We had the good fortune of connecting with Stefanie Lau and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stefanie, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I grew up going to schools in Asian American and Latinx neighborhoods. I knew as a kid that the news, movies, tv shows, books – basically all media – did not represent or tell our stories. And as I got older, I saw that when our communities were included, we were reduced to stereotypes and tropes. In high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist so I could write about our communities. I pursued journalism all through college … working for my school newspaper, getting professional internships … but as I learned more about the industry, I realized getting to tell the stories I wanted to tell in mainstream media was going to be difficult.

After graduating, I spent a summer as an intern at East West Players, the nation’s oldest Asian American theatre company. It’s there I learned about the legacy of Asian American theatre artists across the county, and the decades-long work to create and produce authentic stories about and by Asian Americans.

I’ve been an arts administrator and theatre producer for more than 20 years. People ask how I made the jump from journalism to theatre, and I tell them that both fields are about learning about the world around us. I still get to tell the diverse and nuanced stories of the Asian American community that I wanted to as a high school student, it’s just now done on stage.

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.
As a producer, I lean into the collaborative nature of theatre. The work I do is not possible without the time and talent of playwrights, writers, designers, actors, technicians, dramaturgs and countless other theatre artists. For the last 10 years, most of my work has been with Artists at Play. We are only one of two Asian American theatre companies in Los Angeles. We are dedicated to producing stories that explore the diverse Asian American experience, and providing resources and opportunities to emerging artists of marginalized identities.
During this past year of increased anti-Asian violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work we do has become even more essential. (To learn more about this, please read AAP’s statement and feel free to pull text. https://artistsatplay.org/2021/03/26/stop-asian-hate/)

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I want people to see that there is more to Los Angeles than Hollywood, strip malls and freeways. We are a city built by diverse communities, and sustained by people with rich lives and heritage.

As a theatre maker, the first thing I would do is find out what shows are playing and build activities around that. Is there a show at East West Players? Then we’re going to Little Tokyo to visit the Japanese American National Museum, walk through the Japanese gardens at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center and have dinner at one of the small mom and pop restaurants before the play.

Greenway Court Theatre has a matinee? Then we’re going to explore the Melrose Trading Post, watch the play and then grab a late lunch from somewhere on Fairfax Ave.

Playwrights Arena is opening a new show at the Atwater Village Theatre complex? How about hiking in Griffith Park or exploring the trains at Travel Town and dinner at Gam Tu Bop in Glendale before the show.

And after every show, we drive to the San Gabriel Valley to find a Hong Kong cafe that is open for late night Chinese food and boba milk tea.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Artists at Play, a theatre I co-founded in 2011, is my artistic home. For the last 10 years, I’ve had the great opportunity to work with amazing and talented theatre administrators and artists. Together we have created theatre that tells the diverse stories of the Asian American community, provided opportunities for emerging artists of marginalized backgrounds and advocated for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access in Los Angeles theatre. During the challenging year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial reckoning in this country and the rise in anti-Asian violence, Artists at Play was the support I needed to continue the work that I do. My fellow producers – Julia Cho, Marie-Reine Velez, Nicholas Pilapil and Katherine Chou – push me to do better, so that the work we create collaboratively continues our journey for a more just society.

Website: ArtistsAtPlay.org

Instagram: @artistsatplayla

Twitter: @AAPlay

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtistsAtPlay

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ArtistsAtPlayLA

Image Credits
Stefanie Lau | Artists at Play Photo by M Palma Photography Stefanie Lau | AAP 1 Photo by M Palma Photography Stefanie Lau | AAP 2 Photo by M Palma Photography Stefanie Lau | AAP 3 Photo by M Palma Photography Stefanie Lau | AAP 4 Photo by M Palma Photography Stefanie Lau | AAP 5 Photo by M Palma Photography Stefanie Lau | AAP 6 Photo by Cristi Burgos Stefanie Lau | AAP 7 Photo by Hao Feng Stefanie Lau | AAP 8 Photo by The Raconteur Collective

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.