tv Beyond the Headlines ABC May 29, 2016 4:30pm-5:01pm PDT
>> abc7 presents "beyond the headlines" with cheryl jennings. [ theme music plays ] >> welcome to "beyond the headlines." we have a special roundtable edition today, focusing on our bay area's asian-pacific american community. the last united states census in 2010 found that people who identified as asian, either alone or in combination with one or more races, grew by 45.6% from 2000 to 2010. now, this is a much faster rate than the total u.s. population, which increased by 9.7% during the same time frame. according to the library of congress, the term asian-pacific encompasses all of the asian continent, as well as the pacific islands of melanesia, micronesia, and polynesia. the people and cultures of this region have added significantly to the rich diversity of the bay area. abc7's kristen sze is here now
with leaders in our local apa community. >> thank you, cheryl. we have a great group for today's show. nick kuwada is staff attorney with asian law alliance, based in santa clara county. masashi niwano is festival & exhibitions director for center for asian american media. and elise maar -- former senior associate director of admissions to stanford. now, we brought you all here because your expertise will really help us understand some issues that are very important. we're talking about timely and relevant to asian-americans -- and also the broader bay area community, of course. we're talking about this election year, presidential election, so we want to talk about voting, getting out the vote. also, this year is the "oscars so white" controversy, so we want to bring in the issue of media representation of asian-americans. and, of course, something that is so stressful to parents out there, not just asian-americans, but it is a particularly important topic to asian-americans -- we're talking about the stressful road to higher education and college in particular, elise. so feel free to jump in with your ideas.
this is a free-flowing conversation, how's that? all right, so, masashi, we're gonna start with you. a lot has been made this year over the lack of diversity in hollywood. and a lot of people don't realize that is not just affecting african-americans, but also asian-americans, and in a different way. can you explain that? >> yeah, absolutely. well, the "oscars so white" started in january, february, when the nominations came out for the academy awards and there were really no people of color being nominated for some of the big awards. and so not only african-americans, but all people of color were really frustrated about this. and then, for people who watched the oscars, they saw so many kind of targeted jokes towards asian-americans that, i think, as a community, it was kind of a stand-up moment where we all thought, "wait a minute. the moment where the whole world is watching and have eyes on this kind of event, the fact that asian-americans are still the butt of jokes is very problematic." and since then, we've had a lot of films that are being made that have caucasians being portrayed for asian-american roles. so we're looking at films like -- >> "ghost in the shell."
>> yeah, absolutely. >> scarlett johansson. that role was supposed to be asian? >> absolutely. and "doctor strange" -- tilda swinton's playing a monk. so we're at a point right now where -- we're in 2016. a lot of asian-americans and people who are just frustrated with media are standing up and saying, "why is this still happening?" >> let's talk about the ways somebody has stood up for this, and it's actually through a social-media campaign starring john cho. can you explain that? >> yeah, absolutely. well, one of the things that asian-americans do very well is -- social media is something that we do well. and we want to be creative. i think, if we want to get our voices heard, we can't always do it just by being frustrated. so this "starring john cho" is a great example of -- you know, for people who say asian-americans can't be portrayed in these big roles, seeing john cho in all these different posters is a great way to show that we are sellable, that we have that appeal. and after this -- >> so his face has been photoshopped into the posters of all these big films... >> and done pretty well. >> ...to say that, "sure, why not john cho?" he could open a film. >> he could be a lead man, and he absolutely could.
