Meet the Artist: NY Elite Interview with Producer, Writer and Actress Evelyn Wong
NY Elite: What made you pursue film making?
Evelyn Wong: My interest in film making was born out of the frustration of the limited roles in the industry for Asian American actors. I don’t fall in the category as Asian and I didn’t fall in the category of American. As a result, casting directors did not know where to place me. I decided to make my own projects so that I could tell the stories I want to tell and to share the stories that have not yet been told.
NY Elite: What is your greatest achievement till date?
Evelyn Wong: I could list credits but you can see all that on my IMDB. I would say a moment that sticks with me to this day and set me on my path as a filmmaker was when I told my grandfather what I wanted to be when I grew up. My grandfather was a very traditional Taiwanese-Chinese man who was a revolutionist. Entertainment jobs weren’t high up on the prestige level in traditional Taiwanese-Chinese families. You’re either a doctor or a lawyer. I prepared myself to tell him as my mother watch with nervous anticipation. When I said it he replied, “Good. Do it! You’ll be successful at it!“ My mother’s jaw dropped in shock. I earned his approval. From that moment I became fearless in my pursuit to achieving my dream. It’s important for everyone in this industry to have a strong foundation and support from loved ones. My grandfather in that moment gave me that gift.
NY Elite: Tell us about your current/latest project.
Evelyn Wong: Currently I’m working on a comedy that explores the real past life of the San Gabriel Valley in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 6two6 AZNs is a comedy that I co-wrote, produced, and acted in. This was the first time I wrote something. With the help of my co-producer and co-writer, Savannah Southern-Smith, I was able to bring this story to life. This project drew everyone who read it to it, which was incredibly flattering to me considering it was the first project I wrote! I’m very proud of the project Savannah and I created and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
NY Elite: What drew you to this project and what excited you about making this film series?
Evelyn Wong: I was drawn to this project out of my own experience in this world. The more I talked about it with people the more I realized how little people knew about that era. However, most Asian Americans I talk to from the West to the East Coast all know what I’m talking about. I’m excited to give everyone a chance to experience that world of crazy AZN gangsters.
NY Elite: What is the theme/subject of the series “6two6 AZNs”?
Evelyn Wong: The project is a comedy based off of the Asian gangsters in the San Gabriel Valley. During the birth of gangster rap and the East Coast West Coast war between 2Pac and Biggie Asian American gangsters were born. We decided to create a comedy based off that.
NY Elite: Who are you collaborating with on this project?
Evelyn Wong: My co-producer and co-writer on this project is Savannah Southern-Smith. We met while earning our Bachelor’s in Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California. I could not have made this project with out her!
NY Elite: What do you hope the audience will take away from this film series?
Evelyn Wong: I honestly want people to laugh and relate. My goal is for the audience to be educated about this world. Although we are making a comedy there were very serious things that happened during that time. People were getting shot, stabbed, and killed. I want to expose that era to audiences around the world and have people walk away learning something new about Asian Americans in every episode.
NY Elite: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Evelyn Wong: Recently it has been Black Panther. It has always been my goal to be in a Marvel movie but the roles were always limited to Caucasian actors. Seeing a Marvel movie where that was not the case is inspiring. The movie has strong female characters and the love story was a subtle side story. It’s exciting to see that the times are changing! In the past, movies that got me interested in film making were Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting. Those complex plot lines and abstract stories drew me in and inspired me to bring my story telling to another level.
NY Elite: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Evelyn Wong: There are so many ways to make a great film and it all depends on the story telling. I guess a pattern I seen in the movies I’m drawn to are the ones that tackle real life issues. Mother directed by Darren Aronofsky is one of those. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie that metaphorically shows how mankind treats Mother Nature. Without knowing that, most people probably walked away from that movie a little confused. I find myself very drawn to those movies where maybe after watching it you’re not entirely sure what happened just yet but you keep thinking about it.
NY Elite: Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?
Evelyn Wong: A book that I’d love to see made into a movie is Lucille Ball’s autobiography Love Lucy. She was such an amazing woman and inspired me a lot as a kid. Before reading that book I had no idea all that she had achieved in her career. She went so far as being the owner of Paramount at one point in time. She and Desi Arnaz changed and revolutionized television film making. I would love to see that story told on the big screen.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about the greatest moment in your film career?
Evelyn Wong: I guess it would have to be when I was Taft Hartley’d, meaning you are qualified to join the union, on a feature and became a member of SAG. I had just graduated from college and didn’t know what to expect in my pursuit towards my film career. I knew it was going to happen I just wasn’t sure how. When I received the letter in the mail from SAG and I went to pick out my SAG name was when I felt like a working actor. SAG only allows one of each name in the union so if you’re name is already taken then you’ll have to create a stage name. Luckily mine was available!
NY Elite: Which particular film maker has influenced you the most?
Evelyn Wong: There are so many film makers that I admire but if I had to choose just one it would have to be Alfonso Caurón. I was always drawn to his movies from A Little Princess from when I was a little girl to Pan’s Labarinth and the list goes on. He has a way of story telling that is so symbolic and beautiful.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?
Evelyn Wong: Love what you do and enjoy every part of it. Remain humble and open. The minute you start thinking you’re above it all is when you start closing yourself off to new possibilities and opportunities.
NY Elite: NY Elite: Can you tell us more about your upcoming project(s)?
Evelyn Wong: Unfortunately I can’t speak too much on it but I can say it’s a dramedy involving action and stunts!