Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert A. Nakamura Interview
Narrator: Robert A. Nakamura
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: November 30, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nrobert-01-0018

RN: The idea when we were in film school, and we only came to film school because we realized the importance of media in terms of changing perceptions of Asians, people of color, political statements we could make. So everyone knew that media was important, and logically that we could, the best people to do it is ourselves so that we have, we can present an insider's view instead of a view from outside. So we all came in with that idea. None of us came in with the idea of making a three-picture deal and going to Hollywood, at least within the Asian component, and I'm pretty sure no one had that quite in mind.

So we started, early on, a lot of us realized the need to develop our own media. 'Cause we knew we needed to be able to see ourselves through our own eyes. I think that's one of the reasons. But a lot of other people felt that we needed to control that by changing, that through media we could change our stereotypes to a broad white audience, which I didn't agree with. A lot of us didn't agree with that, 'cause that's just too monumental. It'll never do anything. I know generally VC, we had the idea of developing media for our communities. I think a lot of, when I was interviewed about VC, a lot of people -- or Ethno -- that we all came in to change Hollywood, but we've got to become Asian Francis Ford Coppolas and we're going to change. But we didn't really come in with that idea, we came in with the idea that we needed to change our own stereotypes. Because I think we -- I know I have, growing up in the '40s and '50s, I had assimilated a lot of the negative stereotypes. And so we felt we needed to just make films about that so we could see ourselves as kind of everyday human beings. The other is that we had no roots. This is before any Asian American studies programs, very few books were written, we had a paragraph or two in the history books. So we felt film was a good way to recapture, or we like to say to define and redefine who we are. So those were some of the ideas.

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