This month, the New York Film Academy welcomed New York Times Bestselling author (“Fresh off the Boat”), chef, designer, and producer Eddie Huang to the Los Angeles campus. The event was hosted by Q & A Director Tova Laiter, who produced “Glory” with Denzel Washington.
Huang showed NYFA students a segment he filmed in D.C. part of a series he is producing and stars in for Viceland called “Huang’s World.” On his show, Huang travels the world tasting unique foods from every culture.
Huang has an incredible resume that included being a lawyer and doing stand-up comedy. He shared that he had wanted to get into film but was told no one wanted to buy Asian American stories. He was crushed, but he did not let it stop him from being an artist.
“Americans expect us (Asian Americans) to be good at cooking and kung-fu,” Huang said. So he started cooking, but kept his focus on Asian culture when he spoke to the media. Pretty quickly he was picked up for shows like “Munchies” and “Snack-Off.”
Laiter asked Huang how he pitched “Huang’s World” to Viceland. Essentially, he blended his frustration with not being seen with his love of food: “I told them I wanted to explore culture through food.” That was it. The show was picked up for six episodes.
When asked how he’s been able to accomplish so much in his short life Huang said, “It’s schedule and discipline. If I wake up and I’m not on it, I get mad.”
That attitude has permeated every aspect of his life. He has studied everything (“its about the science of it”) from boxing to film to the difference in how his parents cooked (“mother was more focus and her food tasted better!”).
Huang expanded upon the unique racism he has faced. In one anecdote, he shared that once he had written an article for a local paper. They liked it so much, they asked him to come in for a job. But when they saw his face they didn’t think people would be interested in talking to him. This is one example of many.
So, Huang began working a lot of different jobs: “I didn’t know where my entry point was.”
Huang explained that it is impossible to know where to start a career, but by being forced to start over so many times he grew into a more knowledgeable person and a stronger candidate for every job he applied for afterward.
His final lesson: “Whatever you’re doing, do it well.”
Huang had a lot of advice for students, including taking advantage of the library here at NYFA. “I just happened to walk into your library and you guys have a great collection. Use it!” Huang likes to go to Cinefile and watch the entire filmography of a single director. “I like seeing how they’ve progressed from start to finish.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eddie Huang for speaking to our students. You can watch his show “Huang’s World” on Viceland.