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“Tiger Cub” Mike Chang on Glee Gets an “Asian F” but an A in My Heart [Oh. That’s Good.]

Mike Chang "It's what I love to do" Glee Asian F Episode 3

Source: "Asian F" tag search

Mike Chang "It's never gonna be a waste of my time" Glee Asian F Episode 3

Source: "Asian F" tag search

Can’t lie.  I teared up when I watched Glee this week.  During the Glee Season 3 Episode 3 called “Asian F”, the usually quiet and non-singing Asian guy in the Glee Club, Mike Chang, gets a major storyline (finally). In this episode he’s confronted by his Asian (Not Tiger Mother but Father) dad for getting an A- in Chemistry (or what Glee called an “Asian F”) and gets support from his mom.

Mike Chang Glee Asian F Episode 3 Dancing with Mom Tamlyn Tomita

Mike Chang's mom is supporting his passion for dance! (sniffle. sniffle)

If I overlook the fact that the concept of an A- being equal to an F for Asians is played out and stereotypical, I really love the kind of conversation that Mike Chang’s storyline has stirred!  I really loved a lot of the posts supporting Mike Chang’s commitment to do what he loves – to dance and perform (and AWESOME animated GIFs that crop up on Tumblr).  But one in particular captured my heart…it’s a rundown of lessons learned by threesixninja:

  • You can’t always get what you want.
  • Never give up on your dreams. Even if your dreams for yourself aren’t the ones your parents have for you, live it and convince them otherwise thatthis is what you want to do. However, if your dreams would need you to step on others and ruin relationships, back off. Friends are more important than anything else.
  • You shouldn’t let one relationship change you. (I mean, look at Kurt, Mercedes!)
  • Sometimes you have to be faced with hard choices where in either choice, you hurt someone. Even if you try to let both have their own way, it wouldn’t be enough for the other. But then sometimes, you really have to choose who and/or what is more important to you.
  • If you don’t get what you want, celebrate the one who did. Don’t hate them for it. They may deserve or need it more than you do. You could have a million chances for that, but not a lot for the relationship you have with them.
  • The spotlight isn’t always on you.
  • You can always do better than your best if you try.
With all its faults in reinforcing the stereotype that Asian Americans have crazy high standards with cold-hearted parents, I really love that it’s a super high-profile moment in popular culture where a likeable and rather vulnerable character like that of Mike Chang can encourage people to see him as being more complex than simply his hot dance moves and quiet demeanor. More than just for Asian Americans, it’s great to have a young role model for kids to see that there is a world where parents can be supportive of your “non-traditional” career choices.
It warms my heart.
For an more in-depth analysis of the episode, check out Jeff Yang’s new corner of the blogosphere on the Wall Street Journal! Congrats Jeff Yang (um. No relation.)
Oh. I just can’t help myself. This was taken earlier this year at an awesome conference in Los Angeles put on by the great folks at Visual Communications. Teehee!
Jenny Yang with Harry Shum Jr Mike Chang on Glee C FilmFestival

The CreativeLife Podcast Ep.7: Quan Phung, Television’s “Cultural Translator” [Download] [Stream]

Episode 7 – Quan Phung

Whitney Live Taping at NBC Universal Studios - Jenny Yang with Quan Phung at Production Offices, August 30, 2011

Quan Phung, an Executive Producer of the NBC comedy "Whitney," handles the business to showcase the art. Pictured standing in front of Whitney actors' photos. Stuber Production Offices, August 30, 2011.

Former Fox Broadcasting Executive, television producer and Asian American arts community leader Quan Phung grew up translating between his Vietnamese heritage and American culture…

Download Episode 7 mp3 (right click on the link and click “Save As”): Quan Phung
Listen to Episode 7 with Wizzard Player: Quan Phung
Subscribe to The CreativeLife on iTunes: Quan Phung

…and is now bridging creative and business cultures in network television.

