celebrate asia – May 7, Hyatt Regency

Celebrate Asia, a multi-cultural gathering of colorful exuberance, returns to Downtown Jacksonville for a second year this Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday, May 7 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel. It’s a dazzling, color-filled entertainment experience that features celebrities, performances and a bevy of delightful Asian food.
Visiting Jacksonville for this years Celebrate Asia will be Sarah Liu- Miss Asian American 2010- 2011, Amy Chanthaphavong- Miss Asian American for 2009- 2010, actors Jack Ong, Julia Nickson and Bee Vang along with singers Brooke Demetri, Ketsana and Fe De Los Reyes. Asian hip-hop artists Gumby aka PRYCe, praCH and Alex San DiNero, along with guitar master Gary Perez, will also be at the event.
Film, television and stage star Jack Ong will emcee Celebrate Asia 2011. Jack is well known in Hollywood as has appeared in dozens of TV shows including Touched By An Angel, Friends and as an animated character in The Simpsons. On the big screen Ong has been in Akeelah And The Bee, Art School Confidential and a recently released short, Journey of a Paper Son.
In a recent interview with EU, Ong was asked: what if Jersey Shore was set in an Asian neighborhood? “To have a show like Jersey Shore set in ANY American neighborhood with Asians in the leading roles would be an answer to prayer, frankly. We’ve been struggling and advocating for more diversity in the media for decades now, and I’m hopeful that the networks will step up their efforts,“ he explains. “Asian Americans for the most part are still portrayed in fairly stereotypical roles, but it’s slowly–verrrry slowly improving. I think of Tim Kang in The Mentalist, the casting in Hawaii 5-0 and Outsourced, Asian American stars like John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim and Lucy Liu along with the super talented Asian Americans Jenna Ushkowitz and Harry Shum, regular cast members of the wonderfully diverse show Glee.”
“TV commercials are quite diverse in their casting nowadays, and I think they represent more of the actual “American scene” than the regular network programming. We need to educate our scriptwriters to simply be color-blind in their writing as much as possible.”
“Oh, what role would I play in Jersey Shore? The same kinda role I’d love to play on most TV dramas and sitcoms today – the uncle or parent of one of the leads, or one of the adults who has some impact on their day-to-day lives. Just not another waiter, please. Unless it’s a regular role and pays well, of course!”
One entertainer who is sure to pick up the pace will be Cambodian hip-hop artist, praCH Ly. praCH was acclaimed “the first Cambodian rap star” by Newsweek and is a noted lyricist, musician, writer, producer and activist whose Dalama albums have battled oppression via rhyme and lyrics. “I’m really excited to be returning to Celebrate Asia. I still call Florida my second home… I have friends and family there in Jacksonville”
When asked who he would invite (anyone) to Celebrate Asia 2011, praCH paused for a moment and emphatically stated “My parents… I asked them but my dad is in Cambodia. I wish for them to actually join a celebration showing the unity of Asians… to see us unite, peoples from Thailand, Viet Nam, China, would be great. My parents went through the Killing Fields”
On the subject of Jersey Shore praCH says,”I don’t think it would work with Asians… it is disrespectful… respect is what Asian culture is made of.” For being a pioneer in hip-hop rap, a music style mostly accused of being an in-your-face gangsta gripe, praCH’s latest album is not gangsta. DALAMA…”memoirs of the invisible war,” has a unique style that switches songs from English to Cambodian to English and back with a delivery that is compelling and contagious. praCH has done the music for a new baseball film, Rice Field of Dreams, that is premiering in Long Beach on April 13th, and also has an Oscar short-listed project called Enemies Of The People.
Ong and praCH will enjoy a delightful evening with incredible native costumes, a dragon march and a smorgasbord of delicious Asian foods including Asian Sesame Balls, sushi, Filipino Lumpia, Laotian Papaya Salad, Pad Thai Noodles, Thai Red Curry and Vietnamese Summer Rolls.