Chinese Student Association Welcomes Actor Arden Cho as Fall Speaker
Fans rallied and emotions ran high on Sunday when the Chinese Student Association welcomed Asian American actor Arden Cho as its fall 2022 speaker.
Communications senior Amanda Han and dual-degree junior Mia Huang from Bienen and Weinberg, ASC program chairs, organized the event and hosted Cho’s talk in the Ryan Auditorium.
Cho began his career collaborating with content creators on YouTube and has since starred in “Teen Wolf” and the recent Netflix original series “Partner Track.” Han and Huang said his YouTube background was a factor in their decision to contact the actor.
“Arden was someone we both saw on screen growing up,” Han said. “I was a big fan of Ryan Higa so I saw her a lot in those videos.”
During the event, Han and Huang interviewed Cho about her experiences as an Asian American woman in the film industry, focusing on her role as Ingrid Yun, the protagonist of “Partner Track.”
Perceiving herself as a deserving main character was a struggle, Cho said, as she always felt neglected and out of place due to her Asian heritage.
“A lot of my life I’ve just been a supporting character for my friends and people at work,” Cho said at the event. “I wonder if that’s how most Asians feel, and maybe that’s why people take advantage of us and abuse us.”
Cho also spoke about acting as Ingrid, who faces racism and sexism as a Korean-American lawyer in her white male-dominated profession.
Expressing her reactions to discrimination and microaggressions, she said, was “pretty triggering.”
“You know it’s not real, but you live it over and over again with multiple takes, and there were definitely days where I would come home feeling awful because it was hard to shoot it,” said said Cho.
Cho also delved into Asian American media’s portrayal as a whole, exploring her personal encounters with discrimination. She said non-white actors are never the “first choice” in the film industry.
Despite this struggle, she applauded the increased portrayal of Asian Americans in the media in recent years.
“For so long, other people told our stories,” Cho said. “It’s exciting now that we have more Asian American writers, directors, producers, filmmakers and we’re telling our own stories.”
Towards the end of the event, Han and Huang opened up to the crowd for a Q&A session. An audience member asked about the criticism Cho faced for the alleged “white man and Asian woman” romantic trope in “Partner Track.” Cho, in tears, said she did not feel fully supported by the Asian American community due to the backlash.
She said retirement might be on the table, both because of this controversy and Netflix’s recent announcement that “Partner Track” won’t be returning for a second season.
“As Asian American actors and actresses, we have all this pressure to represent our entire community with every project,” Cho said. “But please remember that we are only storytellers and artists. If we represent our community, great, but I don’t think it always has to be everyone’s story, because it’s not possible.
In another moving moment, attendee Briana Lee, senior executive at Tyson Foods, wept in praise of the show, explaining how she resonated with Ingrid as an Asian American woman in corporate America.
She asked Cho how she balanced standing up for Asian Americans and trying not to become the “poster child” of the movement, to which Cho replied that she doesn’t. had not yet found an answer.
“As a business leader in the Asian community, I also haven’t figured out how to find that balance between being a champion (for Asian Americans) and making sure you’re not taken advantage of” , Lee told the Daily.
Cho ended with his final thoughts on his role in “Partner Track.”
Playing the series’ protagonist, she said, showed her how she could be a central figure in her own life.
“I learned such a big lesson filming the show: We as Asian Americans really deserve to be the main characters, and so many of us do,” Cho said. “I hope young Asian Americans who watch the show feel the same way.”
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