Recently, I was able talk to someone I find very admirable, Thien A. Pham. He’s doing what I have always dreamed of: producing. I was fortunate enough to be able to get an interview with him.
Chị Kayla: I don’t meet many people often that are invested in the Vietnamese media. My first question to you is: why are you into film?
Thien A. Pham:My family lived in a small town in Vietnam and there wasn’t a lot of entertainment around except going to the cinema. My parents liked going to the movies and my mom tells me they watched a lot of films when she was pregnant with me. Even into my early childhood, they’d take me to the movies where I’d get rocked to sleep. So maybe that’s why I love films so much since it was such a big part of my life early on.
CK:Wow that’s really awesome! Can we look forward to seeing more Vietnamese films in the near future? What is your vision or hope for Vietnamese media?
T.A.P:We definitely hope to bring more Vietnamese films to the audience here. Of course, that really depends on the amount of support from the community. If it was up to us, we would have a Vietnamese film in theaters every month. But as you may know, there are many obstacles when releasing a Vietnamese film in the US. The Vietnamese audience here is not yet used to watching Vietnamese films in theaters. It’s not an entertainment lifestyle yet compared to watching concerts. Also, the younger generation may not be attracted to watching Vietnamese films because they may feel they won’t understand it or they can’t relate to it. In addition, the theaters have a lot of films to choose from, so in order for them to continue selecting Vietnamese films to show in theaters, there has to be a good audience turnout, or else it doesn’t make sense for them. We believe in order for our community to grow stronger, our entertainment and media industry needs to grow stronger. The Catch 22 is in order for our media to grow stronger, the community needs to support it. Some people ask why we don’t see more Vietnamese films in theaters. I think the question should be, how do we get people to come and watch Vietnamese films? If a large number of people come out to watch Vietnamese films, I’m certain we’ll be able to release more Vietnamese films. One of the feedback we received is that Vietnamese films released in the US are old films, which had been released in Vietnam months, sometimes years ago. That’s been true so far and that is what we’re aiming to change. We’re in discussion with studios to do same day theatrical releases in both Vietnam and US. Hopefully we will start seeing that happening in 2018.
CK: Any encouraging words to the Vietnamese creators that are out there trying to also make it in the entertainment industry? Also are you looking for more to join your team?
T.A.P:What I would say to Vietnamese content creators is to keep on creating. The distribution platforms and technology can and will change, but content and the need for content will not go away. More importantly, the more content creators we have, it will show our community there is a viable career for content creators. We’re not all meant to be lawyers, doctors, or engineers. When I first started, I wasn’t sure this was the right path for me and my parents definitely didn’t think so. There is so much instability in this industry. But the instability, or the unknown, shouldn’t be a reason for us to stop creating. It should fuel us even more because it means every day brings new possibilities. One of the reasons we have been able to keep at this competitive business for many years is because we keep very nimble and always look for good collaborators to be part of the team depending on which project we work on. There is so much amazing talent out there and we’re definitely open to working with new creative people.
CK: Thank you so much for this interview I really appreciate it!
First of all, I can’t believe I was able to have THE Cardin Nguyen to produce this song. I love his music. I remember dancing to Trái Tim Dại Khờ and going out there to get his CD. If he made a DVD, I would have bought it. Cardin was actually the reason why I got into dancing in the first place. Such an honor to have him work with me.
So with this song I came up with when I was talking to my mom. Every now and then she would ask me if I had a boyfriend yet. Then, whenever I went to a family outing they would ask me too! Truthfully speaking I was really focusing on my job as a UNIQLO manager at the time. Opening up a store was tough work and quite frankly there was no time for me to date. I feel like a lot of girls could relate to this song so a beat came to my head and BAM, Ế Chồng was born.
I was very careful about this song. I didn’t want girls to feel a certain way because they were not married, but at the same time be able to make it comedic and allow others to laugh about it. I wasn’t sure how to approach it, but when I started writing, I was able to simply just write truth from my story. This song just comments on our Vietnamese culture how the older generation values family and marriage juxtaposed to my generation where we value career and personal goals. I am not saying that one value is better than the other, rather, times are different, people now value different things.
I hope this song creates a lot of laughter and opens up conversation so that family members can openly support each other on career/family decisions. What do you think of the new song? Please let me know in the comments below!
Growing up we all probably knew the three biggest companies that made up the Vietnamese showbiz industry. That was: Thúy Nga Entertainment (Paris By Night), Asia Entertainment, and Vân Sơn Entertainment. If you are a K-Pop star, you would also know of what they call the Big 3: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. Even though I know that these industries are COMPLETELY different, there are some characteristics that make them similar. Let me explain.
