Alumni Spotlight: Evan Jackson Leong
Evan Jackson Leong is having a great year. He’s been walking the red carpet at film festivals across the world to introduce his film Linsanity!, which opens across the US on October 4th.
When screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Linsanity! earned the director a standing ovation. About that reaction, Evan said, “It’s incredible. This is the biggest stage and it was amazing. I’ll never forget it.”.
In many ways, Evan Leong’s story mirrors Jeremy Lin’s. Both of them appear to have come from nowhere to experience great success, but nothing could be further from the truth. For both, their success is the result of years of hard work and tenacity.
He didn’t attend film school nor did he serve an internship at a big studio. He started his collegiate studies at UC Riverside, where he joined Pi Alpha Phi fraternity before transferring to UCLA to earn his degree in Asian American Studies. He immersed himself into the Asian American independent film scene and received his first big break in 2003 with his film BLT: Genesis, a behind-the-scenes look at the seminal film that changed the direction of Asian American cinema.
Both Lin and Leong had to fight the stereotypes that Asian Americans are scholars, not athletes or filmmakers. Both had to break society’s preconceived notions to follow their dreams.
“Asian-Americans don’t really have role models of that kind we can look up to,” says Leong. “Jeremy did it in the biggest way possible. It’s not just a story about basketball, it transcends sports and culture; you can follow your dreams and actually achieve. For Asian-Americans, that’s a huge thing.”
To find a screening of Linsanity near you, check here.