Dre in Europe: Marseille and Palma de Mallorca

9 June 2016 (Marseille, France)

10 June 2016 (Palma de Mallorca, Spain)

Bonjour, mes amis. J’ai visite Marseille en France et c’était très jolie. Je peux parler un peu de francais (un petit peu) mais c’etait très amusant de converser en français avec les gens qui vivent en France.

Okay, english. My first language. I’ve always wanted to go to France, and Marseille made me want to see more of it. Unfortunately, I had a major headache but that headache allowed me to sit by the the deepest, most blue water. Marseille’s water quickly engulfed me and made me lose myself in meditation.

As for Palma de Mallorca, I got to taste the beauty of its waters. I’ve never submerged myself in the warm Mediterranean Sea, and I finally crossed that off my list on this day. The island girl in me thought finally, bring on the funky tan lines.

Both these regions kissed the sea.

Please don’t make me leave, I thought to myself as I meditated in the waters that kissed these lands. But the water reminded me that the sea is the same as it encircles our earth.

As long as I find the sea, I would never have to leave.

Dre in Europe: Florence and Pisa

8 June 2016

Florence

Where the cobblestone street

and the painted spirits meet,

you feel the breeze

from the warm Euro seas.

On Ponte Vecchio you sing

Italian arias and hear the ring

of wind chimes in the air

And they’re chanting somewhere.

Watch the ripples of the river so green,

Florence, calling my name so serene.

She says to fall in love and melt

She stole my heart, that I felt.

Dre in Europe: Rome and Vatican City

7 June 2016

Here’s what I saw:

Rome (it’s a LOT to take in)

The Colosseum (Lizzie Mcguire fans anyone?)

The Trevi Fountain (again, Lizzie)

The Vatican

St. Peter’s Square

Rome (I have to put this one twice because Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you also can’t take in Rome in just one day.)

But in all honesty, there’s so much to write about. But I’m going to write about the Trevi Fountain.

I’ve never been one to believe in wish making. But being at the Trevi Fountain was meditative. Travel makes me a little nervous because the working professional in me thinks “oh no, I’m missing auditions, shows, etc.” but this trip wasn’t about that. I made my wish, I reflected on how much I wanted that wish to come true, then I took a look at the fountain, and found myself present.

There was nowhere else I was meant to be. Not at a rehearsal, an audition, a performance. I was meant to be at that fountain, with the people I love most, with my thoughts and incessant chatter that became calm with the enlightened architecture of this majestic fountain. Oh, I also had gelato.

So whether or not that wish comes true, being in Rome made me believe that wishes come true since being there was a wish come true.

-Dre

Dre In Europe: Palermo and Naples, Italy

5 June 2016 // Honestly I Stopped Counting The Days

Palermo, Italy

If the pages of a history book came to life,

That’s where I’ve been walking.

Surrounded by the Gospel en espanol,

and the preserved beings of those who spoke of it.

Here you find no white sand beaches,

No cafes and drinks to spoil,

Instead you walk through time

Within ashes in its soil.

6 June 2016

Naples, Italy (Pompeii and Sorrento)

Visiting Pompeii was a dream. Or rather, it was the equivalent to time-travel in our physical world. Once upon a time there was energetic hustle and bustle of Roman life, and to take a stroll through those ruins was like walking through time. I have nothing else to say.

Sorrento has to be one of my new favorite towns. I am a city girl who found herself in an iconic Italian city (and spent 9 euros on chocolate…oops) by the water. You see the ocean and the horizon framed by Italy’s beautiful and colorful architecture.

How lucky of a gal am I?

-Dre

Barcelona (A Sung-Thru Title) 6.2.16

Day 3 // Last Day in Barcelona

Hola,

Oh My Gaudi.

The word of the day today is drained. Drained because of the incredible views and how they emotionally affected me. Saw the La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell for the first time. That’s what I did today. I also purchased a biography of architect Antoni Gaudi en francais.

As for the La Sagrada Familia, I cried. Yes, I was overwhelmed with emotion of this sacred basilica and amazed at the fact that this exists here on this earth. This piece of architecture created by man and devoted to something greater than himself.

Walking in, you hear a chorus of angels pulling you within the magnitude of its sacred forested mosaic

The religion major in me was screaming in ecstasy. “This is why I studied religion” I thought to myself as the tears fell. I studied religion to study creation and its connection to the divine.

The creation continues incessantly through the media of man. -Gaudi

Besos,

Dre

Barcelona (A Sung-Thru Title) 6.1.16

1 June 2016 // Day 2

JUNE IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER.

Happy June! Take a second to breathe, you made it this far in 2016. In grace and suffering, you made it this far.

Day 2 of my Barcelona adventure took place in the southern regions of the gorgeous city. We trotted through the Ramblas, ate some tapas and filled my soul with wine, sipped the cutest espresso, found some pressed juice (the Cali girl in me but obviously it tasted better in Spain) and visited the Picasso Museum.

I’ve come to the realization that aside from music or Sam Smith’s heavenly voice, my new favorite sound to hear is the symphony comprised of the many different spoken languages in one place. That’s what you hear in Barcelona. And it’s beautiful.

