Hosts Koji Steven Sakai and M. Martin Mapoma ask actor Achie Kao (Power Rangers, CSI, People I’ve Slept WIth, amongst many other TV and film both here in the US and China) about the BEST or WORST day of his life. His answer had to do with a decision he made while in college.
Voice Over Host 0:02
This is the best or worst podcast. And now here are your hosts Koji Steven Sakai, and M Martin Mapoma.
Koji Sakai 0:14
Welcome, welcome. Welcome. This is the best or worst podcast and I’m Koji,
and I am Martin and this is episode 31. I always have to check my notes I check right before we get on to see what number we are because we’re actually really really far in advance right now because of the whole Coronavirus thing.
Martin Mapoma 0:30
It’s crazy man. Have we been more episodes because of the Coronavirus?
Koji Sakai 0:34
Yeah, cuz it’s a little bit easier for everyone to get together than having to come to my studio and stuff. But, but we haven’t we have a guest. We’re super excited about having a guest today and other guests. And this is Archie. He’s, he’s my friend. He wasn’t he was in one of my movies is cool. Which you can’t see usually you see behind me. Oh, but he would. He’d be one of the people in that picture. But Archie, how are you?
Archie Kao 1:01
Hey, good. I’m excited to be able to meet up with you guys in this new landscape. But yeah, it’s great. See you again, I haven’t seen you in person in ages. I know we have to.
Koji Sakai 1:12
We have to get back together when we get to meet up on when this is all over.
Archie Kao 1:16
Yeah, actually had a happy hour with a couple of my friends last night and we ended up just kind of bizarre because we ended up you know, having breaking out the drinks and have you done that yet? with anybody?
M. Martin Mapoma 1:28
Yeah, yeah, I’m on the move. I just say and I’m like, Okay,
Koji Sakai 1:32
can you mute yourself when you’re moving, please?
Archie Kao 1:36
We’re going for a tour of Martin’s house. Yes.
Koji Sakai 1:40
But I haven’t done that yet. Well, how was that hanging out with
Archie Kao 1:44
him? It was great. It actually was surprisingly felt like we were just there hanging out talking. You know, it’s kind of funny, except at one point, I did ask my friend to give me a tour of his new house. So he was doing much what Martin is doing just showing this. But it was interesting. This is a new dynamic. I think we’re all gonna have to
Koji Sakai 2:04
wait, was it in person or was it over zoom?
Archie Kao 2:06
No, it was over. It was actually over FaceTime, but okay. Same sort of.
Koji Sakai 2:10
Yeah, I thought you meant getting together in person. Oh, okay.
Archie Kao 2:12
No, no, no, no, we were just having drinks on. Yeah, like, but it felt like we were actually yeah, it was first time I’d actually had drinks with somebody via, you know, video. So
in any event, I digress.
Koji Sakai 2:25
Well, why don’t you tell us? Where did you grow up?
Archie Kao 2:29
I grew up. I was born in Washington, DC and then I grew up in, in Virginia, Northern Virginia.
Koji Sakai 2:36
And it was a southern Virginia cuz nobody wants to be from Southern
Archie Kao 2:43
Virginia really worked up if you mistake it for West Virginia. Yeah, West Virginia. Virginia,
M. Martin Mapoma 2:52
West Virginia mountain mama.
Archie Kao 2:53
Yeah, Wild West Virginia. That’s
Unknown Speaker 2:55
M. Martin Mapoma 2:57
I went to school. I went to school in Kentucky. So I’m very familiar with that.