Thúy Nga Entertainment AKA Paris By Night = SM Entertainment
The first reason why I would say that Paris By Night is the SM equivalent is because they are the strongest in terms of money and fame within the Vietnamese Community. The main purpose of PBN is to showcase singers to entertain the audience. They have the most famous and legendary singers. They have produced top names like Khánh Ly, Lynda Trang Đài, Nguyễn Hưng, Don Hồ, and a ton more. A singer has a song, they sing and perform it, that’s it, everyone loves it. The singers are very talented definitely do an amazing job performing it, however, it’s rare for me to see artists coming on stage and performing something completely original. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but PBN is definitely all about the glamour and stardom.
Asia Entertainment = YG Entertainment
Asia is definitely more on the political side. Asia artists are encouraged to produce their own music, artists such as Trúc Hồ, Sỹ Đan, Shayla, Trish, and Cardin. Likewise, we see various YG artists writing and composing their own music as well: GD, Teddy, and CL. As for YG, we all know they have a hip hop direction, which is why I say Asia is more like YG in the way that they have a focus, they make sure their opinion is heard, they’re not afraid to voice what they think. Looks are not as important to the production as much as talent. What’s most important is that the community is educated about the world around them through the eyes of TT Asia.
Vân Sơn Entertainment = JYP Entertainment
Vân Sơn is an actual man just like JYP. He is the only man that named his company after him and actually performs in his shows. Just like JYP. Now I think these two companies are similar because when it comes to the artists and their career, they have the most freedom to do whatever they want. Also because VS and JYP are actual people you can really grow to love their character as oppose to just imagining an impersonal CEO that works behind the scenes.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
The Vietnamese Entertainment Programs (PBN, Asia, Van Son <–VN’s The Big Three) would often pair two people together for duets or collaborations. Some stuck with us in our hearts and even made us want them to be a real couple (some on the list actually DID become a couple). Most of these artists and singers now have their own families, but that doesn’t stop us from reminiscing and cherishing the memories they’ve gave us in our lives.
8. Như Quỳnh & Thế Sơn
I remember watching this video back in the day. LOVED this song. Not only that, the chemistry they had during this performance was really awesome. Look at Như Quỳnh’s pouty so CUTE! Definitely makes my heart melt.
7. Nguyễn Hưng & Lưu Bích
Was it just me? Or was Nguyễn Hưng the only man Lưu Bích was comfortable with? They seem to really enjoy themselves during this performance so naturally and comfortably. There was even one time during a PBN behind the scenes segment when Nguyễn Hưng goes behind Lưu Bích and gives her a back hug and says, “I love Lưu Bích!” AHHH MY HEART!!
Looking at the interviews and MVs, I feel like Minh Tuyết definitely probably had a thing for Huy Vũ. Or at least she really appreciated him. Always enjoy their performances together. This one especially. Apparently on the set it was really hot and originally Minh Tuyết was suppose to be the frozen one, but Huy Vũ, being a gentleman he is takes the place of her and becomes the aluminum man. It was so hot Huy Vũ almost fainted! All the performances I’ve seen them together, they always bring a song to life with their voices and their acting. So da awesome.
5. Minh Trí & Việt Thi
These two always performed together. Super cute and super awesome, and THEY CAN FIGHT, well do martial arts. Minh Trí & Việt Thi were everyone’s one true pair. Actually, they were an real married couple. Apparently VT was performing martial arts at a festival. MT noticed her and pursued her and ended up married her! You listen to their songs now and you’re like wow, I actually jammed to this back in the day, but what’s worse is that you find out it was a song from anther artist (such as Best Friend and Oriental Cowgirl). Unfortunately, because of some…how should I say this, stupidity (mainly on his end), they’ve split. I was DEVASTATED and angry when I found out. Regardless these two remain iconic and we will always remember them as one.
4. Phi Nhung & Mạnh Quỳnh
Phi Nhung definitely had a thing for Mạnh Quỳnh, yo. It was an ongoing joke at PBN. They even released a collaboration DVD together back in the day. They were the power duo when it came to vọng cổ. Not only that, how can we forget the English vọng cổ? Check this clip out. I don’t know why people call me “thánh dịch,” but Mạnh Quỳnh is definitely OG.
I didn’t think of this but my sister low-key wanted these two to be together. I actually thought they were a couple before I knew how to speak. I always thought NCKD had a crush on NNN lol. Scripted? Not sure but it made me laugh and smile. I really liked how PBN sometimes had a storyline throughout the show and kept it interesting. Thanks PBN for your creativity!
