MANIFESTING SINCE FEBRUARY 27 AT 1:38 P.M.
Last Tuesday I got the email. “Wanted! Japanese and black females needed for TV ads/TV show.” I figured what the heck, since I was still on my Oscar high, and getting through my ‘why aren’t I in LA working on film’ low. I emailed back that I was a black woman and would be interested. I got the reply that this was a TV talk show, that it was discussing relationships between Taiwanese men and Foreign women. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I was still open to the possibility of what could come. Thursday arrives, and wouldn’t you know it to be my busiest of days, as well as the rainiest day I could imagine. By the time I got home, I was to tired to even think about discussing relationships. The only one I wanted was with my couch and TV. I called the agent to let him know. A few minutes later I get a return call.
“Uhh, Hi Jennifer you called?”
“Yes, I did. Sorry I can’t make it tonight. I am beat tired.”
“Oh, but I need you to come. You have to make it”
“Sorry, but it’s been a long day and I really am tired. I’m sure it’s going to be okay, you have other foreigners there right?”
“Uhh, yea, but I really need you to be there. You sure you can’t make it?”
“No, I am really too tired, haven’t eaten and my dog has been at home all day, alone. You have other foreigners like you told me. “
“Uhhh, yea I have other foreigners, but I told them I would be bringing you. I really need you to come. Are you sure you can’t do this?”
At this point of his persuading, I had to let him know that I didn’t see how this would benefit me. I ended up going but having some sort of compensation for my time, albeit not a large amount, but something is better than nothing.
I arrive at the TV station wearing a nice turtleneck and black pants. A crew member looks at me and nervously babbles about how it’s not going to work. I was suppose to have dressed ‘nicely’. Hahah, doesn’t he know that since living in Taiwan, for me to get out of my sweats, is dressing nicely. They immediately went for plan B which was to go to Xinmending(a fashion area in Taipei)to find me a nice dress. I have a large adverison to wearing dresses, especially in the winter. I told the guy it would be a waste of time and money since, most of the clothes here for women are a size 00 to 2 and I’m a size 10. He wouldn’t listen, so I had to repeat it several times before he got it. Then they wanted me to wear a evening gown and high heels, something else I hate doing here because it puts me in the golly green giant range. But we went to my house for me to scrounge up something, the guy wanted to come to my apartment to see what clothes I had, which I didn’t let him do. I found one skirt and a pair of high heeled boots and an orange blouse. I kept wondering and asking what this program was all about, but kept getting half answers about this and that. It seemed harmless so far, so I decided to play along.
Back at the studio, I stuffed myself into my clothing. Ah, reminder to get back into using my gym membership. And waddled out for the wardrobe guy to take a look. Fine, but the head wardrobe lady wasn’t as impressed, as she snidely nodded her head and ran off for a smoke. They led me and a Thai girl into the studio, where we waited while 6 guys, including a foreigner who’s been here for 15 years, were on set talking and getting warmed up. I chatted with the Thai girl for a moment, and realized that it was going to be the two of us only. This is not good, for the show was all in Chinese, and while my Chinese is passable when using a cab or ordering food, kids can do better than me when having a discussion. I was ready to bolt, but the agent sensing my worry tried to use butter me up, “oh your Chinese is fine. I was happy when I heard you use it in the cab, etc” I grated my teeth for I knew the inevitable of falling flat on my face was coming. It’s times like this you get to practice grace.
They began the show, and from what I could tell, the hosts asked the guest what did they like-Asian women or Black women. Everyone generally didn’t care for black women, except this really ugly dude with a horrible lisps and underbite. Who said he liked black women for their bigger bottoms then glanced at me. I was laughing so hard, because if you put me next to the ‘average’ black woman, bootielious is not a word that you would use to describe me.
After they had their discussion, we were called out and introduced. The first question posed to me was “Did I bite my hand when I ate chocolate?” I couldn’t answer as fast as I would have liked, but gave the guy an expression of like you have to be joking that you would ask such an innate question.
Then they went to a break. I figured that there would be several ‘breaks’ which would be a marker for commercials, but nooo, they just kept on rolling and talking, while I had to sit on a stool smaller than my ass(that’s small) and under hot lights, all the while trying to suck in my ever expanding gut. Oh and smile ever so sweetly as a lady would do in Asia, while dealing with questions that ranged from “Would your parents allow you to marry an Asian” (at this point they don’t care) “They say the 21st century is the Asians century, you think is true”(nope, it’s gonna be for everyone) and “What did I think about Asian women who studies English to have sex with foreigners?”(it’s their perrogative). The Thai girl faired much better than I at her questions, as they were FAR easier than mine but luckily there was another guy there, who’s been here for 15 years and hosts a show on another channel who assisted me with the questions. Bottom line is after 1 year of studying Chinese, and not being able to string a sentence together quickly simply embarrassed me.
I realized that Asia is just a hard nut to crack. Mentally, emotionally and verbally. It’s hard to compare my experience with the stereotyping that goes on in America, because as a black woman I deal with it all the time. Yet, there was something very humbling about the experience and very degrading. In 1966 , James Brown sang “It’s a man’s,man’s,man’s world”. His point is that even though man has created so many things in this world, he points out that it would be nothing without a woman. Yet, you wouldn’t see this from the conversations we have everyday about the women in our lives. Some how men and women have gotten disconnected from that life force that makes up the feminine energy. That energy that creates,nurtures, and defines our lives. Hopefully this is what the 21 st century will be about. Returning back to ourselves, the goodness in us, so that entertainment will be about entertaining not degrading.