The top three finalists for the 2018 HBO APA Visionaries short film competition include Director Feng-I Fiona Roan’s short “Jiejie”, “June” directed by Huay-Bing Law and the Maritte Go directed film, “Remittance”. 

HBO’s Asian Pacific American Visionaries, is a short film competition that was created in 2016 to encourage and provide emerging APA directors a place to showcase their work.  Sponsored by HBO, the panel of judges include HBO executives, industry leaders and fellow APA filmmakers.  This year’s competition asked filmmaker’s to explore the concept of “home” in creative and innovative ways. 

Jiejiedirected by Feng-I Fiona Roan follows the story of two young sisters who are raised by their single immigrant mother in Los Angeles during 1997. On the sisters’ first day at church, older sister Fen Liang betrays her little sibling, Ann fueling an unprecedented outburst since their immigration. Taipei born Roan, received her Directing MFA from the American Film Institute.  Roan’s projects focus on strong female leads as well as explores their relationships in an “intimate, familial, naturalistic atmosphere.” 

June” is set in 1955 and is a story of a Chinese Wife who tries to fit in at her husband’s Texas University graduation party.  The short is directed by Huay-Bing Law whose films have premiered at numerous Film Festivals including the San Diego Asian Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest, Lone Star, Hawaii International and Austin Film Festival.

The Maritte Go directed film, “Remittance” is inspired by Go’s immigrant family experience and follows a Filipino cruise worker who receives a phone call that her son is in the hospital. Filipina American Go received her Masters in Film/TV Production from USC.  Fueled by her attraction for horror films, she is currently in preproduction to direct and write a horror anthology produced by Radio Silence.

"HBO is proud to not only be part of the dialogue about media diversity but also leading new conversations around it," stated Jackie Gagne, VP Multicultural Marketing at HBO. "With Asian Pacific American Visionaries, we are empowering communities through representation while celebrating great artistic talent."

"In order for progress and change to be possible for Asian Americans in Hollywood, the major studios and networks must find ways to work together with our community," said Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications, the organization that produces the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. "The Asian Pacific American Visionaries program demonstrates HBO's continued industry excellence and sets an example for other companies who are serious about diversity."

"HBO is a network that continues to break new ground with both its award-winning programs and commitment to developing diverse talent," said Michelle K. Sugihara, Executive Director of CAPE. "Asian Pacific American Visionaries perfectly aligns with our organization's core principles of creating new opportunities for APA artists and advancing culture through entertainment."

The top three films will premiere at the upcoming Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in April 2018 and will be offered the opportunity to license their film to premiere exclusively on HBO during May 2018; to coincide with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Thomas Orlina, Entertainment Producer, Host & Creator of "Your Time with Thomas"

For as long as Thomas Orlina can remember, he has always been glued to the TV, watching the morning news programs and being intrigued by the television anchors. At the age of 5, while most kids were busy playing, Orlina would make up his own news segments and pretend to be a reporter with his father who would play his camera man. He knew then that being in front of the camera, entertaining and informing the audience was his calling.


"As my dad and I pretended to do those imaginary news segments, I just remember loving being in front of the camera and feeling so comfortable. It was so much fun and it just came naturally to me! I just always assumed that’s what I’d do when I grew up."

Now years later, Filipino American Thomas Orlina is an unstoppable force in the entertainment industry. He currently works on several of the most well-known entertainment companies including AfterBuzz TV and Warner Bros. and Orlina does not shy away from working on numerous projects at the same time, just like his role models, Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres.

“I think Ryan and Ellen have worked so hard to get to where they are, seeing how they’ve evolved over the years has given me inspiration to never give up and take on multiple projects at the same time.”

Thomas Orlina received his big break working at TMZ where he learned what being in the Hollywood business was really like.

“I learned very early on that this business moves so fast! If you’re not ready in an instant when opportunity arises, then you might be in the wrong industry!”

