Jon M. Chu - how the internet changed visibility for Asian Americans

Asian Enough


And if you could ever like yourself as the subject of a story it's like it almost takes a work of imagination to like you know. See that who you are can. Yes object store. I mean I basically grew up in. I think that's part of both my power and my weakness is like. I grew up in an environment in the Silicon Valley in the eighties and the nineties. And so I know that perspective because I grew up in the perspective of like Oh are Asians the other when you're surrounded by it. You are indoctrinated it and so you know what they're thinking and I grew up in a Chinese restaurant as well. So the fears of what people think of you are completely intertwined in your brain and in your heart. I think the Internet changed so much because when I watched youtube video and for instance and dance like I saw how fast the perspective of what Asians are as dancers in the dance world. When I started Asians were known as amazing hip hop dancers. But when I went to those tournaments and these these these conferences whereas they're six thousand Asia American dancers and their amazing hip hop dancers. And that's where they Kaba. Modern was job. Jabotinsky was there. Were all these amazing answers. And the world didn't know about it and in the span of like four or five years everybody knew about it and suddenly it's like. Oh Asians condense. When did you start going to these dance and I went? Let's see my cousin was going to San Diego State. And so she'd be like you have to come see this because you like dance and this is incredible and so. I want to say it was like two thousand six two thousand five. The collaboration or which dance competition was this They Will Aberration Star. Collaboration collaboration but there's also other ones but data for the first time. And that's when I did step up to I was like when I was creating sabotage like crews because I've seen these crews And Job Lock is like the. All Star like they weren't there was no ABC. At the time there was no nobody knew them they had never been filmed before so we got them very very early. But witnessing the shift of people seeing agents dancers and stink. Oh there can be the best. When you see these Korean dancers in those Uniqlo ads or in missy Elliott videos like it changed and I could see how fast that oh it just takes an example. I love that you have always seemed to love dance and music and sort of gravitated towards those areas in your work. Obviously I remember. I went to the set of your web series. You're super can't series the St shooting like a showdown seen in the town true we had. They're kicking us out in fifteen minutes so he just shoot like our whole last episode at fifteen minutes. It was insane. I was I was there. It was pretty great. And you really between that project and the step up movies and the Adam Chu dance crew. Which I'm GonNa make you explain to turn around and the Internet back then but you really seem to to be able to lean into these interests of yours but at the same time create company of talent like Harry Shum Junior. Got So many greats spotlights through your works with him and so many other dancers got on my rematch. Cast Nets smarr. All that stuff was crazy. It was crazy times. How did that like what? What kind of role did that project? First of all. How do you describe it now? Looking back I mean we were early and Youtube. There's two thousand seven two thousand eight. Maybe I don't know maybe two thousand eight nine somewhere around there and basically we had done step up to and Miley Cyrus had watched the movie and so she called our fourteen year old star of that movie atoms. Vanni who played Moose in the movie and left a message. He didn't answer he she him as I loved you in that movie congrats and didn't leave a number and so she's like fifteen or sixteen and he's fourteen. He calls me like. Oh my Gosh Miley Cyrus just called me. Can you get me her number? I'm like a I don't know how to get her now to call her age. He's like Yeah Asia. No I'm not going to do that but she was already had a youtube channel and we had already were thinking. Hey we should do some videos on youtube thing and so I was like she has her best friend. Mandy. Who's a dancer like? Let's challenge them to a dance battle and just challenger and maybe she'll answer because she knows who you are so we got our crew together and made this crazy video challenging her to a dance battle and two days later she answered and she had the biggest youtube channel at the time This is at the height of her sort of power. And when she answered us She got all her celebrity. Friends made it like music video and got included channing. Tatum and Jenna Dewan in their video. Which is kind of a slap in the face to us. We'll man dance battling real though we should. We should resolve more things. Thought those this was west side story digital like this real shit and people online like really got into it. People who hated Miley could be on our side and then people who love it could be on her side and we made another video. After and we pulled out our Rolodex we got like Sandler Lindsay Lohan. We got Chris Brown before the incidence of Diana. Ross Amanda bines before here incidents. We've got a lot of people. And then we got a huge amount of his we've got millions and millions of hits and at that time it was big and so then she answered again with like helicopters and Ryan secret and all these people about this whole thing which I remember it being just so huge but it's kind of an example of growing an Internet age community in a way very very like demonstrably has power. I mean you've also worked with Justin bieber twice and saw how how strong his phantom is. So it's kind of cool to see the Asian American community rally around Craze Rich Asians and that came out not that at all at all related to one another safe. You know all these I mean they are little bit though. That's that's what I wanted to ask about his Asian American dance crews and southern California's. Such a thing you know I went to Ucla. Watch them and it's so cool to kind of hear you talk about how. Yeah Yeah I mean I you know. And Jabber walkies like weren't they on like America's best dance crew or something like that but that was that was when like the world got to know them but before that they were in ACDC dance crew before they were actually as during while they were on there. They were in step up before they were ever On match you put you put the Jabber walkies on the map that you represented elsewhere. We film them for those for sure. I had already made my first studio movie and yet I still felt like when I would watch youtube. This is like energy and I reminded myself that. I didn't have to ask permission for anything like I could have a camera. I know how to edit and I ended all the. Are you to battle videos? I didn't have to answer to anybody. And that's an amazing confidence builder and powerful thing to know that you have at your fingertips and you can have millions of people watching it tomorrow. Not next week. When a marketing company goes not with the press release like just releasing it. There was a big lesson to me during that time knowing that I have no excuses not to make stuff at any moment that I wanna make

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