Archie Kao 2:59
Oh boy. Yeah,
M. Martin Mapoma 3:01
Archie Kao 3:05
yeah, I mean, my my story was actually kind of I’m kind of bizarre I think it’s, I think it’s interesting and bizarre now. So my mom is an immigrant to this country and she actually came to America got married, had a kid and got divorced all within like, less than a year. Ah, very, she’s very American ever. But anyway, she, um, at that juncture, was really on hard times and couldn’t afford to really feed her own kid. And so now she’s alone in this country doesn’t know anybody and poor, destitute and just has this job that’s really really meager. She can’t really afford to feed me, as I said, so she goes into this church, and apparently starts crying not so much that she was really religious, but that it was offering her some solace that she could go to this Church in the pastor asked her what’s wrong and she kinda in her broken English explains it. And so the pastor tells that congregation Hmm. At that point, I think he was probably he was like asking for help. And I think he’s probably asking for financial donations. But in fact, there was a family there that weekend just happened to be from Pennsylvania. And they said, well, we’ll take them. And crazy enough, my mom’s like, okay, here so she gives this like newborn baby to this family from Pennsylvania until she could kind of get acclimated to America, get on our feet and come get me. So this family in Pennsylvania grew, they were a working farm. They actually so I grew up, like tending chickens and pigs and cows and stuff like that, not knowing that I was Asian until my mom actually a few years later came back to get me and I started going To elementary school because it was a really it was a really like bizarre experience. How long were you with that family? A few years and they were I mean, we got lucky my mom girl because they were a wonderful family. I mean they I mean you think about all the things that could have gone wrong with that, especially when it came time to give up a kid they were just totally supportive and incredible people but they gave me the opportunity to kind of grow up in the in like real farmland, you know, you know, roosters would go off in the morning and I would get up and pull on my overalls and go clean out the pig pens and all kinds of stuff. And again like I said I go run up the silos and pitch push hay down for the for the cows and all kinds of stuff is really amazing. I feel very grateful Wow.
M. Martin Mapoma 5:47
Are you still in contact with them?
Archie Kao 5:48
Um I last?
The short answer is not No. I really wish I was because last known address and phone number I have for him just kind of dead ends but I know that the last I mean, they knew that I got into entertainment and stuff like that, and they see me on TV. And I was, I was proud to be able to, you know, let them know that they really contributed to
M. Martin Mapoma 6:12
such a life evolved.
Koji Sakai 6:15
So did you know, speaking of entertainment did you know, you always wanted to be an actor or when did that start?
Archie Kao 6:20
You know, that’s an interesting question too, because I remember when I was a little boy and my mom taking me to school, driving me to school every morning, and my favorite topic of conversation was always tell me more about my dad because I didn’t grow up knowing my biological dad. So she would tell me things and
I remember one of the things that she told me
was that Archie, you’re going to realize one day that you have many sisters out in the world because your father has different has had different wives, subsequent wives and previous wives. It’s what marriage is Well, so I remember thinking this is well before the internet, you know. So I remember I don’t remember how I don’t I was like, how am I ever going to find this needle in a haystack. But I feel like I kind of always grew up with the, the that lodged in the back of my head, and I think in no small measure, did that contribute to my desire to be in the entertainment business, because I do remember telling, thinking to myself, when my mom told me that I’m going to, I’m going to be known one day, and that way they’re going to find me. But growing up in the DC area, I thought that meant I always thought that I would be in the public elite. But I always thought that that meant that I would be like on Capitol Hill or something and working in politics and being known that way and then they would find me but
as destiny had it, and you know, getting into
the other coast.
So that’s how we ended up there, but I’m still in touch with them.
Koji Sakai 8:00
What was your first role? was it
Archie Kao 8:03
Koji Sakai 8:04
Yeah, what was your was Power Rangers one of your first big
Archie Kao 8:07
ones or… Rangers was definitely my first Power Rangers my first regular, regular role and it was really funny because I think at that juncture I was really literally a starving actor like I had never and I’m like, I can’t be California with less than $200 in my pocket. So it was very, very lean time. But by time I got to power Power Rangers. I was like, waiting tables and really not very good at it at all. It was making money doing it, but pretty much all the money I made I was trying to go to acting class with and it was really hard for me to write this check every every month and just get beat up in acting class by this teacher guy who’s just so ruthless on me and I just couldn’t understand why I kept doing it. But I was like, kind of like, kind of
masochistic in me just doing it.
I remember when I first when I got the role, I remember thinking, this isn’t what I want to do. We’re trying to do serious scenes and in class and here I’m going to be a blue Power Ranger, you know, putting on spandex and riding around and saving the world. But that acting teacher actually said to me Archie, it’s not uhh.. it’s not where you are, it’s what you do with where you are. And they weren’t really they’re obviously not back then handing out roles, specially series regular roles to Asian males at that point. So, you know, it’s you quickly forget to take yourself seriously and just have fun doing that. So I had a great time with that. And that was like, kind of like an on like an on the job training thing for how to work with on the set. Sorry? When was this? 19 I think the end of 1998 into 1999.
