6.29.2014

"Fan Base", an Asian African Drama Project in Progress

A while back, when we were recruiting new writers, Eunice Apia, filmmaker, producer and founder of Mustrd Seed Media, reached out to us about Fan Base, an AMBW series she's currently trying to film and needs our helping funding.  We agreed to assist her with promoting her project, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work.

Miss Apia, thank you so much for reaching out to the Blasian Narrative about your project, Fan Base. How did you find us?

I believe the first time I heard about Blasian Narrative was through surfing the net while reading different blogs written by BWAM (Black Women Asian men) writers. One of the blogs I stumbled on was called 'Jagged Noodles'. It led me to the Blasian Narrative.

LOL - Jagged Noodles is actually one of Narrators! He’s currently on hiatus. So what drew you to the AMBW world in the first place?

To be honest with you, I'm now heading towards my mid thirties and want to finally start preparing to settle down. I want to form a serious romantic relationship and even start a family. I want the family life that I believe is offered most times within the Asian community. I am not saying that Asian have a perfect household, but they are known to be committed to family, most times than not. I want that for my children and myself. In other words, I find Asian men to be very desirable in many ways.

Now initially, you applied to write a K-Pop gossip column for us, but in your application you also mentioned being a filmmaker working on an AMBW web series. Right then we knew that you were the kind of person whom we would write about. How exactly did you get into filmmaking?

This is a continuation from the first answer. I discovered that Blasian Narrative was looking for writers but I didn't have a niche. Even though I was interested in the BWAM community, I didn't know if I anything to add to the community. I’m not a big K-pop fan yet but I have a few groups and artists that I like. I do watch the dramas and variety shows daily but don’t blog about them. After a few years of reading the blog, I decided to contact you guys encase I had anything of interest to input.

I actually, right out high school decided I was going to be a part of the entertainment industry. I knew in junior high school that I wanted to direct and produce but classmates encouraged me to perform as well. After a few stints as an extra, I quickly realized that I didn't have the passion or confidence to pursue an acting career. However, I felt comfortable behind the camera. Some would call it hiding, but I like the control.

I asked this because you’re actually a professional. You've worked as a production assistant in film and TV, a casting intern for MTV, and a casting director for other independent projects. How long have you been in this business?

If we were to include my extra non-union days, I would say, I started in late 1999-early 2001. So roughly off and on for about thirteen years. A year after graduating high school, my sister took me to an acting agency in Times Square called ‘Actors Rep’. I did a few gigs with them and it was a great experience.

Soon after in 2001, I got an internship to work as a production assistant for a rock video by a Queens- based rock band called Eve to Adam. It was my first experience doing behind the camera work and I enjoyed it. I eventually branched out into casting and that is when I noticed how one sided the entertainment system was. There is a term used, 'type-casting' when you basically are using stereotypes to cast a person. I find that to be unfortunate because there are so many talented actors out there and they don't all fit the mold of Tinseltown.

How did you create your company, Mustrd Seed? Why’d you go with that name?

When I first created my company, I was under a different headspace so I named it delusional illusional people. In 2010, I went through a trying time where I had to face a lot of uncertainties and put myself out there to get through it. I was able to conquer a lot of demons and came out stronger with me faith. There's a story in the Bible that talks about faith as a mustard seed, causing mountains to be moved. If anyone knows mustard seeds, they are very tiny. So that is something I always remember when I run into doubts or obstacles. Sometimes all it takes is a small step in faith.
All it takes is a small voice to encourage others. Once those voices join together and spread, it makes one loud noise. To some people creating 'Fan Base' is not a big deal. Others might say it's because I have a fetish towards Asian men.  In actually, what I am really doing is fighting for the underdogs. Whether people what to admit it or not, Asian men are currently the underdogs in media. They are either ignored, portrayed as weak, undesirable or ruthless. I think there is a bigger voice around black men now because people like Will Smith, Don Cheadle, and Denzel Washington paved the way for them.

Kerry Washington is slowly paving the way for black women but it's a steep hill to climb. I know a lot of Asian men might not want me to be their champion and would prefer a white woman. But for now, I'm what they have. Maybe in the future, more people will bring to light the fact Asian men are  just as attractive and desirable as other races.

I can't remember in my 28 years living in America ever seeing an Asian male open a box office as lead. There needs to be more options when it comes to roles. That is all I am trying to do. Have an open dialogue about having more diversity. That was why I decided to cast an Asian male in 'Fan Base' instead of black or white. Everyone should be given the chance to shine.


Now your bio revealed that you although this project and your production were born in 2011, you’d actually been planning them both a few years earlier. Considering most K-Pop-inspired Blasian media didn’t start exploding until about 2-3 years ago, I consider you a visionary. Like, you appear to be way ahead of your time.

