My first entry to my website will rather carry a dense topic. I recently took a chance on something that made my heart flutter and the wings beat me to death.
I’m an entertainer. I believe in bringing smiles and laughter to life because I am too aware of how difficult life can truly be. We all pursue dreams and endure intense tribulations; but my path is my path. When I chose acting, I chose a world of chaotic happiness. I work incredibly hard to build my career at least until an accident I had that altered my course temporarily. I taught myself how to walk again without my doctors because unfortunately the doctors I was assigned to held an disdainfully supercilious nature to me as a patient. My medical insurance was exhausted and all I had was me. I went from having a cane to walking, pole dancing, rock climbing, kungfu and more. Obtaining the fancy luxury of having an agency is not an easy task. You have to play match maker with yourself and hope that the other person likes you. It is a far more intense version of going out on auditions. I have the twisted luck of being prominent; and not always for a good reason.
I am mixed. That statement automatically triggers the following responses of thought or spoken.
1) What are you mixed with?
2) You don’t look mix you just black.
3) That’s cool (those are the rare individuals for my personal experiences)
I have worked on the set of Rap music videos and was intentionally isolated by the crew and cast because I was not being “black”. I walked into an audition for black hair products commercial audition and was told by a black woman I was not ethnic enough for her product. I have walked into Spanish auditions and was told they want a white Spanish look. I have attended auditions where I’ve been told “You look too mixed, I can’t place you” “You’re too dark” “You’re too light” “You’re not really black” “You act white” “You talk white” “Can you be more black” “Do you know kungfu” “Why are your eyes so small, are you high?” “oh look it’s one of those blackanese” “You think you’re white” “You’re a wannabe Spanish” “You’re a wannabe Asian” “You’re denying your blackness, just be black” “We already have girls who look just like you, black” “You’re not real black” “Oh you’re one of those black chinks” “How are you mixed, you’re so dark” (because apparently scientific genetics works just like our Crayola box) “What exactly are you?” When I answer that question, I often have to encounter a long gasp of disbelief because my genetic material does not match their imagination. My father is mixed with one of the 5 nations Iroquois and Wicomico Native American and African. His mother, my grandmother is the granddaughter of a Chief. My mother is mixed with Cherokee Native American, Austrian, German, Polish, Chinese and Black.
Funny I say Black as if it is a definitive race but it is not. There are dark skinned individuals in most countries whether they are from South America, India, Thailand, China, Australia and Africa. There are light skinned individuals in all of the same places dark skinned people are. Lighter complexions did not truly appear until about 6,000 years ago. Our diverse genetic appearances are based on thousands of years of evolution. Europeans are often common to the winter and seem unaffected while the rest of us can become colder much fast than they do. It’s not because being white is special, but genetically where they lived the climate was much colder and over time the body learned to have thinner nostrils to keep the cold air out of the body so it can stay warm. Warmer regions of the world the people have wider noses to keep our bodies cool during the summer; so in the winter we’re breathing in too much cold air and that’s why we become colder faster and also why people with thinner noses tend to stay too hot in the summer. We are all ecological advances of our ancestors living environment. With that said when I look into the mirror I do not see a Black woman. I do not see a White woman. I do not see a Spanish woman. I do not see a Chinese woman. I see a woman; and nothing more. However, not everyone in the world agrees to my perceptions and decide accordingly how to treat an individual based on what they see; which tends to be color. Once a fraction minded individual has identified the color they naturally seek the location of the person’s origin and then choose how to interact with them based on the biased (conscious or unconscious) opinions of unoriginal thinking.
