June is pride month. It’s a month to not be afraid of being yourself. At least, that’s how I see it. Because we celebrate pride in June, I feel more comfortable with wearing LGBTQ+ accessories.

Interview with Jenni Rudolph, Co-Creator of LUNAR

Introduce yourself! 

Hi, I’m Jenni! I’m a songwriter, musician, and the Creative Director of LUNAR: The Jewish Asian Film Project. I identify as a mixed Chinese and (secular) Ashkenazi Jewish woman, and I’m from Southern California. When I’m not working on music or film projects, I’m solving or designing puzzles, eating pasta, or sleeping at weird hours.


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As Creative Director of Lunar: The Jewish Asian Film Project, what are your responsibilities—and what is your vision for Lunar?

My role is super collaborative but mainly involves designing and editing our video series and social media content and managing our Instagram. Through all of LUNAR’s endeavors—video content, interviews, community events, and beyond—my vision is:

  1. To connect with and provide a space for Asian American Jews.

  2. To positively, authentically, and diversely represent this intersection.

  3. To inspire our broader communities to think deeply and have nuanced dialogues about identity, inclusion, racism, antisemitism, and all of the interconnections between.

Lunar’s video series will be launching in February 2021! What will these videos feature?  

Our series features 23 Asian American Jews from a range of backgrounds, discussing the nuances of having a multicultural identity. Themes include food, community and belonging, cultural values, the model minority myth, racism, antisemitism, and media representation!

Outside of LUNARyou are also a songwriter and musician – how did you begin pursuing music? What inspires your music and creative pursuits?

It’s a cliché musician origin story, but I was singing before I could talk. I first learned about the musical scale at my Jewish preschool, made up songs wherever I went as many toddlers do, and then never grew out of it. In first grade, I started documenting my song lyrics in MS Word on my parent’s chunky computer and plunking out chords on a toy keyboard that played up to 4 notes at a time. I entered middle school with a catalog of a couple hundred songs, many of them demoed with a tiny USB microphone, and my heart set on becoming a professional songwriter. So I was definitely precocious and driven, and that’s how I convinced my mom (who, in typical Asian parent fashion, wanted me in STEM) to send me to Berklee College of Music. I graduated in 2020 with a degree in Songwriting and a minor in Recording & Production, and now I’m a freelance songwriter writing primarily for pop, R&B, and electronic artists, as well as film/TV placements. I also occasionally release my own funk music, including a song I’m working on this year, “Water & Oil,” which is all about learning to embrace my mixed Asian identity in a world that constantly otherizes me.

I’m inspired by duality, nuance, and authenticity. As a songwriter, I aim to write songs that feel distinctly human—songs that listeners relate to and feel seen and understood, not just music that fits a vibe or a brand (although that certainly is a part of it). Same goes with creative projects of other mediums. Specifically, I’m inspired by dreams, psychology, logic puzzles, science phenomena, humor, conflicting emotions, and the indescribable. Whenever I experience emotions so complex that I can’t put my thoughts into words, that’s a songwriting challenge.

During this time of COVID-19, occurrences of anti-Asian racism and antisemitism have been, unfortunately, very prevalent. How has this year affected you and this project? How have you been coping? 

Whenever I’m asked this question, my first impulse is to preface that I’m relatively fortunate, that I haven’t experienced any violence or overt racism. But if I’m honest, there is absolutely a lingering, back-of-my-mind anxiety that comes with both being Jewish and being Asian in America that escalated this year. My hometown is a white supremacy hotspot, and whenever my sister and I go on walks around the neighborhood, we pass by Trump flags and white neighbors staring at us. It’s so uncomfortable to feel unwelcome in a place I’ve lived since I was an infant. Staying at home for most of 2020 certainly helped me to feel physically safer, but racism and antisemitism are still so rampant online, and the pandemic and election added to the tension.

Fortunately, LUNAR was conceptualized in spring 2020, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Being able to connect with and process these anxieties with a community of Asian American Jews has been insanely healing. Aside from LUNAR, I’ve also been coping by setting personal boundaries for myself – giving myself permission to turn off the news and distract myself with things that bring me joy.

What does self-care mean to you? How do you take care of yourself? 

Self-care is a necessary layer to the creative process. As a songwriter, every day, I dig into my full range of emotions and commodify them into song. My work makes me laugh, cry, ponder, scream…I’ll write a pensive break-up song one afternoon and a raging social change anthem that evening. Whichever natural human emotions I experience in, say, a month, I then relive condensed within a couple of days. I have to keep the memories raw and honest yet separate myself from them enough to do the logical work of piecing together rhymes and syllables. Many artists describe this as “cathartic,” which it is… but it can also be incredibly mentally taxing, particularly when creating is your source of income and directly correlated to your own self-worth.

Hypocritically, I preach self-care to my friends but still very much struggle to prioritize it in my own life, even knowing how imperative it is. The first step for me has been learning to truly trust myself. Trusting my instincts and respecting my limits, both physical and mental. Self-care is knowing when to say “no”—declining opportunities if I get a bad vibe, self-accountability when I’m tempted to fall into my bad habits. And even the basics—listening to my body’s signals to eat or sleep, lol. I try to check in with myself regularly – how am I feeling? What has made me genuinely happy recently? What do I need to cut back on? It helps to reassure myself that cutting myself slack on my anxious days will ultimately make me happier, healthier, and more productive on my better days. Productivity probably shouldn’t be what motivates my self-care, but our “hustle culture” society makes that super difficult to re-frame.

Here are some rapid-fire questions!  

Your go-to coffee shop order? 

White hot chocolate! I try to avoid coffee because the inevitable caffeine crash hits me hard, but I’m perpetually cold with a sweet tooth, so at any given moment, I’m probably craving white hot chocolate.

Favorite color? 

Periwinkle! It’s sorta blue, sorta purple—relatably “in-between” for me as a mixed person. I’m also a fan of blues, rose pink, gold/metallic shades, and pastels. I have three kinds of synesthesia, so colors are very important to me!

Any good films/tv shows you’re watching right now? 

I definitely prefer shows over films because I connect more to long-term character development. 

My all-time favorite show is Bojack Horseman. My favorite from 2020 was Netflix’s Babysitters Club reboot, which injected me with just enough nostalgia and joy to keep me going to 2021.

Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer?

Summer, by a landslide. Summer’s generous daylight hours are most compatible with my horrifically nocturnal sleep schedule (I’m often up past 6AM writing), plus all my favorite snacks are in season during summer (nectarines, apricots, corn on the cob, watermelon). I feel most myself in the summer.

Spring wins in the color palette department (pastels everywhere!) but destroys me in the seasonal allergies department. Fall wins points for scents and flavors (pumpkin! cinnamon!) and for being easy to rhyme in a song…but underneath that cozy facade, fall is just a tiresome commute to the impending winter. Winter honestly loses all around. I used to be a winter gal, growing up in southern California and resenting the spray-tanned, mindless rich surfer kid culture that I associated with summer. UNTIL I moved to Boston for college, experienced snow for the first time, and realized that never waking up before sunset makes me feel empty and hopeless. I guess I really am a California girl at heart!

What has been the highlight of your day today? 

I finished writing a particularly challenging song! Always a great feeling.

What is next for LUNAR and for you?

Our series premieres on February 12, and we’ll be releasing weekly episodes through the spring, hosting community events, and creating more short-form social media content!

Aside from LUNAR, this year, I’ll be releasing new music—some under my own name, some written with/for other artists. I’m also working on writing and designing a murder mystery online game in collaboration with several fellow creatives. So many creative projects to look forward to!


Jenni Rudolph is a Los Angeles-based songwriter and musician specializing in pop, R&B, and funk music. A 2020 graduate of Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Songwriting, Jenni has written music for Silk Music, Revelation Records, non-profit The Canales Project, television series The Young & the Restless, and virtual reality video game Audica. Beyond music, Jenni is also the Creative Director of LUNAR: The Jewish-Asian Film Project. Jenni approaches all of her creative endeavors with a passion for diversifying representation and a hunger for impactful, authentically human experiences.

Social profiles:

Jenni:

Instagram @jenni.rudolph

YouTube: JenniRudolph

www.jennirudolph.com

LUNAR:

Instagram/Facebook: @asian.jews

Twitter: @asian_jews

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU7Iim5-qnUzkFzTt0lL1VA

globaljews.org/videos/lunar

(OR all LUNAR’s links are in this linktree: https://linktr.ee/asianjews)


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Head Interviewer

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.

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