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interview

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‘It just felt good to be seen’: ‘Turning Red’ boy band 4*Town on Asian representation in Pixar’s new movie

4*town
  • The “Turning Red” voice actors behind Disney Pixar’s first-ever boy band 4*Town spoke with NextShark about the animated film’s Asian representation and universal themes.
  • “To see this type of representation on screen that I haven’t seen that much growing up… it really made me feel seen and heard,” Vietnamese American singer Topher Ngo (who voices Aaron T. in the movie) said.
  • When asked about the takeaway message of the film, Josh Levi (voice actor of Aaron Z.) replied, “[Be] kinder to everyone and also kinder to yourself as you're navigating. I don’t know if that expires, trying to navigate and figure that out as you grow up even through middle school, as an adult, in your career, in your future and your family, so yeah, just grace with yourself, too.”
  • The voice cast behind 4*Town also features Jordan Fisher (Robaire), Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas O’Connell (Jesse), who also helped write the band’s three songs, and Filipino American actor and singer Grayson Villanueva (Tae Young).

Disney Pixar’s first-ever boy band 4*Town spoke with NextShark about Asian representation and the universal themes they took away from Domee Shi’s “Turning Red.”

Pixar’s latest animated feature, which follows the story of a Chinese Canadian teen who hits a particularly awkward stage of puberty when she turns into a giant red panda, hits close to home for the fictional boy band’s voice actors.

‘I was the only one doing it’: TV chef icon Martin Yan on 43 years of sharing Asian American cuisine

  • Television chef Martin Yan spoke to NextShark about his 43 years in the industry, discrimination he has faced, the meaning of “authenticity” in cooking, and how he has become more vocal in advocating for Asian American communities.
  • In his new web series called “MY Chinatown,” Yan hopes to support the communities around him, saying he has become “more vocal” in his advocacy in the past few years.
  • “The Chinese have been living in Chinatown, have been working hard in Chinatown, have been contributing to the economy of the U.S., the tourism of California and the city, for 160 years! We are part of America. It’s a melting pot. Why do you have to hate us?” he said.

Chef Martin Yan has spent 43 years sharing Asian American culture and cooking on broadcast television – now he hopes to engage in more activism with his “MY Chinatown” series.

When Martin Yan joins the Zoom call, he instantly glides into TV presenter mode. After settling in with his AirPods, he cheerily walks me through the Chinese New Year decorations that have taken up the majority of his kitchen. 

Skepticism over Peng Shuai’s freedom voiced by WTA chief, journalist who interviewed her

Peng Shuai interview
  • A picture taken during Peng Shuai’s first in-person interview with Western media since her disappearance late last year showed Chinese Olympics Committee Chief of Staff Wang Kan in the background.
  • Marc Ventouillac, one of the L’Equipe reporters who interviewed Peng, said the 36-year-old athlete “seems to be healthy.” However, he admitted it was “impossible to say” if the three-time Olympian is truly “free to say and do what she wants.”
  • “It’s important, I think, for the Chinese Olympic Committee, for the Communist Party and for many people in China to try to show: ‘No, there is no Peng Shuai affair,'” he said.
  • Women’s Tennis Association Chief Executive Steve Simon said Peng’s interview with the French magazine “does not alleviate any of our concerns about her initial post from November 2.”

Chinese Olympics Committee Chief of Staff Wang Kan was reportedly spotted near Peng Shuai during a rare interview with French sports magazine L’Equipe over the weekend.

A picture taken during the interview shows Wang’s reflection in a mirror, with him standing across Peng, 36, during her first Western media interview since her alleged disappearance in November 2021, New York Post reported.

‘No one is just one thing’: Michelle Li doubles down against racism, launches Very Asian Foundation to amplify AAPI voices

Michelle Li
  • Michelle Li, a news anchor with KSDK in St. Louis, received a call on New Year’s Day from a viewer who complained about her mentioning dumpling soup.
  • The viewer called Li “very Asian,” a phrase that quickly morphed into a movement as politicians, journalists, celebrities, influencers and social media users showed support and shared their own stories.
  • Li appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Wednesday where she received seed funding to start The Very Asian Foundation, an organization that will amplify AAPI voices.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to indicate that the caller who complained about Li for covering a Memorial Day celebration did not reach KSDK, but another station Li had worked with years ago.

Weeks after receiving a racist voicemail that quickly transformed into a solidarity movement, Missouri news anchor Michelle Li launched The Very Asian Foundation, an organization committed to amplifying diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voices.

Meet the viral TikTok star veganizing classic Korean dishes

korean vegan

In a time when identity can be divisive, Joanne Lee Molinaro has curated a space to bring people together: Korean, vegan or otherwise.

The first time I encountered Molinaro, also known as the Korean Vegan, it was through her TikTok. The app’s algorithm, always uncannily certain of the type of content I would want to watch, delivered me a video of hers. It eludes me now which one I saw first, exactly — but I remember immediately going to her profile and scrolling through dozens more.

‘No Time to Die’ director Cary Fukunaga says ‘a lot of people upset’ no matter who plays Bond after Daniel Craig

Cary Fukunaga director

Cary Fukunaga is the second filmmaker of Asian descent and the first Asian American to direct a James Bond movie with “No Time to Die,” and he hopes his involvement in the franchise inspires young people to break into filmmaking.

Lee Tamahori, a filmmaker of Maori ancestry, directed “Die Another Day” in 2002. But in an interview with NextShark, Fukunaga said he does not think of himself as special for his racial identity.

New Marvel actor Meng’er Zhang talks about punching Simu Liu’s face

Marvel Meng'er Zhang

In an exclusive interview, Meng’er Zhang, the Chinese actor who plays Shang-Chi’s sister Xialiang, shared that she didn’t know she was auditioning for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and ended up punching Simu Liu in the face on set.

Landing the role: Zhang told NextShark she wasn’t aware she was auditioning for a Marvel movie. She sent her self-tapes after seeing the audition call in a group chat.

How Mixed Asian Artist Alex Porat Connects to Her Asian Heritage

Alex Porat, a Chinese-Polish Toronto-based singer, songwriter discussed her dual identity alongside the release of her new single “happy for you.”

The 22-year-old singer celebrates diversity encouraged by her Malaysia-born, Chinese mother and her Polish father. From a young age, Alex was encouraged to be creative. She told NextShark that she would spend her childhood singing karaoke, in a choir, or lining up for TV show auditions.

Meet the Real-Life Hustler Who Inspired Constance Wu’s Character Destiny

Roselyn Keo

When “Hustlers” hit the big screen, all eyes were on Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez. Audiences flocked to cinemas to see the film about the famed crew of female sex workers who devised the notorious scheme to drug and swindle Wall Street big shots out of hundreds of thousands.

It’s a story that centers on sisterhood united by a criminal enterprise. The “modern Robin Hood story,” as dubbed by the Cut, appears far too wild to be true, and yet, it was.

‘Wu Assassins’ Star Lewis Tan is Assassinating Asian Male Stereotypes

Netflix continues to champion Asian representation with “Wu Assassins,” a new supernatural martial arts series that follows a warrior’s search for the powers of an ancient triad to restore balance in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The show, which drops next week, stars Indonesian actor Iko Uwais (“The Night Comes for Us”), along with Hong Kong American star Byron Mann (“Blood and Water”) and British American actor Lewis Tan (“Into the Badlands”).

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