I have an exotic look and I am aware of this fact. I know I do not always blend into my surroundings as much as I used to think I did. I’m not above anyone and I am not below. Depending on how I wear my hair, the color of my lipsticks, the color of my dress or shirt I can easily be mistaken by foreign natives to be one of their own; or worse I’m mistaken to be a certain ethnic descent and mistreated because they assume I am of that nature. I do not refer to a one time moment I was such and such but rather a cluster of continuous moments of mistaken racial identity. Brazilians (out of all of the South American countries, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Middle Eastern, Native Americans, Thai and Chinese have approached me. Brazilians, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans will actually walk by my best friend who is proud to be Taino Dominican and speak to only me in Spanish and Portguese; and are purely baffled why I do not speak comfortably fluently. I have been told my mother should have taught me my native tongue. Middle Eastern or Egyptians will take to me as if I am their own and ask me questions, speak to me in Arabic or ask if I have permission from my husband (some not all) and I am always left speechless. Native Americans approach me asking me about my tribe. Thai people will talk to me in Thai and I have to correct them and say I am not Thai and they have said to me “Then what are you?” while pointing at my slanted eyes. Once they’ve made it physically obvious that I’m Chinky looking I explain “Chinese” and they suddenly feel a sense of relief and walk away. I’ve had Chinese individuals refer to me as Dirty Chinese or ask if I was Japanese with high hopes that only a Japanese person would mix with a darker individual. This does not apply to all Chinese because there are some who do not see it at all. Of course people recognize that I am Black but depending on the person changes my treatment as a person. Which is why I claim no flag but the flag of the human race.
When I go to auditions or meet up with agencies they mention me as if anyone my color are interchangeable parts of the same face (and I know there are other ethnicities that can relate). So when I took a big chance at a time of my life that I could not afford such a risk I was expecting an appropriate level of maturity. I applied to this agency because they specialized in mixed individuals especially individuals mixed with Asian. I went back and forth by email with a woman who seemed excited about meeting me and I about her. I applied after midnight by morning I was met with a “COME IN!!” that followed with a string of emails of me trying to get to where they were to be their New York City talent. When I received such an optimistic warming response I genuinely thought to myself that I have finally found a place to call home for modeling for mixed looking exotic individuals. I researched everything on their website. I looked at EVERY SINGLE MODEL on their website. I read their stats, their ethnic background, some looked Asian and others looked more White than anything; but there were no dark mixes. This didn’t stun me but I was shocked that they were interacting with me. I thought maybe they are branching out and trying something new and I could be the first one there. I borrowed money I can’t actually pay back and went there only for them. I thought if this was the moment to move forward then this is an investment in my career.
The day finally arrives and the woman I was supposed to meet was not present and I ended up meeting another woman who I presumed was the boss of the place. I didn’t have my primer and I had a break out due to my nervousness to get into the modeling agency and my makeup worked against me that day but I was going to try to calm myself. When I walked through the door many of the Asian employees stared at me and looked at this other woman named ummm let’s call her MeiYou Xin. I was instructed to approach MeiYou Xin and I did and was nervous but feeling an unnatural optimistic fever. I didn’t want to be too early to the audition so I was asking MeiYou Xin where the nearest coffee shop was so I could wait for my email corresponder at the correct time. MeiYou Xin told me to sit down on the couch after she looked me up and down harshly because she was confused to why I even existed in this building. I sat down and switched to my high heels and pulled out my tablet, headshots, business cards, compcards and let loose my hair (because I have had people not believe it’s length because of my color and assume it’s weave). From where I sat I could hear entirely a condescending speech about me from MeiYou Xin to her colleague about me on how terrible I looked and a mumble of what sounded like why someone of my color was there. My heart just dropped. My Chinky eyes that I struggle to keep open dropped in panic. I had just borrow money I couldn’t afford, sacrificed some bills that should have been paid, slept in a hotel that did not seem all that safe, cramped myself up into a plane seat that aggravated my sciatica and am going to fly back empty handed. All I could think about was money. My monologue went out the window. My everything went out because all I could concentrate on was my financial situation. I gambled and lost before I got the chance to open my mouth.
Finally MeiYou Xin invites me into her office and begins her belittling tirade of questions and answers of why I was there. She focused on “how poorly I was dressed (regardless that it was favorite cashmere top)” and then proceeds to say this “There’s nothing Asian about you. You look like what you are, just an African American.” I remembered the white looking “Asian” models on their site and knew exactly what the issue was. Then she proceeded to degrade my new headshots I paid for.
After she made her grand speech she then proceeds to ask me why I didn’t go into more of where my kind are and where I came from? I explained I flew all the way from NYC just to be here to meet them. Shock factor sits in and she asked why would I come out there and I told her I did the same for my acting agency in Seattle and that I have a lot of trouble in NYC because I’m pushed in many directions because I look too mixed. She looked confused and starts to pull up the emails between MaryGrace (I’m naming her that) and I. She starts asking me questions about the Comikaze event this October and I explained that I am staring in a comic book as part of the series of AHR Visions. I am the second wave to back up and support the first wave with our Celebrity written book by Terry Crews.
She starts to read my submission where I list what my background is. She continues to complain about my head shots and how I had my hair for the “audition”; which to be honest didn’t actually matter because when I first approached her my hair was pushed back. She proceeds to tell me that I should wear my hair pushed back so people can see my face. MeiYou Xin decides to say “Well I want you to go back with something and we are looking for models located in Los Angeles only. And the NYC Talent we have is from when we were located in NYC and not looking for anyone there. (I thought that was bullshit by this point) but I don’t want you to feel like you’ve flown out here for nothing so let me give you advice” What I wanted was all the money I had just wasted and my inner demons to shut up; because once again it’s another media agency that I do not fit in. I am also slightly confused to why she was bothering to seem helpful to me after degrading me confidently and suddenly birthed a conscious after realizing how ambitious I was to take such a strong leap forward into my career. I could have been their NYC talent; if she liked me and she decided she didn’t like me before I spoke.
MeiYou Xin carries on about branding myself so people can identify me, getting new pictures and how in every photo I am in I look completely different each time; which only reminded how often if I change my hairstyle depends on what race I look like. Since she brought up branding in the midst of saying I have no brand or personality I decided to request her professional opinion of how agencies perceive Youtube. She clicks on it and gives me beneficial advice about the videos. She proceeds to tell me to work on my reel which I have been trying to do but I can’t book a role when I don’t come across as the ethnicity they requested; and I am in the union. She suggests student films and I explained that I can’t do many of those because I’m in the SAG-AFTRA union; she couldn’t believe I was in the union. I’m stuck in a very special niche so what I need is an agency that will help me with the modeling; so I can create art. By the time she put away her contemptuous glass she was drinking from I had already stopped caring about being a part of anything. She even at some point says from an extreme confused state “I can see you’re mixed but with what” under her breathe.
She suggest for me to use mascara because I have really small eyes. -_- Oh I do, you don’t say! She also suggested wearing blush and I told her I have a lot of trouble with it because I’m red skinned with a yellow undertone. She didn’t seem to know how to process that and then tries to squint harder to stare at me; but I know my color. I’m red. I can mix blush with foundation and create an actual natural look. My yellow undertone is from my mother, she’s actually just yellow; not tan or white or brown or black just yellow. My father is red-brown. I basically should be Tropicana’s spokesperson -_- Needless to say her quick speech did not go as she had planned and my trip turned into a waste of money that I don’t have. I asked again where the coffee shop was and walked there crying. I actually cried walking there, when I ordered and all the way to the Airport. Not because she broke me or hurt me but inconsolable tears of pure frustration of a childhood disease of never fitting into the right racial profile will haunt me to hinder my goals of being an creative entertainer.
Growing up I was the Asian kid and had to deal with paper hats “Chinese” walking, questions of kungfu (even though my mixed father practiced Japanese martial arts), being called Ching Chong, or people pulling back their eyes because I wasn’t round eyed like them. Growing up I was the Asian kid. I was the Black kid. I was the Spanish kid (and I’m not Spanish). I was the Indian or Native American if they couldn’t tell the difference and asked questions like “I thought all of you died off” because that’s an intelligent comment to share instead of staying silent and removing all doubt.
What’s funny is that later that day a Filipino woman approached me talking to me in Tagalog, and before I arrived at the agency a tanned Vietnamese man was asking me what my country was; but when I arrived at the airport I went from Spanish to Black and only made a few white people uncomfortable talking about my experience with a few glances of trying to see under my hat. I crunched into the last row between two women and aggravated my sciatica again just to go home empty handed.
As a side note my negative experiences do not account for all individuals just speaking about the ones I do come across; and how it deeply saddens me to see how people think because when I look at them I see their souls.