Currently, Thomas works at AfterBuzz TV as a host and red carpet correspondent. When asked about his experience at AfterBuzz, he says “The great Maria Menounos and Keven Undergaro (who are also the creators) have inspired me to work on improving my hosting skills and have shown me how to be a multi-dimensional host. That means having the ability to handle different genres of programming, and take on subject matter that is either lighthearted and fun, or more serious subjects. They’ve given me a lot of key pointers on how to separate myself from the rest of the field.”

And he has definitely separated himself from everyone else.  2017 was a successful year for the producer and host.  In addition to covering numerous red carpet premieres, hosting the after show for Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York,” Orlina got his first Producer job at C Squared, where his main responsibility was to create original entertainment news segments.

But perhaps Orlina’s biggest accomplishment was the premiere of his original self-produced show, “Your Time With Thomas” an eight part YouTube series which not only takes the audience through different parts of Southern California (and one episode in Vegas), but more importantly, captures Thomas’ personal life as he deals with topics that most of us can relate to; including friendship, dating, community, family and his Filipino culture. One of his main goals in producing “YTWT” was to inspire others.

“I told myself at the very start of this, if I was going to make a show, I wanted it to have meaning and provide inspiration to the viewer. At the end of each episode, I have a segment called “Takeaway” which allows me to incorporate my mantra which is to always end things on a high note. That’s why in each episode, I leave you with a message of hope and inspiration that you can hopefully take with you and carry over into your own life.” He adds “I think certain life experiences have made me the way I am. I grew up feeling like I had to portray myself a certain way for people to like me but later in life i realized that wasn’t the way I wanted to live. When I decided to let my true self shine through and let go of worrying about what others might think, I gained so much confidence. Now I’m in a place where I’d like to give that same confidence to people who might have felt like me growing up.”


Orlina’s series has definitely resonated with many. His episodes garner thousands of views on YouTube. When asked about the success of “YTWT,” Orlina says, “We live in a world now where people are looking for what I like to call “snackable” content and with the short length of the episodes (about 8 mins or so) and the many different topics we offer, it’s really appealing to almost every demographic. Whether people are drawn to the subject matter of the episodes or the travel aspect or perhaps the messaging in the takeaways, those are all things that make it stand out as unique content and the reason why people connect so well with the show.”

So it comes as no surprise that Season 2 of “Your Time With Thomas” is in the works. In addition, Orlina is excited to announce a spinoff.

 “This year I’m premiering what I’m calling a “spin off” of YTWT which is going to be titled, “Your Time With Thomas: The Experience.” It’s a video log format which will be more intimate than my original show. The videos will be shorter and the way I’m producing each of them will be fresh and exciting for viewers. This is not to be confused with, “Your Time With Thomas: The Shuffle,” which is already an interactive segment where we feature fans of the show asking questions and providing feedback. It’s been such a rewarding experience to expand and create more unique and intriguing content to continue building the brand and expanding viewership. For the next season, you’re going to see even more of me, so look out! I’ve been approached with some interesting opportunities, so I’m weighing out my options now and I’ll try and take on as much as I can and say “yes” whenever possible! I’m excited about all of the possibilities!”


"Now for 2018, it’s going to be about looking towards my future like, Where do I want to be 5 years from now? 10 years from now? With that in mind, I’m really going to focus on what I need to do to get there and take the steps necessary to make my vision of the future a reality."

To watch episodes of “Your Time with Thomas,” head to and to learn more about Thomas Orlina, follow him on social media @thomasorlina or visit his website at


Christie Hsiao of Serenity Media Group raises awareness for Alzheimers in her latest project

Serenity Media Group Founder, CEO and Executive Producer, Christie Hsiao is working on an independent film based on Pat Moffett’s critically acclaimed book, “Ice Cream in the Cupboard”. 

