As a BIPOC creative, what does “support” mean to you?
To me, “support” means to uplift and use your privilege or position of power to help others.
If you notice there isn’t a lot of BIPOC representation in your industry; coaching, mentoring, and offering paid internship positions is a great way to open doors, as some job opportunities require a certain level of experience in order to be hired part/full time.
Sharing and liking BIPOC work on social media, being encouraging, or offering professional guidance can go a long way and really mean a lot to someone.
Who has supported you and why was it meaningful?
My clients who have been with me throughout my career. They were understanding, patient, and kind when I was still figuring things out at the beginning. They stood by me and continued to believe in me. My client Sam Richardson is a great example. He was one of my first male clients. He understands the process and is so wonderful to work with. We always have each other's back and just have so much respect for one another. If there was a blueprint for how talent should treat their team, he would be it.
The Laterals and The Hollywood Reporter have also created space for me when others wouldn’t even respond to my emails. This industry is hard and when jobs are constantly going to the same people, the rejection can really get to you. It’s important to look around and see who is still standing with you and how you can continue to support each other.
What is a big challenge being a BIPOC creative in your industry?
All the performative action. I see so many fashion brands, studios, publicists, talent, and stylists preach diversity and inclusion but when it comes down to hiring BIPOC or paying fairly, they all of a sudden forget what that means. Big changes don’t happen overnight but how we work within our circle can.
Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?
1. It’s okay to pass on projects. If the project doesn’t feel right or if you are constantly doing favors for people but your name is never mentioned when the real career-changing opportunities arise, pass on it and save your energy for the projects where you will be valued.
2. Always be kind to people. Everyone has experienced tough times.
3. Stop comparing yourself to people on social media. Everyone has their own unique path to how they ended up where they are today. Be gentle with yourself, move at your own pace, and trust the process.
Are there any non-profit organizations that you support?
There are so many that are doing really beautiful work. World Central Kitchen is incredible and feeding those who are food insecure from natural and man-made disasters like COVID-19, Hurricane Ida, Afghanistan, and Haiti. The chefs on the ground cook warm nutritious meals for those in need.
Another is SummaEveryThang they provide free ORGANIC produce boxes to Watts and South Central LA areas. Organic produce should be available and affordable for everyone including those living in vulnerable communities. Once again, another example of how systemic racism likes to target BIPOC areas and make it expensive and unattainable to simply eat healthy. SummaEveryThang is making healthy eating possible.
The LA Mission is one of my favorite accounts to follow. They are constantly posting on how to help people experiencing homelessness, their stories and how community support can really uplift someone. Los Angeles has an insanely high rate of people experiencing homelessness. We need to hold politicians accountable for how they are handling this situation and demand programs to help people transition out of homelessness whether it be providing housing, helping with job placements, free psychiatric care, offer free child care if the person finds a job etc etc... Los Angeles is turning into a city that really lacks empathy for those who are unhoused. We need to pay more attention so we can change that.
Women’s Foundation California is an incredible organization for feminists who have an intersectional approach to their work. Racial, economic and gender justice that include BIPOC as well as self-identified women and gender non-conforming people to train, educate, and raise awareness on how to be at the forefront of social change.
To be a feminist we must include women from different backgrounds into the conversation, intersectionality matters.
There are so many more to list and I can go on and on but I will end it with this one — Care.org they put women and girls at the center of their work as they are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters, poverty, and social injustice. They have worked in over 100 countries and reached more than 90 million people through 1,300 projects. When I think of how the United States has oppressed other countries, exploited people, and contributed to the collapse of governments, I feel it’s my responsibility to stay informed on what is going on internationally and take action through calling my representatives to oppose the actions of the United States government, sign petitions, and donate to organizations like this.
It would be nice to one day wake up in a world where non-profits no longer exist. For the government to actually care about people, communities, building equity and putting our tax dollars to proper healthcare but I guess that image only exists in my head.
What is your cultural heritage and how has it influenced your work?
I am Japanese, Filipina, Mexican, and German. I grew up with a lot of Japanese, Filipino, and Mexican influences. My mother and I are very close with her parents (my grandma is Japanese and my grandpa was Filipino) and then I grew up in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. My background has influenced my work by... well...if you grew up in an Asian household, you know. My mom is less traditional so that helped break the cycle as I got older and she let me grow into the person I wanted to be. Although as a child it was challenging trying to live up to certain expectations. The silver lining is I believe my work ethic very much came from my upbringing.
Why is BIPOC representation meaningful to you?
I feel it motivates and gives people confidence if they see someone who looks like them in a space they wish to be in one day, along with making them feel welcome.
From the beginning of my career, I have always hired a diverse team. It was something that was always important to me and I believe my body of work represents that as well.
Why is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) important to you and your industry?
It’s important that BIPOC are telling our stories. When an all-white crew is trying to tell a story on BIPOC trauma, it can easily be turned into this strange fetishizing point of view because it misses its mark to really tell a meaningful story. BIPOC need to be behind the camera just as much as they need to be in front.
Being part white, I feel it’s my responsibility to educate myself on the harm racism has caused. The conversations can get uncomfortable but how else will I understand if everything is always sugarcoated? We cannot allow history to repeat itself or manifest in different ways to continue to harm people. This is a perfect example of why Critical Race Theory (CRT) is important and should be taught in school.
Systemic racism and generational trauma from white supremacy all have major impacts on how BIPOC move through society. We must learn from one another, have empathy, heal, and break toxic cycles. We need to do better.
Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?
BIPOC stories educate and raise awareness by giving people a perspective on what still needs to change. As important as it is to tell stories on how white supremacy has impacted BIPOC throughout history it is just as important to tell ones that empower and uplift. I would like to see more strong influential BIPOC films where studios fund them just as much as they would an all-white male cast. We are witnessing the beginning of it and I really hope they continue and increase their support. I think through all of the challenges that BIPOC have faced and how we have overcome them, we have continuously proven ourselves, now hire us, and pay us fairly.