Episode 119

May Lee ·  Speaking up for the Asian Community

“All those feelings that you're not enough, that you don't belong—when you go through it, it's hard. It's painful, it leaves scars.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio to Korean immigrant parents, May Lee is an award-winning broadcast journalist,  host of “The May Lee Show,” adjunct professor at USC, and founder of Lotus Media House who has been both a US-based and international anchor, host, correspondent and producer. 


Familiar with being the outsider, “otherized” by a predominantly white community, May was introduced to racism at a young age. This fueled her to become a prominent voice in the effort to combat anti-Asian hate that exploded due to COVID-19. At the start of 2020, May’s production company, Lotus Media House, partnered with NextShark, the leading Asian online news source, to launch “The May Lee Show”, Each episode May sits down with the most impactful and relevant Asians in the U.S. and around the world who are boldly enhancing and elevating Asian voices and issues.


Recognized for her powerful voice for Asian Americans, May was named one of Forbes 50 Over 50 women leading the way in impact July 2021. May has been working with various organizations, companies and media outlets to raise more awareness of AAPI history and experiences.


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Podcast Transcript

May Lee

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, my name is Bryan and my name is Maggie. We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:23) Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast, May Lee! Born in Columbus, Ohio to Korean immigrant parents, May Lee is an award-winning broadcast journalist,  host of “The May Lee Show,” adjunct professor at USC, and founder of Lotus Media House who has been both a US-based and international anchor, host, correspondent, and producer. 

Familiar with being the outsider, “otherized” by a predominantly white community, May was introduced to racism at a young age. This fueled her to become a prominent voice in the effort to combat anti-Asian hate that exploded due to COVID-19. At the start of 2020, May’s production company, Lotus Media House, partnered with NextShark, the leading Asian online news source, to launch “The May Lee Show”, Each episode May sits down with the most impactful and relevant Asians in the U.S. and around the world who are boldly enhancing and elevating Asian voices and issues.

Recognized for her powerful voice for Asian Americans, May was named one of Forbes 50 Over 50 women leading the way in impact July 2021. May has been working with various organizations, companies, and media outlets to raise more awareness of AAPI history and experiences.”

May: (00:01:43) Thank you so good to be here.

Bryan: (00:01:47) May, I said this before the podcast, it’s such an honor to have you on the show today. You are a legend, we’re so happy to have you here! You’re so humble and want to dive into your story, like tell us about your upbringing. What was it like growing up in Columbus, Ohio, and what led you down the path that you are today?

May: (00:02:13) Well, I was born in Columbus, Ohio because my father was training to be a psychiatrist and so he was getting one of his neurological degrees at the Ohio State University. We moved back to Korea for a few years when I was young but after a couple of years, we, again moved back to the United States and we ended up in Dayton, Ohio. So that’s one where I grew up.  I guess that’s a good euphemism, meaning that growing up in the 1970s in a very white environment back then was challenging especially because people didn’t know that.

Most people were familiar with maybe Chinese, maybe Japanese, but Korean kids would be like, where’s that? Where are you from?  I got the exposure to being otherized and being the perpetual foreigner and behavior from people pretty early on in my life. I hate to say this, but in hindsight, it prepared me for my career and my life journey up to now because I was sort of really educated in a harsh way about the reality of racism and the reality of division and sort of this idea of us and them. When COVID came around and xenophobia came around and anti-aging, I knew what was coming and I recognized what was happening.

So, but that’s kind of a brief background into my life in Ohio. I moved on and started my journalistic career later, which took me all over the world.

Bryan: (00:04:12) Thanks for sharing that experience and I’m so sorry to hear about the harsh experience growing up. I appreciate the mindset of just looking toward the positives, most people look at that experience with the impression that the world is such a messed up place. But you looked at those experiences as learning lessons. 

