Jimmy Zhang: Aspiring Comedian
While it has historically been difficult for Asian-Americans to make it on both the big and small screen, with the recent rise of internet sites like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, some Asian-Americans have seized the opportunities to make an online presence for themselves. Jimmy Zhang, a Chinese-American New Yorker, is one of these aspiring entertainers.
Clara Park: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you’re from, what you do, etc?
Jimmy Zhang: Hello, hello, hello, my name is Jimmy Zhang and I’m an entertainer/YouTube vlogger/comedian/writer, and I’m from Queens, New York.
CP: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
JZ: Can someone teleport me to a hotel in Dubai?
CP: Who were your inspirations as a kid?
JZ: The Red Power Ranger.
CP: Who’s your favorite YouTuber?
JZ: Joe Santagato.
CP: What’s your favorite song?
CP: If you had the chance to meet one Asian or Asian-American celebrity in the entire world, who would it be?
JZ: I would love to meet Eddie Huang.
CP: What sparked your interest in entertainment/comedy?
JZ: I suck at school and in the middle of contemplating life decisions I found a strong purpose and drive to make a change for Asian-American representation in mainstream media and entertainment in the United States. I always found myself driven towards comedy growing up and was kind of a low-key class clown making jokes with everyone around me and the internet made me realize I can make a career out of this outside the conventional comedy clubs and booking auditions.
CP: Did you immediately know you wanted to be an entertainer? Or did you follow a different path first?
JZ: This is a scary path to even think about. For most of my life up until high school, I kind of just followed the crowd and did exactly what my parents told me to do.
CP: What was it like trying to become successful in the career path you are in?
JZ: I am very grateful for what I have accomplished so far so early in the game, but I am nowhere near the level of success I envision for myself. So to tell you what it takes to get to where I want to be is persistence, hard work, and a big vision for what I want to accomplish.
CP: How do you think being Asian-American impacted the way that you and your content is perceived?
JZ: Knowing that I can’t change my ethnicity, this is something I’m not even worried about. I need to make sure my content is portraying Asian-Americans in a positive light but other than that, what I need to do is focus on bettering my craft each day and let the world judge the caliber of my work and what I create — not by my ethnicity.
CP: How was your desire to become a comedian/entertainer received by your parents?
JZ: I haven’t had “the talk” with them, I just started making videos, and kept all the visions and plans to myself because at the end of the day this is my life and I’m gonna live it on my terms. I made this mindset pretty clear to them and they respected it and gradually became supportive of whatever I decided to do.
CP: Do you have any advice for others who aspire to follow the path you are on?
JZ: What are you kinda-good at? What are you passionate for? Find something that answers both questions and go pursue it like your life depends on it.
CP: What do you think about Asian-American stereotypes?
JZ: Stereotypes are everywhere. Everyone and everything can be put under a stereotype. Its how you react to these stereotypes. If you let it affect you and get it in your head, then it becomes a problem.
CO: How much do you think being Asian-American has impacted your identity?
JZ: Being Asian-American has made me appreciate my culture and heritage, but this is only a part of my identity. I think it’s important to find yourself in many areas of life you can identify yourself with. Only then can you identify as an unique version of yourself.
CP: What do you think about Asian whitewashing in media?
JZ: I think the only way we can actually make a change is to have more Asian-Americans pursue careers in entertainment, because talking about it won’t change anything but taking action will.
CP: As a comedian, where do you draw the line between being offensive and being comedic?
JZ: It’s a delicate line to cross and I had my taste when my “fuckboy” video went viral and was attacked in my comment section by a lot of feminists. I’m still early in the game and I’m still experimenting with my comedy, so I’ll give you a better answer in a few years.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
To learn about Jimmy Zhang, visit his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC03-Rich_1-C5sJ2QQAhWA.
This article was written by Clara Park and edited by James Noh.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Young Asian Leaders of America.
To contact or get involved with Young Asian Leaders of America, visit yalamerica.wordpress.com.