APEX Interviews Asian Boss Girl (ABG)
Asian Boss Girl is a podcast hosted by three amazing Asian American women - Melody Cheng, Helen Wu, and Janet Wang. They use this podcast as a means to share stories that relate to the 20-30 year old Asian American woman, speaking about topics such as working, dating, and living in Los Angeles. Their ideals align with APEX's mission of promoting cultural awareness & Asian representation, and we're honored to have had the opportunity to ask them a few questions about their motivations behind their podcast and their thoughts about APEX and the Asian American community.
1. What was the inspiration behind AsianBossGirl and can you tell our members a little bit about what it is?
Initially, the idea of creating the podcast came from a night of casual “girl-talk” while around some of our friends who work in the media and entertainment space. They thought that our conversation reflected a unique perspective that would appeal to a wider audience.
The name ABG is an acronym that can be interpreted as “Asian Baby Girl”, a term commonly used in the 1990s to refer to a type of girl in an Asian American subculture who flaunted her sexuality and was usually associated with gangsters, but was a strong and commanding figure. As women who grew up in the 90s, we have a particular connection to this archetype. And now, as adults establishing careers and lifestyles in 2018, a time when cultural diversity and equality for women are very prominent topics, we saw the possibility to re-define the “Asian Baby Girl” archetype as an “Asian Boss Girl” - a woman whose lifestyle may be polarizing (whether that is working in a male dominated career or going clubbing in provocative attire), but who is in command of her life and identity.
2. What was the most challenging and/or fulfilling parts of getting ABG off the ground?
The most challenging part of starting the podcast was learning and getting a process down with pushing out content. All three of us had to learn how to edit with Adobe Premiere, learn social media marketing skills, figure out how to record, create a website, and distribute to iTunes and other podcasting platforms, while maintaining full time jobs & social lives. The most fulfilling part of the podcast is reading responses from listeners about how they relate to our topics. It’s a crazy feeling to get positive feedback when we weren’t sure of the outcome to begin with.
3. Who do you see as your target audience, and what do you hope your audience will get out of your podcast?
Naturally, being women who work that 9-5 life, we see our target audience as women who work similar hours and live similar lifestyles. Our goal for this podcast is to fill some of the void apparent in media, to be open and honest with our conversations, and to provide a relatable voice for hard-working, Asian American women. We hope to tell the stories of everyday Asian American women that isn’t as present in the media world. And what we’ve come to realize with this podcast is that by being authentic with our voices, others are inspired to be authentic with theirs as well. “When we see someone we know, we feel known as well, and seen.” - from Krista Suh’s book, DIY Rules for a WTF World.
4. Personal grooming, dating, work life balance - you ladies cover so much relatable content in Season 1. What episodes were the most well-received and what kind of content can we see in Season 2?
Perhaps it was due to the early release of episode 2 that garnered an overwhelming amount of comments, but a hot topic from our listeners was the ****boi episode, which exposed an audience of men coming forward to defend certain ‘****boi’ labeled behaviors. Mansplaining, if you will. We intend to have several guests on the podcast for Season 2, and we have brought up 2 of our friends to provide a male’s perspective on the ****boi episode.
Aside from this, we have received several topic requests on how to maintain/grow friendships and deepen relationships, requests for further discussion on identity, how to shift to a more creative field of work, dealing with uncertainty, how to stop comparing yourself to others, i.e. a lot of personal life situations that are not easy to talk about, even with friends.
5. Are there any plans to potentially host guests on ABG?
Yes, definitely! We are currently in the middle of preparing for Season 2 and we have special guests, whom we are excited for, lined up for future episodes. Krista Suh, the creator of the Pussyhat Project, is one of them!
6. Sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for the three of you and ABG, what would've made it a successful year for ABG and each of you?
Looking back at our past year, just being able to put out a podcast is a feat that we’re really proud of. All three of us didn’t have much time during season 1 to reflect on what we put out since we were constantly thinking about what we needed to do next (edit, topic for the next episode, etc.). However, this break we were finally able to talk with our team and answer emails. Hearing from our listeners, and seeing that they connect with our content and enjoy learning a new perspective from the Asian American Women story is such a surreal feeling for us. If we’re able to continue to connect with our listeners and reach a greater audience, we’ll call that a successful year.
7. What mentors or individuals in the Asian American community do you look up to that you think our members should know more about?
Two individuals Mel looks up to are from the Pacific Arts Movement in San Diego: Brian Hu, the current Programming Director and Lee Ann Kim, the former Executive Director of the film festival. Their passion for Asian American presence in media and their activism in the community sparked Mel’s light to take action. “I remember, sitting as a college intern, during the opening speech for the festival as they spoke about why Asian American stories need to be told. They talked about how story- telling connects people and creates shared experiences and opportunities for our communities to exist. I was so inspired by them that I chose to stick with the organization throughout my last two years of college (something very rare for a college student to do) and that experience has led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t have known about this Asian American community without them, and due to that I owe them a lot.” We are also lucky to be surrounded by Asian Americans who are close friends, and who inspire us greatly. Namely, WongFu Productions. They are OG YouTubers who continue to pave the way for themselves and other Asian Americans in media and entertainment.
8. APEX has many members from the Asian American community who are actively involved in professional development, community service, and cultural awareness. What are your thoughts on areas that really need a voice from the community that we can contribute more actively in?
Apex is doing such an amazing job in providing a platform for the community. An area of focus where we can all pay closer attention to is our youth, more specifically the Asian American young adults in college. College is a time where we not only set that foundation for our careers, but also for self identity. Many of our listeners message us about feeling like they don’t “fit in” with their college due to the small number of Asian American organizations in their town, or a fear of life after college with a lack of career direction (or things not going the way they expected, e.g. made it to that tech job, now what? My parents want me to pursue medical, but I have no interest in it, etc.) Hopefully, we can provide a greater network to these students so their college experience can result in a better self discovery and identity journey. Also, with a stronger network, we can share more stories within the Asian American community so these students can choose from a bigger pool of career options and not be afraid to enter this post-grad chapter of their life.