A Cultural Look Into “What Kind of Asian Are You?” Podcast
Hong Kong/ Vibe/ Happenings

Exploring What it Means to be Asian in This Canadian-Born Chinese’s Podcast

Exploring What it Means to be Asian in This Canadian Born Chineses Podcast

Kyle Leung was stuck in a creative rut in the summer of 2020 throughout the height of the pandemic in Asia.

Having spent time in Taiwan teaching English and beginning immigration plans to Singapore to marry his now-wife, Kyle, 29, was searching for an outlet to be more creative during a period felt by many across the world as a stifling of imagination and expression.

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada after immigrating to the country at the age of five, Kyle was interested in merging his newfound inspiration for investing in a personal pandemic project of his and exploring what it meant to him to be caught between the Asian and Western world.

In September 2020, Kyle launched “What Kind of Asian Are You?”, a podcast series dedicated to exploring and telling the stories of the Asian diaspora through hour-long episodes discussing the childhood, heritage, passion projects, and Western-Asian identity of his guests.

With 57 episodes published (as of November 2021), Kyle has spoken with Mongolian “self-love advocate” Burté preaching love for the monolid eye and “beautiful” Asian features, Brittany Chan on her efforts to preserve Hong Kong culture through teaching Cantonese, podcaster Suraj Kandukuri interviewing South Asian Americans taking non-traditional paths in work and life, and Linda Yi, the writer and artist behind successful Panda Cup Stories comic series.

“I want to talk with people who are caught in the middle between expressing their Eastern influences and Western individualistic mentally,” Kyle told The Beat Asia in an interview.

Whilst mainstream media and Hollywood, Kyle says, often focuses on “fresh-of-the-boat, assimilated, whitewashed Asians, new immigrants, and stereotypical Chinese ideals,” the space for exploring the experiences and work of non-East Asians is largely untouched.

First speaking with his friends and business connections who had a story to tell and exciting creative work to show, Kyle reaches out to his peers at the Asian Creative Network, an online Facebook group of 50,000 Asian artists and creatives exploring non-traditional non-STEM paths in life.

“Asian stories are in demand, but not all Asian can share their stories,” Kyle says, referring to non-East Asian figures who sometimes are sidelined in the creative field and media industry.

“[Through my podcast], I want to highlight, amplify, and validate Asian voices worldwide, especially those in the diaspora, learn about cool things that Asian people are doing in creative and business fields.”

Each episode begins with a question to his guest – What kind of Asian are you? – a prompt to begin a conversation about how his guest sees their Asian identity in their creative field and their childhood in traditional Asian homes and current Western environments.

His guests are from all walks of life – business, creative, education, community services fields – and are encouraged to share their life and career stories to the podcast in hopes of providing a space for “other Asians” to relate to the stories and “feel less lonely.”

Kyle says that a person’s childhood, especially one of a third culture kid (TCK) or immigrant Asian in the Western world, is indicative of who they are as a person and how they see themselves within both worlds.

His most favourite episodes and conversations were with Hong Kong artist Sophia Hotung, creator of the Hong Konger parody series, and Randy Lau, founder of Made with Lau YouTube channel.

“[My conversation with Sophia] was the most impactful. I had the chance to speak to her about her ancestral history and the impact of the Ho family in Hong Kong. We connected through her art and her passion for success.”

“[Randy] is a really cool guy doing really great things. His identity story to tell his father, a Guangzhou Hong Kong chef, is powerful. I respect how he is leaving a family legacy with his channel and his efforts to start it from the ground up.”

Kyle wants to stay behind the scenes, leaving his identity exploration to be sought through exploring the stories of friends and people within his circles that share similar childhoods to himself.

“[I can] figure out my own identity in this podcast by asking questions to people that have the same struggles and issues that I have.”

“I am a Canadian from Hong Kong,” Kyle tells people when introducing himself, explaining that Canada is his home nation, but Hong Kong is where his heritage is from. “I consider [myself] a banana.”

In future episodes, Kyle hopes to continue promoting the work of passionate Asians across the globe and kickstart a movement to highlight these Asian stories and uplift Asian voices.

“If it ends up that I can make a revenue or a career [out of this] then great! It’s okay if I can’t because it’s great to be behind this.”

Kyle's podcast is available to listen on Spotify and watch on YouTube.

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