Koji Sakai 9:58
So yeah, over Tony, did you know about the Power Ranger curse, right? Have you ever heard about the Power Ranger curse with that they don’t work again. Well, that they they die or they get sick and they get hurt right away. Well, wait a minute. There’s a whole curse
Unknown Speaker 10:12
around Power Rangers. Really?
Koji Sakai 10:14
Yeah, I always thought I always thought of you but I was like, well, Archie’s alive?
Archie’s alive. So you broke the curse, but yeah, yeah.
Archie Kao 10:24
Yeah, no, I hadn’t heard that curse. But, um, I’d heard more to the extent that they don’t work
M. Martin Mapoma 10:30
to power rangers. All right, no, what have you done? What have you done recently?
Archie Kao 10:35
so I moved to China in 2014 and started working over there. And so I was working pretty, pretty much exclusively there and Chinese language, film and television. Okay. But I didn’t I didn’t want to come back to the states. So I came back last year. I’m still working on both sides of the Pacific. I was doing, um, a TV show in, in China when the virus came, and then we come they kind of shut it down in the middle of production and we had to kind of retreat and come back here. So the virus hadnt yet come this way, and came back to the states and I just, I started up. I got booked for a TV show, this a HBO, Warner Brothers show in New York. And so went out there to shoot it. And I remember thinking even though I had been in quarantine in China for a little bit, I remember thinking, I guess, everything’s fine because people are carrying on with their lives with no thought at all, even though Coronavirus is in the news. And even me I got seduced into thinking well, I guess everything’s okay. You know, we’re going to the shops and the museums and the subways and shows and all that all in tight quarters, and then they shut that show down in the middle. So
And then the Chinese show
resumed. But at that juncture, I couldn’t make it back because they shut their borders to the foreigners, two days before I supposed to leave. So they ended up having to get a body double, to replace, to shoot the rest of my scenes and I’m going to have to shoot inserts close ups on a green screen when I whenever I’m able to get back there. And so we’re still waiting for the HBO show to give us where to but obviously New York was one of the epicenters. So,
Koji Sakai 12:32
so you’re basically telling us that the Coronavirus is all your fault? Is that what I’m hearing?
Archie Kao 12:37
Well, I put it in my suitcase. You heard it here.
Koji Sakai 12:43
All right, well, we’re at that point of the show where we were Martin and I decide whether we want to hear the best or worst moment of Archie’s life. So Martin, unmute yourself and tell us what you’re thinking. Are you thinking best or worst moment? Hmm.
M. Martin Mapoma 13:01
Youre gonna kill me.
You know, I kinda wanna go… lets go with the best moment. Okay, everything’s good.
Koji Sakai 13:06
Are we gonna pick are we gonna pick the best moment every time until and this whole alright you know and okay let’s let’s say I’m not criticizing I’m just gonna ask you I’m just asking… no
M. Martin Mapoma 13:14
but you’re right because it seems like he’s had a pretty amazing life and it seems
Archie Kao 13:21
M. Martin Mapoma 13:22
I feel like maybe if we asked what the worst moment i mean you know your mom taking you to a church and getting adopted by a you know, you know, Amish family and Pennsylvania
Unknown Speaker 13:31
Koji Sakai 13:35
I actually disagree i love i love the idea of the of the I want to hear a happy moment. Actually, I agree with you on this one. So maybe in the future, we’ll choose a bad moment.
Archie Kao 13:44
Okay, so best moment… you’re agreeing with me? I’m agreeing with you. Yeah. the best moment. Okay. I know. I’m, I feel I was trying to give it some thought.
Unknown Speaker 13:58
And when I uhh
Archie Kao 14:01
when I was in high school and growing in my formative years teenager and stuff, like I feel like I was always, um I guess I would grew up kind of insecure, and not really very confident in my own like sense of self. And so for some odd reason, when I went to college in order to try to I don’t know what I was thinking, but in order to combat that,
I decided to run for student body.