2. Cardin & Trish
Did I mention that these two were my idols growing up???! Cardin inspired me to dance and Trish inspired me to sing. Both of them inspired me to write songs. I feel like without them, you wouldn’t have who I am today. Anywho, my first song that I’ve seen with them was “The Chase,” an originally composition by the both of them. DON’T YOU FEEL THE SPARKSS??? Seriously, this is such a cute song and so perfectly done I, I, I can’t. a;hFIAhajdbfaj… Okay calm. This lead me to go super fan mode and stalk their entire past. Cardin was part of Asia 4 and they did another collaboration on Trish’s DVD “The Best of Trish” called “I Never Thought.” That was also another amazing video. Obviously, they both grew up and had families of their own. I’m happy for the both of them, but I also forever treasure the awesome music that they gifted to us.
1. Lynda Trang Dai Tommy Ngo
My first OTP. I followed them from Tommy Ngo’s Debut with Grease Medley. They are still married. Of course there are struggles, but they work through them. Tommy shares that he still feels so lucky to be chosen by LTD *PAUSE* AWWWWWWWWWWWW So sweet! Right now they own a sandwich shop called Lynda Sandwich. I just love the clip below how there are so many women, but Tommy only chooses to look at Lynda. That’s love, when you love a women because that’s the only woman you choose to look at.
So I decided to hand in my two weeks to my work place last month, I used to work for UNIQLO as one of the managers. This conviction was inside of me for weeks: every time I went to church, after a sermon, when I was at work. There were too many signs to deny it.
I loved my job. I enjoyed being a leader and being able to develop others every day at work. Not only that, I got to help open a UNIQLO store in Ontario, CA. I got to see so many people come from knowing nothing, to training others in something they finally mastered on their own. That made me proud. I always worked my hardest and pushed my body to the max. However, with time this job slowly became my identity. It gave me a status that gave me a nasty pride where I started to think that I’m better than others. I was becoming a monster internally.
I was studying in the book of Matthew, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29) If one part of yourself causes you to sin, get rid of it. That’s how serious sin is. For me, it was this job. I was comfortable to the point I was convicted to be uncomfortable. So I prayed and prayed, “LORD, what do you want me to do?” This verse came into my heart: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) So I trusted in God that He will make my path straight.
I went to Vietnam for 2 weeks. Every night this haunted me. What have I done? I’m not going to have a stable income anymore! Then God rebukes me. I was reading Matthew 8 when I came across this story:
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” -Matthew 8:23-27
I was a bit confused. Why did Jesus rebuke his disciples? Then the LORD opened my eyes. Jesus said two things 1. You men of little faith. 2. Why are you so afraid? Their reality was that they were going to drown, but they failed to see that Jesus was on their boat. Jesus needs to be our reality. If He lead us in the boat, we better trust that He will keep us safe IN the boat, all the way until we have reached our destination. We don’t need to worry. We don’t need to fear. Jesus is on our boat.
It reminded me of a song I sang as a kid:
So now I am making video and investing in Vietglish Fun. It’s a whole other journey, but I going for it. Jesus is on my boat.
This week I got to go to YouTube Space and meet many Asian Americans out there that are also pursuing the arts. I was able to meet Wong Fu, Dia Framption, the kids from Fresh Off The Boat, Modern Family, and Anna Akana. It was great being able to meet other people with similar passions and dreams. There were also some Vietglisheners!! I was able to talk to some Vietnamese people and share to them my vision for the Vietnamese community. That is this: we are going to build an entire new empire.
Going to this event encouraged me to follow my dream and never stop. It made me want to go into my room, drop a new beat and release another music video. It made me want to write an entire drama series and produce it right away. I love going to events like these. Have a dream, have a plan, execute it, make this dream come to life.
I want to be a Vietnamese Pop star one day. My dream is to perform on stage for thousands of fans. Not many people know but I write songs. Some that you probably know is Vietnamese Numbers, Asian Life, Mikawaya Mochi, all were original creations.
So this year I wrote a song called Chết Mày Chưa and decided to collaborate with Johnny Newyen. He and his friend came all the way from Boston! After picking them up from the airport we just chilled. Johnny and Dang were down to do basically everything and anything. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.
Long, AKA my su phu AKA the DP, came all the way from LA just to help us film our video. We had some technical difficulties but then Johnny played with the camera, loosened the head and dropped it, but because of that we discovered that the reason it wasn’t working properly in the first place was because the head was not screwed on tight enough. Good job, JOHNNY!
