We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina YR Jun and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Many people in the filmmaking profession initially focus on cultivating their voice and building their creative identity. Of course, understanding your own sensibilities and creative instinct is absolutely vital. But I do believe it’s only a fraction of what you need to be successful. The other part is all about work ethic and consistency. This doesn’t just refer to how many hours you put into your work but also a process that you’ve matured through a lot of trial and error. To be successful, you not only need to understand what stories are right for you but also what you realistically need in order to best tell that story. If you have a solid process in place, you will be able to judge whether a project/collaboration has the right elements (budget, timeline, creative support) to allow you to deliver your best work. For me, developing my process probably took as long as it took to understand my creative voice. And I credit both equally to my success as a writer/director. Whether I’m developing my own project or being hired to collaborate, the marriage of these two elements has allowed me to focus on the right stories and also successfully navigate (and learn from) different collaborative environments.
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’m a freelance screenwriter and director, working in TV and film. I initially started as a theatre performer and writer in NYC after earning my BA in creative writing and attending a 2-year theatre conservatory. When I started, I wasn’t quite aware of the lack of representation and authenticity in POC stories being told in mainstream media. Honestly, it wasn’t even on my radar. I really only set out to be an actor/writer because I loved the art forms and wanted to tell dynamic human stories – it was a very simple desire. Because of this, I spent my initial years playing only one-dimensional stereotypical roles and not understanding why those “human” roles weren’t available to me. I’ll never forget the time I showed up to a casting session, fully expecting to read for the 20-something ingenue but was asked to audition for the 50-year-old Asian store clerk with a comically thick accent. But I can honestly say, this formative time was a huge blessing in disguise. Because after years of feeling frustrated and marginalized, that feeling transformed itself into purpose. I no longer wanted to just tell stories – I didn’t feel this was enough or even the most important goal. I felt my first priority was to contribute to the changes this industry was in dire need of, thus creating ripples of the same effect into our society. Once this clicked in, I switched gears, earning my MFA in directing and screenwriting. Now, as a content creator, that same purpose spearheads all my creative pursuits and greatly shapes what stories I tell, how, and with whom. Currently, my aim is to tell empowering stories through the APA and female perspectives, but with the focus on the human/universal qualities of my characters and their lives. My hope is that by creating relatable and deeply authentic experiences, my work will shine a light on those things that unite us, and offers an impetus to bridge audiences from all walks of life. I also think it’s important to note that since realizing this sense of purpose, it has infused itself in all aspects of my life. (I guess that’s the beauty of such a thing). Now, I feel advocating for POC/female voices is what I do, and storytelling is just how I do it. If I were good at flying kites, I think I would somehow find a way to fly kites in order to advocate for POCs and women.
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.
Food-wise, I think LA has its own Epcot center experience. I would tour around for the best authentic foods. K-town for Korean food, Little Tokyo (and Little Osaka) for Japanese, Glendale for Armenian, Thai-town, etc. LA is one of those rare cities where authentic cuisine is prevalent – you just need to be diligent about where to go. I would also do at least one of the six peaks for that west coast hiking experience, And maybe couple that with Runyon – because some times exercise is just more fun with celebrity sightings and cute dogs. For nightlife, I would recommend spots like The Hermosillo or Frogtown Brewery, because I’m all about that NELA life.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My creative circle in LA (you know who you are!) & my family.