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Asian American actors attend Brain Trust Summit in Shanghai

By Zhang Kun | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-12-14 16:26

There is no better time to be an Asian American artist in the film and entertainment world than now, according to writers and filmmakers participating in the Pearl Studio’s annual Brain Trust Summit on Dec 13.

Pearl Studio started hosting the creative summit in 2015, inviting artists, producers and other talents in the film and entertainment industries around the globe to meet at the studio headquarters in Shanghai for three days of brainstorming, goal exploration and project ideation.

This year, the event was attended by actor, director and producer Daniel Dae Kim, who was first known for his performance in the TV series Lost, actress Margaret Cho, a five-time Grammy Award nominee and one of the 50 best stand-up comics named by Rolling Stone Magazine, as well as Richard LaGravenese, an Emmy and Oscar nominated writer who penned The Bridges of Madison County, The Fisher King and Behind the Candelabra.

The discussion on "Creating for Awakening Audiences" was a major highlight of this year’s event.

"The Brain Trust Summit has become highly anticipated within the creative community in China, not only because of our history of curating such exciting and renowned guests, but even more so because there is a palpable change that is occurring with respect to representation of unheard voices in global entertainment," said Peilin Chou, creative director of the studio and the moderator of the forum.

Previously, the Pearl Brain Trust Summit had drawn participants such as Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz, Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang and actress Joan Chen.

Asian American artists have gone through great challenges to finally gain a voice for themselves, according to the forum participants. During the summit, Kim recalled his first breakthrough – the time he played a Korean plane crash survivor in Lost. “It was a significant moment, more important than any other, because it was the first time I started to make a living doing this career.”

Kim recalled how he was once told by an agent: "You are not going to be a star, just a utility player."

In contrast, Asian American artists often found themselves "overworked" today because of the demand for more diversity and representative in the industry, said Cho.

The actress was also surprised that the film Crazy Rich Asians was not well received in Asia despite being a hit in the US. There has always been a disconnection between Asian Americans and "real" Asians in the entertainment industry, Cho said.

As such, the forum called for artists of different cultural backgrounds to work together to build a bridge that connects emotions of all humanity and breaks down cultural barriers.

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