We had the good fortune of connecting with Celina Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Celina, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is very scary. I was raised by an independent single mother who took care of twin daughters. She worked 2 full time jobs (nail technician + being both, a mother/father when she came home). We rarely saw her but we understood that she was working very hard to achieve the American Dream.
I was taught all my life to be very cautious and prepared for anything and everything; because my mom is an immigrant, her perception of life is coming from a 3rd world country. I am blessed that she has given so much to us and provided us enough that we can make a choice in pursuing our career in entertainment.
However, her fears has conditioned me to the point where I would not even take risks (small/big) in my own career because I was afraid I was not going to succeed or IF something BAD might happen. Being Vietnamese American, I struggled with my culture and the western culture in all aspects. (Fighting against the stereotypical jobs that asians are supposed to have, like being a doctor, lawyer, engineering, dentist, etc).
I found out that if I let fear take over my life, I was not going to live fully and happily. I was focused on money/survival and also half pursuing my career, which was killing me slowly. One day, I was at work and I saw my friends up on that TV and that was what did it for me. I said, “I’ve had enough. There is no reason why I can’t make it!” So I quit my job and focused 110% in my career. I am still very happy with that decision.
So taking risks/taking a chance on my career (quitting my desk job/9-5, investing money into my business, collaborating with other artists, saying yes to opportunities, etc.) has opened my world up to so many experiences. I have grown from bad and good experiences.
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.
What sets me apart from others is that I have a twin sister, I am a vintage enthusiast (obsessed with the 1940s-50s vintage fashion, movies, music, furniture), I am Vietnamese American.
I am most proud of the fact that I’m still pursuing my career in entertainment (music, acting, dancing). I came upon a very old poster that I made when I was in 3rd grade back when I used to live in Wisconsin, West Allis. The poster asked, ” what do you want to be when you grow up?” and I wrote ” I want to be a famous singer with my sister, Carolyn!” and till this day, we are still here!
I got to where I am today professionally from investing and committing to years and years of research, studying theatre, music, dance in elementary school – all the way through college. I got my B.A. in Theatre Arts. The work was hell! It literally took all my blood, sweat, and tears. IT WAS NOT EASY! But the training was worth it.
I remember studying plays; memorizing monologues and scripts while I was at work for school. Customers at work would ask me what I was reading and how some of them helped me memorize my lines.
Another uncommon thing; I would sleep in my car in the streets of LA, just so that I can make it to work. It was not worth the drive back home to Orange County at midnight and then have to drive back to work at 4am. The very small hours I get in between for getting ready/sleep/driving. Considering traffic and the 120 miles that I would commute everyday to get to set. I chose to sleep in my car and if I could, I would crash on a friend’s sofa.
I over came challenges by just doing them and learning as I go. I wish there was an easier way/short cut to achieve our goals but there isn’t. Everyone has their own journey. I’m still learning to enjoy the process and live in the moment.
I learned that you are the only one that can make it happen. Taking a small step towards your goal will build momentum and help you build consistency.
I also learned that your mental health is the most important. Because if you don’t take care of yourself. Your craft will not go anywhere. The struggle is real. haha It’s like a bad writers block.
I want the world to know my story. What I’ve been through and why I’m here. That if they have the same struggles – that they’re not alone. I have survived depression, racism, discrimination, sexual harassments, and so much more. Music, acting, and dancing is a safe place for me to express myself and a place where I know I can be heard.
I hope my music has made someone smile, laugh, cry, or even feel stronger and more alive. I want to give my audience an experience. Putting it into music, and capturing a moment in time where we can replay it as many times as we want. I feel like I have achieved when I hear someone tell me that my music has made the feel deeply or has helped them in some way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best friend, Hayley visited from Wisconsin last year. Literally exactly a week before the pandemic shut down. My twin and I took her to all the best places.
I took her to one of my favorite spots in OC: downtown Orange Circle for some vintage shopping and brunch.
Then took her to RA Sushi in Tustin and there was a fun little karaoke bar next door. And we got to sing/dance to our childhood song, (the same song that we would choreograph to in elementary school, in front of the windows during lunch/recess time!) “Dancing Queen” – Abba.
We cruised along PCH from Laguna Beach all the way up to Malibu. Got ice cream in Venice beach. Drinks at the Bungalow in Santa Monica. Walked on the beach and she got to see all the colorful arcades and carnival rides on the Santa Monica Pier.
We got her into Disneyland for FREE, TWICE! Because I was a former cast member, so I go hook ups. Plus. we’re the best tour guides since we know all the ins/outs and secrets spots.
We got a hotel near downtown LA, got brunch in Hollywood and took her shopping in Melrose. Then took her to my favorite vintage spot for cocktails and swing dancing at Cliftons Republic!
Another night in LA, we took her “Good Times at Davey Waynes” and we also bar hopped to ” No Vacancy”.
and then Hayley was lucky to catch us on a weekend that we were performing our show at a beautiful steakhouse restaurant/lounge “Greensleeves” in Redlands. She got to watch us perform for the first time ever! It has been years since we were standing next to each other singing in choir in 3rd grade.
If she was able to stay longer, I would’ve taken her to so many other events: GREASE Movie Drive Inn, Knotts Berry Farm, 6 Flags, Tea Gardens, Hiking at night to see the city starlights, Cicada night club, and more bars and restaurants in LA.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family: Mother, Lien. Twin sister, Carolyn.
My Friends: Michael Aiello (RIP), Donna, Jim, Josue, Tye, Micah, Yesenia, Milan, Donovan, Kara, Susan, Ka,.
Instagram: @AsianVonTeese & @TheNguyenTwinz
Other: Music is available on all streaming platforms. Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2Vnt52fwtiHnsL6VauWWXz?si=u9umVcgRQCWMERwavOAlCA Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/kitty-and-celina/1435088559 SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/kittyantix https://soundcloud.com/kittyandcelina