>> isn't that an argument that asian-american actors are not profitable, not bankable? >> i think that's one of the key things that hollywood is saying, and the reasoning why they won't cast asian-americans is that we're not bankable, that -- you know, "who's gonna see asian-americans on the big screen?" so i think this poster idea is a great way to say, "actually, look at this. it looks really -- you know, this could be really good." >> mm-hmm. it seems like asian-americans have made inroads on the small screen, in television. just on abc, we have a couple of shows in which asian-americans are the stars. we do have clips, as well, of "fresh off the boat" and "dr. ken." what do you think about that? i mean, that is progress. >> yeah, absolutely. i definitely think there is progress in the media. and television, you can see a lot of great shows. i think every big network now has asian-americans in some prime-time show. so that's progress. and if you look at hollywood, from film to tv -- tv, there's more producers, directors, writers who are making shows about asian-american stories, and that's great. when you look at film, not so much. and i do think that that's where we're kind of putting our focus on right now, because we want it
to reflect both areas. >> so, for our viewers who are not familiar with "fresh off the boat," just want to show them a clip real quick. >> yeah. >> jessica, i figured it out. >> dad, how come we have to start school on a wednesday? >> that's a great question. go to school. go, go, go, go. >> [ sighs ] >> i was blow-drying my hair, and i figured it out -- how the restaurant can attract bigger crowds. >> what -- how? >> now, for our other guests, elise and nick, feel free to chime in. when you see asian-americans onscreen, either on tv or in the movies, would you be more likely to go see that show? or does that not make a difference? i mean, it goes towards hollywood's arguing, "maybe asians don't want to see asians, even." what do you think? >> i absolutely jump onboard when i see someone who looks like me onscreen. i think it works both ways, actually. when somebody's onscreen that looks like me, i feel this connection. i might not even be interested in the subject matter, but, heck, i'll go see it anyway. but it works the other way, too, when i see that there is a role that should be probably played by an asian-american and it's recast by somebody else, and it
angers me. so, in a way, it works both to my benefit and negatively towards a movie if i don't see it happen. >> but the portrayal of that asian-american character is important, too, right -- the authenticity? >> oh, sure. absolutely. and i haven't seen this film, but, apparently, recently, emma stone was cast in a movie about -- i guess it's set -- >> "aloha." >> yeah, it's set in hawaii, and she's supposed to be part asian? that seems very strange to me. i know there are a lot of asian-american actresses who, you know, would've been wonderful in that role. >> yeah. also want to show our viewers a quick clip of "dr. ken." >> it's three strikes! >> i'm not a baseball guy! >> it's three strikes! you don't have to be a baseball guy! >> i was homeschooled. >> where?! outer space?! >> as we watched that, elise, an interesting thought came to me. you mentioned that you do enjoy seeing asian-american characters on tv but their role needs to send a positive message. >> absolutely. i started watching "fresh off the boat" at the beginning of the season. i was very excited about it.
and i just felt like, as i see in a lot of shows or movies, the reduction is that the men are always emasculated somehow. they fit into this stereotype that the asian man is not a strong man. and i find that really frustrating. >> mm-hmm. well, masashi, what can we do to diversify the storytelling of asian-americans and make the experience more true for the viewer? >> yeah, absolutely. and i do think there are so many stories within the asian-american communities that haven't been told, and i do think that "fresh off the boat," "dr. ken" may not be for everyone. it's a very accessible show, and, by doing that, you kind of lose the nuance and the richness of our communities. >> mm-hmm. >> but i do think that the more people go out and are active about watching films by asian-americans, stories that come from the community -- i think the more that those films are successful or those shows, i think that's just gonna blossom even more stories. so i would hope that people -- you know, if you see something out there that frustrates you,
don't support it, don't watch it, and then, on the other hand, if you see a film, a show that really resonates with you, support it. have your voice be heard. let people know that you love that show. >> vote with our dollars, so to speak, right? all right. makes sense. thank you so much. hang on. we're gonna take a short break and be back with more "beyond the headlines," talking about issues important in our apa communities. we'll be right back. [ theme music plays ]
save $500 on the memorial day special edition mattress with sleepiq technology. plus 36-month financing. know better sleep. only at a sleep number store. >> welcome back to a special roundtable episode of "beyond the headlines." i'm kristen sze, in for cheryl jennings to have this conversation about issues important to our apa community. i want to move on to elise and your topic of higher education with your background. very important right now because i find that, not just for asian-americans, but the stress level of the road to college, applying to college, seems higher than ever before. why is it? >> well, i think our society right now -- there's so much focus on selectivity and there's so -- you know, everyone seems to want to go to the same 12
schools. and i think, if we can get parents to reassure their kids that there are other places to go, if we can get the parents to find other places to be "acceptable" for their kids to go to, we can bring down the stress level a great deal. >> do you think, among asian-americans and immigrant families, there is the sense that those 12 colleges, the big names, do something for you in life that it's so important to get into those particular colleges? >> well, i can say, for immigrant families that have come over from asia, they have probably heard of those names. and i think it's a sign that their families have made it if their kids get into those colleges. but i think they need to realize we have hundreds and thousands of amazing universities and colleges in this country. and just because you get into a particular school does not mean that you're necessarily going to have a successful life. >> right. quick polls -- where did everybody go to school? >> i graduated from san francisco state university. >> all right. >> university of virginia. >> okay.
