If you are Asian American, you probably have seen the following video, maybe even on this very site! But just in case you have been hiding under some rocks lately, here it is in all its glory:
The hilarious star of this video is Stella Choe: dancer, choreographer, and actress. As luck would have it, Stella and Kimchi Mama Julie have a mutual friend, and so we were able to ask her a few questions!
Kimchi Mamas: Please tell us about your acting/career background and current projects.
Stella Choe: I started dancing when I was 6 and knew by 10 that I wanted to be a dancer. I started doing dance jobs when I was 16, and then after high school, went on to a dance scholarship program at the EDGE Performing Arts Center which trains you for a dance career. I finished college and persued dancing, and have done some fun jobs.
I toured with Paul McCartney in 2002 to 2003, I have been in episodes for Scrubs, Two and a Half Men, I am one of the cheerleaders in the film "The Replacements" (funny side note: my credit was as the "Asian" cheerleader. HAHA!) I have been an assistant and associate choreographer for films that include "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "A Cinderella Story" and "Gangster Squad." Being a dancer in LA exposes you to the film and TV world and I started acting, but mainly for commercials.
KM: Wow, you danced for a Beatle and choreographed for Brad Pitt! Amazing! So how did you join this project? Were you familiar with Ken Tanaka and his work?
SC: I am friends with David Ury, the co-writer of the sketch. We were at a party together and the "What kind of Asian are you?" question came up in a conversation with some guy. It was pretty innocent, but anyway, David and I started talking about it and he came up with the idea of turning the tables. David and Ken then co-wrote the sketch. Oddly enough, just before that party David and I had talked about doing a video for my reel to help me get new theatrical representation for tv and film, so the timing was perfect.
I am also familiar with Ken and am a fan of his videos and his picture book Everybody Dies.
This was something new for him to put up on his channel. None of us thought the reaction would be what it has been!
KM: During your Britishisms part, how much was scripted and how much was ad-libbed? Either way, is there more footage out there? Can we see it? :)
SC: There was definitely a script we worked with, but as we shot I had some room to play. It was a collaborative effort, with the creative crew shouting out things at one point and me attempting to list as many british things I knew, and having fun with the physicality of it. There's an outtake reel that was published a few days ago, and you can get a sense of the silliness of it all!
The other actor, Scott Beehner, and I just shot a new video today with us reading some of the Youtube comments from the original video that are hysterical and ridiculous in and of themselves. It's a quick montage of "zingers" which should be posted soon.
KM: Can't wait for that! And it actually brings me to my last questions: were you raised by a Kimchi Mama? If so, how did she react to your interest in the arts? And has she seen the video?
SC: I was indeed raised by a Kimchi Mama!!!!! The best! My parents immigrated here in 1969 and my 2 other sisters and I were born and raised here in LA. My mom encouraged us to assimilate and be American. I think it was a tricky balance for her to try to keep Korean traditions alive in our upbringing while trying to raise us in Manhattan Beach (a very white beach community).
I have to say I was pretty lucky in the support department. I think my mom was worried about me pursuing a career she didn't really understand, but I did well in school and after college I was like, "I'm freeeee!!!" and I got a waitressing job. Even now, I don't think she gets how I support myself, but she's always excited to hear if I get a job and have food to eat. She saw the video and thinks I look crazy and am acting crazy. Ah, you gotta love a Kimchi Mama.
Thanks so much to Stella for taking the time to talk to us! Also, please check out Stella and David Ury in their interview with the Huffington Post, where they provide even more background as to the inspiration for the video:
Mad props to Chae for the hook-up!