I was at UC Irvine earlier this week giving a talk about my work. But before that classroom talk, I was on a panel with Al Jazeera!
If you know about freelancing, you know how crippling depression is to the workflow. Well, depression is crippling to everything. But the self-structured schedule of a freelancer can break a lot faster to depression. And when you are depressed, picking up the gigs to give your life meaning feels impossible. It’s a cycle that feeds itself.
I am happy to report that I am the happiest and most productive I’ve ever been in my life. After a decade of not figuring it out, I figured out the work-life balance thing and I wish I was here sooner. I’m glad life really started to kick up in my direction, because I almost gave up and started having kids!
And how am I spending this happiest year of my life? Talking about the years I was depressed! OH THE IRONY.
THINGS THAT UN-DEPRESS ME THIS MONTH!
1. Writing about misery for xoJane and finding a new audience!
A for-profit health website asked me to write an essay for no money about mental health for Mental Health Awareness Month. Because of my show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I have literally been dragging this dead horse around for for seven years. I resent being “Kristina Wong, who does the depression show”. I have other work and other identities, but none more in demand than “depressed Kristina”. The persona that everyone feels should be giving her time away for free– to fulfill the absence of “diversity” in the mental health dialogue. I’m tired of it. It takes a long time for me to write essays. I have bills just like everyone else.
After hours of excruciating writing, I asked the editor of that health website, “Can you give me $1 at least for this work?” The editor responded with, “No, but we get a of hits and we would love for you to fill the gap in Asian American voices on our site.” I was pissed that not only was I not worth $1, but that they tried to guilt me to fill their “diversity gap” for them for free. So I sold the essay to xoJane.com instead. I am also happy to report that Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-the Film is now a film that you can STILL buy!
2. Writing about being a “Trashy Reality TV star” for CNN!
On Al Jazeera earlier this week The Stream talking about the “Model Minority Myth.”
Al Jazeera sent a private car to my house to get me to the UCI campus and back because my talk at UC Irvine was an hour after this talk show. It was kind of awesome to step out of a town car onto the campus wearing a backpack!
4. Getting really badass mentions by other writers in their essays!
5. I’m giving a the graduation speech at UCLA in a few weeks!
In 2008, I was invited by the Department of English to be their commencement speaker. James Franco was in the graduating class, and well… the rest is tabloid history. I just got another invitation to give the graduation speech at UCLA June 15. This time it will be for the Asian Pacific Islander Graduation Ceremony on June 15! I’m feeling older and wiser and ready! And I’m so honored that people who will be making way more than I have made in my life as an artist, understand the value I might bring to their table.
6. My episode of “I am Asian American and…” is the most watched of the series!
According to MYX TV, my episode of “I’m Asian American and…” is the most watched of all the episodes!
Ah yes, the topical gift that keeps on giving…. white dudes who love Asian women. ZZZZZ……… I thought the world was done with this in 2000 when I launched bigbadchinesemama.com.
Had I known this old coat was going to revive my career like it has this past year (two TV appearances, a really awesome new manager in my Hollywood career, several essays gone viral, LA Times Feature, and a bunch of keynote speaking invites), I would have done the dog and pony show earlier!! Turns out, there’s a lot of places left to go on this topic. Including an entire reality show episode dedicated to me dating my way to racial reparations– my idea, not the network’s.
I was approached to do this show in January and we shot that same month. This aired on cable TV last week. It’s still available to watch online.
I never thought doing reality TV could be so awesomely fun. AND if I do say so myself, I’m pretty freaking funny. I knew being obsessed with the whole Flavor of Love Dynasty would pay off! I’m looking forward to flipping a table and having security people hold me back the next time around.
Here is an interview I did with MYX talking about the whole “reparations” concept and how this figures into my process as an artist.
And to answer your question. YES. These are all real guys. Not actors. The dates were all a lot longer and awkward than they play out in this 23 minute edit. And sometimes the producer had to step in and move the date along when I was going to punch the ginger in the face. But yeah. Real dudes.
I do this for my craft baby. And for justice. And the free food.
(From the LA Times) “LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 6, 2013 — Comedienne Kristina Wong seems to be up for the fight as her style and commentary can sometimes be bombastic. She was photographed at her home in Los Angeles on December 6, 2013. Wong caused a stir recently on a TV appearance lampooning the supposed popularity of Asian women on the dating scene. White men with Asian fetishes have long been victims of Wong’s unconventional wit. Through her outrageous personas, Wong has given voice to the frustrations of Asian American women tired of being exoticized and objectified.(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times) FYI EDITORS: THIS IMAGE WAS MADE WITH A HOLGA CAMERA.”
Prepare for my circle jerk of one. I hate it when people humblebrag, but screw humility, I earned this.
For the last few years, I’ve wanted off the hamster wheel of live touring. I wanted to build a bridge into a stronger (more sustainable?) Hollywood career which would leverage my skills to a bigger audience. “Taking a break” from the road means taking a pay cut. That’s not easy when you are a homeowner (3 years now!).