May: (00:04:33) Bryan, at the time I wish I was that wise as a kid, but when I was going through it, it was hard.  I wanted to disappear and I know a lot of Asian Americans feel the same way. Even young people to this very day when I talked to them, still have this part of you that wants to fit in so badly. That you want to be white or you don’t want to be Asian and that’s for sure, right? I wanted to have blonde hair and blue eyes. I wanted to change my name to May Young because it sounded more American, all of those feelings of feeling that you’re not enough. That you don’t belong and so dirt, when you go through it, it’s hard. It’s painful and it does leave scars, but it was in hindsight as I grew older and wiser than I knew okay all of that can be used for some good, but when I was going through it sucked. 

Bryan: (00:05:35) Thanks for sharing that experience with us. I feel like you said that’s a huge problem today with representation. 

Maggie: (00:05:33) I can also vouch for that too because may you mentioned you grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where it was predominantly white. I never saw anyone who was Asian on television on-screen so I didn’t know what was considered beautiful for Asian women. So the only thing that I saw on TV was white women who were considered beautiful and it was the only thing that I could refer to.

May: (00:06:48) That’s the thing it’s like, we were all so programmed from a very young age and even to this day, to a certain extent where it’s like whiteness or at least Anglo is the gold standard.

That’s what we should almost sort of try to achieve, but like, you I’m petite as well. So I grew up always being the shortest person in the class and the shorter sort of person in the room. So of course, I’m going to think I’m less than if all we see are these images that are opposite from what we are, and nothing is being reflected that like is similar to us and our features.

There’s a saying, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it And that’s something that really, I think has hurt a lot of us, but that’s why what’s happening now. More engagement, more discussions like this more awareness media, fine and catching up to the fact that we need more diversity. We need to truly reflect on the reality of the world rather than creating this fantasy land.

That’s going to have. I hope the younger generations grow up with that now thinking, oh yeah, this is all acceptable, And normal diversity is beautiful and we don’t have one gold standard.

Bryan: (00:08:09) I used to watch a lot of you on the news and CNN and all that stuff. So happy to have you here. Let’s talk about your time working as a correspondent, right? I would imagine this is a different period than we’re used to seeing. Like, I’m, I’m pretty, I want to hear some stories from you. Did you ever get advice from the other Asian anchors?

May: (00:09:03) My journalistic career has been an interesting one because I didn’t start off thinking I was going to go into journalism and be on television because traditional Asian parents want something secure. They don’t want you to stick out like a sore thumb or be the nail that has to be hammered down. So I thought I was going to be a doctor, I went through high school and part of college thinking I was going to be a doctor. Well, guess what with math and science I I sucked. I almost failed chemistry. I couldn’t do the math. So I was barking up the wrong tree. Finally, when I got to college, even though I had declared pre-med, which is such a joke, I had to really stop and ask myself May really, is this what you want to do? Or what do you like doing? 

I like public speaking and writing. I love the visual media and so a voice, I heard a voice say, May, you need to be a broadcast journalist. From that moment forward, I changed all my plans and pursued this career, which is what I’ve been doing for 30-plus years. So it was kind of not a planned thing, but when I finally sell into it and discovered it, it was so right that I knew that this was the path I needed to take and so nothing stopped me. I was so driven and I think it was that passion that I had for this field. So I just got into internships during college and then an internship turned into production as a production assistant position in San Francisco and then I got my first on-air job in a tiny little town called Redding, California. I kind of made it work. It’s not like I went and got proper training or read a bunch of books or went to workshops or anything like that. I do say that I was given the gift of speaking and this voice. My mother, when I was growing up, she hated it because she thought it was way too deep for an Asian girl.

She wanted me to try to change it to be higher, but because I’m such a stubborn little girl, I was like, no ad so I refused. So thank God because I was blessed with this real sort of deep voice that worked for my career. I have to say because I was one of very few Asians in the media. At the time I kind of had to fumble my way through and sort of kind of blaze the trail on my own. Most of the time it worked and some of the times it didn’t and I had to rethink things, but it’s been quite the journey so far guys. That’s for sure. 

Bryan: (00:13:14) That’s what we’re trying to do with this podcast, we want to capture people’s stories because when we look at you May and we look at you and we’re like, wow, you must some sort of superpower that got you to this position. 

