tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC May 27, 2018 5:30am-6:00am PDT
♪ "asian pacific america." and welcome to i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. we have been part of a very active and successful asian pacific american heritage month here
in the bay area, and we are ending the month on a very high note. we recently honored community heroes at our asian pacific american heritage month luncheon by aaci, asian americans for community involvement; and asian pacific fund; advocate protima pandey; storyteller caleb jo; historian, activist, and writer connie young yu; and the caretaker from the friends of children with special needs, anna wang. today protima pandey and caleb jo will join us. and then we turn the spotlight on the celebration of our multiethnic community, the rich history of silicon valley and art with the silicon valley asian pacific filmfest.
all of that on our show today. well, we start our program with a true community advocate. with us is protima pandey, an advocate for gender justice and the newly appointed director for the office of women's policy in santa clara county. she has dedicated the past ten years, working with domestic violence survivors, both as a lawyer
and an advocate for survivor issues. before that, she was a managing attorney and regional counsel at bay area legal aid. welcome to the show. good to see you again. protima pandey: thank you so much for having me, robert. robert: you know, one of the things, as we go over some of the things you've done in the past, i mean, they really do frame the way you look at things and the way you approach issues. give us an idea, in terms of a little bit of your background, in terms of how that helps you now. protima: so one of the things that i like to talk about is the een honored to have in serving my community and the community of survivors. it's very important for me to talk about the fact that people always put the onus of changing things on those who are
vulnerable and who are going through difficulties, and i believe that with all of the work that i was able to do as a legal aid lawyer, i started to see that there is a way to shift that narrative. there is a way to ask the system "why don't you have it more accessible and available to everybody? why should the victim, for example, have to carry the burden of telling her story or his story or their story? why can't the system begin from a place of 'i'm sorry it happened to you, let's see what we can do'?" robert: it's a common trap. they kind of say, "why didn't they speak up more then?" and things like that, and you're seeing we all have been talking about this, the improvement in this, especially in the south asian community, in terms of people speaking up though and stepping forward, right? protima: right, and, to me, the work that i did brings gender focus into lens, the gender lens into focus today because we're thinking about what does our system do to make sure that the stories of girls and women, that representation of girls and women,
that leadership issues that impact girls and women are front and center in our process, in our policies in our programming, and that's essentially what i get to do now in my day job, which i feel very blessed and lucky to have. robert: and, of course, one of the things that i've always been impressed with, in terms of the women's policy and the kind of programs that you do, is that it was one thing to get people to step up and make people aware that it was happening, and now you're trying to take that forward, right, and make sure that people, you know, accomplish things, do things with that knowledge, right? protima: that's right. so office of women's policy will turn 20 this year. twenty years ago, santa clara county had a vision that it is important to remember that there is one-half of our population that gets left behind when stories are told, that gets left behind when policies are made, and it was the role of office of women's policy to assist the county in providing that gender lens to policy, programming, leadership, and today we're poised to change all
of the work that we're doing into real outcomes, into outcomes that demonstrate, for example, legislation that's forward thinking. as you know, santa clara county recently passed an ordinance which requires that county buildings that are being renovated, bathrooms that are being renovated, old buildings that have been built, in l bathr. and if you think about it, it just--why didn't we think of it before? but santa clara county wants to get ahead and make sure that we welcome families of all kinds because, for women's policy, it's important for us to put a policy out there that says, "child rearing is not just a women's job," and in the 21st century, we should change that. robert: yeah, i mean, especially with the metoo movement and a lot of things that are making people a little bit more aware of issues that maybe they didn't think of before, but that's all now. when you were first starting, you were, like, on an island at times. did you think that it was going to--did you have optimism that
