Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Meet ultra-cool actress, foodie and blogger Lynn Chen on the next visualizAsian show
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Meet ultra-cool actress, foodie and blogger Lynn Chen on the next visualizAsian show

Lynn ChenUPDATE:Due to a scheduling conflict, our conversation with Lynn Chen is now scheduled for Monday, April 11 at 7 pm PT.

Lynn Chen is a woman after Erin and my own hearts… and stomachs. She’s a foodie as well as a talented actress and musician, and she writes one blog, “The Actor’s Diet,” about “the life of a Hollywood actress. Meal by meal,” and recently launched another, “Thick Dumpling Skin,” about Asians’ diet and body issues, with Hyphen publisher Lisa Lee.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be speaking with Lynn for our next visualizAsian show on TUESDAY, APRIL 26MONDAY APRIL 11 at 7 pm PT (10 pm for you folks on the east coast). Just register here for the free dial-in and webinar information — if you’ve registered for previous visualizAsian calls, you’ll already receive the info.

Wow, you missed a powerful conversation with Lynn on April 11, but you can still register to hear the archived MP3 of the call for 30 days.

Lynn Chen, whose “excessive beauty makes us want to rip our eyeballs out,” according to the ladies of the Disgrasian blog, was born in Queens, New York in 1976 to a mother who sang at the Metropolitan Opera and a father who is an ethnomusicologist, and she was raised in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University.

As a child, Lynn sang with the Children’s Choirs at the Metropolitan and NYC Opera Houses, and made her acting debut in the NY State Theatre production of “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center. Television credits include “NCIS: LA,” “Numbers,” guest roles on almost all of the “Law and Order” shows, and recurring roles in “All My Children” and “The Singles Table,” opposite John Cho and Alicia Silverstone.

Of her films, Lynn’s best-known as “Vivian Shing” in Sony Pictures Classic’s feature film “Saving Face,” a role for which she won the “Outstanding Newcomer Award” at the 2006 Asian Excellence Awards. Since then she has appeared in over a dozen films, most recently starring in “White on Rice,” “Why Am I Doing This?.” “The People I’ve Slept With,” and the just-released “Surrogate Valentine,” which is making the rounds of film festivals.

Surrogate Valentine” was directed by Dave Boyle, the young filmmaker who also wrote and directed “White on Rice,” a terrific indie film, and it’s a fictionalized story of the real-life experiences of singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura. The film was the closing night selection of the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival, and just screened at SXSW Film in Austin.

But Lynn isn’t just limited to acting. In fact, she took some time off from acting to deal with her eating disorders, and started “The Actor’s Diet” in 2009 as a way to write about food and to hold herself accountable for eating healthy (with the burgers and fried thrown in). Here’s how she explains the blog:

I used to hate talking about my history with food because it’s been such a roller coaster. I’ve been a binge eater my entire life and spent over six years balancing it out with anorexia.

In 2003 I had literally worked my butt off to play a ballet dancer. When I stopped the dieting, I naturally gained the weight back. But my managers weren’t happy. My fans called me chubby. My relatives commented. And since I wasn’t booking, I figured it must be because of the weight. I looked for examples of women who were about my size but I wasn’t even sure what I saw anymore; the bingeing and anorexia were taking over every aspect of my life.

In an attempt to get my life under control in a healthful way, I tried to do what I thought other actors did. I went on the zone, did cleanses, ate macrobiotic, got hypnosis, hired a personal trainer, had private pilates sessions, ate specially delivered/overpriced meals, went vegetarian, all while seeing an eating disorders specialist. I would scour magazine interviews with actors, stopping when they described anything having to do with food. “She ate a hamburger and fries,” I would read, and think, “And then what? How much of it did she eat? Did she have anything else the rest of the day? What about the next day?” I couldn’t figure out how other actors did it, why it was so difficult for me to stay as small as everyone else around me without counting every calorie.

A few months ago, she launched — with co-blogger Lisa Lee — her new blog, “Thick Dumpling Skin,” with the subtitle “It’s what’s inside that counts.” If her first blog is personal and focuses on her life as an actress, this one is about the Asian values and cultural traditions that affect our eating habits and self-image.

This site is a place for hungry Asian voices to be heard. Are you a Con Gái, Kakak, Mak, Aiyi, Otosan, Putra, Kuya, Halapoji, Hoahanau, etc. who feels like you’re alone when it comes to obsession with both food and body image? Trust us, you’re not.

We all have families. We all eat. We all have families who tell us what to eat, when to eat, and extended families who make plenty of unsolicited comments about our food. They tell us we’ve eaten too much, too little, and too much again. One day we’re too skinny. And within a matter of days, we’re too fat.

No matter what we’re told, we’re always offered seconds. And thirds. We are afraid to offend, so we oblige and take fourths. Sometimes we pretend we’ve already eaten. Merely saying “No thank you” – and being heard – isn’t a realistic option.

We see other Asians – in movies and in fashion spreads – and teeny tiny appears to be our norm. We witness entire populations walking around in clothes that most of us outgrew after puberty. We wonder why we weren’t born into a culture where ample booties are celebrated.

These thoughts turn into actions, and we awake one day to find that we need to justify everything that we put in our mouths. And this is when things start to get dangerous. We’ve been there, and perhaps you have been too.

The site’s interactive and invites readers to send in their own stories and express their issues and experiences.

Somehow amidst all the stuff she does, Lynn also manages to make music with her group YPOK2.

Can we have a guest on visualizAsian that’s more multidimensional? We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday April 26Monday April 11 for our talk with Lynn Chen!

Remember, even though you missed a powerful conversation with Lynn on April 11, you can still register to hear the archived MP3 of the call for 30 days.

(Cross-posted from