Exhaustion forced me to take fewer gigs this year and renew myself. I finished the improv training program at UCB, took a sketch and screenwriting class. I spent time outputting essays and short videos. The pay off for that transition has been AMAZING. I had a rough patch between April and late May when a financial planner (who was basically my parents reincarnated into a Jewish Lesbian) forecast doom and gloom in my retirement years if I continued my freelancer’s existence. It was a big enough scare that I started looking up nursing schools to apply to. But miraculously, in the last six months, the world threw me enough signs to stay the course.
13 Greatest Hits of ’13.
1. My play ran for three weeks in Miami!
I kicked off the New Year in Miami where my play CAT LADY was produced by Miami’s Mad Cat Theatre Company (Artistic Director: Paul Tei) and ran for three weeks to rave reviews. My parents came to Miami to see the show! I rarely get to run any of my shows over several weeks so it was a treat to get to live in Miami that long and see the show re-envisioned by a new cast and director. It was also interesting to revisit that work after a year break from its previous production.
2. I returned to the UK and did shows in Manchester and London.
After last year’s (really tiring) run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I reaped in two show offers in Manchester at Contact Theatre and a show at the BGWMC in London. It felt great to be back in the UK! I also got some time off to explore Berlin and Amsterdam.
4. My self-marriage was saved by the nose of a dog.I have no clue how people stay married for so long because I had been married to my wife, Kristina Wong for 5 years and have wanted to strangle her multiple times throughout our tumultuous self-marriage. On our 5th anniversary, I put our marriage up for public vote. The votes for divorce or staying together were tied. And thanks to a tie-breaking dog vote, my marriage was saved.
5. I stopped dating losers. Somehow losers come to me like hoarders to a yard sale. I am guilty of being lazy, frustrated, and complacent enough to keep them around. Can you blame me? The dating pool in Los Angeles, especially of those candidates brave enough to date a traveling badass performance artist like me is polluted with loserinos. I finally decided on a zero tolerance policy on people with anger issues, no ambitions, extreme brokeness, or an inability to commit. And with that change, everything got better. In all parts of my life.
6. My essays went viral. I thought the world was over talking about race. Nope. All that is old is new again.
With the exception of two transgressions in Amsterdam and Uganda, I’ve now been sober for two years. I knew I would continue on this non-alcoholic journey but wrote the following essay as if I really needed public input. It didn’t got as super viral as the other two essays, but it’s good writing. READ: I Miss Being a Drunk.
7. I made a bunch of shorts.
In Los Angeles, the dismissive advice given to artists is: “Make some videos and put them on Youtube.” Yes, it can be done, it’s also totally exhausting and a lot of work.Below… my work…
Inside the Background Actors Studio…
What’s the Worst Thing you Can Call a White Person?
Levy Tran Explains Racism (Colorlines called it a “Brilliant Takedown…”)
8. I killed it on FXX’s Totally Biased.
The Asian Fetish essay I wrote for xoJane caught the attention of the staff at FXX Totally Biased! I’ve decided that any time I get invited to do TV, I must treat it like the last invite I’ll ever get. I flew to NYC to shoot the show and laid down the best Five Minutes and Fifty-Eight seconds of late night TV ever seen.
9. I have an awesome new Hollywood manager who gets me!
It turns out that the executive producer of Totally Biased (who is also Kamau’s manager) had been a longtime fan of mine since my fake mail order bride site in 2000! She even saw Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest live in 2008. After my TV appearance, she took me on as a client. So far it’s been great! I’m already working with a cool college booker and have some amazing network meetings lined up next year! And whereas other Hollywood managers have not always been able see how my live work translates to TV/Film– she gets me and has a ton of ideas for the future. It’s really great. 10.I made a rap album in Uganda.
My rap album is for sale at http://kristinawong.bandcamp.com!
Not only did I go to Uganda by myself for a month, I made a rap album with local rappers while there. “Rap Album in Uganda” was never on my bucket list, but after this feat, I can die happy!
11.My film was picked up for distribution by Cinema Libre.
My director Mike Closson and I worked so hard to make this film happen. Our new distributor at Cinema Libre carries some amazing documentary films. We are glad to be a part of that family!
12. I spit on TV and told white ladies to suck it. And it was political.
In our new age of news media, I have been declared an expert on “White Guys with Asian Fetish” and when courted to be an expert interviewee for the above interview, I threw it down. Full force.
13. I booked a co-star role on a Nickelodeon Kids TV Show.
Outside my trailer at Paramount Studios.
In my ultimate Bob Saget moment, I capped off a year of raunchy, political commentator work and booked a co-star role on a squeaky cleanchildren’s TV show pilot. I had to fill out standard background check (so the production could confirm I wasn’t a criminal or pedophile). Even though I’ve had no brushes with the law (surprising, no?) I ran to the first AD and asked in a panic, “Will my non-pornographic Youtube video of me spitting and telling white ladies to suck it get me in trouble?” He patted me on the back and said, “You should be ok.”It was a ton of fun! And I look forward to this pilot getting picked up and airing forever and ever.
14. The LA Times interviewed me for a profile story.
My TV appearance on Fusion caught the attention of the LA Times who upon web search found this site and the large body of work I’d been making over the last decade. We did a three hour interview and the reporter even interviewed my friends. That profile should run soon!
Anyway, that’s the brag-a-thon. And if I have my choice, it’s going to keep going. 2014, let’s do this.