Angry Reader of the Week: Jae Jin

Photo: Eun

All right! It is time, once again, to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Jae Jin.

Who are you?

Jae Jin. I'm the grateful son raised by a Korean immigrant, single mother (who will always be THE love of my life). When I was 16, my mother married a wonderful, accomplished, Caucasian man whom I proudly call my father. Growing up under these two very loving, yet different individuals has taught me so much about never forgetting your roots, working hard in life, and living with passion.

I am also the Asian American whose cover of a 1962 Sam Cooke soul song went viral on a popular website called WorldStarHipHop. (To this day, I still have no idea how it ended up on there.)

And I am also the Asian American who was cast in the Netflix show House of Cards. You can read the unexpected story of how that all happened HERE. (Or, for a more faith-based, intimate perspective via a recent interview I did, go HERE.)

What are you?

I am an artist, using music and writing as my primary platforms to connect with others. I am a risk taker. I am a stereotype breaker. My goal is to become a self-sustaining, professional musician/artist.

Just last month, I shared my original music for the very first time publicly. I'm very grateful for the opportunities that continue to arise, and it's exciting that this might just be the start of a very exciting journey.

Where are you?

I live and work in East Baltimore. If you've ever seen The Wire or Homicide: Life on the Street, a lot of filming was done in the area I live and work. But let me tell you that this doesn't depict Charm City in its entirety. Once you cast aside the reputation and come see Baltimore for yourself, I think you'll see it lives up to its namesake.

That being said, I'm finding myself grateful for more opportunities to travel, share music, and speak. "Where are you?" will be the question I will get asked the most over the next month as I leave Baltimore to visit DC, New York City, Nashville, and Chicago!

Where are you from?

I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and came to the US when I was very young. I moved here to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University. After more than a decade, I say with a sense of pride that I'm from Baltimore.

What do you do?

A couple years ago, I left the medical/health industry and decided against pursuing an MD/MBA degree. Instead I chose a job that gives me the opportunity to spend my evenings and weekends focusing on music. By day, I serve at a wonderful nonprofit organization called Humanim that provides human services for underserved populations. But as much as I love my job, I want to be a musician and artist full time, because that is where my passion lies.

What are you all about?

Stories. Faith, family, and friends are important to me and can be tied together via stories. I want to connect with as many people as possible to hear the intricate and diverse story of each person I come across. I want to tell stories through my writing and my music.

In the end, I plan to live my life to the fullest and attempt to inspire others to do the same. A part of my own story includes the challenge and struggles I've faced, especially as a pediatric oncology patient over the past 12 years. Many people around me have higher life expectancies than I do. But what's the point of having a long life if you never really start living?

What makes you angry?

I feel that my passion gets misinterpreted as anger sometimes. But that should be true for anyone who pursues big -- and oftentimes daunting -- dreams and does so without holding anything back.

So a few things that make me angry in no particular order are:

Boxes. Not actual boxes... those are usually great. (Best feeling ever is a warm box of pizza on your lap.) It makes me angry when people are placed into boxes due to preconceived notions and limitations. I don't want to be boxed in as an "Asian" musician or a "Christian" musician or into any specific certain genre. Why place a limit on others? Along those same lines, why place a limit on yourself? Yes, we are Asian Americans. That identity is an important aspect of who we are. But we're so much more than that.

Lack of humility. I feel that things like money and fame definitely change people, and usually it's not for the better. I hope that I will always be surrounded by individuals who will tell me if I'm lacking humility or not treating others with the same respect regardless of who they are.

Numbers. It makes me angry that numbers rule so many things, when they really aren't necessarily the best great indicator of anything. It just has made me want to break those rules. They say you need this and that GPA or test score to go to this and that school. You need this number of years of experience to get that job. I've even seen this in music. I've been asked to perform at a university, and then was basically told that due to the number of followers I had on Twitter and Facebook, they were going to go with another artist (who happened to have ten times the number of followers).

At the end of the day, I think the important thing is to channel anger, stay passionate, push forward despite obstacles, and persevere long enough to achieve your potential.

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