak another language, and didn’t know how to cook anything exotic. Doesn’t sound very Asian, does it? With only two of us in the class, it dawned on me that I was about to enter an industry that was hardly diverse. I didn’t want either of us be known as ‘token ethnics’ on the news.

Fast forward to today and thankfully that perception is slowly changing. I’m constantly encouraged by the different faces, accents and religious backgrounds that front up to the office for work experience. They’re young, enthusiastic and ready to challenge the status quo. When one in four Australians are born overseas, it’s inconceivable that our media landscape doesn’t reflect that. I’m hopeful that one day – it will.

I feel it’s unfair to nominate just one person in my life, as inspiration. I’ve been lucky enough to have wonderful role models along the way and an unbelievably supportive husband. Family is important to me, so my parents are at the top of the list. I’m a child of a mixed marriage, and originally of mixed religion too. I believe I’ve had the best of both worlds.

What am I working on next? Well, at the AAFF someone asked me what my ultimate goal was. Before I even thought it though, the words: “making a documentary” came out of my mouth! I’ve been a journalist for 8 years and now a newsreader which has allowed me to cover some amazing stories. I relish a good challenge, and I think making a doco would be one of them.

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A three-time Australian Champion Martial Artist, Andy Minh Trieu expanded his repertoire from competing in front of an audience in tournaments to performing for audiences in a range of roles across stage and screen. Currently, Andy is playing the quirky Kitchen Ninja co-host on Australian TV show Kitchen Whiz, which airs on weekdays on Channel Nine. He also features in shows such as Rescue Special Ops, Rake, Crime Investigations Australia, Whats Good for You, Gangs of Oz, and Crownies. Andy is a National Acting School Graduate, who also holds a double degree in International Relations and Business, and is capable of acrobatics and fight choreography. With a strong focus on action, Andy has worked closely with trainers from Cirque du Soleil and choreographers from the motion pictures Wolverine, Superman, Star Wars, and The Matrix.

I believe it is important to have Asian Australian participation on or behind screen because it shows more cultural diversity and it gives ethnic viewers people and stories they can relate to. It also broadens the perspective of all viewers and gives them the opportunity to be exposed to asian projects.

Jackie Chan inspires me because he is a hard worker and is very innovative. He has always been a good example to me of someone who put in the hard work to get to where he is today. More importantly he can Kick Ass!

I’m currently working on season 4 of a show called Kitchen Whiz which will be airing in February 2012 weekdays at 4pm on channel 9 (WIN), I’m also working on a Zombie feature film being shot in Australia in January.

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Dr. Jane Chi Hyun Park has a PhD in Radio-TV-Film from The University of Texas at Austin and is affiliated with the U.S. Studies Centre and the Asian Studies program and teaches in both as well as in Gender and Cultural Studies. Her research focuses on representations of race, gender and sexuality, especially of Asian peoples and communities in popular media, including film, television and music. Her first book, Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema, examines the ideological role of Asiatic imagery in US films from the 1980s to the present and is published with the University of Minnesota Press. She has also given invited presentations at KOFFIA and many other film festivals (more bio at The University of Sydney)

It’s important to have Asian Australian participation on and behind the screen for thesame reason that members of any socially, culturally or economically marginalised group should be given opportunities to tell their stories — because those stories, told well, can be really interesting and provide different perspectives on who ‘we’ are and who we might become. Also, we’ve had enough stories about white people and their issues. It’s about time other people got a chance, not just to ‘represent,’ but to be human, too, in all its complexities and contradictions”.

“It’s cheesy but my mother has been my biggest inspiration. She is the strongest, funniest and most loving person I know, and always reminds me that you have to keep going because you never know what’s coming next. (She also reminds me to good care of my skin!)”

“I’m currently working on a book interrogating the cultural politics of Asian diaspora in and through film and a project on the transnational consumption of Korean food, beauty and celebrity in the Asia Pacific. When I have time, I’d like to get back to my poetry but make it funnier and more experimental so that I can pass it off someday as performance art

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Yu Ye currently works at Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) which includes a significant community video productions component and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (which hold the famous Cinema Alley) across marketing and communications, social media and arts administration. Yu Ye studied a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney in 2008 with a major in English Literature and received first class honours in Art History with a paper on contemporary Chinese art. She’s also passionate about the digital sphere and where arts and culture, artists, communities, stories and ideas overlap. Yu Ye is particularly fond of Twitter, likes travelling (last visited Japan in February 2011), photography and is curious about Third Culture Kids.

I’m a true believer that you have to be the change that you want to see in this world. If you don’t see others represent you or your story in the world how will they know you even exist ? who will inspire the next generation of Asian Australians when they are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up”? You can either be negative, be the soldier and fight, or you can see it as an opportunity to celebrate your point of difference. I’m lucky that being a part of the arts and media allows me to do just that.

My dad is an ongoing inspiration to me in this world. He shows me that resilience, perseverance, hardwork, and failure only makes you a stronger person. Of course it’s also important to find people who support what you love and do – sometimes you just might need to get out there and find that community of people, your mentors, supporters and those who just get you! Of course you can always go back in history and find writers, artists and thinkers who provide true words of wisdom.??  Next up I would love to find the time and space to write and read more.

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Joy Hopwood is an Asian-Australian actor, writer and producer who is involved in film, theatre and television. She was the first regular Asian-Australian presenter on Play School. In 2010-11 performed in Belvoir St Theatre’s “Stories East and West.” directed by William Yang and produced by Annette Shun Wah. Her autobiographical story has been published in Black Inc Books’ anthology ed. by Alice Pung of stories titled, “Growing Up Asian in Australia.” She is the director of DEADLINE which will screen at the AAFF.

I think it’s important to have Asian faces in film and television, without stereotype casting them, because that represents our multicultural society in which we live in today.  As an actor and writer, I make sure the scripts that I create do reflect this and that, that becomes the platform and example in which our next generation should follow.

I’m currently working on writing another short film and writing another book…a children’s book. After writing my children’s book I hope to get the series animated, like I have done so for my Fairy Joy series- which some schools across NSW are currently implementing as part of their teaching programs.

Peril Ed question: You were the first regular Asian-Australian presenter on Play School.  Have you had any feedback from kids, particularly Asian-Australian kids and families who saw you on TV?

Yes, I do still get a few people recognising  me from Play School, even at the AAFF conference recently, two people remembered me, one for performing “Five little ducks” on Play School and the other person said it was because I have a vibrant and animated personality!

Parents have said to me that having an Asian face on Play School allows their children to feel part of our ever growing multicultural society…it makes them, subconsciously, feel accepted.

Author: aaffnvarious

PJ Madam's, Joy Hopwood's, Andy Minh Trieu's, Jane Park's and Yu Ye Wu's bios can be found on AAFFN's website - http://asianaustralianfilmforum.wordpress.com/2011event/

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