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Martell Icons of Inspiration - Ryan’s Reflection

Ryan Fung img October 5, 2015 img Categories: Professional

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Thanks to Martell and APEX, I won a trip to France! Martell, the cognac brand, and APEX started a mentorship program called Icons of Inspiration, in which the mentees were assigned to each pitch a project that incorporated his/her identity as an Asian-American. As one of the winners of that competition, I got to stay at a VIP château in the Cognac area, eat fancy meals, tour Martell's vineyards and distillery, and explore Paris


It started on November 19, 2014 when I went to the APEX Fall Benefit Mixer, where we had to bring peanut butter to donate to the homeless in L.A.’s Skid Row. The prospect of an entertainment mentorship AND a chance to win a free trip to France thrilled me. My career goal is to be a writer/director in film & television, and France was one of the top countries I’ve always wanted to visit, because of its arts & culture.


So, I applied, and later got invited to the Meet the Icons mixer on February 26, 2015. There, they played video clips of other prospective mentees and I realized that I was never asked to send a video. So, I thought I didn’t get into the program and that they only showed videos of people who got in. Soon, they named the mentees who got accepted into the program, and to my relief, I was one of them. We took a group photo and then listened to our entertainment mentor, Chris Tashima, tell stories and answer questions about his career as an actor and director. He once won an Oscar for a short film he directed and starred in called Visas and Virtue. Finally, Chris announced our assignment -- Conceive of an arts/entertainment project, in any discipline, medium or format, incorporating your identity as an Asian American, and propose or pitch it.


We had about five weeks until the deadline in April, and of course I spent those five weeks occasionally asking the other mentees, “How’s your assignment?” Pretty much procrastinating. Days before the deadline, I brainstormed a feature film based on my personal experiences working on Asian-American pageants. In my mind, ever since the assignment was announced, I had always known my pitch would be about that.


One late night in May, I read an email with the subject line:

[ APEX / MARTELL MIOI PROGRAM ] Congratulations, Ryan!

Wow. I won. It seemed too good to be true. I decided to wait for the APEX newsletter to announce the winner before I would announce it on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. As for APEX and the mentorship program, I'm so grateful for the experience that I continue to volunteer for them and attend their events. People mention the project I pitched and encourage me to actually make it. I'm glad to know that I'm onto something.

What is APEX?

The Asian Professional Exchange (APEX) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan community based organization with multifaceted goals and purposes that are charitable, cultural and educational in nature. Established in 1993, APEX currently boasts an e-community membership of 10,000 members. Contact us