What are some of your favorite pieces in this issue?
Vicki Ho: We have a story about exploring the Asian-American identity and what that exactly means. A lot of first-generation Asian-Americans feel this way, where they don't truly feel American but they don't truly feel Asian either, so we've kind of explored this third identity of being Asian-American and what that means. We also talk a lot about the identity of being Asian overseas. We have a piece by this British writer, and she talked a lot about growing up in a Chinese takeaway. A lot of things are threaded throughout the theme of identity. We have another story called "China's Next Great Export," which is a first-person view of rap and hip-hop in Asia and China specifically—the bubbling industry of it, how they perceive American rap, how they are breaking the barriers of hip-hop in Asia, and how they're influenced by American rap. And then we have an interview with this illustrator and artist, Shawna X, who is also our cover artist for Issue 003, and she talks a little bit about identity as well.
Kathleen Tso: "Welcome to Chinatown" is definitely a favorite. We asked Issue 002's Wilson Tang to curate a group of movers and shakers he believes are helping pave the way for Manhattan Chinatown's future—Sophia Ng of Po Wing Hong, Phil Chong of Canal Street Market, Calvin Ng of Nom Wah Nolita, director Evan Leong, photographer An Rong Xu, and Christopher Wong of Breakroom and L.E.S Kitchen. I also love "Asian Glow," where we invited friends, family, and industry folk to get wasted with us and get their photo taken with their Asian glow. We want to celebrate the symptom, rather than hide it with this photo series.
How is this issue different than the previous ones?
KT: We say this every issue, but this is our best yet. The talent of our contributors keeps leveling up, and the stories we tell are becoming better and better. There's been quite a learning curve for us building a magazine, and though we're still learning, we're starting to get the hang of it.
VH: The issue itself has been growing in pages and in stories since Issue 001, so now we're at 12 stories.
Have you seen any improvement in terms of representation for Asians and Asian-Americans in mainstream media?
VH: I think there is definitely an improvement. I mean, we started [Banana] ourselves 'cause we were very inspired by Eddie Huang and what he's been doing with his book, the TV show, his channel on VICE, and his own social channels. We look at people like Awkwafina, who has been a huge supporter of ours, and she's been getting so much press. She was just on a billboard in L.A. doing something with Comedy Central; like, she has her own talk show. Things are definitely getting out there, and I feel like, especially in the time that we're in, a lot of people are frustrated and angry but also inspired to voice their opinions and feeling positive about being true to their identity and exploring their culture more. I see more bylines from Asian writers, which is really exciting, and more Asian leadership in top companies, which is a really big deal too. It's slow and steady, but I think right now is a really good time for more Asians to speak up and really be proud of their heritage.
KT: There are definitely improvements, year after year, since the days where we only had Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, and a few others to look to in the media. We still have a looooong way to go, but with figures like Eddie Huang, Constance Wu, John Cho, and more, we're definitely getting more representation in the media. We're seeing more Asians cast in relatable roles, and even more male lead love interests cast with Asian actors, like Vincent Rodriguez III in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Aziz Ansari in Master of None. However, missteps like Ghost in the Shell are still happening, so there's still work to do.