Female Founder Series: Janet Wang of AsianBossG;r)
Janet Wang is truly an AsianBossGirl that’s inspiring not only us at Qi Alchemy, but so many young Asian American women. Being of Taiwanese-Chinese background, Janet along with two of her friends Melody Cheng and Helen Wu, set out to create a platform to share their experiences of being young Asian women in America that is not often represented. Their podcast AsianBossGirl tackles topics ranging from dating to mental health, and has built a community for many Asian women in America to resonate with their stories. Janet not only helped start the popular podcast, AsianBossGirl but has lived in Kenya, attended Chinese Medicine school, and currently maintains a daily meditation practice. We think she’s pretty awesome!
Why do you think up until recently there’s been a lack of representation for Asian American women in most media outlets?
With social issues or patterns, a lot of it is systemic. The large, traditional Hollywood, has an effect on traditional journalism and media. There’s just generally greater representation among the majority, which is caucasion. Among the minority groups, there’s a smaller grouping and it’s because a lot of it is historical and embedded in the system. The great thing we saw with new media like Youtube and various social platforms, is it has democratized media. However, even as we began to see more minorities and more women in that landscape, we still found there’s something unique about the voice of an individual who’s working a 9-to-5 job. That person is directly relatable to the masses. Within new media, there was still a lack of this specific type of person, which we were originally representing and speaking to. So the lack of presentation of Asian American women in the media is systemic but fortunately it’s changing with new media.
How can Hollywood and the mainstream media encourage more Asian American voices and appearances?
We’re seeing more cross-over content. There’s some people who have established a name for themselves in new media or in the social realm that will appear in Netflix specials and similar projects. In the future there will need to be more openness to collaborating with new media and it’s also going to take radical shifting in how studios run. Traditional Hollywood is a business, they do what’s safe to generate a certain level of income. Once they start venturing out and collaborating, they’ll see it’s also profitable to have more representation of different groups because there is a large audience out there for minorities and of individuals who are just interested in seeing different people on screen. Overall, it’s going to take large system-wide shifts.
Through AsianBossGirl do you think you and your team have been able to help build a strong community for Asian women and Asian female entrepreneurs?
That has truly been the best part of AsianBossGirl — to receive emails and DMs from Asian women from all over the nation and abroad, sharing paragraphs about how they relate to us and our content, to see so many of of them show up at events we've hosted in NY, SF, LA, Toronto, etc. and meet each other so that the community expands beyond just the three of us.
Were you surprised by the amount of positive feedback and reactions you received when you first started AsianBossGirl?
Oh yeah. We were all very nervous because we weren’t sure if anyone would listen. It was very helpful that we had friends who worked in new media. They told us they had members in their audience who would really resonate with our content, but that was still a guess — it’s not until you put the content out there that you’ll know if people will resonate with it. When listeners started writing in and expressing the level at which they connected, that was something I did not expect. To know that not only are people listening but are deeply moved by the content, that was really great.
What have been the most impactful topics you have discussed, that resonated strongly with both you and your audience?
Mental health is a big one. Just in general, that topic has been big in pop culture. Within the younger generation and specifically in the Asian culture, it has layers of nuanced aspects that are different from any other culture. It’s a topic that’s really prevalent and almost everyone deals with it but oftentimes in Asian cultures you don’t know what to call it. Mental health has been a really big and important topic that people have resonated with. We also get a lot of people writing about life transitions, mostly among the younger demographic about transitioning from college to the workforce. We also get questions from older people changing careers and starting a family.
What is something you learned and found impactful while starting the podcast?
How important and significant finding a community of people can be. Sharing our stories and having people respond so emphatically was confirmation that our experiences are shared and “normal”. The biggest thing I’ve learned from starting AsianBossGirl is the impact of community — being able to contribute to one and also benefit from one.