May: (00:14:00) I’ll tell you a story of how racism and a sort of a big event affected my career negatively. At the very beginning of my career when I was trying to break in as an on-air reporter in local news because that’s what you have to do. So this was 1989 into 1990 and so I was sending out resume tapes right back then we had to still deal with tapes and nothing was digitized yet.

I put together a sizzle reel and I started sending them out to tiny little markets all over the country. Unfortunately, at that time it was the height of Japan-bashing because of Japan. I was selling all of their sort of economic, economical cars here in the US that were more fuel-efficient.

So everybody was buying Japanese cars rather than made cars. Japan was also buying iconic properties like Rockefeller Center and pebble beach golf course, all of these places that were really like American. Right? So there was a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment at the time. Well, I was trying to find an on-air job as a reporter at the same time.

I sent out over 60 resume tapes across the country and we’re talking the tiniest little markets all over and I did not get one single offer call back anything because they didn’t want to hire an agent Asian face. Alright. I’m Korean American, but it didn’t matter, right. It doesn’t matter if I’m Korean, Japanese or Chinese doesn’t matter.

They just thought, oh, Asian face doesn’t want to hire her. So at that point, I was like, do I keep trying, or is this just going to be a bus? And I should just go and do something else. But finally, probably number 67th take or whatever. I get a call from a small station in red, in California.

And this guy, this news director, Calvin Hunter, I still remember his name. He gave me a break, gave me a chance. And that’s how my career started on the air.

Bryan: (00:16:13) That’s an amazing story and sometimes a lot of us give up too early and we kind of stop there, but the fact that he kept going, so we are glad he decided to give you a chance.

May: (00:16:36) Before that it was the Japanese incarceration during World War II and it was the Chinese exclusion. I mean, there’s always been things in history where we were used as a scapegoat and we’ve been witnessing it for the last two years now because of COVID and xenophobia.

So we have to be very aware of the fact that these things still exist, but that awareness should then empower us to say, okay, enough is enough. We shouldn’t stand by silently and take it anymore. We need to start speaking up and speaking out and working together, building solidarity, empowering each other, sharing our stories, and then building allyship so that this crap doesn’t happen anymore. We still have a ways to go with the momentum this time around is so powerful versus historically what I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. I think this is a pivotal moment for us in our community,

Maggie: (00:18:24)  I love how you remember the name of the person who gave you a break and I think we need more of that. We do remember those times and the names of people who actually help us out and support us right now. They’re trying to raise diversity for the sake of raising diversity or not because of any other reason, but because they’re hiring and bringing on people who are meant to do the job correctly.

Because we’re qualified to do the job and I think that’s what he saw in you, that you were the right person to do the job. I’m sure when you had first started your career in this field as a correspondent and some anchor, I’m sure there was a period when you didn’t exactly know you wanted to raise more awareness for API history. I do want to raise more awareness for the API community and I want to bring more representation to this entire community. I’m sure there was like a turning point for that. So I want to know what was that experience like and what was going through your line at that time?

Bryan: (00:19:33) I’m also curious to add on to negative questions. Well, I know you graduated from Mills College in Oakland. Does growing into college and the bay area have an effect t on your mindset about the AAPI community. I know there’s a lot, there were a lot of frequent protests and speech events in the bay area during that period. Did that affect you and helped you become the person that you are today?

May: (00:19:57) So I’ll start with that and I’ll go back to what Maggie was asking as well. So when I went to Mills College in Oakland, California, that was the first time I have to say that. I had culture shock because I had grown up in Ohio where there were hardly any Asians. Then I went to high school, a boarding school in Connecticut, which was white.

Then all of a sudden I go to college in the bay area and I was like, oh my god, look at all these Asians and they’re my peers. So I had never been in that kind of environment before and at 18, that was the first time I was exposed to that. I think that was probably, an introduction to the AAPI experience for me.

But even then I didn’t completely embrace it and absorb t because I think it just was such a wild shock to me, but then going back to the career, I remember I went overseas for several years in Tokyo and Hong Kong and then a little bit after that and in Singapore. So I spent a total of 14 years in Asia as a correspondent and an anchor.

And so that was a completely different Asian experience,  I was in Asia as an Asian American and was surrounded by people who looked like me, who understood my background and my culture.  I never thought I needed to be an API activist of any kind because it wasn’t an issue there at all.

That’s why international Asians don’t understand what’s happening here. Overseas Asians are like what do you mean anti-Asian hate? But my activism, I think probably got sparked heavily at the start of COVID. It just triggered or actually reawakened some of the trauma that I had gone through as a child and as throughout my sort of adulthood, I dealt with racism as well. With that recognition of what was going on, I knew I couldn’t stay silent because I had the platform of being a journalist and a show and the experience. 

And remember, this is what I tell everyone, I’m a woman in my fifties, and I have lived the life of probably three people already combined. I’m at a stage of my life where I’m not afraid of pretty much anything. I’m also not someone who wants to, has to protect my reputation, or is sort of a reticent to kind of express, exactly how I feel. So I feel like I felt like I was in a position to just be very open, very honest, and be very bold in what I was saying.

I think the timing of what was happening was perfect in terms of aligning with where I am in my life and so that kind of, I think it just gave me an opening to just be just completely authentic, genuine, and sometimes a little bit obnoxious about what we needed to do as a community to raise awareness and to light that fire under people’s butts.

Maggie: (00:23:52) I love it so much. It’s inspiring because especially during this past pandemic, there was a lot that was going on. A lot of people had spoken up, but I think also due to the stereotype that we hold on to a lot of people are still a silent,  rising anti-Asian hate crimes and I love that you were expressing that you’re not afraid of anything that we shouldn’t have any fear of anything that using your voice is more powerful than you think.

We all have voices. We all can have the power to use our voice and Bryan and, I often say that it’s always better to say something when we see something rather than just staying silent. I think a lot of people in the Asian community. It’s very hard to grasp that and understand that because we’re afraid to say something, especially like big corporations or even smaller businesses.

We’re afraid to say something because we’re afraid to say the wrong thing and then in turn get canceled or something like that. I think for a minute as we all felt like that. Like, should I say something or should I just say silent? I want to know, like, from your perspective, were you ever in your early days of being in your career and these things had happened where you had to speak out publicly on these issues.

Was there ever a time when you did feel scared or afraid? And if so, how did you overcome that? Can you kind of give like some advice to someone who to say something and speak out, but they don’t know how to write beause I think Bryan and I, we came across a lot of people during the pandemic who wanted to speak out and they often said like, I don’t know if I should, I don’t know if I have the power to platform to, but we always said even if you have like one follower or a very small community.

The one thing that you say to that one follower, they can relay that information to their community and it becomes a domino or ripple effect. But people don’t understand that and I kind of want to know from your perspective, how could the community be more open and be less afraid to speak up if they are afraid in the first.

May: (00:26:04) Let me first get this straight. I was a fearful child. I was one of those typical silent kids who never spoke up in class was always afraid and didn’t take any risks. That was part of it was because of my surroundings and my environment and the way I was programmed to not make any noise, don’t make any waves, and keep my head down.

Of course, physically I was very small all the time but I think that made me stronger over many years because I was what I don’t have physically, I’m going to use with my mind and my voice and all of these other things. But so how I got over my feet had a lot to do with knowing that you have to believe in something strongly, you have to have conviction and conviction is sometimes very hard to find in people because people can be opportunistic or there again, too fearful. So they don’t want to embrace something and even if they believe in it, fear can be very negative. But also I’ll say this fear can also be very helpful. Fear can be something that drives you to do something because you want to change it because you know, you don’t want to live in fear anymore.

Right now, because of all the xenophobia and the antiaging. I think a lot of us had fear, but we also said, okay, this is bullshit. We need to change this, so we use that fear to almost empower us to incite change. So for the person who says I’m too afraid, or I can’t make a difference because I’m only one person.

