Ready to ‘Kollaborate’

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Clara Chung and Paul Jisung Kim are two of the competitors competing Saturday at Kollaboration 10. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

Ready to ‘Kollaborate’
first published 4 March, 2010

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Entertainment Editor

This Saturday will mark a major milestone for an organization dedicated to bringing young, Asian American talent front and center on the mainstream entertainment scene.

Kollaboration is North America’s largest Asian Pacific Islander talent show and non-profit grassroots movement and seeks to empower the API community and its emerging artists to support and pursue
their dreams in performing. This year’s show at the historic Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles will be the tenth in the Kollaboration series.

A recent press conference in Koreatown assembled some of the many contestants and performers who will take the stage on Saturday, to chat and share their views on the progress (or lack thereof) made by
APIs in the greater entertainment industry.

22-year-old Clara Chung is one of the contests who will vie for prizes Saturday. The graduate of Granada Hills High School, known on stage simply as Clara, has seen her singing career–which she began only last summer–take off, thanks to winning talent contests such as KAC Media’s Creative Juice Night last year.

“There is so much talent in the Asian community, and it’s not widely known, not discovered, not seen in the mainstream all that frequently,” Clara said. “I feel what they’re doing here is to expose those artists to the mass public, and furthering the idea that there are a lot of talented Asians out there. We’re out there, try to touch people with our art, to express ourselves like anyone else.”

Paul Jisung Kim, a freestyle rapscatalogical star and the winner of Kollaboration’s 2001 show, said that Asian performers, especially males, have frequently fallen victim to long-held caricatures and
conventions.

“Asians have a long time have been portrayed in the media in ways that are sometime derogatory and obviously are given roles that are stereotyped to being Asian,” said Kim, 26. “For example, you’re
either the king fu specialist or the Oriental vixen that give massages, or an enemy force in the Vietnam War. I think that way of thinking in the media has discouraged people from wanting to step forward. But at the same time, especially recently, we see Asians who are stepping it up, with actors like John Cho in huge movies.”

This year’s Kollaboration will also feature the all female hip-hop dance team We Are Heroes, the winners of MTV’s American’s Best Dance Crew, Season 4. The members include Hiroka Mcrae and Mami Kanemitsu. Tickets and information can be found at www.kollaboration.org.

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