it would become what it's become? protima: i think what i had was the ability to tell a story and the skills that i had as a lawyer that would bring stories in the forefront that were never heard before, and i had a hope or maybe optimism that one day these stories will start to make part of the mainstream narrative because, if you don't tell a story that's unusual, if you don't tell a story that has never been heard before, if i don't take a case for a woman who was abandoned at the airport in her home country by her husband and he flew back here, if i don't take her case, nobody gets to know that that is also domestic violence: banning a spouse, abandoning her, taking away her passport, taking away her green card. those are stories that, if i tell you in a vacuum, you will look at me and say, "protima, it's 5 p.m. what liquid beverage did you have right now?" but i can tell you for a fact that telling those stories,
today the narrative is starting to shift. i can't give up hope. robert: and it's a tough thing because, you know, in a way, you're bringing up situations that people can relate to because they're affecting almost everybody in every community, and, yet you have to make sure that people understand that there's that cultural edge to everything that you're talking about that influences the situations you're talking about, and, in a way, it makes it a more interesting story, right? protima: right, and, you know, thank you for saying "cultural edge," because that's another piece of the way the work that i did played an important role in informing the outcome of my work when i'm in front of a policy maker, when i'm in front of a judge, making sure that they understand that this is also part of the narrative, and bringing the culture in a way that you connect it to the work, not just saying "culture," but actually bringing the story that tells how culture has influenced this barrier. robert: well, congratulations. i know you don't do it for the recognition,
with savings on the new sleep number 360 smart bed. it senses and automatically adjusts for effortless comfort. right now during our semi-annual sale, save up to $700 on sleep number 360 smart beds. plus 36 months financing. ends monday. robert: while meeting our next guest, you realize quickly why he is a storyteller. his life itself is a fascinating story, one that many of us can relate to. joining us is filmmaker and asian pacific american heritage month honoree caleb jo, who is, as the story goes, a product of two loving, hopeful artists who came to america from south korea to pursue their dreams. it has been a life of ups and downs, and caleb is still standing, staying true to his ss including producing a short film "jory," a story about a young asian-american teenager who struggles between his love for dance, and his relentless parents, who want what's best for him.
welcome to the show. caleb jo: thank you, robert. robert: good to see you again. great to see you at the luncheon before. caleb: right. robert: give me an idea. your film "jory," now, is it a little bit autobiographical? i mean, it's always kind of tempting to kind of think that it is, but what elements are and aren't about you? caleb: so, actually, i grew up as a dancer. in high school, i started off freshman year as a dancer, but the funny story is, actually, i wanted to impress a girl, so that's why i picked up dancing, but actually it became a passion of just expression later on, but the story "jory," a lot of people think, you know, j-o is my last name, and then the two letters of "story" is, you know, r-y, so they thought it was an autobiographical--biographical? robert: yes, "autobiographical." caleb: autobiographical, but it's actually not. it does come from, just, like, the typical story that you hear in silicon valley about, you know, students who really want to pursue the arts, but they're kind of shut down: "no, you gotta be a doctor," "you gotta be a lawyer," "you gotta be an engineer," but, you know, there are some of us who want to
pursue that, like, type of career in the arts, but, yeah, so i just wanted to show two different sides of the story, what if, you know, parents are supportive, not really supportive, but just have, like, an understanding, trying to be open, and then the other side who are totally against it. robert: you know, traditionally, we almost showcase an artistic or historical performance on our show every week because i have that same attitude is just that that particular element of the community and the culture sometimes gets overlooked or maybe not as appreciated enough, and so i think that what you're talking about is great. i tell you what. let's take a look at a short clip, and then we'll talk about it some more. caleb: sounds good. robert: all right. female: jory. [speaking in foreign language] jory: i was doing homework at max.
