Phil Yu

Voice Award winner Phil Yu looks back on 15 years of Angry Asian Man

By Alexa Strabuk

Phil Yu, creator of the Angry Asian Man blog, will receive the 2016 Voice Award in recognition of his multimedia, cultural sounding board at this year’s V3 Digital Media Conference.

One of the three “V” honors, the Voice Award celebrates media creators who have made a significant impact on the AAPI community and beyond. Yu and other winners have used their influence to bring the AAPI experience to greater prominence.

Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr didn’t exist back back in 2001, so Yu created his own platform in Angry Asian Man. It started as a place to express himself.

Spurred by Asian American studies courses in college, he needed a place to process his thoughts on his history, his identity and his community.

But his platform quickly blew up. The blog evolved into the host of a much broader conversation – and that’s continued for 15 years.

“If you’re talking about how the blog has changed, I’m definitely more aware that there’s an audience – aware that it has notoriety and that it serves people,” said Yu, now 37. “I’m certainly trying to serve my community in a way that I never intended to before.”

Social media caught up. He has more than 40,000 Twitter followers and more than 33,000 likes on Facebook.

Through the original blog, a podcast and a web talk show, Angry Asian Man highlights the issues and lives of a marginalized group that is often misrepresented in or ignored by the mainstream media.

Yu said his three goals are to inform, entertain and activate. Posts on the blog include memes and entertainment news, combined with heavier, political topics relevant to the AAPI community.

“My hope is that they’ll come for one thing and they’ll stay for the other,” Yu said. “If what you read on the blog moves you to action, if at the very least, you share a link or start a conversation – that’s good enough for me.”
Recent topics have included Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments on China, a preview of the ABC show “Fresh Off The Boat” and a post about Justin Lin, tapped to direct the new “Space Jam” movie.

“I’ve heard so many people over the years, younger people mostly, that have said to me: ‘Coming across your blog has set me on a path of what it means to be Asian American in a way I hadn’t thought about before. And that’s amazing, that’s really powerful,” Yu said.

For Yu, the value of the blog lies in its ability to connect people to one another. His frequent collaborations with other AAPI people have granted him a sense that what he’s doing is much bigger than himself.

“Technology has given us all of these different tools to get your story out,” Yu said. “It’s just an amazing time to be Asian American.”

For a long time, Yu never knew how to describe the work he was doing – he never considered himself a journalist and other labels didn’t seem to fit either. But being recognized by AAJA-Los Angeles with the Voice Award reminds him that he has a place, regardless of label.

He’s looking forward to attending the June 24 awards reception.

“It’s awesome to be recognized by the larger media making community,” he says. “It really is sort of validating, and I’m really humbled by that recognition.”

This year’s V3con is slated for June 24-25 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.