>> university of utah. >> all right. uc berkeley. four different colleges, right? and we're all doing fine. >> i think we're fine. [ laughs ] >> i think so. we hope so. but it is important to note, though, that the pressure isn't just coming from the parents. the students seem to be putting more pressure than ever on themselves, and sometimes we're seeing tragic results, right? we've had that spate of suicides in palo alto. that's just one sharp example. but what is happening that the children really put that much pressure on themselves? >> well, again, i think a lot of it comes from the families. i think parents need to really reassure their kids that they love them unconditionally and they're going to love them wherever they go to college. i think there is a lot of emphasis on getting into college as the ultimate goal, not valuing the high-school experience. and what people need to realize is, once you get into college, you also need to be able to graduate from that college and that they're still developing throughout college. so i think making getting into college not the ultimate goal would help a lot. >> for our viewers just joining
us, with your background, you have read a lot of applications at stanford and other places. do the colleges in fact want a kid who's checked every box? "i was student-body president. i was in four sports. i founded a club. i founded a business." do they need all that? >> they don't. what they do need -- they do need to show that they're engaged intellectually and that they're engaged authentically. and so i always suggest to students that they take certainly the most rigorous course load that they can handle, and that's a big part -- that they can handle. just because your school offers 10 ap's does not mean that you should take every single one of them. parents should really make sure that their kids are sleeping enough. and you know what colleges are looking for is, when admission officers are reading applications, they want to see students who have had the time to reflect on the experiences that they've had, on their opportunities, and on what they've learned. no, they're not looking for
students who are just going through and checking off boxes and jumping through hoops. there needs to be deeper meaning to that. >> do you feel like the selectivity of a college is necessarily a good indicator of how good of experience that college will either give you or how well it will set you up for life? >> so, selectivity has become such a big thing because, you know, there's the u.s. news & world report ranking that everybody goes to. what people don't know is a lot of what go into the rankings -- it's a lot of meaningless data, really. some of the things include asking deans of admission about what they think of other schools. and i've heard deans of admission say, "why would i be qualified to judge another school? i don't work there. i don't know much about it." so there's a lot about reputation. selectivity actually impacts bond ratings that colleges and universities -- >> so they have an incentive. >> they have an incentive -- >> to keep their percentage of acceptance low.
>> and so there's this perception that selectivity gives you an indication of how strong a school is, but let me give you an example. so, about 10 years ago, the university of chicago, their admit rate was about 40%. and i think all of us here will agree that the university of chicago is a highly intellectual place and always has been. they -- over the years, they got rid of -- so, they had this very interesting application 10 years ago where they thought that, by asking students certain essay questions, they would find the right students for them. and they did, and it was a hard application, but if you really wanted to go there and you were that type of student, you know, it was a good application for you. they got rid of that application, and their application numbers have gone up, and so, all of a sudden now, 10 years later, i think they may be below 10% now. >> so they look more selective. >> they look more selective, but has the quality of education changed? >> not at all, right? so, i do think it's important for families to, as you say,
give the unconditional support. nick and masashi, did you feel like, when you were applying and looking at schools, did your parents give you the sense that you can choose and truly be what you want to be and not necessarily a doctor, lawyer, or any of the stereotypical things that you might think? >> well, when i was nine years old, i told my family that i wanted to be a filmmaker, so that kind of broke a lot of those expectations. and i actually did a lot of research, and, for me, i knew that i wanted to make asian-american work and i wanted to be a filmmaker. so san francisco state university was the perfect space for me and has helped me out in my career. and they were incredibly supportive of that, but i have a lot of friends who had a different experience. >> yeah, how about you, nick? >> well, i did become a lawyer, so i guess i didn't really buck the trend in that sense. >> but it wasn't from their pushing. >> no, definitely not. but i also do feel that a lot of my colleagues, a lot of my peers growing up, they almost take a sense of pride being asian-pacific islander and saying, "oh, well, my parents were so harsh on me, and i had to go to this top-end school and
become two things -- a doctor or a lawyer," you know? and i do feel that there still is that underlying aspect to our community that we do need addressing. that's not a rite of passage, you know what i mean? you know, growing up here and getting that education is a gift, and you should enjoy it, you know? >> enjoy it. >> yeah. >> that is the takeaway, right? >> absolutely. >> all right. great conversation. let's continue it after just a short break. stay with us because we'll definitely keep talking about issues important to the apa community in just a few minutes. [ theme music plays ] ♪ what if there was a paint that made you look at paint differently question everything you know and what you don't know what if it's built with better ingredients given super powers and even a secret base to test those powers. since benjamin moore reinvented paint, it makes you wonder is it still paint?
>> welcome back to "beyond the headlines." i'm kristen sze, in for cheryl jennings on this special roundtable show about asian-americans, asian-pacific american issues here in the bay area. so, right now we want to turn our attention over first to nick. asian law alliance -- one of the things that you do is to help with getting the vote out or getting people to register. that's one of the things you do. >> that's one of the things we do, right. >> and with this presidential election coming up -- and, also, of course, local elections -- what are you doing right now to get the word out? >> well, right now we're actually going into the communities and letting them know, first and foremost, how important it is. i think a lot of things that we here about from the asian-american community is, "my vote doesn't matter. heck, when the primaries come around, everything's been decided already." and we always have to constantly remind them that it is more than just the presidential race that is on the primary. there's measures, there's initiatives, things that affect your life, day-to-day life -- how much taxes you're paying,
potholes in your roads, schools, healthcare, all those things that are addressed. and without your voice, it's just gonna move on without you, so you need to jump on, and you need to get registered, and you need to vote today. >> all right. but what about the presidential election? i completely get what you're saying. the local issues are so important, too. but is this particular presidential election, with its candidates and issues, driving people to the polls, you think? >> absolutely. i have seen a larger turnout this year than i have seen in the years past, and i do think that the presidential contest has drawn folks out from both sides. and i do also think that there is a large majority of folks who are kind of being lost, and that is the nonpartisan vote. there is really no effort by either democrats or republicans to go out, especially to asian-american voters, and say, "hey, listen, i'm with you. i can help solve your issues that are pertinent to you."
