Empowering Moments at Empower 2019

For over six years now, I’ve been taking my writing much more seriously. Within that time, I’ve written and published two novels (and am currently working on a third one), I’ve become a content creator in the written form with my writings appearing in several corners of the Internet, I’ve written one-act plays that have been produced for stage, and this past year, I wrote my very first screenplay. I’ve done a lot, and yet I’m still so far from where I want (and need) to be as a writer. That’s why last week, I looked to see what next steps I need to take.

A week ago, I was in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo District for Empower 2019; a two-day creative leadership conference that seeks to inspire aspiring Asian American creatives who want to work in the entertainment industry, by way of panels, workshops, keynotes, and mentorships. This conference, which has been going on since 2015, is put on by Kollaboration; a non-profit organization that, for nearly two decades, has been discovering, connecting, and showcasing Asian Americans who are thriving in the arts.

It was through my connections at Kollaboration that I found out that this event was coming up. For about four years, I was involved with them; first as a member of the San Francisco chapter, and then as a writer and editor for the main website’s blog. It’s from being inspired by the artists who’ve been featured at Kollaboration that inspired me to take on my dreams as a writer, and so looking at this conference in retrospect, it felt like being at the halfway point of a full circle.

There were so many panels and workshops happening throughout the weekend I was in town. From hearing from TV writers on making their ways into the writer’s room, to learning about diversity in the fairly young world of podcasting, to gaining insight on the direction that Asian American representation is going post-#AsianAugust from actors across generations. There was just so much to take in.

Despite all the speakers and activities throughout the days, it was the smaller moments and the one-on-ones that stick out to me from this experience. I shall cherish the moment of finally meeting actor Tamlyn Tomita, and telling her how much I admire her performances, while being told how much she cherishes the role of writers in return (she somehow I identified me as a writer without me ever saying anything). I did take the time to network and I enjoyed hearing other people’s journeys in the creative field; whether that be moving from Phoenix to LA to pursue acting, or talking about the power of music composers with someone who did the music for a Taiwanese Netflix series. I also loved being one of five people to take part in a half-hour mentorship with author C.B. Lee, as we delved into a discussion that, if allowed, would have far exceeded the half-hour limit.

Circling back to my main goal of attending this conference, I’m happy to report that I did acquire what next steps I should take as a writer. Those next steps are ones that I’ve actually been taking for over a year already; writing and entering fellowships, competitions, and other opportunities of the sort. Even if I don’t get in the first time, I’ve also been assured that my persistence is my greatest ally in the long run. This is all I can really do for the time being, especially given the fact that I live in the Bay Area. Until I’m in a position where I can afford to move to LA, taking a hold of these opportunities is really all I can do for now while I’m here.

Empower 2019 has – for lack of a better word – empowered me to keep on going with the writing I am doing and am pursuing. I hope the same can go for everyone else who was in attendance as well.

I hope you too will be down for the ride.

If you are able to, I hope you can go support me in all that I do by leaving a tip over on Ko-fi. I do a lot of writing that I get paid very little for or not at all, and so this is a way of showing your support other than just reading my content. Donations of varying quantities and frequencies are greatly appreciated.

Also, if you can please take a few seconds and vote for whether or not I should make A Moment’s Worth available as a paperback for its fifth anniversary this summer, that would be a huge help. You have until  the end of TOMORROW to get your votes in.


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