Jenny and Quan had a lot to discuss. They were both Coro Fellows in Public Affairs in Los Angeles.  Then Quan decided that producing was his passion rather than the business of politics and policy.  He is now Head of Television for Stuber productions and Executive Producer of a hot new NBC prime-time comedy, “Whitney.” (“Whitney” Thursdays, 9:30PM PST on NBC)

How does one journey from working in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to developing Emmy-award winning series like “How I Met Your Mother” and “My Name Is Earl for Twentieth Century Fox Television”?

We also sourced questions from Quan’s friends at, fellow Visual Communications Board member Phil Yu of, and Jenny’s colleagues – actors Daegan Palermo and Ben Whitehair, writer Brian Kane, screenwriter Jonathan Peters and television writer Josh Kamensky (Well, look at that! A veritable hit parade of Asian American blogging superstars and white guys with thoughtful questions).

Find out what a producer actually does for a show, how you get a job as a writer, the virtues of a multi-camera show, when executives decide to work with a comedic talent to develop a show, and whether Quan wears boxers or briefs (Just for the record, that last question? Not mine).

I don’t think that I put out that that I’m the Asian American male voice.  No. I’m also the immigrant voice.  I’m also the oldest son’s voice.  I’m also the San Diego-raised voice.  So there’s a lot of different things that I hopefully bring to the table besides just being an Asian American man.  Because I think that’s not acknowledging the diversity of what people are.

– Quan Phung, The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, Episode 7

Whitney on NBC - Thursdays 9:30PM PST

Whitney on NBC - Thursdays 9:30PM PST (SOURCE: NBC)

The short pilot episode audio clip of NBC’s “Whitney” featured in this podcast was used courtesy of NBC.

"Whitney" TV Show Live Taping at NBC Universal Studios, August 30, 2011 (Source: NBC Whitney)

"Whitney" TV Show Live Taping at NBC Universal Studios, August 30, 2011. I'm in the front to the left! (Source: NBC Whitney)

If you liked what you heard, please comment in iTunes AND donate by simply clicking the Paypal button at top right hand corner at


Episode 7 of The CreativeLife podcast features the powerhouse voices and beautiful music of independent artists Alice Tong (“Sayin’ Hi” and “Capitalist Junkie” from “please be brave before the lions they come”) and Sue Jin (“Cant’ Help Falling In Love” cover).

Alice Tong Music

Alice Tong Music


Alice Tong is singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist living in Oakland, CA. Her piano, guitar, ukelele, and harmonica playing are influenced by indie folk rock, jazz, and alt country, while her rich vocals are inspired by jazz, soul, and blues.

Her album of all-original songs entitled, “please be brave before the lions they come” was recorded in Los Angeles with a host of extremely talented musicians and producer/engineer Glenn Suravech (worked with Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Brett Dennen, Wallflowers, etc.).

Sue Jin Music

Sue Jin's soulful sounds featured in Episode 7 of The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang


Sue Jin is a soulful singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, an Associate Artist for Tuesday Night Cafe, and K-12 educator, who has performed on both television and radio.

Her album, “Worth the Tears” (2008) is available for review/purchase on iTunes.Her sophomore album, “Worthy” is scheduled to be released November, 2011.


And when you’re done listening to it…leave a comment at the end of this post, or on iTunes.  Send me your feedback and comments!  What did you like about the interview? What did you learn that you hadn’t thought about before?  What was something that you wanted to learn more about the creative process?  What question were you DYING for me to ask but I never did!?

WP Greet Box icon Thanks for visiting The CreativeLife podcast with Jenny Yang, a podcast & blog about the art, business, & soul of living the Creative Life. If you find this interesting, subscribe to the RSS feedvisit our Facebook Page or add us on Twitter!

My 5 Moments of Clarity at Live Studio Taping of NBC’s “Whitney”! [Podcast Relaunch Preview]

UPDATE 11/20/2011

So many folks have found my blog by searching for live Whitney taping tickets!  Well.  If you’re here because of that…here it is:  That’s the link to get yourself some live show tickets to watch the taping.  The Whitney show in NBC DID get picked-up for the full season so there will be plenty more shows to put on!

And if you’ve attended the live studio taping, be sure to come back and drop me a comment to let me know what YOUR experience was like!  Let’s compare notes.