female: [speaking in foreign language] robert: now, as i watch the parents in this clip, doesn't seem to be the way i heard your parents described in terms of their initial pursuits. did they kind of evolve into, like, wanting you--did you feel like that was something that you saw in them that they maybe evolved away from that kind of pursuit and didn't have the same attitude toward what you wanted to do as they did when they were younger? caleb: so my mom is really supportive of what i wanna do. of course, there's a fear because, you know, just growing up without, you know, a father, income-wise, it's really hard, right? so, of course, my mom wants me to have something like a safety net, so that's why i'm actually studying business administration. so, because of that, that's what i'm studying right now, but my passion and heart lies for filmmaking and acting, anything in the arts. so my dad, i feel like, if he was still around, he would be very supportive. he would do anything to, you know,
want me to pursue this career, but, of course, it's a lot harder now, but i'm actually--like, it made me who i am today. you know, i do wanna pursue, you know, acting and all these arts because in honor for my father. so, yeah, i do have a passion for it. my mom's super-supportive, but they've never really, kind of, veered to the other side. robert: yeah, and, of course, they are--as you mentioned, they want what's best for you. i believe the phrase that you always hear is "something to fall back on. need something to fall back on." what are you going to do in terms of pursuing this now? you have the film. what do you wanna do in terms of, like, you know, doing more of that, doing more dancing? what? caleb: so we're gonna do a whole film festival run with this film, and we're just gonna submit it to everywhere. originally, we wanted to submitted it to hbo, but this year, the film is actually entered into silicon valley asian pacific filmfest, which is gonna happen on june 3, and it's gonna be in the short-film panel, so it's gonna be an awesome movie just to--i mean,
an awesome short film to see, and i think it's gonna just, kind of, bring in line all the stories that you don't really necessarily hear about the silicon valley, you know, just saying that, "oh, it's just 2400 gpas, you know, four-point--oh, wait--2400 sat scores, 4.0 gpas, but there are artists in the silicon valley. robert: yeah, it's kind of still the, you know, the old model minority thing that kind of lingers in different forms, and different, you know, slivers of it kind of peek through. for you, when you completed the film, you know, how'd you feel about, in terms of, like, it as a launching point? you feel, like, you know, a lot more to learn, a lot more ambition in that area? caleb: right. so i've actually only done filmmaking for a year, so i took one filmmaking class in de anza, and i fell in love with it because i grew up with watching digital media people on youtube, you know, doing their own craft over there and, like, just growing up watching wong fu, you know, nigahiga, all those guys. you know, i wanted to create my own content, right? and i think it's awesome because, you know, filming, you know, is just telling all your stories
that might be personal to you, or, you know, that you see in a everyday basis, so i think that's a great platform to use. robert: plus having, like, nigahiga and some of these other, like, role models is a nice thing. i went to de anza. didn't have any role models at that time, you know, so at least you have that. when we were talking at the luncheon, you're going to move to l.a.? caleb: right, i am actually moving down to l.a. for school. i'm transferring from de anza, so i'm gonna be attending biola university. robert: what do you wanna make sure that people who come to see this film, even if they're not, you know, asian and don't really relate to it in that part of it, what do you wanna make sure that they get out of seeing that film? caleb: i think just an outlook of saying, like, "oh, not all asians are, you know, the tech geeks, you know, 4.0 gpas 'cause i didn't get a 4.0 gpa, you know, and, of course, i felt sad about that because i'm not the stereotypical asian person, but, you know, i have my own road. i have my own life, you know? i'm myself, you know? robert: and you're a better dancer than they are. caleb: true, true, true. robert: okay, there you go. well, congratulations. i'm glad to see that you're being honored for this,
a very enjoyable and enlightening event. some may remember it as the san jose j-town filmfest, but its new name reflects the event's growth and evolution. few people know as much about growth and evolution as my next guest, a committee member for the fest, jessica tokiwa savage, a well-rounded person of accomplishment from college peer mentor, to a major market journalist, and now producer for cisco tv, and, let's not forget, volunteer therapeutic yoga teacher. welcome to the show. jessica tokiwa savage: thank you so much for having me. robert: if it wasn't for that last one, we would have very similar backgrounds actually. jessica: i know, yes. robert: and just the small-world category, i did a pbs documentary, a couple of them with your uncle rudy tokiwa, who was a very outspoken veteran about the japanese-american issues. it was great. he was a great guy.
