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12.16.2016

Angry Reader of the Week: Yuji Okumoto

"If you fail, at least you failed doing what you love."



Hey, everybody! You know what time it is. It's time 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 Yuji Okumoto.


Who are you?

I'm an Angry Asian fan! Yuji Okumoto, actor, producer, writer, and restaurant owner.

What are you?

A proud JA (Japanese American).

Where are you?

I'm in the Emerald City.

Where are you from?

So Cal. Born and raised in Hollywood, California. Where the bright lights blind you from the harsh reality of a dark fantasy.

What do you do?

Whatever the hell I set my mind out to do.

Who would've thought a shy and quiet loner would secretly want to be an actor? Certainly not my family. What the hell was I thinking? My folks thought I was nuts. Family friends thought I was crazy. So, I set out to prove myself. I left Cal State Fullerton in my senior year and pursued one of the toughest and most competitive careers one can choose. Da fuck?

I worked at a supermarket while doing equity waiver theater for zero pay at night. I studied acting under the Milton Katselas' organization, eventually becoming an ethics officer there. Meaning I was the one who dropped the hammer on the slackers in the class. What the hell, it meant free tuition. Got an agent while working in theater and my film and TV journey began.

In 2002, I moved up to Seattle to be with my wife and decided I needed another challenge. Opened up a Hawaiian American restaurant named Kona Kitchen in 2002. Fourteen years later I'm still slinging hash.

What are you all about?

No FEAR! If you fail, at least you failed doing what you love. That's the key. Don't ever settle, be the best. Constantly challenge yourself.

My next challenge is producing a feature film called The Paper Tigers. It's a throwback homage to kung fu movies of the past that showcase strong Asian American characters.

What makes you angry?

Narrow-mindedness, in general, makes me angry, especially in regard to the film business. Granted, we have seen some positive changes over the years with more visibility of Asian American faces in the media, but there is plenty of room for growth.

Sure, we can continue to complain about the "Oscar so White" controversy and the obvious whitewash casting in Hollywood, but at the end of the day, what is it that we can do to help make changes? We, as a collective, not only have to create our own projects, but to support them as well. That's why I believe in The Paper Tigers It's a film that features Asian American leads that are real and not stereotypical, cardboard cutout caricatures from the past.

We all know there is still a void that needs to be filled. However, we can't do it on our own. We have to hear the voice of the audience demanding to see such films. And the best way to do that is by your support. I invite you to visit our movie's website and join our mailing list at thepapertigersmovie.com. Let's continue to fight the fight and create positive ways to take Asian Americans out of the background and into the spotlight.