"A-Woke" Asian Mannequin Challenge Goes Viral: An Interview with Co-Producer Michael Tow

I had the great pleasure today of getting to know Michael Tow more, after having seen his stage performance a few weeks ago. You may know him from his role in Warrior Class, that just debuted at Lyric Stage Company in Boston. Or maybe you've seen him in his film East of Hollywood. His acting style and accolades as an Asian in the media and theater are aspects to aspire to, certainly. However, I would like to call to attention his latest accomplishment, and a most powerful one at that.

Tow educated me on a bit of background. Having grown up in Brookline in a mostly white community at the time, he gave me some insight to some of his experiences dealing with identity and racial issues. We unpacked in detail some of the depths of this in his own Mannequin Challenge video to the Asian community, which he co-produced with Teja Arboleda:

Tow expresses and reacts with great purpose to some of the recent incidents the media has aimed at us as Asians, armed with hate and carelessness. Using the latest viral trend on YouTube as his medium, he creates a distinct mannequin challenge that separates itself from all the rest. With tones of harsh reality using real quotes and voiceovers from Chris Rock's mockery on Asian stereotypes while exploiting children to Watters World, this bears the most meaning out of all of the videos we've seen yet. The "A-Woke Mannequin Challenge" is just that; a challenge, for the world, and for Asians.

While I admitted to Tow which incidents I was aware of and which ones I wasn't, he explained to me he felt the video was already serving its purpose: to expose, educate, and evoke.

We discussed the need for action and this sense of unity that is missing or could be stronger from Asian communities to challenge and take a stand against our stifling. He urges us to stand up to these stereotypes, and to not stay quiet about it any longer, no matter how big or small. The observation of other communities staying vigilant and standing their ground is not a myth, and a responsibility to ourselves and our race. Asians have too long stayed the butt of a joke, to an effect of the media taking it for granted and cashing in at our expense.

So let's all take a leaf out of Michael Tow's book and as he urges his community, "Be awoken."

You can copy and paste the link to his challenge and spread the word: