Edelyn Okano and Ana Parsons are part of the creative team behind the play Jeremy Lin, The Unauthorized Musical which premiered at the Zephyr Theater in Hollywood. They are currently raising funds for a new production of their show; here is a link to the Indiegogo campaign:
Q: What is Jeremy Lin, The Unauthorized Musical about?
Edelyn: It is our take on the Jeremy’s journey to NBA stardom. The backstory of the makings of a champion.
Ana: It’s all in the title. In 500 words or less: the rise of Asian basketball star Jeremy Lin. A guy who conquered all. His elevation to stardom, and the stuff he had to fight along the way. Stuff = racism, backlash, many a naysayer. It’s a show with heart. It’s about an underdog kicking ass, and never taking no for an answer.
Q: What inspired you to create it?
Edelyn: Firstly we wanted to create an original piece of work together. We respect each other especially as artists and we knew that by fusing our ideas, nuances and humor together we would make something special. Secondly we wanted to explore and answer the questions: “What/Who was Jeremy before the Linsanity movement? What is the backstory of this unlikely hero? We wanted to celebrate someone that was following their passion and inspiring a movement on the world stage and certainly in the Asian American community.
Ana: Originally Edelyn, Aidan and I came together because we just wanted to create something. We also wanted to give back to the community in some way – and what better way to do that but with what we do for a living, act? We got together, wrote the show, and boom – it began. Our first night in LA the proceeds went one hundred percent to Love Never Fails World Charity: helping woman who have been affected by human trafficking. Jeremy Lin the Musical was born.
3. Why Indigogo and not Kickstarter?
Edelyn: Indiegogo lets you keep the money you raise even if you don’t completely reach your goal. Some budget is better than no budget.
Ana: That said, go to:
Q: What kind of day jobs have you had and how do they influence your creative work?
Edelyn: I’ve been very lucky to have had day jobs that have been supportive of my acting career. From being the PR director of the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter to selling high end designer jewelry and random things in between I was always doing something creative. Writing, designing, consulting, event planning..it’s all art.
Ana: In New York I had to wait tables all throughout theatre school, which I obviously hated. I would work until 2 am in the morning, scramble to wait in line at Actors Equity at 6 am, try and do a coherent do a 2 minute monologue for said theatre on a hundred and 157th street while praying to the union gods I would be blessed with a job and my union card. This just made me want to work harder as an actor. It drove me: I didn’t want to be Flo at 70, schlepping it at Norms pouring coffee to my regulars. No offense, dear Flo.
Thankfully in LA I’ve been able to work part time and full time live, drive, change clothes in my car and be a steadily working actor. “I am a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA”.
Q: Why do you think Lin had such a hard time getting into the NBA?
Edelyn: I don’t think getting in was the hard part. He clearly had the skill but it was getting the playtime and respect he deserved that were the obstacles. Racial stereotypes are still quite prevalent in our society and with them exists limited beliefs in someone/something and judgment.
Ana: Why do you think it was hard for Eminem? Didn’t everyone see 8 Mile?
Q: What is the most misunderstood thing about Harvard?
Edelyn: That it doesn’t produce future NBA superstars. Of course, I had to go there.
Q: What are some challenges you came across in writing the script?
Edelyn: Given that there are three of us writing we had to often find ways to combine and streamline our ideas – especially when it came to differences in our humor. What one of us thought was funny may not have worked for another. We love each other though and so a good compromise was usually found.
Ana: Getting through writing sessions with Aidan and Edelyn. We would literally be rolling on the floor laughing for HOURS. I am amazed we ever got anything done. Also running into problems and finding solutions in our creative differences.
Aidans is definitely the wild card, Anas the middleman, and Edelyn the calming voice of reason…… luckily everything always balanced out.
Q: What is your strangest show biz story?
Edelyn: Somewhere out there is a tape of me at a dance audition I should NEVER have been at. Let’s just file it forever under: “New York: The Early Years”. Haha!
Ana: Not the strangest but one of the funniest as of late. I’ve worked quite a bit with an actor out here named Eric Artell: turn on the TV and you see him in pretty much every commercial. And consequently he looks like the spitting image of Topher Grace (from the 70’s Show)……I’m sure there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t get asked “you know you look like-“
I also part time host at a restaurant on Sunset Blvd called Delancy. One night this couple comes in. I turn to the beautiful blonde:
Ana : “HI, table for two?”
I notice the guy that she came in with.
Ana : “OMG !!! ERIC!!! HOW ARE YOU SO NICE TO SEE YOU OUTSIDE OF AN OFFICE NOT ON SET! OMG!!!”
(I’m practically accosting the guy, hugging him etc.)
Guy: “Um, my name is Topher?”
Ana : “Do you get Eric Artell, like, a lot?”
….I don’t think he thought that was very funny. Sorry Toph.
Q: What would you change about the film industry?
Edelyn: That some of the most talented actors, writers, and directors have projects that never see the light of day or get very limited exposure due to some lack of funding or mass appeal. I love a great blockbuster as much as the next person but mostly I want to be told a great story. Great storytellers deserve to be heard.
Ana: I mean, do we have 5 hours? More woman directors, more working actors of color, more woman writing, less image based media, less nepotism, getting rid of the “name actor” game giving the new guy a chance. More risk taking. More indie films. Going back to the cinema and the days of the Group Theatre, Strasberg, Brando, it being about THE WORK and nothing else. See: HBO’s fantastic documentary “Casting By”. If you had 10 more pages for us Eliza, I would take them. I’ll stop here. Edelyn, I concur.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)