“I am so excited to have a young, talented group of filmmakers and an amazing cast to be a part of this project,” says Hsiao. “Pat Moffett’s book is so timely, he tells a beautiful story about Early Onset Alzheimer’s and how it affects a loving marriage. I was so compelled to bring his book to the screen to raise awareness and support families and caregivers around the world to better take care of themselves and patients. This is a love story everyone can relate to, to know when to let go and move on,”

 Christie Hsiao, Founder/CEO/Executive Producer of Serenity Media Group

Christie Hsiao, Founder/CEO/Executive Producer of Serenity Media Group

 “Ice Cream in the Cupboard” follows the story of a loving married couple; Carmen and Pat.  After a series of unsettling events which include Carmen physically attacking her husband Pat, and not being able to find her way back home, Pat begins to wonder what is happening to his wife.  They soon discover that Carmen has early onset Alzheimer’s. As Carmen’s condition worsens, Pat finds solace in his memories of their life together. 

The film, which stars Jaime King, Tobin Bell, Dana Ashbrook, Andy Dick, Sean Whalen and AmberFrank is scheduled to be released in the Summer of 2018.

For more information on Christie Hsiao or her company Serenity Media Group, you can heat to

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Magician Kevin Li

Magician Kevin Li has been performing magic for several years and was just recently featured on the CW’s show “Penn and Teller Fool Us” where he not only wowed and amazed the audience, but left the silent Teller emotional and in tears.  Although it took him several seasons of auditioning to finally make it on the nationally televised program, Li never faltered. When asked what kept him going and auditioning Kevin said, What kept me motivated to try out again for the show after getting cut multiple times is loving what I do. No matter who you are and what you want to do, if you truly love what you do, why not try out? It isn’t a waste of time if you are passionate about what you love. If you fail, you didn’t lose anything but gain more experience. If you succeed, you are put on a larger platform to showcase who you are and inspire more people.”

Among Li’s other proud accomplishments include being one of the very few Asian American magicians who perform at the exclusive and legendary Magic Castle in Hollywood.  Kevin first heard of this opportunity through his father who mentioned to him that there was a Junior Society at the Magic Castle for kids ages 13-20.  Li made it through after his first audition and admits that he owes a great amount of his success to the Castle. 

Li was introduced to magic first-hand through his grandfather.  However, it wasn’t until he started performing in front of his family, friends, as well as strangers, that he realized this was something he was extremely passionate about.  Kevin recalls, “the magic brought out a child-like wonder in them, similar to when one sees a balloon fly away for the first time or eating cotton candy for the first time.”

Kevin Li’s approach to magic is distinctive in that he incorporates a story or reason to his performances.  “I want my magic to speak for itself through the story behind it.  At the end of the day, I want my audience to be engaged with what’s happening and maybe even take meaning from it afterwards.” He also has an adoration for Street Magic and credits David Blaine as one of his inspirations.  “It was always amazing to see him walk up to these diverse strangers and connect with them instantly through ordinary objects he used.” Kevin describes.  In several of Li’s videos, you can see him doing the same, connecting with strangers through a packet of gum, a deck of cards or a person’s cell phone.

Kevin lives by three standards when it comes to his magic – Modern, Meaningful, and MemorableModern - in that the objects he use are nothing out of the ordinary but rather familiar and every day items that you already carry.  Meaningful, in a way that the magic has to have meaning.  And finally, Memorable. stemming from his own interpretation of his favorite quote by Maya Angelou, “Your audience may forget my name and face, but they will never forget the true astonishment they have felt.”

For more information on Kevin, you can head to his Instagram and Facebook pages @kevinlimagic.

Kristina Wong's "How To Pick Up Asian Chicks"

Once again, Kristina Wong successfully uses her comedic creative skills to shine the light on the absurd and obnoxious self-published books from 6 self proclaimed, “expert” white men giving tips on how to pick up Asian women.


In Wong’s youtube series, “How To Pick Up Asian Chicks” notable Asian ladies read excerpts from 6 books a la “Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” style.  Each 2-minute episode is dedicated to reviewing one self-published book written by a self-proclaimed “expert” on Asian women. Several of the books reviewed include, “Everyman’s Guide to Asian Sex,” “Asian MILF Hunting,” and “How to Get an Asian Girlfriend”.