No, I always knocked that down immediately one person can make a difference just because you think you have no platform or no power, no influence, like a social media influencer doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference by one thing you say to another person or story that you share with a friend.

Or helping somebody out who you think might need a helpful like conversation, right? So if we collect all do something right for that one other person or that one community or whatever, can you imagine what kind of effect that has? Of course, that’s going to make a difference. But if we just sit there and say, I can’t make a difference, I’m not going to do anything.

Well, we’re not going to get for it very far at all. So I always encourage people to get rid of the notion of like I’m only one person. I’m nobody. I can’t make a difference. No, yes, you can. You can make a difference. You’re here on this earth. This is what I want everybody to know. You are here on this earth to do something. Don’t be at the end of your life saying, I didn’t do shit. I didn’t do, anything that was good for something and it’s easy to do that. If you just try to embrace that idea of like, I’m somebody, I know I can make a difference. I can say something. I can do something.

Bryan: (00:29:26) Yeah, it’s at the end of days, it’s very much about our impersonal internal affirmation that we can be something we can say some means and do more. I just think that it’s this bolster this notion just told to just be quiet or keep your head down, or we’re not going to amount to anything, the Asian pressure it’s like crazy.

May: (00:29:48) I know that’s tough and I know it’s Asian parents, particularly, they showed their love in a very different way than a lot of Western cultures do. Of course, they do a lot of this tough love because they love us and they want us to be safe.

Of course, any parent wants their children to be safe, no matter how old they are. My mother still calls me,  when she knows I had gone to an event or something at night and I’m having to drive home, she’ll call me, did you get home? Okay. And I’m like, oh, I’m like, oh, but it’s the way they are.

Or they always ask you, have you eaten? That’s the way the Asians are on your table. But what I always advise people who struggle with that kind of bicultural thing it’s a balancing act to a certain extent. Of course, we have filial piety, we respect our elders and we should, because of what we said earlier, they’ve sacrificed so much for us.

But at the same time, you also have to ask yourself, what is it that you want to do with your life truly right. Yes, you want to respect others, but you, at the end of the day have to respect yourself and do what you are going to be fulfilled by and what drives you and what you know is right for you, right?

Only, ultimately you are going to know what’s going to make you happy and what’s going to fulfill you. What’s going to bring you joy that is where you have to stop and ask yourself those questions without all this other external interference.

Bryan: (00:31:33) Yeah. I mean, that kind of leads us down. The next question too.  I want to focus a little more on your current media company. I know you started this company back in August 2005. Could you tell us more about that, what you hope to accomplish with the company and what have you accomplished with the company as well?

May: (00:31:52) Actually, I started Lotus in 2007 in Singapore. So when I went to Singapore, I was recruited by a CNBC Asia to be their primetime anchor. I moved over there and did the usual anchor work and it was business news, so some little on the dry side. While I was there though and this was a time when I saw a change going on with Asian women in Asia, it was very, very interesting.

They were becoming much more empowered, much more independent, successful career-oriented. They were putting off happening, getting married, and having families until later. So it was a real sea of change that was taking place throughout Asia. So I thought to myself, wow wouldn’t it be cool if there was a show that represented the new modern woman of Asia, kind of like an Oprah sort of show for Asia.

So I decided to start a production company, Lotus media house, to be able to do a show, which was the first iteration of the Bailey show based out of Singapore.  I left CNBC Asia started this company with nothing and bootstrapping and created the show, which did finally get on the air and Asia. It almost killed me.

The project almost killed me. And I’m not joking because when you’re starting a business and you’re an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats and I took on probably too much on my own that I shouldn’t have. I think I was a little bit too involved with the show and the project. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it very differently, but that’s what being an entrepreneur is.

You have to experiment, you have to take the risk and you will fail. There will be failures, but that’s how you learn and you have to regroup and keep moving. So that was the start of Lotus Media House and I’ve had that company ever since.