Student Government, and so I ended up running in college or high school in college, partially because I left high school still feeling really like not very sure myself, and I don’t I got I got into this frame of mind where I thought I should I just need to, I just wanted to try to scare myself everyday into doing something that was very uncomfortable for me. So when I went to college, I was finally free from the bounds of My family and my, you know, kind of controlling father and all that stuff I am, for some reason decided to befriend 10 people every day on this new college campus. And by the end of this in my freshman year of college at George Mason University, and, and by the end of like the first year, I realized I knew so many people that I thought and then somebody suggested to me that maybe I should run for student government. You know, I wanted I was thinking about I was really, really scared to say it out loud. But somebody suggested to me that I could run for a student senate seat. And I was really kind of I was so insecure. I was kind of petrified at saying that out loud, but then when I told another friend of mine, he said Archie I think that’s sweet, but I think you should aim higher. I think you should try to run for vice president. And I was like, like, you know, now, you know, I was really, really insecure about that and and no, experience in it and where I went to school I feel like it was, you know, the people that were in had, you know, the big man on campus sort of thing. We’re all you know, white guys, I mean, I grew up in, you know, pretty conservative area in Virginia. So I was really anxious about doing it. But for some reason I ended up hobbling together this effort and recruiting all these friends of mine to help me and it was a very strenuous, exhausting race, but luckily, I, I, I was elected vice president, but I’m getting this long winded story is getting to this one moment that is forever captured in my mind, and that’s the after all the din of this crazy race, this big election, I went to, you know, universitiey with 10s of thousands of people so it’s like a little city in itself. And so I was I was when you’re plastering pictures of your face all over the university. Everyone’s going to know if you lose or if you win or lose you know you there’s no there’s no hiding behind it you just it’s kind of like doing a backflip off a diving board you have to commit to it completely or you can’t do it if you try to half assed if you’re just gonna fall on your face. So that was like my, my, my first growth lesson to me as a as a teenager and my first venture out. And I remember after the election, the day after the election, there was now quiet on the university campus and for sure, I was walking to the student union and I had a it was a slight drizzle it was quiet and I remember holding an umbrella walking to the Student Union. Now I’m by myself and I just had this call. And in this internal sense of like fulfillment, and somebody from one of the who I didn’t even know actually from one of the sitting in the window, one of the resident dorms called out to me and just congratulated me. And that, that that is a singular moment that I think has that I’ve, I’ve tried to compartmentalize in later chapters of my life because I think that that moment gave me the confidence to, to embark on other chapters of my life, including obviously, being an actor, because that’s an outrageous thing to say to, especially when you’re from an Asian family and you’re the only son, you know, like, it’s, you know, I took a very, I mean, maybe doesn’t seem as outrageous now, but it sure seemed outrageous coming from, from from my perspective, then.
Koji Sakai 18:43
That’s amazing. So. So you’ll see did that bill clinton playbook? Did you know that Bill Clinton would stand outside his, his cafeteria, the cafeteria at his college and he would shake , he would meet three people every day. And he would like… Is that right?… And so that was his big trick was Like later, like, even like 20 years later, if you met one of those guys, he’s telling everything about that person. So he had this, like,
Unknown Speaker 19:07
he had this this
M. Martin Mapoma 19:10
next level, like, you know, thinking, you know,
Archie Kao 19:14
I know it’s funny because I actually I was supposed to, I wasn’t mean to cut you off, martin, I’m supposed to, um, I was just invited to give the keynote graduation speech in my high school actually. Which was also coincidentally going to be at the venue of my university, which is like, you know, the neighborhood University, the local university, which is a tremendous, you know, honor for me to want to do it. But what I wanted to say at the speech before, now, it’s been abbreviated, of course, obviously, because it can be like virtual speech, but um, I really feel strongly and what I would want to say to the senior class is that you have to, you have to scare yourself and take a risk and do things that you and the good thing about it at that point for me was I I feel like if you’re only like it’s like walking a tightrope it’s only two inches off the ground I didn’t have a lot to lose because I didn’t have anything anyway. So you can you know you at that place in my life I thought you’ve got to take the risk. I mean I mean that financially not not… personally… yeah I you know, I I didn’t have a you know, wife and kids and stuff to support but I I feel just in terms of my own you know, the your mental constitution, you need to like, take the risk and take a risk. That’s that’s the thing. I think I learned from all that and I’m, I feel like if I can, if I’m honest with myself, that part of my personality, I probably have even slow you know, look, slowed it up on a bit is probably not common. not uncommon when you get older.
