Rebecca Hu of ‘The Fash Life’: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker


Having a voice is very important, and I cherish the opportunity to have a conversation with the audience via my projects. I’m proud that my work allows me a platform to champion and spotlight the things that are important to me — for example, creating stories about women, putting diverse voices on screen, shedding light on the issues that don’t get a lot of attention.

As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Hu.

Rebecca Hu is a writer, director and producer originally hailing from Toronto, Canada. She is the winner of Project Greenlight’s The New Normal contest where her concept has been produced into the TV series “Minimum Wage.” Her PBS documentary “To Climb a Gold Mountain” is a winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Emmy Award in the Independent Programming Category, and she is also the co-creator and director of “The Fash Life” series. Rebecca currently resides in Los Angeles.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?

I was born in China and grew up in Toronto, Canada. I went to college thinking I was going to become a psychologist, only to end up doing a triple major in Psychology, English and Cinema instead. Like a good, sensible, practical young adult, I graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Then like a crazy artist throwing caution to the wind, I decided to toss aside said degree to become a filmmaker. How exactly would I accomplish that? I had absolutely no idea. It didn’t stop me anyways.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’m going to sound so lame saying this, but I truly feel that this career path chose me. Growing up, I never saw myself here. But a chance elective course in college changed the trajectory of my life and took me on a completely different career path. I knew the moment I took my first film course, that this was where I wanted to be. All these years later, I have no doubt that this is where I belong and where I am meant to be. But what would have happened if I didn’t stumble into that one little class during my freshman college year?

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

Seriously, I’m not even sure where to begin.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

One of the perks of the job is that you get to meet a lot of different people — some of whom are indeed rich and famous. I once interviewed someone worth 8 figures who sat in their green room, unwrapping their own packed lunch of a simple PB&J on white bread, chill as could be.

But I find that I am usually most impacted when I step outside of the Hollywood bubble. One of my most favorite experiences was producing a video for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The athleticism, spirit, resilience and joy that I witnessed in those athletes will always have a bright spot in my heart.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It’s actually not just one person. L.A. gets a bad rep, but contrary to stereotypes, I’ve actually experienced much kindness in Los Angeles … maybe because it’s a town full of artists? Not to say there aren’t shady and bad people, but there is also more empathy and a greater sense of community than people give it credit for. I arrived in this town not knowing a single person. But from my earliest days, I’ve found kindness, support and friendship, even from complete strangers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There is a quote by William Faulkner that always speaks to me, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” Like many immigrants, my family left behind the life they knew for a foreign land where they hoped, but had no guarantee, that a brighter future would await them. My parents immigrated to Canada with only $50 in their pocket. If they never took that chance to explore new horizons, my life would have been entirely different.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel fear, anxiety, insecurities or nervousness. I think most people in this world, even the most successful ones, grapple with these emotions and grapple with them often. I certainly do. But I choose to lean into my anxiety, to not let my fear be the thing that holds me back from the horizons that I seek. I tend to believe that if you’re not feeling a little bit nervous or anxious about something you’re doing, you’re probably playing it too safe.

Yes, when you reach for new horizons, you might end up failing. But that’s okay. You’ll be fine, and you’ll be stronger for it. Here, I leave you with another quote by the great Michael Jordan, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is important because:

  1. If as filmmakers we’re not reflecting the people and the issues of our time, how can we even say we are creating art and impacting culture?
  2. The film and TV medium can teach us about so many things. Through it, we can learn about history, see the world and explore the beautiful intricacies of the human condition. It opens our minds and our hearts. But if we reject diversity and only allow ourselves to see and experience that one small slice of the world we’re comfortable and familiar with, isn’t that a very sad thing?
  3. Art is constantly evolving. Film has only been around for 100 years or so, TV even shorter. New ideas, new voices, new perspectives and new ways of creating and telling stories is how this medium matures and evolves. Then, as audiences we get to reap the benefits.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

In pandemic life, I’ve been writing and developing a number of personal projects that are important to me but which I’ve always had to put on the backburner. But if not now, when?

Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?

Having a voice is very important, and I cherish the opportunity to have a conversation with the audience via my projects. I’m proud that my work allows me a platform to champion and spotlight the things that are important to me — for example, creating stories about women, putting diverse voices on screen, shedding light on the issues that don’t get a lot of attention.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1 . It’s going to be much harder than you think. There really is no “overnight success.” Be prepared to work very hard for very long.

Artists are dreamers, I certainly am one. But just know that for the vast majority of talented, hardworking and passionate people, the process of realizing their dream still takes a long time. What we know to be an overnight success is actually the result of many years, sometimes many decades of backbreaking work. And when you do “make it”? You keep working, and growing, and hustling just as hard. Some of the most successful people I know in this industry, happens to also be the most hard working and the most humble. They know that they can’t be complacent and rest on their laurels, so they continue to work tirelessly in pursuing their passions and perfecting their craft. If you want success, be prepared to work (and continue to work) VERY hard for it.

2. It’s going to be a rollercoaster, but don’t let the naysayers get you down. Hold onto your passion.

You’re going to experience a lot of ups and downs. There will be days where you’re more down than up — some years, it might even be the majority of your days. But if you are doing exactly what you want and were meant to do, you’ve already hit the jackpot and ultimately the good days will outweigh the bad. When I first started, so many people thought this path was too hard, too impractical, too much of a pipe dream. People told me that L.A was going to chew me up. A lot of them expected me to quit this industry altogether. But if I listened to all the naysayers, I would not be where I am today. I am thankful that I took the leap of faith, it has made my life better and brought me more joy and satisfaction. But that’s not to say that it’s just been sunny skies. Far from it. There will be challenging times where you don’t like where you are and what you are doing. But if that turns you away, if you can be happier doing something else, then please do something else. There is much to be said for stability and normalcy. But if there is truly no other place and path you want for yourself, then don’t let the naysayers or the bad days scare you away.

