THE YELLOW PAGES is a weekly newsletter recommending Asian and AAPI films, music, writing, and other inspiration — all the artsy things I wished for growing up!
I’ve never been into awards shows. I never did the standing-in-front-of-the-mirror-practicing-my-acceptance-speech thing, which maybe I should have. Back in 2006, when I won the “Outstanding Newcomer Award” at the Asian Excellence Awards, I blabbered on and on about my costume in my high school production of The Pajama Game — forgetting to thank my husband.
The past (almost) two decades since, I’ve really grown to dread these ceremonies. And not just because I’m not invited anymore — perhaps I wasn’t “outstanding” enough — these awards shows began to feel like an evening when everyone had permission to publicly scrutinize women’s bodies. For years, when I was struggling with my eating disorder, I grimaced at hearing those comments — whether it was shaming them for squeezing into something too tight or applauding them for having the “discipline” to tone their arms, or rapidly shed their pregnancy weight.
Also, awards ceremonies often felt like I was forcing myself to watch other people’s dreams come true. Dreams that I shared, but felt (as an aging Asian-American woman) that I had no right to. And the year following #OscarsSoWhite, when three Asian children became the punchline of a stereotypical math joke, it felt like my private, paranoid thoughts had been confirmed for the whole world to see: They don’t think we’re important.
Then, there’s the financial aspect. In 2021, I dealt firsthand (as a producer) with the hoops you have to jump through just to get a movie considered for the Academy Awards. The cost to add our film to the Academy screening room was 1/4 of our indie sized budget for my directorial debut, I Will Make You Mine. We did not have that money, nor did we have the finances to do any marketing, but I’m proud that we eventually got Goh Nakamura’s “Hold on to Your Humanity” on the official consideration list for “Best Original Song.”
Despite the bad taste awards shows left lingering, there have been moments that really softened my hardened, heartbroken heart. Like in more recent years, when Parasite, Minari, and The Farewell got a lot of well-deserved recognition. And just this past week, watching both Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh give acceptance speeches made me so emotional, in the best way.
I’m particularly excited about today’s guest post, not only because her performance in Triangle of Sadness was one of my recommendations back in ISSUE 05, but because her Golden Globe nomination and the outfit she wore is helping to shift my mindset about how to enjoy awards shows (and the red carpet) again. I am feeling inspired. I am feeling hopeful. I am feeling seen. There’s an artist in their element, breaking the rules and collecting their long-overdue flowers. To be on the sidelines, just witnessing and cheering — it’s so cool.
Follow Dolly on Instagram: @dollyedeleon.
Dolly de Leon (she/her/hers).
Where are you?
LA right now but I live in Manila.
What do you do?
How do you identify?
Anything coming up you’d like to promote?
Salome written and directed by Teng Mangansakan, Duyan ng Magiting written and directed by Dustin Celestino, Iti Mapukpukaw written and directed by Carl Papa.