Phil Yu is a writer, speaker and host best known as the creator of Angry Asian Man, one of the most widely-read and longest-running independent websites covering news, culture and perspectives from the Asian American community. He is also co-host of the podcasts Sound and Fury and They Call Us Bruce, with Jeff Yang.
The Washington Post calls Angry Asian Man “a daily must-read for the media-savvy, socially conscious, pop-cultured Asian American.” Mixing humor with criticism, Phil’s commentary has been featured and quoted in the New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, and more.
Phil is a recipient of the 2017 Rock the Boat Award from the Korean American Coalition, the 2016 Justice In Action Award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the 2016 Voice Award from the V3 Digital Media Conference, the 2011 Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Award for Excellence in New Media from the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, the 2012 Salute to Champions Award from the Japanese American Citizens League, the 2011 Public Image Award from Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, and the 2011 Excellence in Media Award from OCA-Greater Los Angeles.
Phil worked previously at the Center for Asian American Media, as a Content Producer for Yahoo! Movies, and currently serves on the Board of Visual Communications in Los Angeles. He also appears in the Sundance documentary Linsanity, about the rise of NBA superstar Jeremy Lin, and is executive producer of the action/comedy feature film Awesome Asian Bad Guys.
Phil graduated with a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University, and earned his M.A. in Critical Studies as a Provost Fellow from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Asian Americans have always found ways to tell their stories online, but in the past couple of years, Asian Americans have built a significant mainstream presence developing internet content – short videos, web series, visually-dynamic and humorously-written pieces and lists – for one of the biggest internet platforms anywhere: BuzzFeed.
During that time, we’ve watched how BuzzFeed’s own self re-discovery as a significant and revolutionary portal for commentary and entertainment went hand-in-hand with its embrace of Asian American makers and Asian American content. From lists about growing up Asian American, to cutting video parodies of race in America, to regular content where Asian American writers and performers can exist as ordinary Americans alongside people of all races, BuzzFeed has actively sought to achieve what so many Asian Americans have always dreamed of from mainstream media: for Asian Americans to be addressed in their cultural specificities while also being embraced as ordinary contributors both in front and behind the camera.
This year, the San Diego Asian Film Festival acknowledges BuzzFeed with its Digital Pioneer Award to recognize a company that embraces a diverse America as both media consumers and producers. We want to honor the team at BuzzFeed: the decision-makers who have gone to bat for hiring Asian American makers and promoting Asian American content, the directors and producers (like Abe Forman-Greenwald and Michelle Khare) who have developed the content, the performers (like Ashly Perez and Eugene Lee Yang) who have become faces of BuzzFeed, and the writers (like Cathy Ngo and Arabelle Sicardi) who are speaking from diverse perspectives including Asian American ones.
This panel introduces BuzzFeed in all of its diversity and across many types of media, in particular video. We want to start a discussion about how many of the hopes our community has had for Asian Americans in network and even cable television is happening right now on the pages of BuzzFeed, and ask how the model created by BuzzFeed can in turn shape traditional media and media that is yet to come.
Before Anna Akana’s “How to Put on Your Face” went viral and crossed 2 million views on YouTube, she was already a fan favorite and an online personality in the best sense: vivacious, consistent, candid, relatable, and totally funny. Since 2012, she’s entertained a million subscribers through comedy and music, and has appeared on the web miniseries Riley Rewind. What sets her apart from other stat-amassing YouTube stars though is that she has something to say. Not in the preachy, scripted sense, but in the way that an ordinary life observed with honesty is going to form a perspective that is fresh and resonant.
140 videos in, Akana has touched upon everything from love and sex, to mental illness and suicide, to the curiosity that is the life of Anna. Her humor has bite, but is never above a self-deprecating aside or playful special effect. Akana has developed a delivery that is smart but inviting, accessible and never condescending.
In early 2014, Akana embarked on a series of short films that have impressively expanded her persona and have showcased her development as an actor, writer, and director. Most impressively, they explore tones and narratives only hinted at in her vlogs and which are rare on YouTube more generally. Unusually experimental in makeup, costume, and set design, the shorts reveal a unique cinematic voice in the making. Her head-first plunges into the surreal become a macabre vehicle for Akana’s unnerving stories of women’s bodies and the industrialization of beauty.
In a conversation with Asia Pacific Arts’ managing director Ada Tseng, Akana, the recipient of SDAFF’s first annual Digital Pioneer Award, discusses her craft, her aspirations, and her curious position as one of the few Asian American woman storytellers who have succeeded on YouTube.