3. Start as early as you can. Make friends, build connections, get experience.

So I had a great time in college. It was my most formative years and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If you have the money to go to college, I highly encourage it. But when people ask me whether you need to get a degree in order to become a filmmaker (or to work in the film industry), my personal opinion is … not really. To me, what is great about film school is the friends, colleagues, mentors and connections you make. But let’s be honest, college is expensive — and working in this industry (like many arts and humanities) is not always so profitable, at least not right away. Racking up a whole lot of student debt when there’s a good chance you’re going to be making minimum wage (if that) for a few years … that can deter a lot of people from sticking it out or taking chances in their work. Consider instead volunteering or interning on film sets as early as highschool — that will give you the opportunity to learn from working professionals, get a taste of whether this life REALLY is for you, and build meaningful connections that you can call on later. Going to school and getting a fancy degree is not the only way to get the technical skills you need in order to work in this industry. For me, all the technical skills I learned was from working on set, not from school. But I was also able to put myself through college and didn’t have to rely on student loans. Because I didn’t have a huge debt after college, I was able to take more risks as a filmmaker and stick it out longer. What I do wish though, was that I had started interning earlier while I was in college. That would have given me more practical knowledge and guidance coming out of school.

4. Don’t wait for others to give you permission. Be bold. Take chances.

I’m not sure which part of my upbringing predisposes me to this lesson the most … maybe its my Chinese culture, my Canadian upbringing or my socialization as a woman (it’s probably all of the above). But this is one lesson I constantly need to remind myself of. There’s a lot of hierarchy and gatekeeping in this industry, but if you only wait for others to give you the opportunity, you might wait for a long time. If you want to do something, find a way to do it and make it happen for yourself. I see this all the time — writers writing their own spec scripts, directors using crowdfunding to make their projects, producers tirelessly pursuing the people & companies they want to work with, actors writing the roles that nobody would allow them to play etc. Don’t wait for the “big break” to fall into your lap. If you want something, speak up and step forward. You might be surprised at how receptive people can be. But if you don’t ask for it, if you don’t take the chance, you just might lose the opportunity.

5. Take the time to know who you are and why you want this BEFORE you start. Then don’t let yourself forget it.

Do some soul searching and truly ask yourself — why do you want this? Why would you be willing to brave hardships, poverty, pain, failure and uncertainty for this dream? If you are willing to accept all these challenges, there must be something propelling you — what are you looking for? What do you have to say? Why does this matter to you? Ask yourself all these questions, write it down if you have to, and try not to forget it. Years down the road, when you’re going through a rough patch or if you’re feeling lost and uninspired, it’s important to come back to these basics and remind yourself of your truth. Many times throughout the years I’ve gotten disoriented and lost sight of this truth. Similarly, I see many others go through their lives forgetting what they’re looking to say, who they are as artists and why they went down this road to begin with. It’s easy to be distracted by all the noise, and life can throw a lot of curveballs your way, but you yourself know where your true north lies. Just don’t forget it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Climate change is the issue that I always come back to. It was actually what sparked the idea for a series I’m developing. I think many of us feel overwhelmed by the monumental task of turning around the adverse affects of climate change in a world so big, so sprawling and still so slow in responding to the dire emergency that faces us. So I propose we start small, beginning with our own sphere of influence, no matter how small it might be, then building a community upon that. By educating ourselves, scrutinizing our own energy consumption and changing our habits to support a more sustainable lifestyle, we can influence others but also influence corporations — let your dollars will speak for you. But don’t stop there, try to also influence those around you (your love ones, friends, colleagues, neighbors) and empower them to make the same changes. Even small changes can make a difference, even for those who might not have a lot of money or resources … in fact, it can SAVE them money (i.e: unplugging your appliances and switching out your lightbulbs can save you in electricity costs). There are actionable things that we can do in our daily lives to change our carbon footprint. There are people in our lives whose actions we can change. There are communities that we can build in order to further our efforts and influence our local leaders to address the needs of their constituents. As Mother Theresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” We can all put into action the small ripples of change we seek.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

This list would honestly be very long. But right now, I would love to share a martini with Stacey Abrams. Not only because she is a shining example of how perseverance, passion, and brains can build a movement and change the status quo. But she also reminds us that when you fall down, you get back up, shake it off and get back to work. That is how you make progress, that is how you effect change.

Also, because I hear that she’s a huge fan of TV, I need to hear her take on like, literally every show on earth.

How can our readers further follow you online?

I am actually not on social media even though I made a show about social media influencers! But you can follow the show at @thefashlifeseries

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

Also in 2020, Sylvan launched SEGI TV, a free OTT streaming network built on the pillars of equality, sustainability and community which is scheduled to reach 100 million U.S household televisions and 200 million mobile devices across Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and others.

He sits on the Board of Directors of Uplay Canada, (United Public Leadership Academy for Youth), which prepares youth to be citizen leaders and provides opportunities for Canadian high school basketball players to advance to Division 1 schools as well as the NBA.

A former competitive go kart racer with Checkered Flag Racing Ltd, he also enjoys traveling to exotic locales. Sylvan resides in Vancouver and has two adult daughters. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.



Edward Sylvan CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Edward Sylvan is the Founder and CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc. He is committed to telling stories that speak to equity, diversity, and inclusion.