Maggie: (00:34:04) I love that you were so adamant about giving a platform for Asian women to just share their voices and share their stories. It reminds me of what we kind of tried to accomplish with Asian Hustle Network as well because when we had first started it, we had a ratio between men and women from 70 to 30%. So 70% men and then 30% women.  I think it’s just natural for men to be more outspoken, you know like they’re not afraid to tell their stories.

I think about themselves, but for women, we had to do a lot to have them share their stories and come out and, you know, help them amplify their voices and once we started doing that, it did kind of try more towards 50/50. It’s just so important for us to create these spaces for women to share their stories. Otherwise, it’s very hard for us to kind of get out of our comfort zone and share stories, and amplifies our voices. So I love that you did.

May: (00:35:02) I’m really glad you said that Maggie because I’ve really. Recently, especially with my students that USC, that Asian American female. There’s still a lot of stuff that they’re internalizing and they’re keeping to themselves and there’s still there’s pain, there’s identity, and there are gender issues.  I feel like it, and it makes me sad actually because I still see this women of color are still at the bottom of the totem pole. Okay. Let’s, let’s be honest, right? They are.

We are and so we have to work harder. We have to take a lot more shit so there is still this barrier for women of color and then Asian women, definitely because of the stereotypes that still exist.

Right? The hyper-sexualization the whole like, idea that we’re so delicate or silent or we’re dragging ladies all of these stereotypes of black that have lasted for decades and centuries. So this is an issue that I care about very deeply and I’m glad that you are saying that more women are starting to speak up and kind of be a little bit bold. But this is something that I want to encourage more Asian females to try to find, find your courage because you have it, you’re stronger than you think you are and you need to value yourself. You need to know what your worth is, because once you realize your value and worth you’re unstoppable, Asian women are some of the strongest women around look at our moms, look at our grandmothers, right.

She’s tough as nails, man. So I want Asian women, especially younger Asian women to embrace that don’t fall for the stupid-ass stereotypes and fall into that trap. We need to speak up and really and kind of raise each other as well. So you guys are doing a great job with that, so I’m happy to hear that for me.

Bryan: (00:37:32) We have to give you a lot of credit too. I feel like you don’t give yourself enough credit ne like you deserve all the credit in the world for things that you’ve done.

May: (00:37:50)  It’s so sweet that you say that and thank you. I should just accept that as a compliment and not be like, so like super modest, but thank you for saying that, but it makes me, I’ll tell you something. I’ve never been in this business for the fame or the recognition. I’ve never done it for my fame or my name recognition or my success. I’ve always done it because I care about telling stories and I want to give other people a voice. That’s what a journalist is supposed to do. We’re supposed to give a voice to the voiceless. We’re supposed to talk about issues.

Should be talked about and people aren’t aware of and so for, and now I want to create this path for you guys, right? For the younger generation to take this journey and go way beyond what I’m doing. If I have helped create that and allowed for a bigger opening, then hallelujah, that makes me happy.

Maggie: (00:39:00)I mean just you speaking on that topic of you telling stories and helping amplify other people’s voices, you I’m sure you’ve spoken to thousands, tens of thousands of people just telling these stories, opening them up and giving them this platform to do though, to do so.

I’m sure that you have changed as a person as well. Giving these people the opportunity to tell their stories. It also, I’m sure also makes you kind of look internally as well.  I’m curious to know how have you changed as a person over these years of being in the industry and telling the stories of these underrepresented people? I’m sure you’ve learned a lot about yourself. Please tell us more about that.

May: (00:39:54) I will say this as a journalist, the beauty of journalism is that it allows for some reason that if you say you’re journalists, people think that they have to talk about. They open up their door to you and tell you their stories and that is pretty incredible. So that’s allowed me to go places and meet people and talk to people that the average person probably would never be able to be in touch with. So for me, I was like this young hungry journalist, in the beginning, thinking I could conquer the world. Right? So a little bit of like tuberous and arrogance. Of course, when I started to be becoming very successful in this business, I was like, man, I can do anything. I’m so good. I know looking back, I probably was pretty arrogant at times, but what’s humbling.