Koji Sakai 20:56
Yeah, yes. No, that’s that’s it. That was an amazing story. So do you know… Do you remember how much you won by or just you have any?
Archie Kao 21:05
Um, so you did win. I did win. And the next year I won the presidency. And by that point, I mean, not not to toot my own horn, but I won the presidency pretty handily
because I think I was already expected to win since I was already Vice President, but
it wasn’t anywhere near the same.
You know, the same. What’s the word for it? You know, just because… the thrill Yeah, but also just the growth experience. You know, like, like, like I was, I was, I remember the people I ran against when I was running for vice president. There were fraternity presidents or they were, you know, they were they had big, they had a big presence. Yeah, whatever. And except for me, this little Asian kid who is preposterous enough,
M. Martin Mapoma 21:55
that’s to say a lot for the South so you were probably so you were probably the first Asian American president of a, you know, a majority white student, you know, major college university. He, I mean, I, I was told
Archie Kao 22:10
about before I one that they used to call it the white boys club.
M. Martin Mapoma 22:13
Yeah, I say the whole because my brother, my younger brother went to Morehead State. And he was he became the was, uh, he was president, the University from the student government for maybe two years. I remember, it was a huge deal that he was, you know, the first, you know, the first black student ever elected, you know, President of Student Government. And this was back in the 80s. Huh, which was unheard of. Right. Yeah. Yeah. You know, kudos. Oh, go ahead. I was gonna say kudos to you Archie . Thank you. That’s, I mean, that’s no small feat. Dude. That’s no small feat.
Archie Kao 22:48
I appreciate that. And I feel like that is, if I were to think we asked him what’s your best moment I have to think about the moment that kind of defend defines, you know, a lot of the you know, The just the tone of my life I think, you know, sort of take a chance to happens, you know?
Koji Sakai 23:08
Yeah, I want to do one two things I was gonna say one is your guys’s college experiences. We’re waiting for the mind. I just basically drink all the time I went to Santa Barbara. And I like, I went to UCSB and I literally just drank I don’t even know there’s a student government. I was like what is he talking? I was like, Wait, do we have a student government? Because I was so drunk all the time. I don’t even remember there being such a thing. I mean, I’m sure there was I just Oh, that was too, you know, toxicated to do that. And then the second thing was I for some reason, I don’t know if, if I’m just making this up in my head or something on a on one of our, like, screenings that we did the many, many screenings at the BY stuff where it was in, but like I seem to remember that you like I like you wanted to be a politician. Like I know we talked about that like because you were in DC that’s like the industry, right? But like, is that? Is that still something you think about? Or is that something You’re like, totally out of your life. No, I,
Archie Kao 24:02
I did I remember when… yeah… and you know, yeah, Jefferson Lee was a politician. Yeah,
Koji Sakai 24:06
he was a politician. Um, but in a meeting, I think you talked about it though.
