I'm on vacation! This week, I'm taking a much-needed break to recharge the batteries and get a change of scenery. To keep things going around here, I've enlisted the help of several friends of the blog to submit guest posts on various topics of their choosing. Here's one from Hudson Yang, star of ABC's Fresh Off The Boat.
So this week's episode of Fresh Off The Boat, "The Big One-Two," was about Eddie turning 12, and actually I turned 12 a few weeks ago too.
I don't feel that different as a 12 year old than I did as an 11 year old. I do get more privileges. My dad lets me sit up front in the car sometimes. And I'm treated differently, beause I'm older and I can't get away with being irresponsible all the time. I have to help with the dishes and laundry, and I have to take care of my seven-year-old brother Skyler more. And I have to watch how I act around him, because I see that he's watching what I do all the time, and I want him to have a good role model.
Role models are important. My dad says back when he was growing up, there weren't a lot of other Asians out there in public, especially not on TV. Now there's a lot more of us out there -- there are great shows like Fresh Off The Boat, Dr. Ken, Master of None and a lot more coming, I hope. So when you turn on the TV now, if you're Asian, you see familiar faces. You see people you can relate to. Asian American families come up to us all the time and say, "We watch you guys every week, all of us together." And the kids are like, "We love the show, we want to be just like you!" I tell them "Well, you don't want to be just like me, you should be yourself."
Aubrey Anderson-Emmons came to my birthday too but she had to come late. She's one of my best friends here in L.A.!
That's something that happens in this episode too. Eddie tells his parents that he doesn't want to have a birthday party with them because they think he's just an annoying kid who likes rap music and sleeping, and he can't be what he's like with his friends, who think he's athletic, generous, smart and funny. People have expectations of you -- even your family and friends -- and it's hard to get them to change how they think.
FRESH OFF THE BOAT #squad at my birthday! That's me, Trevor Larcom (Trent), Luna Blaise (Nicole), my brother Skyler, Dash Williams (Brian), Ian Chen (Evan), Forrest Wheeler (Emery), Evan Hannemann (Dave) and Prophet Bolden (Walter)
But you can do it. Last season on the show, Eddie's friends thought of him as this weird Asian kid who ate gross food. Over the season he showed them who he really is, and they started to understand that there's a lot more to him than that. This season, even when Eddie does something stupid, they see it as Eddie being stupid, not the "Asian kid" being stupid. Eddie became an actual person to them, and then a friend.
More and more that's how it is in the real world. When I make friends in the real world, I don't feel like anyone cares about my race. If I see someone that I think is cool, I'll just go up and say "S'up" and hang out with them. I introduce myself, I make them laugh, we play together, we have fun.
That includes girls, too. People ask me about it all the time because on the show, Eddie has a girlfriend now. Well, I don't -- I guess I'm too busy right now. But someone will come along, I'm not worried about it. I have confidence. If I see a girl I like, I'll tell them. No problem. It just doesn't seem like that big of a deal.
In the episode THE BIG 1-2, I had a sleepover at Dave's house, and his family is wayyyyy different from ours. Like, he FARTS ON HIS MOM.
I know I'm lucky that I haven't really experienced racism. We get asked about it sometimes, like after the episode where Randall [Park, who plays Eddie's dad Louis] was freaking out about Long Duk Dong. When I see the scenes from that movie, I know they're totally racist, but I also know it's totally not me. Sometimes people have made jokes that are racist in front of me, and I basically just ignore them. Or I become real quiet and then they know they've made a stupid mistake. And then we talk about it, and usually we get over it and can even become friends -- once they see that I'm an actual person and not just a dumb joke.
That's what I hope our show and all the other shows do: Change all the expectations people have about Asians, so that we become actual people to them. And maybe friends. We can be a way for people to learn how Asians are the same as everyone else, and also the ways we're different. Some of what we do on the show is for laughs, but a lot of it is kind of true.
Like Asian parents always pushing us to get good grades -- that's totally a fact. The struggle is real.
Hudson Yang stars on 'Fresh Off The Boat,' which airs Tuesdays at 8:30 PM on ABC.