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2008.041.002 Oral History Interview with Emily Chang

Emily Chang is a performer, writer, filmmaker, and musician based in New York City. She is a founding member of the renowned pan-Asian spoken word group, I Was Born With Two Tongues, and Mango Tribe, a Pan-Asian performance collective for women. Growing up, Chang had to learn to play the piano, take voice lessons, dance lessons, and play sports. At the same time, she was expected to excel in academics. When Chang started listening to Thelonious Monk, jazz, and Miles Davis, she realized that she could take the skills she learned from her upbringing and make her own music and write her own songs. Chang went on to graduate from the University of Chicago with a liberal arts education. Together with a diverse group of Asian American artists, she became a founding member of the Pan-Asian spoken word collective, I Was Born with Two Tongues. Chang decided to try out acting in a group called Mango Tribe, an all-women’s performing arts collective where she felt herself. Chang believes that Asian actresses are too often cast in stereotypical roles. Therefore, instead of waiting for the industry to offer her a role without stereotypes, she wants to create her own films and write characters she would want to portray.