All the love,

Dre

 

Barcelona (A Sung-Thru Title) 5.31.16

31 May 2016 | Day One

If I were to describe Barcelona in one word, it would be antique. Not solely because I want to take this gorgeous city and its incredible architecture and place it in a music box to be able to keep it as a little keepsake forever, but also because antique is trendy in our day and age.

The fusion of the colonial, gothic architecture with its modern licks makes for a unique and aesthetically surreal city placed against a backdrop of clear blue skies with fresh air emanating throughout.

This is Barcelona. Another city that has my heart.

-Dre

Graduation 2016 Say What?!

Hello friends. An awesome thing happened on Sunday May 22, 2016.

I graduated college. And made a speech.

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I didn’t mention in my previous blog posts that I was chosen to make a speech at graduation. Me, this little Filipina girl with gargantuan dreams and a little body. But with thick calves I guess.

My immediate family got to see it live, but for those who have been wanting to read a transcript of it and watch a video, here it is.

All the love,

Dre

To watch the actual speech, follow this Youtube link (the last paragraph is cut off thanks to our favorite “out of storage” icon, but I am thankful that the bulk of it was captured):

Graduation Speech 

Seeing that it is my ULTIMATE dream to win a Tony award for best leading or supporting actress in a musical, being asked to deliver the commencement speech of the Comparative Religions department went down as one of the biggest honors, so please allow me to begin by thanking my family, theater family, school family, and my professors who have shown me discipline, compassion and resilience in my journey. I can confidently say that without you, I would not be here, and thus you will all be included in my Tony awards acceptance speech when that happens.

Speaking of musicals, I’ve been performing since I was 11 and continued to pursue acting while pursuing a degree in Religious Studies. Many of you are probably trying to make the connection between the two and as per my responsibility as commencement speaker, I want to leave you all with the powerful thing I discovered as a student here.

I’m a first generation Filipina American and 3 percent* of roles on Broadway go to Asian actors such as myself. When you place those statistics against the other thousands of talented, beautiful women going for the same 3 percent roles, the odds of even being in the running for a Tony are next to impossible. But, I end up asking myself, who then tells the stories of the 3 percent? Their stories deserve to be told too. And I need to tell them. And this brings me to the powerful thing I discovered: the power of storytelling.

As a student of religion, I found myself being immersed in stories. You know, those legends and myths that we read in scripture that set the foundation of our own beliefs as well as give us guidelines on how to live our best lives. And every story contains a hero, who, with the help of characters much like my professors Dr. Solano and Dr. Starr, endures trials and tribulations but inevitably ends up changing the world and saving lives. And that hero sets the standard for how we choose to go about our lives. Why do we read these stories? We read these stories to give us hope and to relate to who we aspire to be because these heroes have technicolor visions and villains they want to fight to make the world a better place. The best part? They are human. Much like us. Unless you’re a Marvel character. But that’s beside the point.

My fellow graduates, all of you are sitting here having completed those trials and tribulations of being a college student, with those technicolor visions and villains you fought and all the Starbucks you bought while being inevitably human. I hope you see that you are all heroes too. And no one can take that away from you. So often, we seek stories about us, to find a hero who has dealt with the same trials we have, to know that there will be a happy ending at the end of all the turmoil we endure in our own lives, and yet here you are, the hero of your own legend about to turn the page and begin the next chapter.

Graduation is about continuing your narrative, even being brave enough to rewrite your narrative, to add color to your narrative, to share your narrative, to change the world in your narrative. That in this mysterious world filled with unanswered questions and unjustified suffering with ideologies violently clashing with each other that we, the heroes, through the pain of our physical world, can continue to write a narrative that tells stories of justice, peace, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what a good story does for us?

So, to wrap it up: What do musicals and religion have in common? Much like what religion and all these incredible majors here have in common. They tell stories: stories of how the earth came to be, of how a diverse culture came to be, of how the hero changed the world. And some stories have yet to be written. It’s up to us, my fellow graduating seniors, to write them.

Thank you CSUF for the most challenging, enlightening and wonderful years of my life, and congratulations class of 2016; let’s paint the world with our stories.

 

*http://www.playbill.com/article/new-study-indicates-broadway-shows-employ-higher-percentage-of-minority-actors-than-not-for-profit-sector-com-201522

Bye Bye Bachelor

It’s tough for me to stay silent about the recent switch in the Bachelorettes. I was OBSESSED with the Bachelor (like seriously, unhealthily obsessed) until the rumored Bachelorette, Caila Quinn was switched to the runner-up of the season, Joelle (Jojo) Fletcher.

Caila is half Filipina.

I understand that it’s just a reality TV show used solely for entertainment purposes, but this show is so popular that they have the notoriety to attempt change and influence the media in its current state.