and i think we would need to see a change in that to really engage our community, to get them to, you know, know that their vote counts and matters. >> some people might think that, "oh, i shouldn't vote, because i wouldn't understand the issues and the language barrier." are we seeing all the necessary information get out in multi-languages? >> yeah, that's always a great feature. we talk to the registrar of voters in santa clara county, and we work with a lot of partner agencies up here in san francisco, as well, and around the bay area to really engage with their registrar of voters to make sure that all of the materials are translated and that those materials are translated in a way that really is proper and really helps people when they want to go vote. we also make sure that those materials are correctly displayed for voters on the day of elections. so i think there are actually a lot of services that your local government provides you, if you don't speak english as your main language, that you can still vote. and if you are eligible to vote, you should register, and there
will be assistance there to help you. >> what if you feel like you need help? how can you go about getting help? >> well, the biggest misnomer is, especially when people go to vote, they think, "oh, it's a secret process, and i can't tell anyone how i'm voting." and, actually, you know, folks who don't speak english as their first language find that task kind of daunting. "i don't want to do this by myself." and you can actually bring in a family, a friend with you into the precinct, into the poll site, to help you translate the materials even if there's not a bilingual poll worker there to help you. >> is that right? >> yeah, and a lot of people go, "oh, but i thought it was supposed to be secret." it is secret, but, you know, it's also to help you vote. if you want to bring somebody with you, you can do that. >> all right, well, let's talk about exercising the asian-american voice. i'm not sure if there is a singular voice. the community is so diverse. there are so many threads. but like we were talking about with film, there is the need to be heard. and do you think that's happening through either asian-american candidates or perhaps candidates that will listen to asian-american
perspectives? >> well, i think that argument has been said a lot, and i actually disagree with it. i think that there is a unified voice. if you look at local data from api data, it shows that asian-americans have unifying issues around healthcare, the environment, education. and these things are, i think, pertinent to our day-to-day discussion, and these are the things that are on our ballot. so there are issues that unify us, there is a unified voice, and i usually see that argument being made because candidates use that so they say, "well, but i can't really engage that community because they don't have any issues for me to engage them on." and that's completely not true. you have to work with the community, just like any other community, to get those issues out and into the front. >> all right, we do have only about 90 seconds left, and i'd like each of you to leave our viewers with a takeaway message that you think will really help guide them as they move forward in their lives. so, masashi, i'm gonna start with you. >> well, i think that, from what we were just talking about, i think we as a community have a
lot of power. and whether it's representations in media, voting, and other things, i think that we should feel that internal kind of... power to have our voices heard and to really, at this point in 2016, to come together as a community and to really make change together as a group. >> all right. elise? >> so, regarding my segment with college, i just urge parents and students to really think outside the box a little bit and think more about the fit with the student and to encourage students to be true to themselves. i don't think students should be trying to mold themselves into what they think a particular college is looking for. >> you know, back in 2014, in the midterm elections, only 18% of us in the asian-american community who could've voted came out to vote. that is abysmal. we need to see a change in that because we are a growing minority in this country. we do have the power, and we're just not choosing to exercise it. today is the day to change that. go out there. go register to vote.
it takes you five minutes. you can do it online. just get it done, and then vote when it comes around. >> great message to end on. thank you. thank you all so much. we are out of time, but want to say thank you to our three guests for todays asian-pacific american roundtable show -- nick kuwada, of course, with asian law alliance, masashi nuwano, with center for asian american media, and elise maar for her insight in helping prepare students for higher education. hopefully, as you all take that information back and digest it, you'll find applications in your own life, in your student's life, and good luck to everybody. and i want to thank you for watching the show. i'm kristen sze. back to you, cheryl. >> thank you, kristen. for more information about today's program, just go to our website, abc7news.com/community. we're also on facebook at abc7communityaffairs, as well as cheryljenningsabc7. and follow me on twitter at cherylabc7. i'm cheryl jennings. thanks for joining us. have a great week. [ theme music plays ]
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divers recover two bodies in walnut grove south of sacramento in the search for a missing father and his one-year-old daughter. tonight the family is left dealing with a terrible loss. that is the breaking news we begin with. a boater found a body believed to be that of one year kaylee jackson, quarter mile from where divers found her father's body last night. the area is known as the georgia sloughing. family and fairgrounds broke down what happen the got