Tips range from Yelp being one of the best places to meet Asian women, Vietnamese women will tolerate an older man as long as he’s got a fat wallet, and Asian women are very insecure because of the communist experience on "it’s people". (Yes, you read correctly). 

kristina wong series 2.jpg

Featured commentators include porn star and author Asa Akira, actor Amy Hill (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Unreal”), actor Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (“Modern Family”), comedian Jenny Yang, actresses Lynn Chen and Michelle Krusiec. 

As Series Creator Kristina Wong says, “I’ve infiltrated the pickup artist scene for years, crashed their conventions, and made art about their ‘techniques.’ These guys spread misinformation on Asian American women, and their books are ripe for dissection. It’s time to flip the script on the submissive Asian woman stereotype and upend its root cause--white supremacy.”

In support of the series, Wong created the hashtag #HowNOTtoPickUpAsianChicks which has become an active forum for discussing the lousy ways men try to pick up on Asian women.

Here is a look at one of the episodes.

You can head to Kristina Wong's youtube channel to view the entire series.

Lena Khan's "The Tiger Hunter" Special Screening

The Japanese American National Museum will host a special screening of Lena Khan’s film, "The Tiger Hunter", on Wednesday August 30th, which will be followed by a Q&A with Khan and lead actor Danny Pudi. 

“The Tiger Hunter” tells the story of Sami Malik, played by Danny Pudi, who travels from India to the United States to become an engineer, in hopes of impressing his childhood crush and his father who is a legendary tiger hunter.  However, Malik’s goal does not go as planned and is forced to take a low paying job.  He, along with his quirky group of friends decide to convince his crush that he is more successful than he really is.


"The Tiger Hunter" premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Film Festival where it was presented with the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film.  The move is set to open in US theaters on September 22nd.

For more info or to RSVP for the special screening on August 30th at 7pm in JANM, you can head to:

"The Tiger Hunter" also stars Jon Heder, Iqbal Theba, Kevin Pollack and Karen David.  Check out my 2016 interview with Writer/Director Lena Khan and Producer Megha Khadakia. 



2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

The 33rd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicked off on April 27th with the screening of Justin Lin’s film, “Better Luck Tomorrow”. It’s hard to believe that it was 15 years ago when I first saw this movie. So much has happened since then, and at the same time, it's bittersweet to see that not much has changed. We can still relate to the characters of the film as well as their storylines.

I have been a huge supporter of the LAAPFF for several years and am always thrilled to see which movies will be screening.  The films being showcased are always some of the best and do a wonderful job in representing the talented filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors in our APA community. This year was no different.  

One example of this was Justin Chon’s movie, and Sundance Audience Award winner “Gook” which takes place during the 1992 LA Riots. “Gook” has received numerous positive reviews, including a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.7 rating on IMDB. Samuel Goldwyn also picked up the North American rights for the film, which is scheduled to be released sometime in August. “Gook” is screening at the LAAPFF Orange County on Wednesday, May 10th.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Chon throughout the years - from his “Twilight” roles to “Seoul Searching” and his other directorial debut movie, “Man Up.”   It’s such a thrill to see him go from talented actor, to director and writer. I cant wait to see what else Justin has in store for us.

I also had the opportunity to be a juror for the Shorts Documentary competition; which was also the first time this category was created.  What an honor!  Each of the short documentaries in the competition was told in their own beautiful way. The other jurors and I had a difficult time reaching a decision. 

In the end, The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Alisa Yang for her documentary, “Please Come Again” which centered on her story and the history of the love hotels in Japan.  After watching the short, I was completely speechless.  “Please Come Again” incorporated only text and visuals of the love hotels and the different meanings each room has held throughout the years.  It was not only a documentary on Alisa’s life, but also used the love hotels as a metaphor for the female body.

