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Nothing About Us Without Us Spotlight: Seungmuk Luke Oh


Newfangled Studios picks Seungmuk's brain about the type of representation he wishes to see

Nothing About Us Without Us Spotlight: Seungmuk Luke Oh

Nothing About Us Without Us is an ongoing Newfangled Studios project aimed to shift the way brands and advertisers think about engaging with folks within marginalized communities.

As part of this series, we interviewed various creators with different backgrounds to explore their perspectives on the importance of having the stories of a community being told by members of that community. 

This month, we sat down with Seungmuk Luke Oh, a Newfangled creator with a degree in design and a passion for music and fashion, to pick his brain about the type of representation he wishes to see.  

Q> Why is it important to have people with lived experience telling their own stories?

Seungmuk> Since the United States is such a big melting pot with so many people around the globe gathered into one place, I think it's really important to connect with them in an authentic way.  It’s important for people who actually went through a specific experience to get inspired from it and create something. And I think it has a higher value of connection to the audience.

Q> Why do you think it's important for brands and advertisers to acknowledge AAPI month?

Seungmuk> I definitely think Asian Americans and specifically Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in terms of media portrayal. There's still very cliche “oriental” images often depicted. 

In fact, Asian, Eastern Asian and Pacific Islanders are really different. Even in the Eastern Asian category, like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, the groups are all very different culture-wise. But I often see brands target the whole Asian category as a whole without acknowledging the difference between each community. 

Q> With the uniqueness and diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community in mind, how would you advise brands to uplift AAPI stories?

Seungmuk> I think acknowledging the difference is one thing. Also, there are second generation Asians and Asians like me who just came to the States and our experiences are very different. So there's a really good value in acknowledging the small differences between the different communities included in “AAPI”. 

I think the most important thing is, often Asian culture is mostly used as a source of imagery, like (Asian) aesthetic in media portrayal. So I wish I could see more of the daily stuff and the moments we have to go through rather than seeing decor or festivals. I think our community is much more than that.

Q> Is there something you’ve seen recently that you think does a good job of telling an authentic story?

Seungmuk> I think Beef, the Netflix series, is a perfect example of what we were craving because it doesn't focus heavily on Asian traditional culture, but it actually focuses on the daily lives of Asian-Americans living in American society. As a Korean-American, me and my friends saw so many details, whether it's just eating at a Korean restaurant or the kid and parent dynamic or just going to Korean church. Those are all part of our lives. And seeing those daily moments, we felt like we are finally getting a good media portrayal of who we actually are. So I think it's important to have more of those kinds of things.

Q> Do you think allyship from brands is important?

Seungmuk> People are getting more and more conscious about what the brands really stand for and I think it's a positive movement in terms of getting consumers to be more informed.

We talked about authenticity, but I also mentioned I see a lot of brands trying to sell, leaning into the movement through merchandise or goods. I often see those things as cash grabs. So I think rather than selling, sometimes doing something more silently rather than making sure everybody knows it is more sincere.

Q> Anyone you want to shout out?

Seungmuk> I volunteered in an Asian American non-profit, Silicon Valley Media, and a lot of the things they stand for is acknowledging that Asian Americans are American too. They hold conferences on anti-Asian hate and celebrate diversity with local industry people. 

We want to thank Seungmuk Luke Oh for sharing his perspective in this first Nothing About Us Without Us Spotlight. Expect more interviews from Creators and community members throughout the advertising and marketing industry in the months to come.

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Newfangled Studios, Wed, 17 May 2023 08:58:00 GMT