Working on “Eat With Me” was one of those life experiences that make up
for all the little disappointments in an actor’s life. I had worked with David Au on a short film “Fresh Like Strawberries,” about the strained relationship between a mother and
her gay son and was thrilled when David decided to expand this story into a
feature. Over a couple of years I had
the luxury of rehearsing and discussing the script with David and Teddy (who
plays Elliot). We learned a lot about
each other’s families and we ate a lot!!
As we broke down our characters and the script, I realized that the
biggest challenge for me in playing Emma was honestly portraying her
distaste. I decided to do a little
research and ended up marching in the Los Angeles Gay Pride Day Parade with API
Equality – LA where I met an inspiring Japanese American couple who founded the
API PFLAG group in Arcadia.
The father had discovered that his daughter was gay when he
accidentally uncovered her browsing history on his computer. When he finally worked up the nerve to ask
her about it she confessed that she was gay.
He was broken hearted. When her
mom found out she hit the roof and told her daughter that she had been
“reading too much”. She
explained that her daughter had always been really smart and she truly believed
that her overactive imagination was creating this unacceptable reality. They had a horrible year, or so, but when
this couple finally accepted their daughter’s sexuality they became the
fiercest defenders and most outspoken crusaders for the rights of LGBTQ. They left the church they had belonged to for
decades and found one that supported their daughter’s choices. They started the
API PFLAG group, which no one would attend because Asian parents are typically
very private about their shame and confusion, but this couple kept publicly
sharing their own story until families began to understand that they could find
comfort in attending this group. Their lives now revolve around creating a
world where no one will discriminate against their daughter for her sexuality.
Their journey showed me that it is never too late to open your heart
and to let go of old beliefs. When you
knock down walls, your world just gets bigger and when you let go of judgement
your life becomes richer and deeper.
There is a pivotal scene in “Eat With Me” where Emma (my character) asks
George Takei (playing himself) whether his life was “tough”. He says, “At times. But at other times, it’s amazing, and I
wouldn’t change a thing.” Tough
isn’t always bad, sometimes it can be the catalyst for something
wonderful. Our children offer us a
portal through which we can change our minds and hearts.
People tend to believe that after a certain age you become set in your
ways but what I love about “Eat With Me” is the core truth that it is never too
late to blossom into your own life. And with the help of your children, the world
is your dumpling.
“Eat With Me” is out on DVD and digital today via Wolfe Video. Watch the trailer below: