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Meet Cheryl Tan, journalist and author of “A Tiger in the Kitchen!”

Posted on | May 3, 2011 | 1 Comment

Meet Cheryl Tan on visualizAsian.com on May 24!We’re thrilled to announce that we’re celebrating the second anniversary of visualizAsian.com with TWO shows during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We launbched visualizAsian in May of 2009 with a conversation with former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, and we’ve had almost two dozen calls since then.

This month we have a show with Albert Kim, one of the writers and producers of the hit action series “Nikita” on Tuesday May 10, and we’re closing out the month with a conversation with journalist and author Cheryl Tan on Tuesday, May 24! Click here to register for the call and you’ll receive the dial-in and webcast information.

Cheryl Tan has written for bigtime publications including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and earlier this year published “A Tiger in the Kitchen” (not to be confused with that other “Tiger” book…). Here’s her biography from her website:

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a New York-based writer who has written a memoir about discovering her Singaporean family by learning to cook with them. “A Tiger In The Kitchen” was published by Hyperion this past February.

She was a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, In Style magazine and the Baltimore Sun. Her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Family Circle, Bloomberg Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, The (Portland) Oregonian, The (Topeka) Capital-Journal, The (Singapore) Straits Times and Elle.com. She is also a regular contributor to The Atlantic Food Channel.

In March/April 2010 and also in December 2010, she was an artist in residence at the Yaddo artists’ colony, where she completed her memoir.

Born and raised in Singapore, she crossed the ocean at age 18 to go to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Unsure of whether she would remain in the U.S. after college, she interned in places as disparate as possible. She hung out with Harley Davidson enthusiasts in Topeka, Kan., interviewed gypsies about their burial rituals in Portland, Ore., covered July 4 in Washington, D.C., and chronicled the life and times of the Boomerang Pleasure Club, a group of Italian-American men that were getting together to cook, play cards and gab about women for decades in their storefront “clubhouse” in Chicago.

An active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, she served on its national board for seven years, ending in 2010.

She started her full-time journalism career helping out on the cops beat in Baltimore — training that would prove to be essential in her future fashion reporting. Both, it turns out, are like war zones. The only difference is, people dress differently.

We’re firm believers that food is the main gateway to world cultures — and especially Asian cultures. Look at the evolution of sushi: Just two or three decades ago, most Americans would recoil at the thought of eating a piece of raw fish on a ball of rice. Now sushi bars have popped up on almost every hips corner, and even supermarkets sell (terrible) sushi.

Cuisine has helped open people to the rest of Asian culture. How many of us had never had Thai food, or Korean food, or Indian food, until we tried it and fell in love with it? How many of us know that most of what we consider “Chinese” food isn’t Chinese at all, but an American variant?

We’ll chat about Cheryl’s career, food of all kinds, and her search for her family identity in the cuisine of Singapore, where she grew up.

Join us for what promises to be a fascinating talk!

Click here to register for the call and you’ll receive the dial-in and webcast information.

Meet Albert Kim, a writer and co-producer for “Nikita,” the hit CW action series

Posted on | April 28, 2011 | 4 Comments

Maggie Q and Albert Kim on the set of "Nikita"

Maggie Q and Albert Kim on the set of "Nikita"

Wow, we’re excited to announce our Second Anniversary show in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: A one-hour conversation with Albert Kim, a writer and co-producer for the hit CW network action series “Nikita” starring Maggie Q!

We’ll be speaking with Albert on TUESDAY, MAY 10 at 7 pm Pacific Time (10 PM ET). Just register with visualizAsian (it’s free) and you’ll get the information to dial in to our conference line, or listen on our live webcast. If you’ve already registered for visualizAsian calls in the past, you’ll automatically receive the dial-in information via email. Remember, you can always submit questions to our visualizAsian guests in advance and during the livecast.

You missed our show with Albert Kim! But for a limited time you can still register to hear the archived replay MP3 of the conversation.

You may not recognize the name, but if you watch “Nikita” or have watched “Leverage” in the past, you’ve seen him in the front credits.

Here’s Albert’s bio:

Albert Kim is a TV writer, producer, and award-winning journalist. Before his stint the staff of “Nikita,” Kim spent three seasons on the hit TNT show “Leverage,” and has also written episodes of FX’s “Dirt.” But his roots aren’t in television scriptwriting.

Albert’s an accomplished journalist as well. From 2005 to 2007 he was Senior News Director at ESPN, where he executive produced the entertainment news program “ESPN Hollywood.”

Prior to that, he was the Assistant Managing Editor for People, where he oversaw the popular news, gossip, and entertainment columns, and supervised the magazine’s multi-million dollar photo budget. Previously Albert was a writer and editor for Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and Details magazines.

A graduate of Princeton University, Albert lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with his wife and two children. Because of his experience in the news side of the media, he’s been a leader in the Asian American Journalists Association, and founded the Asian employees organization at Time Inc. You can follow ALbert on Twitter at @MagicBranch.

We’ll ask Albert what it’s like to go from being an award-winning journalist to writing for a TV show, and learn what it’s like to work in Hollywood. And oh, yeah… what it’s like to work with Maggie Q, the butt-kickingest Asian woman lead actress in all of American TV-dom. (Hell, the ONLY Asian lead actor in all of American TV-dom!)

The Maggie Q version of “Nikita,” a remake of the 1990 Luc Besson French action film “La Femme Nikita” (and a 1993 US remake by John Badham titled “Point of No Return” starring Bridget Fonda, as well as a 1997-2001 Canadian TV series, “La femme Nikita” that aired on the USA network in America), is a stylish, action-packed show about the title character’s mission to bring down the secret government organization called “The Division” that trained her to be a spy and assassin. It’s kept us watching week after week because of its dynamic fight scenes, Maggie Q’s magnetic, gorgeous presence, and the snappy, unpredictable plot and dialog.

We can blame Albert Kim for some of that dialog. “Nikita” finishes up its first season on CW with a finale episode on Thursday, May 12.

Albert was also a screenwriter for the clever drama “>Leverage” on TNT, which features the witty repartee of a terrific ensemble cast led by Jim Hutton. The show returns with a new season on June 26.

If you’ve ever wanted to find out how the writers come up with such fast-moving scripts fpr these shows, here’s your chance.

Please join us for what promises to be a really fun and fantastic conversation with a behind-the-scenes role model for all Asian Americans!

Here’s an extended preview from the beginning of the first season:

REMINDER: Our show with Albert Kim will be on TUESDAY, MAY 10 at 7 pm Pacific Time (10 PM ET). Register with visualizAsian (it’s free) and you’ll get the information to dial in to our conference line, or listen on our live webcast. If you’ve already registered for visualizAsian calls in the past, you’ll automatically receive the dial-in information via email.

You missed our show with Albert Kim! But for a limited time you can still register to hear the archived replay MP3 of the conversation.

Meet actress and food blogger Lynn Chen, co-creator of “Thick Dumpling Skin”

Posted on | March 24, 2011 | 3 Comments

Lynn ChenNEW DATE: DUE TO A SCHEDULING CONFLICT, OUR CONVERSATION WITH LYNN CHEN WILL BE AT 7 PM PT ON MONDAY APRIL 11!

Lynn Chen is a woman after our own hearts… and stomach. She’s a foodie as well as a talented actress and musician, and she writes one blog, “The Actor’s Diet,” about “the life of a Hollywood actress. Meal by meal,” and recently launched another, “Thick Dumpling Skin,” about Asians’ diet and body issues, with Hyphen publisher Lisa Lee.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be speaking with Lynn for our next visualizAsian show on TUESDAY, APRIL 26MONDAY APRIL 11 at 7 pm PT (10 pm for you folks on the east coast). Just register here for the free dial-in and webinar information — if you’ve registered for previous visualizAsian calls, you’ll already receive the info.

Wow, you missed a powerful conversation with Lynn on April 11, but you can still register to hear the archived MP3 of the call for 30 days.

Lynn Chen, whose “excessive beauty makes us want to rip our eyeballs out,” according to the ladies of the Disgrasian blog, was born in Queens, New York in 1976 to a mother who sang at the Metropolitan Opera and a father who is an ethnomusicologist, and she was raised in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University.

As a child, Lynn sang with the Children’s Choirs at the Metropolitan and NYC Opera Houses, and made her acting debut in the NY State Theatre production of “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center. Television credits include “NCIS: LA,” “Numbers,” guest roles on almost all of the “Law and Order” shows, and recurring roles in “All My Children” and “The Singles Table,” opposite John Cho and Alicia Silverstone.

Of her films, Lynn’s best-known as “Vivian Shing” in Sony Pictures Classic’s feature film “Saving Face,” a role for which she won the “Outstanding Newcomer Award” at the 2006 Asian Excellence Awards. Since then she has appeared in over a dozen films, most recently starring in “White on Rice,” “The People I’ve Slept With,” and the just-released “Surrogate Valentine,” which is making the rounds of film festivals.

Surrogate Valentine” was directed by Dave Boyle, the young filmmaker who also wrote and directed “White on Rice,” a terrific indie film, and it’s a fictionalized story of the real-life experiences of singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura. The film was the closing night selection of the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival, and just screened at SXSW Film in Austin.

But Lynn isn’t just limited to acting. In fact, she took some time off from acting to deal with her eating disorders, and started “The Actor’s Diet” in 2009 as a way to write about food and to hold herself accountable for eating healthy (with the burgers and fried thrown in). Here’s how she explains the blog:

I used to hate talking about my history with food because it’s been such a roller coaster. I’ve been a binge eater my entire life and spent over six years balancing it out with anorexia.

In 2003 I had literally worked my butt off to play a ballet dancer. When I stopped the dieting, I naturally gained the weight back. But my managers weren’t happy. My fans called me chubby. My relatives commented. And since I wasn’t booking, I figured it must be because of the weight. I looked for examples of women who were about my size but I wasn’t even sure what I saw anymore; the bingeing and anorexia were taking over every aspect of my life.

In an attempt to get my life under control in a healthful way, I tried to do what I thought other actors did. I went on the zone, did cleanses, ate macrobiotic, got hypnosis, hired a personal trainer, had private pilates sessions, ate specially delivered/overpriced meals, went vegetarian, all while seeing an eating disorders specialist. I would scour magazine interviews with actors, stopping when they described anything having to do with food. “She ate a hamburger and fries,” I would read, and think, “And then what? How much of it did she eat? Did she have anything else the rest of the day? What about the next day?” I couldn’t figure out how other actors did it, why it was so difficult for me to stay as small as everyone else around me without counting every calorie.

A few months ago, she launched — with co-blogger Lisa Lee — her new blog, “Thick Dumpling Skin,” with the subtitle “It’s what’s inside that counts.” If her first blog is personal and focuses on her life as an actress, this one is about the Asian values and cultural traditions that affect our eating habits and self-image.

This site is a place for hungry Asian voices to be heard. Are you a Con Gái, Kakak, Mak, Aiyi, Otosan, Putra, Kuya, Halapoji, Hoahanau, etc. who feels like you’re alone when it comes to obsession with both food and body image? Trust us, you’re not.

We all have families. We all eat. We all have families who tell us what to eat, when to eat, and extended families who make plenty of unsolicited comments about our food. They tell us we’ve eaten too much, too little, and too much again. One day we’re too skinny. And within a matter of days, we’re too fat.

No matter what we’re told, we’re always offered seconds. And thirds. We are afraid to offend, so we oblige and take fourths. Sometimes we pretend we’ve already eaten. Merely saying “No thank you” – and being heard – isn’t a realistic option.

We see other Asians – in movies and in fashion spreads – and teeny tiny appears to be our norm. We witness entire populations walking around in clothes that most of us outgrew after puberty. We wonder why we weren’t born into a culture where ample booties are celebrated.

These thoughts turn into actions, and we awake one day to find that we need to justify everything that we put in our mouths. And this is when things start to get dangerous. We’ve been there, and perhaps you have been too.

The site’s interactive and invites readers to send in their own stories and express their issues and experiences.

Somehow amidst all the stuff she does, Lynn also manages to make music with her group YPOK2.

Can we have a guest on visualizAsian that’s more multidimensional? We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday April 26Monday April 11 for our talk with Lynn Chen!

You can still register to hear the archived MP3 of the call for 30 days.

Here’s a recent interview with TaiwaneseAmerican.org:

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