We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy B Tiong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, is there something you believe many others might not?
The misinterpretation and execution of hustle culture is something that I feel is detrimental.
It’s not that I completely disagree with hustle, I disagree with where we are encouraged to put our energy towards and the obvious disregard for rest.
Living in a world with social media we think we have to be marketable so much so that we lose sight of the thing we are marketing. At the end of the day what matters is the content. As my favorite artist, Justin Vernon says: “the greatest promo is the art itself”. You can market and network all you want but if you don’t have strong content and work to show, then you have nothing to sell.
If you’re a writer, write the script; if you’re a photographer, take the photographs. I often have to remind myself not to worry so much about how my process is perceived and just make the thing.
Taking the time you need to foster your creativity is also just as important.
I learned to view the world as a canvas, not as a battleground. If I always put up a fight, not only does it get exhausting, people won’t want to work with me. If I approach things with curiosity and my aptitude to learn that makes staying in the process more profound and ultimately allows me to gain a genuine community.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I just try to bring my life experiences and empathy to every project. By being vulnerable in my work, I hope to create a safe space for introspection, a form of art therapy.
As someone who has an equal passion for music, film, and dance, I incorporate many forms of art.
My experimental short “Bitter Sweet”, directed for Bustle’s New Storytellers series, delves into my history with disordered eating and how that relates to my upbringing as an Asian American. Following this film, I directed a short documentary supported by PictureStart on the MMIW (murdered and missing Indigenous women) movement. This film highlights Indigenous runners (Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel, Verna Volker, and Northstar Lawrence) who run to heal generations.
I most recently co-directed “Take Care Zora” in partnership with Dolby and Ghetto Film School. This short film is about Zora, a Floridian teenager who acts as the caretaker to her brother with Down syndrome. My co-director and co-writer, Antonio Salume, and I formulated the script and film inspired and initiated by Rocky Perez and her brother Abby Perez. We were so grateful to have them be the lead actors in the piece and consult as creative producers throughout the process.
I overcome challenges by reminding myself of what my father taught me: the world is not always fair but it’s up to us to make it fair. For me, creation gives way to radical thinking. My intention with my artistic pursuits is to create mirrors for people to see themselves and the possibilities for themselves.Aligning passion and purpose makes me see the opportunities within the challenges I face.
Putanny of the Yawanawa Tribe said we need to stop fighting with weapons and learn that “your weapon is your humility and patience”. I think of grandiose possibilities for this world, and I tackle it one small step at a time through art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For me, the draw of the west coast Tongva land is nature! So I would start most days by taking them outdoors. Some of my favorite spots are Solstice Canyon for a hike or East Griffith Observatory Trail for a light trail run. Driving along the pacific coast highway and playing the OC theme song, California by Phantom Planet, as loud as you can is also a must.
I’d grab a red velvet donut from the nickel diner or ice cream from Awan before visiting the Last Bookstore and looking at their rare books collection.
I would make sure they see a show at the Hollywood Bowl, I saw Haim perform a sold-out hometown show with my sister and loved just being there and experiencing the L-acoustics. I never go to LA without hitting up Amoeba, they moved from the iconic location but still have a good collection. I always leave with a random record and visit the film Auteurs section, there are only 3 females in a sea of hundred men which only fuels my desire to create.
As a gluten-free person who has a star-crossed love of bread, Breadblok, and their chestnut sourdough is a dream come true. Bavel owned by Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When my parents (Yueh & Bee Tiong) immigrated to America, they opened a Chinese fast food restaurant and worked 12-14 hour days seven days a week. My Aunt Helena Vargas helped raise me since they were always at work. Through the three of them, I witnessed what selfless hard work and love looked like. My older sisters Alisa and Audrey are also pertinent to who I am. They remind me that kindness and assertion can co-exist.
The Gates Foundation supported my education on the belief that I would commit my career to making this world a better place, and because of that, I pursue everything with the desire to create a little positive change.
My artistic peers and mentors Antonio Salume, Briana Man, Lucy Smith Williams, Sylvan Gu, Dayana Ariza, Meline Rosales, Michael Alden and many more remind me why I do art. They remind me that nothing matters more in art than the ability to laugh, cry, and connect with each other.
Organizations like Ghetto Film School, Dolby, Bustle and PictureStart have granted me the means to continue to create.
I also want to give a shoutout to my friends that don’t know the film industry but cheer me on anyways. It’s the most humbling experience to have my wicked smart Ph.D./JD / BArch friends (Christopher Andras, Briana Chung, Sarah Corsico, Su Young Lee, Nadia Gribkova, Amy Schifilliti) think what I do is cool and important.
Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”. I always liked this statement as it reminds me success is never just about the individual but rather the culmination of mentors, family, and peers who lend a shoulder to lean on in order for the collective community to succeed.
Personal Image: Kervin Perez Group Dolby Image with Dolby team and GFS Backdrop: Christopher Andras