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APA Spotlight


Dec. 16, 2010 - March 27, 2012

"APA Spotlight" is a regular interview series on 8asians.com by Koji Steven Sakai interviewing Asian American community leaders from around the country.
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Stories from this series

Thumbnail for Claire Mix, Producer/Writer/Director of Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story
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Claire Mix, Producer/Writer/Director of Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story

Jan. 26, 2012 • Koji Steven Sakai

The first national organization to speak out against the illegal incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was the Quakers. The Quakers have a long standing commitment to progressive causes. Many don’t know this but they were one of the first groups to fight to abolish slavery and have advocated for women’s rights and later civil rights as well. (To see some of the causes they are currently fighting for, click here.) Although the Quakers were the only national …

Thumbnail for Sonia Sakamoto-Jog, Executive Director, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
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Sonia Sakamoto-Jog, Executive Director, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

Oct. 21, 2011 • Koji Steven Sakai

Sonia Sakamoto-Jog (pictured on the left) joined Reel Asian as Executive Director in May of 2009 after graduating from the MBA program at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.Prior to being hired at Reel Asian, she worked at Maximum Films International (now a division of Entertainment One) where she was involved in all aspects of acquisitions, marketing, and sales. Her previous experience includes two years working as a strategy consultant for a branding agency in Tokyo, …

Thumbnail for Helen H. Ota, Artistic Director, Cold Tofu
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Helen H. Ota, Artistic Director, Cold Tofu

Oct. 13, 2011 • Koji Steven Sakai

Helen H. Ota is the Artistic Director of COLD TOFU, the nation’s premier Asian American comedy improvisation group. A member since 1993, she has performed in and produced numerous COLD TOFU improv and sketch shows. She is also the co-founder of Yes, And…Productions which produced Songs for a New World at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in Downtown Los Angeles. They are currently working on a new musical which will make its world premiere in 2012. Helen is also a performing …

Thumbnail for SHOKORA's Junichi Hernandez Yoshikai
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SHOKORA's Junichi Hernandez Yoshikai

Aug. 23, 2011 • Koji Steven Sakai

Last year I was lucky enough to be invited to Japan and meet with other Nikkei (Japanese migrants and their descendants) from around the world. As an Asian American, I admit I sometimes forget that there are people of Asian ancestry who live in Mexico. In fact, there are strong nikkei communities throughout the Americas. The biggest Nikkei population (outside of Japan) is in Brazil (with the United States coming in second). One of the people I met in Japan …

Thumbnail for Ellen Somekawa, Executive Director, Asian Americans United
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Ellen Somekawa, Executive Director, Asian Americans United

Aug. 3, 2011 • Koji Steven Sakai

Ellen Somekawa is a third-generation Japanese American from Minneapolis. There she was an activist in the Asian American student movement, the anti-apartheid movement, the anti-nuclear movement and the movement against uranium mining and for indigenous land rights in the Black Hills. Ellen received her M.A. in history at Penn, where her research focused on Southeast Asian refugee resettlement in Philadelphia. She was active in the Asian American Student Alliance, a group that successfully fought for Penn to change the offensive …

Thumbnail for Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George & Sakaye Aratani Chair, UCLA Asian American Studies Center
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Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George & Sakaye Aratani Chair, UCLA Asian American Studies Center

July 19, 2011 • Koji Steven Sakai

Lane Ryo Hirabayashi is professor in the Asian American Studies Department, and affiliate of the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA, where he is also the inaugural “George & Sakaye Aratani Chair in Japanese American Internment, Redress, and Community.” Lane earned an M.A. (1976) and then a Ph.D. (1981) in Socio-cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. Subsequently, he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center in 1981-82. Lane is author of over thirty scholarly …

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Author in This Series

Koji Steven Sakai has written four feature films that have been produced, Haunted Highway (2006), The People I’ve Slept With (2009), Monster & Me (2012), and #1 Serial Killer (2012). He also served as a producer on The People I’ve Slept With and #1 Serial Killer. His feature length screenplay, Romeo, Juliet & Rosaline, was optioned by Amazon Studios. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released by Luthando Coeur, the fantasy imprint of Zharmae Publishing Press in February of 2015.

Updated March 2015

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