Student film premieres on campus

“Supermodel Minority,” a film about Asian American experiences, premiered at the Ahmanson Theatre on May 27. Chronicle staff writer and project director Fallon Dern ’23 and photographer Kaelyn Choi’ 22 prefaced the movie with an explanation of student photos they took highlighting the Asian American experience. 50 community members attended the event after school, and the film featured content from more than 40 Asian Americans.

Dern said she created the film to tell the stories of Asian American students in their own words.

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage (APAH) month, Dern compiled interviews and videos of Asian American students about their culture and experiences. Yoshimi Kimura ’23 and Joshua Cheng ’23 produced the project’s soundtrack. Dern said Asian Americans have become a “model minority” for other groups.

She said she created the project to interact with Asian American students and to share their individual stories, not solely the stereotypes associated with the race.

“I wasn’t a part of Asian American Culture Club (AACC) at the Middle School and I think this year I’ve really been able to reap the benefits of talking about your race and connecting with others about your identity and shared experiences,” Dern said. “Through this, I’ve learned that the idea of a model minority doesn’t just damage Asian people but impacts all minorities.”

Dern said she also wanted to bring to light the various experiences and skills that her peers have, and she presented videos and photos from students across the school’s Asian American community.

“Through this project, I wanted to be able to interact with Asian American students,” Dern said. “Every single clip of somebody you saw as a ballerina or a fencer or a diver, that’s a student here,” Dern said. “I really wanted to highlight what Asian Harvard-Westlake students are capable of.”

Participants said they were personally impacted through their own work on the project.

Prefect Simon Lee ’23 said that this was his first experience working in an environment such as this one, but he greatly enjoyed it, especially with such a relevant topic that personally affects him.

“It was strange for me to see Asian Americans represented in that kind of space for a solid 25 minutes,” Lee said. “What really hit me the hardest was thinking about all of the variety of Asian American experiences and how there is no singular one. Just seeing that diversity is really what I was very emotional about.”

Natalie Chan ’23 said she was initially nervous about the project especially because of the short timeframe of the work schedule but that she ended up enjoying the filming process.

“As soon as I got there, everyone else there was so fun to be around and fun to shoot with,” Chan said. “They were all so easy to talk to that it was really just an environment that was both artistically and culturally fulfilling at the same time. I could relate to everyone there and talk to them so easily, so all of my fears I originally had just went away.”

Watch the film here.