We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
My film THƠ (“tuh”) features the only asexual girl of Color in media so far, celebrating the existence of asexual and queer BIPOC with unapologetic authenticity, to prove we deserve to tell our own powerful stories. I hope THƠ inspires more films about asexual and queer BIPOC, so that our communities aren’t seen as monolithic, but rather a mosaic of many different, intersectional experiences. I also hope the film encourages queer Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders to boldly share and celebrate their own experiences–whether in intimate conversations or more public artistic expression.
THƠ challenges the misconception of asexuality being something to be fixed, and reclaims it as a valid queer identity, despite being misunderstood even within the LGBTQIA+ community as just a phase. I adore how this mission is already being lived out, inthe film’s promotional journey. I’ve already had several incredible conversations about how Asian-American aces have felt seen in my film and how folks across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum who watched the film felt more open to discussing asexuality and preferences about intimacy, with their partners and loved ones. We’re premiering at Outfest Fusion (April 16-20) in the “Stand Up, Be Heard” shorts category, and I’m so excited for us to be championed by a festival committed to amplifying QTBIPOC stories! I also can’t wait to share the film publicly after our festival run!
Although I plan to move on to different films with asexual leads not based on my life as much as THƠ is, the film captures my hunger for raw honesty present in all of my storytelling, from its casting to its editing. I’m passionate about pursuing and uplifting projects by, for, and about queer and trans BIPOC and seek to make that my career.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As I’ve mentioned, I made a vibrant, visceral drama about being an asexual (ace) Vietnamese-American girl navigating romance, with partners who refused to understand me, and I want the film (and my experiences) to help other aces of Color feel empowered and less alone, and help non-aces understand some misconceptions about asexual romance! I crowdfunded to finish the vivid, fiercely vulnerable film, and we reached 114% of our goal! The process of building the campaign was definitely scary, because I put so much heart and energy into making it appealing to what I thought my target audience was, but I didn’t know if they would actually like it. The biggest and best surprise that I learned during the campaign was that I met and reconnected with so many people who just wanted to support the project because they believed in me and my team and the films that we want to create to empower our communities! Anxiety is definitely a part of my life, but their love definitely has overpowered it at times, and I’m so excited to share the film with them and hear about how it may inspire them to be more vulnerable and open with each other and their loved ones.
Asexuality is a queer identity so often overlooked in media, and it’s usually whitewashed and mocked when it is shown. I want to change this and continue collaborating with amazing creatives to challenge misrepresentation of queer and trans BIPOC. I’d love your support so the film reaches the people who would feel loved by it! You can share our Outfest Fusion page at outfest.org/fusion2021/tho/ and follow our socials below!
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?
My best friend and I would probably adore hiking in Griffith Park together, poking around the trees and shrubbery and feeling like we’ve exercised well and earned feeling achy in our twenties! I’d show him Proof Bakery and Wanderlust Creamery in Atwater Village, and likely eat dinner at Indochine Vien (also in Atwater) or Chess Park in Glendale, because those are currently my favorite places for food. We’d bake scones together, laugh about stories we’d tell each other, and watch adorable queer rom-coms at my apartment, because we’re generally homebodies. It’ll be the best and coziest time. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Today, I’d like to spotlight Maya Michal Sherer, who’s an incredible actress, singer, and friend. She’s advocated for me when I didn’t know I could leave toxic spaces, and she’s constantly speaking out against injustices that target marginalized communities, especially within creative spaces that are meant to encourage a love for artistic expression and deep compassion, but are falling short on that promise and vision by tokenizing queer and trans BIPOC. Maya inspires me with her fierce love, and I’m grateful to fight alongside her for more inclusive, intersectional spaces.
THƠ (the film)