so tell me a little bit about this, sort of, evolution of the film festival. jessica: definitely. so we're in our fourth year. we're really excited. we've grown quite a bit, and we have a really special lineup this year. it started out--duane's whole vision of why he created the filmfest in the first place was because he wanted to bring more independent asian-pacific american filmmakers, but also issues from filmmakers, right, because you don't necessarily have to be of that descent to do a film around these issues that face with asian-americans. robert: right, and even though i loved hearing "j-town" in the title, it was limiting, in a way, huh? jessica: it was. we wanted to make the filmfest more inclusive, and so, as to your point, it has definitely evolved into something that's more inclusive because, again, we're trying to bring together the asian-american community. robert: yeah, and also it has a very contemporary feel to it, in terms of the kind of edginess you wanna bring, huh? jessica: it does. one of the highlights--'cause i had moderated the "k-town cowboys" q-a portion. this was during our first filmfest, and, actually, i had asked them a question about whitewashing in hollywood, and their answer surprised me they had said,
"oh, it doesn't exist." i was like, "wow, really? enlighten me," right? i was like "enlighten my soul," and they had actually, again, uniting asian-americans, for instance, like tyler perry's stuff does so well because they said african-americans say "african-american." they don't say "kenyan-american" or "nigerian-american," whereas asians tend to be like, "well, i'm korean-american, so it doesn't relate to me because i'm not japanese-american," right? so it was a really interesting conversation, and it is a little edgy, and so that q-a was definitely one memorable one for me. robert: and a astounding statement to make, by the way. jessica: it was. i was like, "oh, my goodness." robert: but you know what? you bring up some--point. when i was a student, i started a student club at de anza college and an asian student club, and it was easier then because everybody kind of viewed themselves as a minority. now there is a little bit more separation. people are wanting to kind of make their own--distinguish them, sort of, identity, culturally, but then it kind of has splintered some of the perception of the group. jessica: it has, and, like, i mean, even japanese-americans, right, to your point, like, we're in our fourth, fifth generation now.
we're kind of coming up here, and, again, i don't really know too many purebred japanese-americans anymore. we're all mixed, right? we're all kind of "happas," as you would say. robert: and faced a lot of the same issues. jessica: exactly, about identity and, kind of, really defining what that means for each of us and, again, coming together as a collective community versus, kind of, siloing ourselves, right? robert: what about this lineup for this year? what are some of the things that are going to be highlighted? jessica: i am so excited. so we have brad kageno's film called "i hate you," and this is a romantic comedy. it's actually really fun. it looks really, really fun. so this romantic comedy basically features an asian male dating a white female, and so this interracial couple, right--being a couple, in general, it's hard enough, so to see, again, more issues that they face, just being this interracial couple, i'm very excited, as you can tell, to moderate that q and a panel 'cause, you know, again, really highlighting things like, you know, "yellow fever," and things like that, these issues of race and interracial relationships, and so we have that lined up. something that we did for the first time this year, we did a shorts competition, so we have a shorts program lined up as well, and then, of course, we're actually gonna be doing a special q-a with wong fu productions,
and we have a special giveaway from them, so i hope people join us. robert: and caleb jo, who we talked before will be in the shorts program. jessica: he will be--his film is being featured, which you guys got a little bit of a taste of, and then he also will be moderating the wong fu panel as well. robert: isn't it exciting to be able to kind of showcase this kind of work? because, you know, there's these people that have their aspirations, they have their creativity and their talent, and then, for a long time, they didn't really have any place to showcase it, you know, so to be a part of being able to do that must be quite rewarding for you. jessica: exactly. well, and i think the bigger thing is really breaking asian-american stereotypes and really telling the truth or true stories about what we face, right, and really defining these experiences as authentic. robert: i know. it's sort of funny. one time i was talking to somebody about the stereotyping of asians and pacific islanders and stuff, and they thought, "why are you upset about it? it's almost always positive stereotypes." but nobody really likes to be stereotyped. jessica: the model minority, correct? robert: yes, in its various forms, but people think of it as, like, "well, why would you be--you know, what's wrong with,