Archie Kao 24:11
Yeah, it was very serendipitous. Because I did want to be, um, you know, so I was in college, and after college, I remember getting invited to having dinner with the mayor of Fairfax and stuff like that, because I think he was trying to, you know, nudge me into running for council or something like that after I. And so at the time, it seemed like the logical it seemed like the sensible next step after college for me to I didn’t know what else to say at the tender young age of 21 what I was supposed to do, so I thought I was going out saying, I’m gonna go to law school. And then after I, after I graduate, after I finished law school, I’m gonna go and see if I can become a speechwriter for the, for the president, whoever the President was at that point, you know, I was just was the lofty, lofty sort of thought, but as far as actually running for office, I will tell you that I’m very, very, very, very, very grateful that I had that in college because I got it out of my system, like and now I have zero desire to ever I think, I think there’s always a part of you that that wants to scratch that itch. And in truth, I think that’s one of the reasons I’m still in the acting game. You know, I’ve had some great experiences, I’ve gone to amazing places and met amazing people and just been able to, you know, expand my life in a way I think I never would have if I hadn’t chosen this occupation. But at the same time, I think there’s that creative spirit in that adventure that, you know, for, you know, for, you know, reasons that probably, you know, as I’m coming up in this business as an Asian American male, and they’re not yet crafting the studio’s are not yet crafting product for people that look like me. So the roles that I ended up playing in the career that I ended up developing for myself. Which I’m grateful for, don’t get me wrong, but those characters don’t tend to be the ones that drive the narrative and theyre are not the ones that drive the financing of a project. So they are not really going to have, you know, star quality, you know, characters to draw on. Um, so
I think I forgot what I was talking about. Where you’re saying
Koji Sakai 26:21
about being a politician. But I do I do want to mention, you know, that there is a, that that the thing about Archie and I think about even even myself is that, you know, when we were doing it, when we were in this industry, in the beginning, there was like, really nobody, there wasn’t a lot. I mean, my like writing program, there wasn’t a lot of Asian people, Asian American people with me. Yeah. And with Archie, he was, you know, like, I could just say he’s the Asian guy on TV right now. And everyone’s like, oh, the guy on CSI, and like, it was literally like, there were so few that were like, we all knew each other. Yeah, like,
M. Martin Mapoma 26:55
Wait, he was… Archie you were on CSI.
Archie Kao 26:58
Yeah, I …which one…? I met this woman one time she’s like, she’s like you’re on CSI. Oh my god.
Unknown Speaker 27:07
Who are you?
Martin Mapoma 27:11
Were you a regular on that show?
Archie Kao 27:12
No, I was a recurring character on the show for 10 years. 10 seasons?
Martin Mapoma 27:17
Archie Kao 27:18
The original in the Vegas?
M. Martin Mapoma 27:20
Oh, yeah. I did CSI New York… That’s why Ah,
Archie Kao 27:23
yeah. Now that was the end you know, again, I am so grateful for for them having kept me off the streets for cool a decade. That’s cool. Yeah, it was it was really it was really nice but at that at that point, um, you know, I felt like you know, I don’t want to I don’t I think it’s probably a good time to go. And so I started dipping my foot dipping my toe in the water going to Asia, even though I didn’t I didn’t grow up speaking Mandarin so I didn’t really
I don’t know what I was getting into. But
you know, they were kind of welcoming me and I I got to play the roles that I didn’t ever get to play, save people I slept with. So people I slept with was Asian American male, love interest. And,
man, I remember I was really really,
advocating for myself to get that role.
Unknown Speaker 28:21
You just don’t you don’t
Archie Kao 28:22
you don’t have those opportunities very much. You know, I was so so glad to be to do that. But unfortunately, there’s just not enough of that. So then I went to China, and was able to start working, even, even though it wasn’t a language I grew up speaking, but I kind of learned it on the job. And I remember thinking I saw I did another TV show called Chicago PD, before I left for China. And I remember them telling me that, you know, that they thought there would be more for me to do with NBC. Maybe I should stick around and I was like, I just can’t. I just can’t believe I’ve been hearing that, you know, they’re gonna move towards, you know, more inclusion and diversity and all this stuff and it’s just not happening. For all these years, I gotta go to China. Then I go to China in 2014. And sure enough, I see that there Greenland Fresh Off the Boat. Crazy rich Asians.
Unknown Speaker 29:09
Ken jeong gets his own show. I was like, Ah, so,
Archie Kao 29:13
so then I came back.
So I was
M. Martin Mapoma 29:17
how is working out for you now.
Archie Kao 29:18
Well, I just was just getting started with the new show, in HBO Max, that I mentioned that that has been suspended, of course, just like everything else.