My first introduction to Asian culture was within my first few months in America at the age of five. The three main programs I remember watching on TV were Sesame Street, WWF, and Bruce Lee films. By 5th grade, my brother was hardcore into Kung Fu films and he introduced me to them. I was his TV-watching buddy for a while. We would stay up late at night watching Kung Fu movies. My first Asian celebrity crush was Gordon Liu. After him came Jet Li and finally Jackie Chan.

As for Korean music it was around a lot longer than people know. I first became aware of it in maybe the early 90’s. I would flip through channels and see beautiful guys in matching outfits singing but I had no idea what they were singing. I would always say to myself how I want to learn the language. It took more than 15 years, before I made my first attempt.

My first exposure to Korea was through books. I was an avid reader at a young age. In junior high or maybe early I remember reading a short story or a snippet about a Korean American girl taking a Korean born guy to her prom or debutante ball. The guy was soft spoken and awkward, while dancing he accidently ripped her yellow dress. The illustrations were so well done, that I fell in love with the Korean guy. I wanted the story to go on and on. When I discovered Korean dramas in 2008, I felt like I rediscovered that short story.

So, you’re really into Korean media! What draws you to their particular styles of music, film, and TV?

As a storyteller, I like to discover art that moves me. For some reason, Korean entertainment moves me. There’s just something about the storylines that I find relatable. I don’t find that with American entertainment. There’s something about the innocence that Korean entertainment offers that is so refreshing. There’s a big difference between how Americans translate love versus how Koreans do. What Koreans are great at is intimacy. How they can convey emotions non-verbally without sexual aggression is incredible. Growing up in a sexually-charged country can sometimes desensitize you, causing you to not be able to differentiate the difference between lust and love. Koreans are experts at separating the two. Call me a prude but I like holding hands, back hugs and piggy back rides. I don’t need to have sex on the first date. Or maybe, I’m just a hopeless romantic. American men I’ve spoken to are quick to say it’s not reality but I think it should be.

Sure, soon that will change with the USA, slowly moving into Korean territory. Until that completely happens, I will enjoy it for as long as I can.

I understand you completely about being “moved” by Korean storytelling. They remind me of us in so many ways, but also, when you have a culture that old, it’s not surprising their stories have more depth. And you’re right; American media isn’t nearly as moving or evocative.

Growing up in America, I was not impressed with most intimate relationships I witnessed or experienced. When I started getting into the world of Asian entertainment, I felt it open up a new side of intimacy for me. I think watching Korean shows made me become more comfortable with intimacy, if that makes sense. There's that trust there, through the screen. You trust that the characters are going to do the right thing, for themselves and most importantly; each other. You trust that the characters really care about each other and it's not just physical. What I'm getting at is Korean dramas are very good at portraying unconditional love. Love without condition. You rarely see that in American stories. I think it's a cultural thing.

I read in your bio about your experience with African storytelling as well. Ancestrally speaking, you and I are actually neighbors. I identified right away with what you were saying, of course, but I wonder…how would you say our traditional styles influence your work as a modern filmmaker?

I was born in Nigeria, and at a young age I was exposed to storytelling. It was your cliché, sitting around the campfire half naked, stories you hear from America. That part they got right about Africa. We would listen to adults tell us fables, then we will re-tell them to each other to see who could captive the biggest audience. Even at a young age, I lacked confidence and was very prideful. I wanted to have the biggest audience but I was afraid of rejection. What if my peers didn’t like how I told the story? What if someone told it better?

When we came to America, my siblings and my mother continued the tradition of storytelling. We would listen to my mother tell us the same stories over and over. A lot of them had singing and a moral. It became ingrained in me to have a moral to my stories. 'Fan Base' has lessons to be learned but I’m not sure how I will be able to portray those morals. I’m hoping every viewer gets a little of something through the show. It’s not just about an interracial relationship. It’s about how people cope with different situations in their lives. Looking back on my life, there are a lot of years I wasted, maybe even a decade, living in fear. As I get older, I could constantly live in regret or make better life choices.  We judge people based on their outer appearance opposed to their inward. I say, it’s time that stops.

“K-Drama” is the nickname for Korean drama. Your site described your project as a Korean-African drama. What’s going to be the nickname for that genre?

I thought about if Korean African was the right branding for the show. I don't want to leave other Asians out by naming it a Korean African drama because I have an interest in many Asian cultures. I feel instead it's more an 'Asian African drama'.

Miss Apia, thank you so much for your time.

Thank You so much, Ankhesen for taking the time to speak with me. I hope to sit down with you in the future after Mustrd Seed Media as grown and become successful.

2 comments:

  1. Hi ! I always thinking about write original fan fiction about afro latinas with asian men...One of them a plus size afro latina... Maybe Ms. Apia can consider in the future to make one of this stories.

    Looking forward to see her AWBW stories in film.

    *excuse my english

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish Eunice Apia much success with her project. There does seem to be a HUGE lack of variety in American media so I would like to see the challenges and triumphs presented in this film project when it becomes ready for the public.

    ReplyDelete

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