We filmed for a good seven hours and all of us got really sunburnt, but after looking at the footage, we realized that it was all worth it. It came out so good. I’m hoping that Vietglisheners and Sinh To Famz will be able to dance and sing along with us. I hope that everyone will love this song as much as we do.
I just want to say, thank you Vietglisheners for all your support and all of your ,”Ráng lêns.” I was going through a time where I couldn’t focus on Vietglish Fun and I really think that all of your encouraging words was what made me get back up. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
The Tet Fest was on February 13th. It was really fun! I was hoping that some Vietglisheners would send me some photos or at least hashtag me on Instagram so I could see, but I didn’t see a lot. Oh well. It was really fun getting to meet all of you there! I hope you enjoy this video. My family was there I wish I documented more of their trip. I wish I could eat more of the food there, but I was wayyy too full from the pho eating contest. There were three people: me, this guy and this girl. Only two of us finished our bowl and I was one of them. Came in second place. It’s all good, I’ll beat them next time.
When I was 12 I was really into Trish Thuy Trang and Cardin. Trish inspired me to sing and Cardin inspired me to dance. They were like the gateway entertainers that helped me improve on my singing and dancing. Then when I entered high school two years later, I was reallyyyyyyy into Canto-pop. My favorite group: Twins. Ah Sa was my idol. I loved her cuteness. She was the most adorable human being on the planet, I thought. I learned a lot of Cantonese when I was obsessed with Twins. Then after my C-Pop phase I was really into K-Pop. My gateway song was “Wedding Dress” by Taeyang. My favorite band was CNBLUE. I even watched We Got Married and wrote a song parodying the “Banmal Song.” Just checked YouTube and that song I wrote got 47K hits. Not bad.
Looking back I did think that spending hours and hours watching and re-watching these celebrities’ videos was a waste of time, but then I realized that the inspiration that they gave off was definitely worth it. Without them, I would not be able to sing, dance, rap, speak a little Cantonese or Korean. It’s all about perspective. I’m glad I have Vietglish Fun now. I’m able to do a lot more. I’m thinking about creating a new channel. Maybe June this year? Not sure yet.
Oh well. Stay tuned and please shout out some encouragement. I definitely need it. To all my Vietglisheners, thank you for your words of support. I love you and am so encouraged by you.
Alright Vietglisheners, thank you for reading. Today I’m going to countdown all my favorite moments of 2015!
Let’s get started.
5. Vietnamese Numbers
I wrote this song when I was in New Jersey. So after finishing up the final touches, I was ready to create this piece altogether. So I called up my friend Long and asked him to help me out. He did a really good job with lighting and filming. Thanks, Su Phu!
A lot of people tell me I should make more so that their non-Vietnamese speaking husbands/wives/kids can learn more. Let me know what you think in the comments below and I’ll get started.
4. Mom Takes Over Switch It Up Saturdays
She stole the show. When we filmed this video I told her that she could practice the first time. I also recorded the take. When I pushed the record button I had no idea what was going to come out of the take. To a huge surprise what came out was pure gold. You could hear me and my sister cracking up laughing in the background and if you listen really closely I yell at my sister for laughing too loud in the video. Regardless whenever I watch this video I laugh because my mom is simply too precious.
3. Live Performance at MUAVSA
I love live performances. I really enjoy the stage, I feel really alive when I do perform. This was the first time I was able to go out there and meet my fans and really thank everyone for watching my video on YouTube. The MUAVSA conference was really inspirational and encouraging. Thank you MUAVSA for having me and I hope I can be able to participate in more events in the future.
2. Love Me Like You Do TDT
This video blew up the Vietnamese internet. Not only was it shared like crazy, it made it to many of the most popular Vietnamese new websites. I was really surprised and very blessed to see this video grow tremendously. I also heard people sing the lyrics to this song in the Vietnamese lyrics I created. That made me laugh.
1. Anaconda TDT
Okay I know, this video was posted like a year ago back in 2014. However, the video did not blow up until 2015. Facebook video shares were crazy. California finally acknowledged Vietglish Fun through this video. I’m very grateful of this and I was really excited to learn that so many people came to know and soon love this channel. Thank you everyone for your love and support!
A New Year
This year I want to be able to grow more in my YouTube channel. These are my goals for 2016:
Create a music video
Get a better website (any web designers out there?)
Find a team
Relaunch Chom Chom Productions
I am in the process of achieving these goals this year. Have confidence, come up with an action plan, follow through, pray and with the help of God, you will be able to accomplish anything and everything.
Let’s have an awesome year this year of 2016 (Year of the Monkey).