Growing up in a small town on the central coast of California, I often found myself to be the only Asian kid in class, on the playground, and in public places in general. There just weren’t many Asian Americans living there. My parents weren’t affected in the same way, as I was, having grown up in an environment where they were the majority ethnic group in Hawaii. I was always aware of being “different” and internalized a sense of being “the other” from a very young age.
Not only did I not see many people who looked like me in my physical environment, I didn’t see myself in the media. I decided at a young age that in order to be on TV, I had to be a newswoman (like Tricia Toyota or Connie Chung, the only Asians I ever saw on the tube). I could never be an actress because I would never believably blend in with the television families I saw - the Bradys, the Cunninghams, the Waltons. The only show I could hope to be on looking like myself was Sesame Street. Perhaps that’s where the allure of NYC first hit me. I loved the city vibe -- and the diversity so absent in my own surroundings.