We had the good fortune of connecting with Baldwin Chiu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Baldwin, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I think the most important factor to our success is building strong relationships with people and organizations. We cultivated a relationship with our audience so that they were excited for our films and other projects succeed.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was writing music and rapping when I was in high school and people thought I was crazy for being the only one at that time to be rapping in English and Chinese. I ended up adopting the MC name, Only Won. I decided that I was going to make positive music that would make people think but also laugh. I have written original songs like “Dim Sum” and “Lyrical Engineer” which are nods to my love of Chinese food and my career as a mechanical engineer. They weren’t mainstream subjects but they found an audience. As a film producer now, I’m most proud of my documentary, Far East Deep South, that was seen by people across the country on World Channel/PBS and helped change people’s perspective on Asian Americans. The film is about my search for my family roots that led to Mississippi of all places. We ended up on this incredible journey that uncovered not only my family history, but that of the many Chinese families in the Mississippi Delta during segregation and the Chinese Exclusion Act era. Especially with anti-Asian incidents on the rise, it’s important to use films like ours to help show that Asian Americans have deeper roots in this country and do belong as Americans. We are not all new immigrants. I’m the 5th generation in my family in America. One of our big goals is to influence the education system so that it’s more inclusive of other experiences because I know growing up Chinese American, whenever we studied U.S.history–myself and…other Asian Americans–we never felt a connection because most of our history has been left out of textbooks. We’re so glad to have signed with education distributor, New Day Films, so that we can work to bring our story into schools and libraries.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love dim sum so we would definitely start any tour with dim sum in Alhambra. My favorite place is Top Island because they have these pineapple BBQ pork buns. We can spend a whole day going to all the great Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. The Huntington Library is one of my favorite places to roam around because you can see art but also spend time outdoors in all the gardens. Each section feels like its own world. I know this is a popular tourist spot but I like going to The Grove. We’d have lunch at the Farmer’s Market and explore the different food stands. Afterwards, we can go for a trolley ride. It’s also a lot of fun and great view to have dinner right by the musical fountains.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I will shoutout my amazing wife, Larissa Lam, who had the foresight to help me dream bigger than I could have imagined. She helped me recognize that my family story had value and that was something that could make positive change in the world.