Los Angeles (Oct. 5, 2017) — Kollaboration, a grassroots movement to showcase Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists in music, dance, and comedy, will host EMPOWER 2017 this Nov. 3-5 in Los Angeles in partnership with NBCUniversal and Pandora.
“As an industry leader in diversity and inclusion, we’re honored to partner with Kollaboration in supporting EMPOWER Weekend 2017,” said Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer, NBCUniversal. “Our commitment to fostering diverse talent in front of and behind the camera aligns with Kollaboration’s goal to empower the next generation of talent in the Asian American community.”
EMPOWER 2017 is a three-day weekend including a comedy night, creative leadership conference, VIP red carpet, and music showcase to connect and develop AAPI artists and entertainment professionals. After a standout year of talent showcases, open mic nights, and networking events all across North America, Kollaboration will close out their 2017 year featuring top AAPI performers and up-and-comers.
With a mission of empowerment through entertainment Kollaboration has worked toward more diverse representation of Asians in media since its founding in 2000. In the midst of ongoing controversy around misrepresentation and whitewashing in Hollywood — such as Hellboy, Ghost In the Shell, The Great Wall, and Doctor Strange — EMPOWER 2017 serves as a meeting point for the entertainment industry and aspiring AAPI artists. Here they will network, celebrate, and learn to address representation across the industry, both behind and in front of the camera.
“Kollaboration is thrilled to be working with Comcast NBCUniversal for EMPOWER 2017. This is a huge step forward for diversity,” said Minji Chang, executive director, Kollaboration. “We’re proud to partner with those who believe that diverse representation is crucial for building bridges and understanding between communities, and also incredibly beneficial to the growth of the arts and entertainment industry. There is so much talent and so many great stories to be shared with the world.”
The KollaborationAF Comedy Night will take place Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 at The Great Company in downtown Los Angeles Arts District in partnership with the viral AsianAF comedy show, founded by actors Will Choi (UCB Comedy) and Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls). KollaborationAF will feature comedy from JR De Guzman (StandUp NBC 2016 Winner, Just For Laughs), Sheng Wang (Jimmy Fallon, Last Comic Standing, Fresh Off the Boat), D’Lo (DisOriented Comedy), a special AsianAF Super Crew improv team including Dhruv Uday Singh (Groundlings, UCB Comedy), and more.
The EMPOWER Creative Leadership Conference will be an all-day event on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 at the Japanese American National Museum in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. The conference will include keynote speakers, panels, Q&As, workshops, one-on-one mentorship, and networking events with AAPI entertainment professionals. Speakers include: Brad Jenkins (Funny Or Die – Executive Producer, RUN – CoFounder), Jon M Chu (Crazy Rich Asians – Director), Kulap Vilaysack (Bajillion Dollar Properties – Showrunner, The Office – Actress), Moez Shivji (E! Entertainment – CFO), Dave Gonzalez (World of Dance – Founder), Nora Lum aka Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians – Actress; Rapper), Greg Watanabe (George Take’s Allegiance – Actor), Tiffanie Hsu (HBO APA Visionaries 2016 Finalist – Filmmaker), Tanuj Chopra (Sundance – Filmmaker), and Jen Chae (From Head To Toe – YouTube). Attendees will be able to interact with speakers throughout the day and take workshops in dance, acting, improv, and storytelling.
“All this time I’ve been thinking about this problem I face in this business individually as a racially ambiguous multi-hyphenate Producer/Writer/Musical Comedian,” said Evangeline Monroy, EMPOWER 2016 attendee. “The EMPOWER conference tapped me into an incredible network of AAPI’s doing the groundwork and building communities to find resolutions.”
Kollaboration STAR will close out the weekend on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at the Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo. The STAR showcase will be a culmination of Kollaboration’s 18th city showcase season where 6 finalists from San Francisco, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago will compete for the national title of Kollaboration STAR 2017. 2017 finalists include: Nu Ethnic (Soul/Funk Band), Matt Kong (Acoustic Singer), Alex Luu (Spoken Word Artist), Uzuhan (Rap/Hip Hop Artist), Jenna Lynn (Acoustic Singer), Austin Valencia (Pop Folk Band). STAR will also include special guest performances by National Poetry Slam winner and rapper G Yamazawa (North Cack) plus a special collaborative set made specifically for STAR by Tim Atlas (NBC’s The Voice), Jennifer Chung (YouTube), and Melissa Polinar (YouTube, SXSW 2017). A special VIP Reception and red carpet event will precede the showcase at 3 p.m.
“Achieving holistic AAPI media success–from accurate portrayals on screens to influential executives — begins from the inside. For years, Kollaboration has been a vital convening and breeding ground for a next generation of talent — both in front and behind the camera. — Bing Chen, EMPOWER 2015 Keynote Speaker; Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Victorious; Board of Directors, CAPE
Kollaboration is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and movement founded in 2000 by Paul “PK” Kim to support Asian American Pacific Islanders in the arts. Under the guidance of Executive Producer Roy Choi and Executive Director Christine Minji Chang, Kollaboration is operated by a passionate volunteer staff across the US and Canada. In its 18 year history, Kollaboration has showcased over 1000 AAPI artists in 125 showcases in 18 major North American cities. These artists include: Steven Yeun, Randall Park, Ali Wong, Quest Crew, Kaba Modern, the Kinjaz, Jimmy O.Yang, Far East Movement, Kina Grannis, David Choi, Anderson Paak, AJ Rafael, Awkwafina, Dia Frampton, and many more.
Kollaboration’s mission is to build bridges, out-create negative stereotypes, and promote diversity by providing platforms to discover, empower and connect the next generation of API artists and leaders. Kollaboration has grown into a global organization that unites the artist, professional, student, and activist communities. Kollaboration programs seek to highlight and bring awareness of AAPI talent to the mainstream media and drive change in popular culture.