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(This beauty could have been our next Bachelorette)

I’m upset and honestly offended by their decision (and being the butt of stereotypical Asian/Filipino jokes, I hardly get offended). Here’s why it personally affects me:

Being a Filipina girl in the entertainment industry, I realize that I cannot take any opportunities for granted and that current work is so limited. Therefore, there are instances in which I, along with my fellow Asian actors must work that much harder to create, pitch, audition, and put ourselves out there in incredibly uncomfortable situations. Though the Bachelor took steps forward by adding more color to their contestant pool, The Bachelor franchise had an even greater opportunity to create change in popular culture by exhibiting the Filipina in a bright light, hopefully diversify our Western standards of beauty, and inevitably failed to do so.

The USC Annenbergy School for Communication and Journalism conducted studies on the portrayals of gender, race, and LGBTQ statuses in popular film. One of the studies provided statistics on the sexualization of female characters. In this study, 7.7% of Asian female characters were referenced to as being attractive while 12.6% of White female characters were referenced to as being attractive. (Note: I am not endorsing the “sexualization” of Asian women by ANY means; this is simply an example of Hollywood beautifying women that are not Asian). Giving the role to Jojo, who is your typical “girl next door,” obviously beautiful, and great on camera is reminiscent of all the times I have felt overshadowed by girls who I felt were prettier, more talented, smarter, and quite frankly, more white than me (and I mean absolutely no offense to my white friends because this is not by any means meant to attack you or present you in a negative light; this is an issue that is deeper than you vs. me/us vs. them).

I will say, for those of you who argue that the current Bachelorette Joelle (Jojo) Fletcher is diverse as well (she is half Iranian) or that this is another ABC publicity stunt to gain followers completely miss the point. She is absolutely stunning and entirely deserving of the Bachelorette role as well (NONE of this is your fault girl, I hope you find love). But that’s how she’s represented, as the stunning and the popular fan favorite even though Caila was a fan favorite of minorities (Note: her half-Filipina family was exhibited and celebrated during her Hometown date whereas Jojo’s ethnic background was never disclosed on the show, making Caila’s half Filipina background as part of her characterization throughout the show). So, who do the producers listen to? Jojo’s fans. Jojo is the “safe” choice for the reality TV show, being beautiful, a representative of the general viewing public, and reminiscent of former Bachelorette favorites. If switching to Jojo fulfills the goal of gaining more ratings, then by all means ABC, do your thing. We Filipinas will do our thing and continue discuss the deeper issues including the stereotypes, misconceptions, and micro-aggressions that we and several other ethnic groups face in popular culture. And we’ll do it with the same amount of class that Caila had while on your surface level, superficial, “play it safe” TV show *flips hair*.

Needless to say, I can’t stay silent about this issue anymore. We minorities absolutely need to keep writing, keep discussing, and keep creating because if we stop, we don’t move forward. Thankfully, we’ve taken steps forward (i.e. Hamilton), but this is a giant leap backwards. I want to see more color and better media representations of people like me in my lifetime. I am not watching this show anymore. I’m going to keep writing my stories and singing my songs instead even if this industry and the general public don’t want me to. #byefelicia

 

 

 

Your Ripple Effect

For those of you feeling a little down in the dumps today, just read these beautiful lines that have breathed their way into my day:

I cannot imagine anything more mystical, right within our reach, that the infinite oscillations which only await our touch to be called into existence. -Richard Schneider, guitarist/vocalist of Apples in Stereo.

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Those “infinite oscillations which only await our touch to be called into existence”…what does that say about the power that we as human beings hold? The Sufi mystic poet Rumi said that we are the “universe in ecstatic motion.” We hold an entire universe within our souls, yet we don’t give ourselves permission to access that universe. Instead, we feel that it is best to be small and to keep our voices and our souls to ourselves to avoid creating potential avalanches and tidal waves that could hurt ourselves and others.

But, in thinking of that fear of manifesting something colossal and sublime, aren’t we somehow implying that we have that power to do so?

Newsflash, you do. You have that power. And it is entirely frightening to hold responsibility for that power, so instead of thinking of that in those terms, I would like to leave you with a positive message about power.

For you, my friend, are absolutely deserving of the beauty and the magic that this madness called life holds. Unfortunately, you are not in control of everything in this life, but what you are in control of is your power. Of course, we feel that we give our power away when things do not go our way. We feel we lack control and that we cannot turn back time and change the repercussions and the consequences of the choices we made in the past. But, that my friend is a feeling. That is guilt, anger, bitterness, resentment, helplessness, etc, and you have every right to those emotions. You have every right to feel powerless.

But you have even more of a right to claim your power and to tell those negative thoughts and emotions that you ARE that universe in ecstatic motion. You are accustomed to great change and you CAN handle it. With grace, poise, fervor, and your kickass story, you can handle it.

With your touch, you can call some incredible things into existence. I am not talking about a “magic touch” that can make what you want appear at the snap of a finger. That would be too easy. With your touch, with your handprint, you can call on that universe that is within you and create even the tiniest ripples in the oceans that will vibrate towards those dreams that you want manifested in your life. And eventually, those ripples can turn to those frightening tidal waves that you once felt you needed to avoid, but can change the world and can save someone’s life. And the most important life in your world is your own. That right there is power, and that is your power. And if the thing you touch into existence is that universe within you, you have created that tidal wave.

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