Koji Sakai 29:31
But TV TV is way more diverse now. I mean, TV. Yeah, features are still not very diverse. But TV is is there. They’re looking for content. I mean, and they’re much more open to, to new ideas and new places. I mean, I’ve had a ton of meetings lately. And the thing I keep hearing from people is they want things that impact the world. Which is, is really words for I want diversity. I want something that could play outside of America, right? And the best way is to have like different characters and different stories and And so they want that. And then they want things that will, that that have a message. And so a lot of that like fills in a lot of the things that we wanted to do so so that’s why we that’s why we need to work together again. So I’m
Archie Kao 30:12
just getting warmed up back then. Yeah I know.
Koji Sakai 30:16
But uh, what I really and we’ll, we’ll have to edit soon, but one of the best things about your story what I really love about your story is I usually very rarely do I see a story that kind of plays on the next steps of your life. And then what I really liked about your story was that it you’re taking that leap of faith of being a politician or being a student leader at your school and running for it, and taking that same kind of leap and moving out to Hollywood with $200. You know, and making that that’s there’s a connection there that I think is really amazing. Martin, do you have any last words?
M. Martin Mapoma 30:50
Thank you. Oh, I think yeah, I think it’s it’s, you seem really determined You know, I think it’s a it’s a testament to who you are as a person, you know, that you know, growing up on the farm and then getting reunited with your mom again and then going to you know, the whole George Mason thing is crazy because I can relate to that story because of what it was like for me at Kentucky and like Koji, I mean, except I knew my university had a student government but you know, the thought of the thought of running for office. Especially that was, was it was it was was unheard of. And I can’t imagine I can’t imagine that George Mason was that different to Kentucky so yeah, you know, hats off to you, man. That’s Thank you is pretty incredible. Yeah.
Koji Sakai 31:34
And I do think you should run for office at some point in the future and if you do, you need to be on your staff. I’m just gonna
put that out right there. I’ll do something. But
Archie Kao 31:44
we have so much to do we better get going.
Koji Sakai 31:47
No, I’m just saying if you ever decide to run for office, I’ll be the person behind you.
Archie Kao 31:50
Okay, thank you, koji. We
Unknown Speaker 31:53
might have a few skeletons No, but
Koji Sakai 31:57
that’s okay. That’s
M. Martin Mapoma 31:58
it. That’s part of it. I have a quick question. Are you are you now fluent in Mandarin?
Archie Kao 32:03
Um, let me say yes and no. It depends on what we’re talking about, you know? Because I was actually asking a friend of mine What fluent means because I don’t think that means I don’t think fluency necessarily means mastery. Right? I’m not Oh no, no, I don’t I don’t think you need to like discuss these like highbrow philosophical things in order to be fluent. But my friend asked me can you go a whole day without speaking English and I can. So I guess that’s one level of, you know, being able to, you know,
M. Martin Mapoma 32:34
yeah, and another thing about that is I would say, at night when you dream, do you dream in Mandarin or do you dream in English?
Archie Kao 32:42
I’m mostly English, obviously. But um, but I have in Chinese and oh, I did hear this. If you get in an argument with someone and you’re yelling at him in Chinese then you that does actually demonstrate a level of ability because that’s actually happens, you know, then you just you don’t because when you’re you know, when you’re Arguing so it’s a very accelerated sort of thing. So what’s coming out of your mouth? It’s often you don’t have time to translate. Think about it. Yeah. So it’s been a real adventure. I never ever thought I would be going over there. But I did realize if I’m being honest that I got so good, I think at pretending that I was fitting into the mainstream fabric of Virginia, that I didn’t really have much realization that I was Chinese. I was Asian. So I didn’t I and I actually went to China not to work as much as it was to learn the language and build the bridge back to my own heritage,
Unknown Speaker 33:41
because I didn’t grow upwith any connection.
M. Martin Mapoma 33:43
Yeah, like reconnecting
Yeah, and I have a theory about that. It’s because I think I was the same way too. I you know, when I moved from Africa to Kentucky.
Archie Kao 33:52
Oh, wow. Oh, that’s quite a journey. Yeah, yeah.
M. Martin Mapoma 33:54
Back in 84. Anyway, so when I reconnected with who I was, when I left Kentucky. You know, as I was, I tried so hard to fit in I literally lost who I was, I really feel like I lost who I was as a person. And it was crazy. And then, you know, maybe got a little bit of back and I was in Chicago for a while. But then once I came out here it was, you know, it might be an age where we might be part of it as well. But yeah, so I think it’s that going back to going to China. It’s kind of a cool deal for you. I think that’s cool.
