Gender, Race, Social Justice, Interviews

This one-woman force of nature is creating space for Asian Americans, one episode at a time

Growing up watching TV and movies, the Asians I saw were almost always Kung Fu fighters, foreigners, prostitutes, or nerds.

Journalist Amy Lieu is no stranger to this. Although she’s worked for a slew of diverse platforms like NBC Asian America, SoCal Connected, and El Segundo TV, Lieu is taking media representation into her own hands by spearheading her original one-woman multi-platform talk show, #AmyLieuPresents.

She is shaking up the status quo by centering it on a community she sees so often erased from mainstream media narratives: Asian Americans.

Lieu is taking representation into her own hands with #AmyLieuPresents. Click To Tweet

We spoke to Amy Lieu about building her own talk show from the ground up, the need for diverse and accurate Asian American representation in media, and how she wants to use her platform to empower Asian Americans and women.

The Tempest: What inspired you to create #AmyLieuPresents?

Amy Lieu: Growing up, the images I saw in movies and TV of Asian Americans were almost always Kung Fu fighters, foreigners, prostitutes or nerds, with women as sexual objects or side characters.

I want to change that. I want to see more positive, normalized characters for Asian Americans and stronger female roles. That’s why I created the #AmyLieuPresents Talk Show.

In your show’s description, you include that it’s from an Asian American woman’s perspective—why do you think this perspective so important?

This perspective is so important because diversity is important. Media should reflect various races, ethnicities, and cultures, not one monolith. When there are different voices in media, it helps fight against oppression. I feel strongly about marginalized communities [like] Asian Americans and women because that’s my background. I’ve even had people tell me that they resonate with my show because I represent them.

Media should reflect various races, ethnicities, and cultures. Click To Tweet

You’ve interviewed a diverse array of Asian American guests over the course of your show, but who has been your favorite and why?

If I had to choose one, it would be with my mother about her experience as a refugee of the Vietnam War. My mom recounts how she endured a treacherous boat ride to a refugee camp on Bidong Island. Her boat was attacked by Thai pirates, [who] were very real and had bandannas across their heads with swords and guns. Conditions in the Bidong Island refugee camp in Malaysia were also grueling.

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The interview was in the Chinese dialect, Teo-Chew or Chiu-Chow, which originated from Guangdong, a province in Southern China. There is a diaspora of people all over the world [who] speak this dialect.

My mom’s interview had an outpour of positive feedback from the Teo-Chew community. I plan to create more content and videos in Teo-Chew with her. I want to represent this part of my heritage and preserve the dialect.

What do you think makes #AmyLieuPresents different from any talk show out there right now?

I think what makes #AmyLieuPresents different is that it’s grown organically and built from the ground up—all from one person’s dream and passion to change the world. I think it’s rare to find a show that focuses on empowering women with an Asian American perspective. A lot of the dominant voices I hear are from men [who try to] portray women or even Asian and Asian American women.

It’s time to hear from the ladies.

There’s also the historical and pervasive erasure of Asian and Asian American voices and stories in Hollywood. It dates back to the 1930s, when Luise Rainer played the Chinese female protagonist of “The Good Earth,” to present day where Emma Stone was cast in “Aloha,” Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell,” Zach McGowan in “Ni’hau,” – the list goes on and on.

I want to advocate against this with my show.

It's rare to find a show with an Asian American perspective. Click To Tweet

#AmyLieuPresents is also from a millennial perspective and uses digital platforms and social media to connect with its audience. I developed an Empowerment Quotes project, in which I hope to use the power of words to inspire others.

I use quotes, usually by women or about women, from various people I admire, and tailor them into the color theme of my show, which uses the bright and uplifting colors: teal and magenta. I’ve recently been invited to speak about them at the local Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library.

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How do you see #AmyLieuPresents growing within the next few years?

I want the show to explore more topics related to Asian Americans and women. I’d like to have each episode centered around a topic, [like] double eye-lid surgery among Asian American women and expanding that to plastic surgery among women in general. I saw that my mother’s interview on her refugee experience garnered a positive reaction, so I’m thinking about developing a series on refugees in the future.

Something else that I want to speak out more about on my show in the future is bullying and mental illness. I was bullied as a child, which led to stress and anxiety and wanting to be liked and accepted by others. I want to use my show’s platform to explore these topics and help others.

What’s your advice to Asian American women looking to create their own unique media platforms?

I would say times may get tough, and you might question and doubt yourself, but don’t give up. There are different ways to achieve your dreams.

If you do what you feel passionate about, other avenues start to come up. Click To Tweet

Sometimes people think there is just one certain way to get to a goal, but if you just do what you feel passionate about, other avenues start to come up, and routes and dreams can pivot. You are your own meter.

 

You can watch #AmyLieuPresents here. You can also find Amy Lieu on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Alicia Soller

Alicia Soller

Alicia Soller is a first generation-born Filipinx American digital storyteller committed to uplifting the narratives of communities of color. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she received her B.S. in Journalism and began her involvement with community organizing. She currently does freelance writing, marketing and design work with non-profit organizations.

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