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Interview with Vickie Nam, Editor of Yell-Oh Girls! : Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American

Read the AllHip Interview with Vicki Nam

Vickie 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 face.

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!

Continued: Read More

 

Yell-Oh Girls!: Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American
by Vickie Nam (Editor)
- Buy This Book

Read 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 the book.

Read Excepts from the Book Yell-Oh Girls!

Alaina Wang Excerpt: "China Doll"

Diya Gullapalli Excerpt: "Funny Girl"

 

 

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