Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Notes From the Producer

Article Source: NBC Los Angeles
Original Post Date: May 2, 2015

Who would have thought that the quiet unassuming suburb of Cerritos is home to some of the best hip hop DJs in the country – maybe even the world? NBC4’s Hetty Chang talks to the master DJ, Nazareth Nirza, better known as DJ Rhettmatic of the “The Beat Junkies” and his fellow hip hopper Jason Lee/DJ Jay Slim of the “Cerritos All Stars” about how their Asian American heritage influenced their music careers and how they connected with other cultures. There are so many hip hop groups whose roots are based in Cerritos that DJ Rhettmatic says “there must be something in the water.” (Published Friday, May 1, 2015)

From the producer …

I guess I could have cited the headlines — “Asian-Americans: The Fastest Growing Ethnic Group in the U.S.,” “LA County is the Capital of Asian America” — or listed the numbers (nearly 6 million Asian-Americans in California; 15% percent of the population in LA County are Asian-Americans).

Life Connected AP Heritage Special: Toyo Miyatake

[LA] Life Connected AP Heritage Special: Toyo Miyatake

They are the pictures the US government did not want to you to see, taken a by a secret camera crudely built by Toyo Miyatake, who was forced to live in Manzanar. It was one of the 10 internment camps, or “war relocation centers” created after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Miyatake risked his life and family to make sure people did not forget the darker days of our country’s past. It’s a story about the resilience of the human spirit. NBC4’s Kim Baldonado talks with Miyatake’s grandson, Alan, who still has that famous camera and the powerful pictures. (Published Saturday, May 2, 2015)

But I wanted to go beyond the sterile facts and figures to show stories about people. After all, it’s stories about people that we remember — not the numbers. And this is a Life Connected special. The mission of our station’s specials — we have four a year — is to show how we are all connected in Southern California, no matter our color or race.

How were stories selected?

Life Connected AP Heritage Special: Susan Ahn Cuddy

[LA] Life Connected AP Heritage Special: Susan Ahn Cuddy

Susan Ahn Cuddy was born to lead. Her family was the first Korean family to immigrate to California in 1902, and from the very beginning, she broke the mold. She was independent, athletic – not your typical girl growing up in the 1930s. In 1942, she became the first Korean-American woman in the U.S. military and the first female Navy gunnery officer. She has had such an amazing life that her life story has been portrayed in a play called “Born to Lead,” performed by the East West Players, the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization. Age has slowed her down just a bit. She is now 100 years old, but as NBC4’s Angie Crouch found out, Cuddy is still as sassy as ever. And yet a look at another of our unique neighborhoods that makes up the diverse fabric of LA — Little Bangladesh. (Published Saturday, May 2, 2015)

The stories selected were part of a collaborative effort. Our Community Relations department has ideas, I have ideas and the reporters have theirs. I guess you can say we all squirrel-away story ideas during the year. Some ideas fall through. Some potential subjects don’t have time or simply don’t want to be profiled. But we ended up with some pretty remarkable pieces. The main theme of the special is the resilience of the human spirit. If you watch the entire show, you will see how diversely World War II impacted our communities.

For this special, we had only six weeks from start-to-finish. We had to move fast. Just two weeks ago, we were shooting and editing. This past week we shot the studio elements

Life Connected AP Heritage Special: Nobuko Miyamoto

[LA] Life Connected AP Heritage Special: Nobuko Miyamoto

Nobuko Miyamoto is the founder and Artistic Director of Great Leap, a nonprofit arts organization which uses arts to promote a deeper understanding between diverse cultures of America. Founded in 1978, Great Leap was created to fill the lack of creative productions that addressed Asian American culture. However, after the Los Angeles riots in 1992, Miyamoto changed her perspective. She saw how much hatred there was among the various cultural groups. NBC4’s Gordon Tokumatsu catches up with Nobuko Miyamoto at El Marino Language School in Culver City to talk to her about how she decided to be part of the solution bridging the cultural divide. Plus, we take look at another of our many communities, Chinatown. (Published Saturday, May 2, 2015)

I want thank the East Side Players, a theater organization based in Los Angeles; the Culver City School District and its Marino Language School in Culver City; and the US Forest Service who manages the Manzanar Hstorical Site for allowing us into their “house.” Our stories would not have been complete without their cooperation.