God I Know Why Jeremy Lin is Here

(Spoiler alert: this is not a post on the Almighty.)

Over the span of 4 days, 4 plane rides, 1 car accident and some crazy moments like this: Guess which meme I’m doing?

I found myself awake at 4.30 am purging my computer of all things and wondering about my creative future. Events like San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival make people feel warm and fuzzy.

They show artists’ work, gather us together to make us feel special and give audiences a chance to see entertainment they may never otherwise see…on youtube. I was happy to race between LA and SF to make the premiere of Nice Girls Crew and the Saving Face reunion, all while auditioning for TV season.


But at 4.30 am, mentally exhausted, emotionally deprived of stillness and creatively searching for something besides sleep, I started to wonder why I do what I do when so much needs to be done in the world. Being an actor can sometimes feel so frivolous (except when you get into the White House). Do you have nights like these? I read that only 20% of Americans pursue their dream job. I think that may be a lot considering other countries, but I’ve always known that I’m privileged to pursue the Arts professionally and to be an actor. However, I must admit, I don’t envy other more prominent actors’ lives. I just envy their roles.

So after re-watching a film like Saving Face which I feel so blessed to be a part of even 8 years later, I was struck with just how few great roles there are for women and especially ethnic women in Hollywood.

In this metaphor, I’m not sure if Hollywood=NBA but Jeremy Lin averaged 7.3% of available min. per game for the Warriors. There were 82 games and he played 29 one of them! How could he bust a move with so little court time? Jeremy Lin has always been there, somebody just finally played him in the role he was meant to play. I wonder for the 20,000 hours I’ve put into being an actor, just how much time I’ve really accumulated playing on the Hollywood court in my equivalent point guard position? I’ve been thinking lately that I don’t believe there’s a complete lack of roles for ethnic women…it’s just that Hollywood needs to play us more.

Nice Girls Crew cast: Sheetal Sheth, Lynn Chen and yours truly.

At 4.30 am and one less cluttered hard drive later, the only thing left, is the blind fact that you play for the love of the game. Jeremy Lin found his love for basketball by playing for God. I used to…believe it or not…play for my parents. Crazay I know because I think the kid in me wanted to show them that their daughter could be validated by something other than themselves. (My father has written my hometown newspaper no less than five times. And he called once telling me he watched Good Morning America looking for me but couldn’t find me.) But we all know that validation in Hollywood is a misguided road, don’t get on it. And of course, in life, you can never play for any kind of validation because it seems…you lose connection to yourself and why you choose to pursue what you want to pursue.

So it wasn’t a big surprise when cleaning out my files, this appeared in huge letters on my screen. Awhile back, I downloaded this free chapter from a book called The Question is Why. I’m a total sucker for inspirational authors. It’s an oldie AND a goodie but Simon Sinek is really talking about leadership and impassioning others. As he posits, it’s not necessarily the WHAT that’s important, it’s the WHY behind our passion. For Jeremy Lin, it’s playing for God.

For me…maybe I needed a night like this to remind me of my – Why. With a statistic like this: there hasn’t been an Asian actress to be nominated for best lead actress in a feature since 1935, you better get a grip on the Why. I don’t think the Oscars is the NBA but you gotta know what game you’re dribbling to here.

While waiting for the audience to be seated for Saving Face, my guest was a childhood friend of mine who is related to and works very closely with Jeremy Lin, and Joan started asking if Jeremy was always playing at the level he is now or if he recently trained and “found” himself. The answer was somewhere between he’s been super training and he finally found a coach that believed in him. To me, he seems to be playing for a higher purpose and my hunch is that he’s firmly rooted in his why. As for me…maybe I just need…more sleep?

Some statistics:

List of Academy Award Nominations for African Americans
List of Academy Award Nominations for Asians/Americans
List of Academy Award Nominations for Latin Americans