like, being thought of as being good at math or being this or that, you know?" and it's so hard to explain to people why nobody really likes to be pigeonholed, you know? jessica: exactly, "pigeonholed," but also overlooked. i think we're one of the minorities that definitely is overlooked, and so, like i said, you know, i'm definitely not your typical--just like caleb had mentioned, i'm not your typical asian-american female. i think when people meet me initially, it's like, "oh, my goodness," you know, it's a lot 'cause i do--very opinionated. i am very forward, and i know it can be a little shocking, and, like, to your point, no one likes to be pigeonholed so-- robert: right, exactly, and, of course, then the fact that, you know, you can be contrasted as "not your typical asian female" already shows you that people understand what that means, and that's not good. jessica: yup, exactly, exactly. robert: how about evolving for the future? what would you like to see the festival do more of or become? jessica: definitely. so i'm hoping to integrate more influencers, getting more content 'cause i think something that really we face as an issue this year was definitely curating more content, right, so really going out there and finding these filmmakers and really showcasing this talent and giving them that
platform, so making the platform grow. i also wanna see it grow digitally, so as you know, social media, getting more digital with it, you know, growing the social media content. from that perspective, i hope to see that grow as well. robert: and it makes it more accessible, filmmaking for those people. jessica: exactly, exactly. well, and, hopefully, maybe streaming. i would love to stream it live globally. that's something that i would love to see the filmfest evolve into. robert: wow, a lot of big plans. jessica: trying, trying. robert: yes, yes. well, good luck. i'm looking forward to seeing some of the things going on there. jessica: yes, we can't wait for you to join us on june 3. thank you so much. robert: congratulations. jessica: thank you. robert: all right, well, the silicon valley asian pacific filmfest on sunday, june 3, from 6 to 10 p.m., at camera 3, in downtown san jose. for tickets and more information, go to nbcbayarea.com. and, wait, there's still more coming up. we have details of new artistic works and exhibits, including at the san francisco lgbt center, at the asian art museum in san francisco, and the frameline42 film festival, so stay right there.
there are some unique and fascinating shows and exhibits coming to the bay area, starting with "heartbreak," an art exhibition by appendix, a collection of asian women and nonbinary artists. it runs through may 31st at the san francisco lgbt center at 1800 market street in san francisco. then it's "divine bodies presents: these bodies sing of home," a celebration and invocation of home through poetry, dance, and other forms of interdisciplinary performance art. it will be at the asian art museum in san francisco, on thursday, may 31, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and frameline42 film festival, which we have featured on our show before, it runs from june 14 through the 24th, with venues throughout san francisco's castro neighborhood, and the opening night and gala will feature the film "transmilitary," a documentary of four transgender troops at the front lines of america's fight for lgbtq rights.
and you can get more details on all of our events at nbcbayarea.com, and we are also on social media, facebook and twitter, so check us out and tell us what you think. and we wanna thank all of our guests for being with us today. we'll be back next week and every week here on "asian pacific america," so we'll see you then, and thanks for watching, and we wihere at nbc bay area,cenesd to celebrate asian pacific american heritage month, as well as our growing up asian contest winners. thanks for watching.
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california values senator dianne feinstein i am waiting. >> we got you. we got you. >> the stuff you see in movies. >> we want people to be respectful at the national anthem. >> good morning and welcome to sunday today on this may 27th. i'm willie geist. i hope you're enjoying the long memorial day weekend. if you're in the south it's been an indoor kind of weekend as the first named tropical system of the season is set to make memorial day a wash out for millions in florida and along the gulf coast. we will show you the storm agent path adds it moves north. plus an american is waking up a