When I was down at AAIFF over last weekend, one of the films I wanted to make sure and catch was The Things We Carry - which ended up being one of the best Asian American films, and just movies in general, that I've seen as of late. On every single level - the story, the characters, the acting, the way it was filmed - I got lost inside it.
It took me to that other place.
Afterwards I got a chance to talk with Alyssa Lobit - who both wrote and stars in the film - and who was nice enough to answer some of my questions (even when I had to resort to capturing the interview on my iPhone - because apparently I'm just not that prepared).
Here's some of our conversation.
Did you consciously think about how you were going to portray Asian Americans in this film, or did you just say “We just want to have a story with Asian Americans?”
The latter, definitely. We just wanted to tell the story - and for me it was important to just tell a story where the people in the movie happened to be Asian because that’s kind of my experience in my life.
I’m a person and I happen to be Asian. My mom’s Korean – but I’m also mixed. So I have White culture - or he’s French Scottish by way of Oklahoma. So I have these two things happening. Neither one alone defines me.
I think that especially in the media and in Hollywood the way that’ll we know that Asian Americans are fully integrated in the mainstream is when people stop talking about them being Asian. So I kinda of wanted to go – yeah – and you know show things like they go to Korean food and have the mom speaking Korean because that’s just who she is, and they eat K-food because that’s what they do. It’s not a big deal. It’s not, well let’s all be real Korean and go eat K-Food – it’s just like no – let’s get something to eat. So hopefully we did that, because I wanted it to be that way.
Can you talk about some of the projects you’re working on?
I’ve written an indie romance called It’s All Love and it’s got a similar thing in the unique offbeat characters ‘cause that’s something that always attracts me - similar to Sonny’s friends - and these people that you look at and are like "They’re kind of interesting, or strange, or just, don’t make sense." I like to go talk to those people.
I’m also writing a sci-fi action, which actually, going to the Asian thing - the Asian actor thing - obviously a lot of Asian actors and actresses do the fighting, do the ninja stuff, whatever - and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think the same as with The Things We Carry, I’d like to do [in my sci-fi action] bad ass fight scenes - and they just happen to be Asian, not that it’s because it’s the only thing they can do.
Myself, I just think it’s - I don’t mind the roles, I think it’s the lack of roles we get so…
Well, and I think hopefully that’s changing and we’ll continue to just be…it’s all about integration, and just integrating everyone into everything. And it happens through festivals like this. And we have played festivals that were not Asian American - which that right there is us going like no - we’re being integrated and we’re integrating ourselves. And at the end of the day we’re all human beings - so I just want to remind people of that.
You kind of talk about the mixed experience. Did you want to say anything personal through the movie about the mixed experience?
No, in the same way that I didn’t want to address over the head that they’re Korean or Asian - kind of just put it out there. I mean we show the dad - he’s White. We show the mom who’s Korean. We don’t have a scene that explains this is my dad, this is my mom, and we are the offspring, which is how I wanted it to be. It’s just that that’s normal. It’s just a natural thing and it’s not a big deal. And in a weird way it ends up being one - other people do think it’s unique - which is cool. I love being mixed - but again, no one thing defines me. I’m not just mixed. I’m also from Los Angeles. I’ve been to UCLA. I have all these different little pieces that make me up.
Ok. Five best things about NYC?
Five Best Things?
Ok. So, well I’m staying at the Chelsea Hotel and it rocks. There’s so much history there and it’s amazing…I think you guys have LA Beat on the public transit, because there’s none in LA…weather, I don’t know…my hair’s a little frizzy so I think LA has that one, and there’s just a lot of artists everywhere. I mean I’ve met people, and they’re not all actors, and I think in LA, most of the people you meet are actors - even though I’m an actor too - but it’s just cool to have a mix.
A true melting pot mix of all these different flavors of people.
Okay I think that was only four…