A special something

Shot with DXO ONE Camera

I’m going to be particularly honest here. Perhaps it’s because my finger is busted and I don’t want to spend too much time typing, perhaps it’s because it’s been too long since I last wrote here, or perhaps it’s just because I’m a little buzzed coming home from this wedding.

Two days ago we came back from our #YappieTour. We haven’t planned a domestic tour from scratch for a single project of ours since.. ever? 10 cities, 12 screenings.. overall attendance over 2000 and I’m pretty sure I took at least 1000 selfies. It was exhausting, it was eye-opening, it was something special.

First I want to say ‘Thank you’ to each person who came out to the events. Buying a ticket with your hard earned money, standing in line, listening to me talk for 45 min, and waiting in line again to have a moment with me… that’s something special. I don’t know if I deserve that attention, those emotions. You doing those things on this tour directly affects WF and our content. You have helped us recoup our budget on ‘Yappie’ and given us “data” to possibly create more content like this (maybe a Season 2). All I’m saying with this paragraph is that your tangible actions have real life affects. For those who this pertains to, “Thank you.”

The 2nd things I want to say is, I wish I could’ve spent more time with you. Bottom line is, I never started this WF or YT thing for the purpose of being famous or on a red carpet. I was destined to be a yappie but I fell through the cracks. Somehow I’ve been able to make stuff and it’s resonated with ppl, and after 10+ years, I’ve meant something to you and your life. Because of this accidental blessing, I honestly wish I could spend more than 1.5 min in a meet&greet line to hear your story and truly understand who you are and why WF was important to you. I know it may have looked like I cycled through each person swiftly, and like an automated machine started a new conversation with the next person, but I promise, in each moment, I felt you and your words, your eyes, and I wish this human life wasn’t so limited so that I could actually be friends with you. And this is just to those who I could actually meet. To everyone who was in the audience but had to leave and couldn’t wait around.. I saw you. You made the theater sell out. You made a statement. I appreciate you coming through and spending a few hours with me and the WF team. I hope that even though we didn’t shake hands or take a photo, you feel closer to us and like you understand me better.

Now that we have the formal Thanks out of the way, I wanna be real…

This tour was difficult for me. It came at a time when WF is going through changes. Not just in our content (Yappie is unlike anything we’ve done before), but also in our goals. As we said on tour (but not publicly yet), WF is 15 years old this year. FIFTEEN. That is a teenager who can drive. Whose body is going through changes. Whose discovering who they are. And just like this real life adolescent, WF is going through the same.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s comical how we were on tour during the launch of “Crazy Rich Asians”- easily the biggest milestone for Asian Americans in mainstream media in a generation. I’m sUper proud of WF, and even I’ll admit it.. This was huge. And there’s something really humbling about seeing social media of the jade carpet premiere with Bentley’s and diamond dresses, while we’re pushing our suitcases through a pothole filled parking lot trying to get to our rental Hyundai so that we can sell our $15 tshirts. Despite what you think WF is in your heart and nostalgia… as a human, you can understand how that’ll make one question where one is. *pause* I’m ecstatic about CRA. I know that it will ultimately benefit me and change the community for the better which we can all see as a win.. But with that said, WF- I, need to adjust. I already started with Yappie, and CRA has solidified ideas I’ve been feeling for the past few years. Justin Chon’s “Gook”, “Master of None”, Ali Wong.. I think we’re at an amazing time, and I need to adjust… but that’s for a different post.

In the immediate meantime, you have been there for me. For real, despite however I was feeling about CRA.. as soon as we got to the venues, saw the lines, saw YOU… all my troubles went away. Hearing your stories about how WF’s touched your life, discussing important issues that Yappie sparked in you, recording messages to friends who were in hospitals, it reminded me that I never did this for anything material. I did this to be creative, to have fun, and somehow the universe connected us. It allowed us to have something special, during a time when there were no crazy rich asians yet.

For 10+ years we’ve been packing rental cars and making our way to different cities and venues. I don’t think this will be changing any time soon. It might morph into something different, but just know that this last Yappie Tour was really special to me. I’m not really sure when we’ll be able to do this again (hopefully sooner than later), but for now, I really treasure it. It’ll be one of those things I’ll look back on in a few years and be nostalgic about. Thanks for being a part of that. I hope that’s how you see it from your side too.

Thank you to the WF team: Taylor, Jen, Chris, Eric, Wes, Benson, Jessica for working hard to make this happen. The early mornings and uncomfortable airplane seats will be something we look back fondly on someday soon. ..ok maybe not the airplane seats.

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6 thoughts on “A special something

  1. I’m not Asian, I’m black. but WongFu has been a major part of my life since freshman year of college. I imagine feeling a bit unaccomplished in juxtaposition to CRA, but honestly I am 100% sure the movie would not be where it is, without WongFu playing its part in normalising Asians as leads in a show/movie. I even hate the idea of “normalizing” Asians as lead, as if it’s some kind of far fetched idea. Nonetheless, your work is incredibly important, and honestly I wish you would have a contract with netflix or something, because you deserve all the doors to be opened to you.

  2. I see you Phil, and I respect you for your honesty. A bunch of us have been working so hard for so long to make change happen. Well now, we are living in an era where our work will really start becoming effective on the audiences it reaches, and we have both “Crazy Rich Asians” AND Wong Fu to thank for that. I doubt we’d be where we are now if it weren’t for the projects you, Wong Fu, and other artists have put out over the years.

    There’s no going back, for these are the first steps.

  3. It’s worth keeping in mind that “Crazy Rich Asians” is a decade or more behind you when it comes to putting Asian-American faces on screen and Asia-American talent behind the camera. I totally get your moment of jade carpet jealousy, but when that feeling comes, go back and look at your 3.1 million subscribers and your 518,000,000 views. True, YouTube ain’t the Chinese Theater, but aren’t you glad it exists??!!

  4. Thank you for representing an underrepresented minority in western media. I appreciate it. I went to a cinema in South Africa and some person commented on the amount of Asians watching the film. It made me feel strangely patriotic. I’m not used to that. (I’m Eurasian)

  5. Hey Phil, thanks for the article. I am not Asian American, well simply Asian, but have also been watching WF videos for a long while. You might be surprised, or perhaps didn’t view it from another point of view, I actually learn a lot from Asians American while not being Asians American because of WF videos. As Asians in Asia, you only consider those Asian Americans filthy rich people and they definitely have nothing to worry about in their life. However, we all as human being, have our concern in life and it’s hard to really understand when you’re not in the occasion. WF videos have taught me so much about personal and language identity as an individual, not just Asian Americans. Thank you Phil, I hope you know every milestone or every thing have done counts, for different people at different level, but it does count. 🙂

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