By Staff Writer Gloria Chang
Wong Fu Productions Co-Founder Wesley Chan and Film Editor Christopher Yang visited Newark, CA on March 19 to greet fans at the Gong Cha milk tea cafe for a Toyota promotional event.
Popular Asian-American filmmaking group Wong Fu Productions is famous for their many short films released on YouTube. Founded by Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, and Philip Wang in 2004, the group has grown to include more members over the years and currently has more than 2.8 million YouTube subscribers. Their humorous portrayals but also touching messages have garnered over 400 million views for their channel.
On March 18, Wesley Chan and Christopher Yang announced through the Wong Fu Facebook page that they had arrived in the Bay Area and would visit Gong Cha the next day from 4 to 5 p.m. for a meet and greet session. Many MSJ students, who avidly follow Wong Fu on social media, decided to visit their original source of childhood Internet memories. Senior Ethan Huang said, “I really liked Wong Fu’s videos since 2011 and thought their videos were very well crafted. During that YouTube boom, several other Asian-Americans also gained a lot of popularity and it inspired me to work towards being like them, in terms of being open about myself and being friendly with others. When my friends shared Wong Fu’s Facebook post, I was eager to see them.”
On the day of the event, approximately 200 people waited in a line that extended along the perimeter of the parking lot, and several fans eagerly carried Wong Fu merchandise for signing, like stuffed Awkward Animals. When Chan and Yang arrived, they walked from the end of the line to the front, high-fiving fans and thanking everyone for coming out to the event. The crowd cheered as Chan held out his iPhone to livestream the occasion on Facebook. Wong Fu Production videographers also carried video equipment to record the event.
Once they reached the front of the shop, Chan and Yang demonstrated how to earn a free milk tea drink at any Gong Cha in the area. Toyota car owners could take a picture with a Toyota sign in front of Gong Cha and post it to social media with the hashtag #ToyotaLove. After showing the cashier the photo, they could order up to four free drinks.
Inside, Chan and Yang began a short verbal quiz for fans, asking about past Wong Fu sketches, collaborators, and other trivia. Fans excitedly chimed in when they knew the answer and received milk tea for responding correctly. Concluding their introduction, Chan and Yang thanked Toyota for making the event possible and gathered attendees for a group photo.
“The event was casual, but I’m glad they took time out of their busy schedule to visit students and fans. Since childhood, I’ve looked up to Wong Fu for breaking the stereotype of white filmmakers and actors. As Asian-Americans, we should embrace our culture and where we come from instead of trying to westernize ourselves.” — Sophomore Evangeline Gao
The meet and greet session began soon after, and groups of people were escorted into the shop to take quick photos with Chan and Yang. Although the interactions were short, both members were friendly and upbeat with each fan. Sophomore Evangeline Gao said, “The event was casual, but I’m glad they took time out of their busy schedule to visit students and fans. Since childhood, I’ve looked up to Wong Fu for breaking the stereotype of white filmmakers and actors. As Asian-Americans, we should embrace our culture and where we come from instead of trying to westernize ourselves.”
During this session, the Smoke Signal asked Chan and Yang for advice they would offer young, aspiring filmmakers. Chan said, “I would say to explore and have fun and don’t worry about being popular. Just do it because you enjoy it and because you want to perfect your craft.”
Photo by Staff Writer Gloria Chang