While SXSW has grown in scope immensely since its first event in 1987, it remains at its core a space for thought-provoking and highly involved discussions surrounding entertainment, media, and the future. For the Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) creative community, the conversation about representation and diversity in media on a stage like SXSW is long overdue. Being part of that community, we can’t be more excited that this year there will be for the first time ever two API-specific events. Amplifying our enthusiasm is the fact that both events, a SXSW Interactive panel and a music showcase during the SXSW Music Festival, have been spearheaded and presented by our sister non-profit organization, Kollaboration.
Asian Americans Breaking the Silence & Stereotypes
In an interview with LA 18, Kollaboration Executive Director, Minji Chang, talks about Kollaboration’s role in making the SXSW Interactive Panel a reality. “People are feeling the need to be proud of who they are and sharing their identities in a strong, confident, and positive way.” She refers to the people involved as “catalysts,” leaders and voices of their own different circles that altogether form a growing grassroots movement fighting for API visibility in music, film, new media, and other forms of creative representation.
The panel will “discuss the layered issues behind how absence in media representation leads to the challenges of being pegged as “unmarketable” by Hollywood, and showing the ways API stories enrich, entertain, and leave an impact on universal audiences.” Moderated by Minji herself, the panelists are Phil Yu (founder/editor of Angry Asian Man), Jenny Yang (stand up comedian and producer of DisOriented Comedy, White House Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling), and Dante Basco (co-founder of We Own the 8th, actor & voice actor best known for Rufio in Hook, Zuko in Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender). While working in different fields of entertainment in media, all four have encountered the same issues as members of the API community, which they hope to bring to the forefront of mainstream industries and drive social impact.
Kollaboration Presents: Asian American Spotlight
Since 2000, Kollaboration has been discovering and providing a platform for up-and-coming API artists. How fitting that SXSW’s first music showcase featuring all Asian American artists is being officially presented by Kollaboration.
While there have been a number of showcases at SXSW featuring international artists from Asia, a dedicated spotlight on homegrown Asian-American has been lacking all these years. Presence of API artists were few and scattered. By bringing them together, the showcase amplifies their voices and sets a precedence for more opportunities in the future.
This year’s lineup includes Big Phony and Run River North, both regulars at SXSW, and first-time SXSW participants Megan Lee, St. Lenox, Melissa Polinar, and Reonda. Learn more about the artists here!