with Vickie Nam, Editor of Yell-Oh
Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American
the AllHip Interview with Vicki Nam
Nam was most recently content/community producer at VOXXY, the L.A. --
based interactive network for girls. She was formerly managing producer
at AsianAvenue.com, news team coordinator at Teen People, and editor in
chief of Blue Jean Magazine. Her work has appeared in Seventeen, Jump,
and KoreAM Journal. Vickie lives in Los Angeles.
Q: How would you describe/classify yourself
as a writer/editor? What are some of your key creative interests, hobbies,
and professional highlights?
A: I'm a writer and an editor. An Asian American. A girl. All at
once and in no particular order. All of these characteristics inform my
perspective and worldview as a person living in contemporary society.
I love traveling, and my favorite part about traveling is catching the
sunset in various locations. Writing freestyle. And I love creating things
with my hands. (Have you ever tried painting pottery?)
To some, my career path appears a bit convoluted. The transitions haven't
made logical sense to outsiders, but, to me, every single career choice
I've ever made was carefully planned and pursued with curiosity and passion.
When I graduated from Wellesley College, I wanted to dedicate myself to
work that was empowering to girls, creative, and interactive. At times
I questioned my decisions, especially when I noticed the huge salary differences
that existed between entry-level workers in investment banking and consulting,
for instance, and entry-level editors. I wanted to find a way to integrate
the skills I'd learned in college as a women's studies and American studies
double major in my professional work. As a journalist, I would be able
to explore a range of interests while covertly working toward initiating
change as a producer of media and culture.
I was the editor-in-chief of an alternative, advertising-free magazine
called Blue Jean Magazine, which was aimed at girls who wanted to read
material that departed from the rhetoric of mainstream, teen glossies.
I worked with a smart, tenacious, forward-thinking team of teen editors
and correspondents. After a year I moved to New York City to manage the
News Team at Teen People. There, I worked for almost two years with aspiring
teen reporters who had the power to pitch stories, write reviews, and
share their perspectives on a range of issues. This program was revolutionary.
It evidenced the desire among teens to exercise the power to actively
engage with the media, and offer their own perspectives on social and
political issues. The teens I worked with were effectively resisting the
myth that they were in any way irresponsible, foolish, and conformist.
My stint at AsianAvenue.com was a leap toward cultivating new skills in
the Internet genre. And I moved to LA in search of freedom and the chance
to grow up. I worked for VOXXY, an interactive network for teen girls
that, unfortunately, didn't survive last year's dot-com shakeout.
Q: Your book "Yell-Oh Girls!" focuses on cultural
identity of Asians growing up in America. Can you talk briefly about your
feelings and experience of growing up between two cultures.
A: I can't talk about my personal history without discussing the
area where I grew up - my friends, my family, the general atmosphere of
suburban life in upstate New York. I'm sure it took longer for me to figure
out where it is I belonged in my community because I was raised in a cross-cultural
landscape. My parents are 1st-generation Korean. They immigrated to the
US around 30 years ago, before I was born. They are arguably more progressive
than other traditional Korean parents, but, in many ways, they have adhered
to tradition. Pittsford, my hometown, wasn't diverse. I could count the
number of non-white kids in my elementary school class on one hand. I
was among the only Asian kids, and for a long time I didn't know that
I was different from anyone else. I had some indication that my Euro-American
peers didn't see me as a part of their group, and at times I felt that
there were limitations placed on the extent to which I was allowed to
mingle, mix, and blend into the social circles at school. The "chink"
jokes and other racist slurs would follow me around when I went to the
mall, checked out books at the library, or stood in line at the grocery
store. And I watched as certain people would mimick my father's accented
English, or when a man demanded that my mother roll down her car window
in a parking lot so he could bark the words "Go back to China!" in her
It wasn't until high school that I was starting to ask critical questions
about my place in the world. It's when, perhaps, we all start to realize
how our values and beliefs echo or depart from the "norm" and we first
express the need or desire to be seen as individuals. I felt torn. So
often it felt like I was balancing my conflicting roles that shifted according
to my location. At home, I was expected to be the good, obedient, Korean
daughter. At school, I was expected to be aggressive - to compete with
my peers for popularity and stellar grades. Performing these roles for
others made it difficult for me to find my own voice. These are the memories
and experiences that fueled my passion to edit YELL-Oh Girls!
Girls!: Emerging Voices Explore Culture,
Identity, and Growing Up Asian American
by Vickie Nam (Editor) - Buy
the Exclusive AllHip Interview of
Editor Vickie Nam where she talks about her experiences as
a journalist, about editing the book, experiences growing up Asian in
America, her thoughts on Pop Culture, Mentors and on finding her voice
and personal mission.
Story About the Book
Yell-Oh Girls! Editor Vicki Nam Discusses the genesis of
from the Book Yell-Oh Girls!
Alaina Wang Excerpt: "China Doll"
Gullapalli Excerpt: "Funny
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