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Interview with Vickie Nam, Editor of Yell-Oh Girls! : Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American

Q: We are particularly interested in what spark ignited you into action to write this book. Very few people act-on and finish such ideas. What fuels your creativity and your confidence to see the work through to the end? Do you feel some measure of success? Do you have advice to give to others about how to find their inner voice and follow-through on their ideas.

A: I feel like so much of my success was serendipitous. I was fortunate to galvanize a group of 68 girl contributors out of over 600 people who submitted stories, poems, and essays for review. I had two fantastic mentors who made themselves available if I had questions during the planning, editing, writing processes. And friends who were well-connected in all different areas of publishing and grass-roots organizing. I had to be self-disciplined and strong if I wanted to finish this project, and my inner conviction to get YELL-Oh Girls! out there was more than enough to carry me through.

My advice to other girls? I have relied on several others to give me support and encouragement. Finding mentors is such an important step toward discovering and pursuing your personal and professional goals.

Writing is also a powerful means of self-expression and making sense of confusion and despair. It's also a wonderful way of articulating successes and triumphs. I always tell girls that their voices matter-- and that they should look for ways of connecting and communicating with people in their lives. Asking introspective questions is a courageous act and the first step toward finding one's voice.

Q: Can you talk about the transition from being a consumer of pop culture to a creator of pop culture?

A: Some "experts" and psychologists claim that teens are destroyed by negative images of popular culture. I disagree. I have witnessed the contrary. Teens are active consumers and critics of pop culture. When I think about my younger years, I think the dearth of resources made it extremely difficult for me to engage interactively with the media. Imagining the world without the World Wide Web is impossible for today's young techno-wizards. But my first identity-related epiphany happened when I wrote my first letter to the editor of a popular teen magazine to protest their (mis)representation of Asian American culture. They drew "Oriental" eyes on a white model and dressed her in "far eastern" clothing. The fashion feature was called "Eastern Spice" or something along those lines. It objectified the culture, and illuminated the ways in which the media reinforced inaccurate messages and representations of Asian cultures and peoples.

Based on my life experience, I strongly believe that today's teens are particularly savvy, astute consumers and producers of pop culture.

Q: Do you think of yourself as a voice for the 1.5 million Asian youth growing up in America today? Do you think there is responsibility in being such a voice?

A: I think of myself as a voice. One voice in the midst of the 1.5 million Asian American youth growing up in America today. It's taken me a long time to figure out what it means to claim my voice, my ideas, my experiences -- these experiences, which don't reflect any essentialist notions of growing up Asian American and female in the US. I think for sure there are certain responsibilities I have been given in the role as editor of YELL-Oh Girls! And I've crafted my own personal mission in the process, which is to listen to other Asian American girls who are confronting obstacles in their own lives, and to encourage them to speak out and be heard.

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Meet Vicki at a Book Signing in Your Area

Yell-Oh Girls!: Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American
by Vickie Nam (Editor)
- Buy This Book

Read the Exclusive AllHip Interview of Editor Vickie Nam where she talks about her experiences as a journalist, about editing the book, experiences growing up Asian in America, her thoughts on Pop Culture, Mentors and on finding her voice and personal mission.

Story About the Book Yell-Oh Girls! Editor Vicki Nam Discusses the genesis of the book.

Read Excepts from the Book Yell-Oh Girls!

Alaina Wang Excerpt: "China Doll"

Diya Gullapalli Excerpt: "Funny Girl"



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