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.
Nina Polvanich Louie crossed at the Zeta Chapter, Stanford University, of alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority as part of the Zeta Class in Fall 1999. After graduating, she spent a few years of consulting at McKinsey & Company in Thailand. She returned to the United States to complete her graduate studies at Harvard University, where she met Mike, the love of her life! After a few years, they ended up on the West Coast, married and with an adorable son, Donovan. Around Donovan’s second birthday in September 2012, Nina felt something was not right with herself. She received life changing news – at 32 years old, she was diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma, an aggressive blood cancer. Throughout her fight, Nina has been an inspiration to all of us, staying strong, battling this disease, being a role model for her son, and also bringing light to the major gap in Asian American registrants in the bone marrow registry. A bone marrow donation is one of the most viable methods of battling lymphoma and a match is more likely to be found in someone of the same ethnicity. The Save Nina campaign launched in May 2013 order to help Nina and others battling diseases come closer to finding a match for a bone marrow transplant. Since she is of Chinese/Thai descent, she was informed that her chances of finding a match in the bone marrow registry is 1 in 20,000. Save Nina has gone viral internationally with hundreds of drives hosted by friends and sisters, which have typed thousands of people across the country. Celebrities like Boyz II Men, Hello Kitty, Jamie Chung, Chef Morimoto, Sonia Kapadia, Kristen Bell, Jenna Ushkowitz, Sheryl Sandberg and more have helped spread the word through social media. Many Asian associations and corporate companies have hosted typing drives at their local events and within their headquarters. Throughout it all, Nina remains gracious and strong.
In 2008, July was proclaimed National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month by the U.S. House of Representatives, in hopes of improving access to mental health treatment and services through increased public awareness. On May 5, 2013, the NAPA Mental Health Initiative was introduced on a monthly NAPA call, during which the idea of participating in NMMHA Month was introduced. Join NAPA in this effort to raise awareness by using the hashtag #MinorityMentalHealth in your social media posts. You can also tag the following Twitter handles: @nned_net @NAMICommunicate @TheBalancedMind @NIMHgov And the Facebook page for Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month at http://www.facebook.com/minoritymentalhealth. Get your brothers, sisters, friends and family to also participate and take the pledge to take action and increase awareness of mental illness and mental health promotion while embracing the diversity of our community here. You can also consider attending the following Webinar: Our Strength and Support: Celebrating National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Presented by Bassey Ikpi (The Siwe Project), Ramey Ko (Partner at Jung Ko, PLLC) and Associate Judge at Austin Municipal Court Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST
Nina Louie is a Stanford University alpha Kappa Delta Phi alumna who has been diagnosed with lymphoma. She has one month left to find a bone marrow match and donor. Nina is more likely to find a match in someone of Asian ethnicity, and, because the number of Asians in the bone marrow registry is so low, we need your help. Please help Nina and get typed, whether it’s ordering a home kit or going to a bone marrow drive. The test is really as easy as a cheek swab. Please encourage your sisters, brothers, friends and family to get typed as well! Visit www.savenina.com for more information.