heyyaa! is a new and very sharp looking entertainment news website based in Sunnyvale, focusing on Asian American Entertainment. That means entertainment that appeals to young Asian Americans, and it includes local and national Asian American entertainers, as well as popular music, film, and video coming to the US from Asia. Recent articles have highlighted bay area artists, and their coverage of Left Coast Live performers April Chase and Kero One, and an LCL link on Facebook, is how I caught on to them.
heyyaa! has been online as a YouTube channel since May, and on their own website since June. Producer Yick Lee is a Hong Kong-born Californian with a degree in biomedical engineering, but also experience working in TV. Video host Mae Cruz is a San Jose native who’s also a full-time student in communications and psychology, and has previous acting and modeling experience.
In addition to local coverage, recent posts have covered k- and c-pop, Asian American theater, and the difficulty of Asian American actors to get strong roles in Hollywood, even when the source material is Asian-themed. In addition to their own video reporting and writing, they have posted a translation from a Chinese-language magazine, and also have a BBS area for readers to join in.
I asked site producer and founder Yick Lee in an email about the motivation for the site. She told me, “heyaa! aims to provide entertainment news from an Asian American angle and to support Asian American artists who deserve exposure to a larger audience”, but also, “many young Asian Americans now enjoy Asian entertainment featuring Asian artists as much as they enjoy mainstream entertainment”. Of course, “by covering the Asian pop scene in English, not only do we reach out to fans residing in America, but all English-speaking populations globally,” so the site has a huge potential to grow. The website has an appeal for new contributors, but Lee told me they’re more focused on quality and focus than immediate growth.
I also asked about trends in Asian American entertainment that heyyaa! will be following, and Lee wrote back, “heyyaa! is particularly interested in original productions (mini web series, music, music videos) by Asian-American artists, especially those released on the web. Currently, we notice a trend where more young East Asian artists are attempting to enter the US market while some Asian American artists are thriving in the Asian entertainment circle.”
I wondered if as it grows the site might shift focus from the local scene to national and international entertainers, and Lee wrote me, “given that we are based in the SF Bay Area, it is easier for us to be aware of interesting things that are happening locally. In the future, we would love to cover national/international events and even more big name celebrities. However, heyyaa! will continue to support rising Asian American artists by introducing their works to our readers/viewers. We strive to be the outlet for Asian American talents recognized locally or internationally.”
heyyaa! looks to me like a great addition to the local (and world) web scene, and they’re covering an area that’s often overlooked by outsiders in the mainstream media. I’ll be reading and watching them to keep up with Asian American music and film.