Jenny Yang

The chances for success of a new TV show are probably as low as the success rates of opening a new restaurant.  So I was curious to get my first-hand sneak peek of NBC’s new fall comedy, “Whitney.”

Thanks to upcoming podcast relaunch guest, Quan Phung, I had a chance to attend a live-taping of the fifth episode of this much-ballyhooed female-driven comedy (The eponymous star is both show creator, writer, and Executive Producer).  (And, yes. I did just put side-by-side parenthetical statements. And I just used the word “ballyhooed.” Deal with it.)

Will “Whitney” be more “I Love Lucy” or more “The Paul Reiser Show“? The show premieres this fall on September 22nd and my relaunch podcast episode with Quan Phung will drop that same week.  You can decide for yourself!

My verdict on this fifth episode?: FUNNY!

Front Row Seats at NBC's Whitney Sitcom Taping

The audience warm-up comic gave me an autographed copy of the Whitney show program. Hm. What should I do with it? (Photo Credit: Michelle Ko)

Unfortunately, I cannot share photos of me lounging on the set (boo), stealing a pint of tasty seasoned shrimp from craft services (yum) or details of the plotline (funny!).

I CAN share 5 tangentially-related moments of clarity I experienced while sitting front row on hard seats for four and a half hours of Hollywood magic.

  1. Krumping has officially jumped the shark when a skinny white girl from the audience wearing a tight white mini-dress can win a $50 gift card by krumpin’ like she’s tryin’ to snap some vertabrae.
  2. Writing clever jokes that move a story forward and reflect interesting characters all within a handful of short scenes takes some SERIOUS skill.
  3. Multi-camera comedies shot in front of a live studio audience with stories built around stand-up comedy talent can work. All hail “Seinfeld,” “Roseanne,” and “Cheers.” ‘Nuff said.
  4. Punch lines are funnier when they are more specific.  Harry Potter > Warlock.
  5. Home-viewing experiences of sitcoms could be MUCH funnier if we can recreate the audience warm-up comic and booming party jams during commercial breaks.  “RAISE YOUR GLASS!”  “TO THE WINDOW! TO THE WAAALL!!!”

Other fun tidbits: met head writer and show runner Betsy Thomas (fierce funny lady coolness), saw brooding comedy manager legend and Executive Producer Barry Katz stand a foot in front of me, and saw how multiple takes with tweaked punchlines and writing make for better laughs.

Have you experienced live studio tapings of shows before? What was that like for you? Did you learn anything about the creative process? Did it inspire you? Please share a comment with me!

What Would YOU Ask a Network TV Show Producer? Prepping Interview with Quan Phung, NBC’s “Whitney”

WRITERS! ACTORS! COMICS! If you had a chance to ask questions of a show developer and producer like Quan, what would YOU ask?

Quick Update: Gearing up for my September relaunch and I’m excited to be interviewing Quan Phung! He’s an amazing producer with an exciting project this fall on NBC’s comedy lineup.

To whet your appetite, check out NBC’s Fall Preview show presented by comedian Whitney Cummings. She’ll tell you everything you need to know to navigate NBC’s new shows.


Whitney Cummings gives us the NBC Fall TV Lineup

Note to Self: Perform Every Gig Like THIS! Matt & Kim’s High Energy Synth-Rock Performance on Jimmy Fallon [Inspiration]

Did you see Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night? Matt and Kim!!! Whuuut?! I don’t know who they are, but they TORE THAT ISH UP with their high energy performance! I’m immediately a fan.  At one point, this synth-rock duo BOTH stood up on their seats and instruments completely connecting with the live audience.

And so what if their rabid positivity borders on that “God’s Pottery“-type creepiness (Last Comic Standing Video).  I buy it. [Side note: God’s Pottery are Swatties!]

LESSON LEARNED?: Perform EVERY gig like this!  Like this is exactly where you need to be.  Like this is exactly why you love what you do.  Like this is the first time you discovered how awesome music or performing can be.

Check it out for yourself below.  They have a new album out, “Sidewalks” (SPIN REVIEW) and will be on tour.

Matt & Kim on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Matt & Kim: Gotta play like this is EXACTLY where you need to be!

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