Archie Kao 34:29
Yeah, that’s a very similar situation to mine. Martin, like, you know, you’re here and you want to just want I mean, you know, we’re human. We want to be, you know, accepted. Did you know let’s go so
Koji Sakai 34:39
this is why i grew up
in the San Gabriel Valley. Do what now? I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. I never had that. Yeah. When I looked around, everyone was Taiwanese.
Archie Kao 34:49
That’s right. Yeah.
Koji Sakai 34:50
Everyone’s Taiwanese. And I’m like, wait, I don’t see anybody like me on TV. But everyone cool around me is Asian. So
M. Martin Mapoma 34:55
yeah, I definitely didn’t have that issue in Kentucky I didnt look around and see Zambians everywhere But there were two there were two guys that I should go to that one guy went to high school with. They ended up going to college at Kentucky and I barely saw him. But then there was one Zambian guy who I saw and I was just awful to him. I still really think abought it, you know? Oh, yeah, it was really bad. I was trying so hard to fit in. He was, you know, ill never forget, you know, he said to me, I don’t care what context we’re talking about. I think we’re in the international students, some, they have some kind of gathering. And he talking about him being from Zambia and me being from Zambia, maybe, you know, should hang out or something like that. And I remember saying, a little bit, sort of, hey, I want to try and fit in and he was like, we are brothers, and I’ll never forget it. And you know, I think
Archie Kao 35:45
I had a similar experience, Martin, I think I remember really, yeah, it just goes to show you, you know, like, that is awful.
Koji Sakai 35:52
Yeah. Well, you guys it was all a different experience than I did.
M. Martin Mapoma 35:58
But I cringe I cringe when I think about it Archie It was a you know, to this day, I think I think about Yeah, well if I find that guy now Id tell him Im so sorry. It’s the same thing
Koji Sakai 36:06
being Asian American when I first went into the industry and I’d see other Asian Americans who are like who are like you aren’t who are saying like, Oh, I don’t want to hang out, I don’t want I don’t want Asian projects. Because I don’t want to be seen as Asian. And I’ll be like, I thought we’re brothers. Yeah. Cuz like, we’re asians here, like, literally the only Asians in the room bro. And I thought we were like, we’re gonna connect, because to me, like, We’re on the same team. But then that was one of the changes that have changed a lot since back then now, like, I walk in the room, and there’s other Asian Americans, and there’s no need for us to be like, we’re on different sides of a Yeah, like, it’s not like we’re brothers, but we’re like, at least like they’re not feeling like, Oh, I can’t be Asian because I don’t want to be seen as they are. I don’t want to Asian project, right. Yeah. So that’s, that’s totally changed. But we’re running out of time. So thank you. Thank you, Martin. Thank you. Thank you, you guys.
M. Martin Mapoma 36:54
Thank you, everybody. Please rate
Archie Kao 37:00
My listen I gotta ask you how do you get these cool backgrounds? Cuz I don’t I obviously need to get
M. Martin Mapoma 37:06
Are you on an ipad or a computer.
Archie Kao 37:08
This is computer
Koji Sakai 37:10
you got a virtual back there’s a virtual background thing. Is there?
M. Martin Mapoma 37:13
At the top of the screen it says ,more hit that button. I can’t do it on my computer butI can do it on my iPad so
Archie Kao 37:19
I’ll check . Koji Im floating
Koji Sakai 37:27
please rate review subscribe to our podcast please if you want to we would love to please do so please if you want to want to talk to us, please let us know come on our socials. It’s Facebook, which is guy code pop. Yeah, like I thats my other podcasts Oh, okay. Or worse pod or on Instagram or Facebook hit us up, let us know follow us tell a friend tell the enemy. So thank you guys again. Thank you for listening. Hope you guys have a good day night or whatever you guys. Take care guys.
Archie Kao 37:58
Thank you so much. Take care now.
M. Martin Mapoma 38:00
Archie plleasure to meet you man. You as well.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai