Over 30 of CAAM’s major donors, board members, and core supporters got a rare opportunity to meet their favorite comedian, writer, and actress at the Getting Real with Ali Wong benefit on Sunday, January 19. This intimate luncheon, which highlighted Wong’s personal journey and contributions to the field, kicked off a year-long slate of programs celebrating CAAM’s 40th anniversary.
CAAM’s Exhibitions and Festival Director Masashi Niwano interviewed Wong about how she develops her career and writes her edgy standup routines.
Wong started off by thanking CAAM supporters. Growing up, she attended the Asian American film festival (now CAAMFest) every year with her father. Because of those experiences, when Wong was growing up, she never felt a lack of Asian faces or representation in entertainment. “I didn’t have to go through this struggle to believe that Asian Americans were capable of creating great art. I knew it. So I just wanted to thank everybody for supporting CAAM.”
She also shared about her journey from growing up putting on skits in San Francisco Chinatown to becoming a stand-up comedian, sitcom writer and actor, and star and producer of the hit Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe.
The audience had a chance to ask Wong about topics ranging from mentorship to therapy to her wardrobe choices. In a sweet mother-daughter moment, CAAM Board Member Naja Pham Lockwood asked Wong for advice on how her 13-year old daughter Anly could break into entertainment. “Congratulations, this is your intervention! Welcome to Hollywood!” Wong deadpanned.
The lunch buffet featured Cambodian specialties, including fish amok and prahok ktiss, by Nite Yun, owner and chef of Oakland’s Nyum Bai restaurant and desserts by Wendy Lieu, owner and chief chocolatier of San Francisco’s Socola Chocolatier.
The event was a chance for long-time supporters, as well as guests new to CAAM, to see how their contributions are championing Asian American stories and ensuring that diverse voices are heard.
Each guest received goody bags which included signed copies of Wong’s book Dear Girls and fun keepsake items, such as Ali Wong sugar cookies baked and decorated by nationally-recognized Jasmine Cho of Yummyholic and Wong’s iconic cat-eye glasses.
The “Getting Real with Ali Wong” benefit raised critical funds to sustain and strengthen CAAM’s work in building community, supporting filmmakers and artists, and presenting and producing stories that paint a fuller, more authentic picture of the Asian American experience.
CAAM will be presenting more special events throughout the year to celebrate our 40th anniversary.
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