As COVID-19 continues to spread, so does the panic surrounding it. Along with the panic comes misconceptions, which unfortunately have evolved into xenophobia against Asians.

Interview with Alice Ko



What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

It’s hard to say, it’s a big part of Asian culture to downplay your accomplishments. It starts with our parents always brushing off compliments that we receive, and that builds into us not believing we have accomplished anything as adults. When someone says that we are smart, our parents will jump in, saying something like our room is always messy. We associate acknowledging accomplishments with bragging. I was thinking of what I’ve done in the recent years, and I’m really proud of the short film I was in, “The Shuttle”.

Did you always want to be an actress?

No, actually! I never knew what I wanted to do growing up, but I was involved in entertainment from a very young age. And by entertainment, I mean being the second little pig in a kindergarten production of the “Three Little Pigs”.

Have you ever personally experienced discrimination?

When I moved from Hong Kong to America, I was in sixth grade, and spoke fluent, but accented English. The kids at school would make fun of me, but I never considered it to be especially malicious. There were always kids making fun of how I looked, and how I dressed. You could say that that is just how kids are, but it continued into adulthood. I always felt different, and not in a good way. I don’t even know if that’s discrimination! But whether it is or not, it’s not acceptable.

What Chinese actresses inspire you?

I’ve always loved the Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang! She has such incredible talent and presence. She is a writer, director, mother, and humanitarian, and she really inspires me.

Do you think that there is a stigma in Asian culture against acting?

There definitely is. It is so ingrained into us that sometimes we don’t realize it’s there. My parents are supportive of me, but sometimes I wonder if they still hope that I’ll go back to my tech job! *laughs*

If you could play any character in any movie, what would it be?

I would want to play the only Chinese empress, Wu Zetian. There has already been a television series on her, in China, but I haven’t been able to watch it yet. That would definitely be my dream role.

What is the best thing about the film industry?

The people. It’s great to be in a community where people are so passionate about what to do, and encouraging you, and encouraging everyone else.

What is the worst thing about the film industry?

Not knowing what will happen next.

What do you do to relax?

It’s so important to take time for your mental health, and I don’t do it enough. When I do, though I drive! I love to just get in my car and go for a long drive- preferably one that ends at the beach. I just like to sit and watch and listen to the waves, it relaxes me and helps me reset.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

Since I came to acting later in life, I always feel like I am behind. It feels like some of my peers have been acting since birth, and I just came in to the industry. I don’t have as many connections, or as long a resume as many people, and I feel like I’m always struggling to catch up.

Have you ever considered being a director, producer, or writer?

Absolutely. I love stories, so writing or directing is a dream of mine. Producing is stressful, though! I executive produced two films, recently

What is your perfect day off?

Wake up whenever I feel like it, have a cup of black tea with honey and lemon, drive down to the beach, and find a cafe to read a really nice book in. I’d end it with a nice meal, and probably an early bedtime!

Who are some up and coming Asian actresses we should check out?

A good friend of mine, Tiffany Chu, is a really talented actress! The film she starred in, “Ms Purple”, has been selected for the Sundance Film Festival.

What is your go-to coffee order?

An almond milk latte.

What do you consider the biggest problem facing Asian women today to be?

People see us as stereotypes: we’re the dragon lady, we’re the sexy geishas, we’re the tiger moms. Even with all of our accomplishments, we are still being seen as these stereotypes.

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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