The Best Cinematography award was presented to “Forever, Chinatown”.  “Forever, Chinatown” follows the life of 81 year old artist, Frank Wong, who, for the past 40 years has recreated memories of his childhood, living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, through miniature models.  The cinematography for the short docu captured every intricate detail of the film, including Wong’s touching, nostalgic and some times bittersweet memories, the miniature models he created and was able to lucidly encapsulate the tone of the documentary. 

Jennifer Zheng took home the Best Director award for her documentary “Tough”.  Zheng’s choice in creating an animated documentary was an interesting but well told one.  “Tough” tells the story of a Chinese mother and British born daughter who openly talk as adults for the first time and honestly discuss growing up in their respective backgrounds and the cultural issues they struggled with.

Congratulations to all of the winners.

The Orange County portion of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is still going on until May 11th.  For more information and for tickets on the movies currently screening, you can head to


What happens when 4 Broadway stars and mothers get together during a play date with their children?

Well, if you’re Joan Almedilla, Ai Goeku Chueng, Deedee Magno Hall and Jennifer Paz, you create a team called, “The Mama Bares”, 4 fierce and humorous women sharing their stories of motherhood, careers, and family through music.  Oh, and they just happen to be extremely talented singers who have graced the stage in Broadway productions which include Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, and Wicked.

This August, East West Players, the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country, will kick off their 51st Anniversary Season, titled Radiant,  with the World Premiere of The Mama Bares in Concert: Once Upon a Play Date. 

“We love every opportunity to get together, eat, share stories about our families, have fun and celebrate motherhood. Once Upon a Play Date is all of these things (except the eating part) set to some of our favorite songs and a few special guests.” says Deedee Magno Hall. “We are grateful to East West Players for inviting us to debut our very first Mama Bares show, and we're excited to share our stories of love, life and Legos!”

In addition, special guests for The Mama Bares in Concert: Once Upon a Play Date will also include their spouses - musician David Cheung, American Idol finalist Anthony Federov, and Broadway veteran Cliffton Hall with media production by Charles Uy and Directed by Giovanni Ortega.

Watch “The Mama Bares” music video parody for Lorde’s single, “Royal” titled, “Rolls Royce” which was recently picked up by

About the cast:

Joan Almedilla landed the role of Kim in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon, and went on to portray the role of Fantine on the Third National Tour of Les Miserables. Her other credits include the Broadway National Tour ofJesus Christ SuperstarSongs for a New World, and It’s Only Life. She has performed in several productions at East West Players including Road to SaigonKrunk Fu Battle Battle, ChessTea with Music, and most recently, Criers for Hire.

Ai Goeku Cheung has appeared on Broadway in the role of Ellen in Miss Saigon. She later performed at East West Players in Beijing SpringLittle Shop of Horrors, and Manzanar the Musical.

Deedee Magno Hall was cast as Kim in the Broadway production and International Tours of Miss Saigon. Her other theater credits include the Broadway production and First National Tour of If/Then with Idina Menzel, and Nessarose in the First National Tour of Wicked. She made her East West Players debut as Mrs. Walker in The Who’s Tommy. Her television credits include Disney Channel’s The New Mickey Mouse ClubAs The World TurnsSister Act 2 to name a few. Deedee has recorded 4 albums with Hollywood Records’ pop group, The Party, & is currently the voice of Pearl on Cartoon Networks’ Emmy nominated animated series, Steven Universe, where she received a 2014 Behind the Voice Actor Award. 

Jennifer Paz played the title role in Miss Saigon on the First National Tour, and received the 2008 Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress. She was nominated for a 2009 Ovation Award for her work in The Last Five Years with East West Players. Her Broadway and regional highlights include Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, The Who’s Tommy, Evita, In The Heights, and David Henry Hwang's adapted Flower Drum Song. She is currently the voice of recurring character Lapis Lazuli on Cartoon Networks’ Emmy nominated animated series, Steven Universe. She also received a 2014 Behind the Voice Actor Award.

Performances of “The Mama Bares in Concert: Once Upon a Play Date” will run from August 25th through September 4th at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts in Los Angeles.  For tickets or more information, you can head to or contact 213-625-7000.