What brings you down to earth real fast is when you do go out on some of these heart-wrenching stories, these disasters,  I’ve covered everything from the Asian tsunami to earthquakes, to writing in Indonesia, 9-11, and New York. Things that have happened in history in recent history humble you real fast because you understand the pain and suffering and darkness through the eyes and experiences of other people. There’s a level of humility that I learned and there’s certainly a level of gratitude that I practice every day because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

We learn these lessons sometimes in very difficult ways. My father was taken in 2011  by a 16-year-old driver and so he was killed in an instant and so that’s something that changed my life completely, of course. So it’s really, sometimes life’s unexpected events and occurrences, regardless of what form they come in, that I hope people don’t ignore and hey use those experiences, whether they’re negative or positive to shape them to be a better person. And I now can say again, because I’m in my fifties, I’m much more aware of these things. I’m aware of the need to pay attention to even the smallest things that happened in life because they’re all meant to teach us something right.

None of us are invisible and we’re all flawed, but as flawed human beings, it makes us more interesting because that means all of us have different experiences to share, and sharing those experiences will make us better people. I mean, that’s why I’m glad that we’re all doing what we’re doing right by doing shows like this and doing the work that we’re doing.

Bryan: (00:43:16) You always look towards the positive things to teach you and make you a better person and this is the part where I feel like we still don’t talk about it. May, can you talk a little bit more about your darkest times and how you dealt with those?

Because I still feel like mental health is still not talked about enough in anything that we do and especially love to hear, how have you dealt with your darkest moments where you look yourself in the mirror? You’re like, what am I doing? Because I feel like we all ask ourselves those questions, but it’s not something you bring up in a conversation with a friend openly.

May: (00:44:15) I know now it’s so true and I’m really glad you brought up the whole issue of mental health because it is a crisis. I do think it’s the other pandemic that isn’t talked about as much and certainly, COVID probably exacerbated mental health issues, even more, because of the fear, the anxiety, the isolation, all of that.

Well for me, I mean, it was a good segue where I’m, because my darkest time was probably when my father was killed because it was so sudden, and death is inevitable as we all know but when something happens so suddenly and unexpectedly, and then the person’s gone. That is a shock to the system that is inexplicable.

I hope nobody goes through it or fewer people have to go through it. At that time I lost myself completely and was in a very dark hole. I stayed there for a little while. I will say that I knew I couldn’t stay there for a long period, because it’s my father’s legacy, right. His life would be meaningless in some ways if I gave up right, again, we’re going back to the idea of our parents and grandparents making such sacrifices for us. So if I were to give up. Because he died that then his life would have been less meaningful, right? Because his life was about raising his children and making his family comfortable and succeeding and all of that.

I knew that if I wanted to honor my father, I had to pick myself back up, crawl out of the black hole that I was in and move forward.  I know that my father’s death was something that affected me negatively in the beginning, but now I use it as a motivating factor. I used it to share openly with people because I want people to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that even death like that can be used for good something positive has to come out of it.

So now with mental health and what everyone is going through, listen, I hear you because there are still days when I feel like shit there are still days when I don’t want to do anything. I want to sit on the couch and just watch, watch Netflix and just, and just be mindless and not think about it because sometimes life seems hard because guess what it is.

Okay. Let’s not fool ourselves. Life is hard, not always, but it is hard. Some challenges are standing before us, you know, oftentimes whether it be racism or school or family or relationships, whatever it might be. But I think what matters then is that I know everyone has the strength. You got to find that inner strength in you, and if you can’t find it, then you’ve got to ask for help.

Do not be embarrassed. Don’t think you have to do it by yourself. Talk to a friend, find a therapist, find somebody, just talk it over and get it out because we are so trained, to internalize everything right. And keep everything in. We can’t do that. We can’t do that. What what’s, what, what is the good in that?

So start opening up and sharing in even the tiniest ways and even that tiny opening can turn into a bigger one slowly. I want people to be aware of their mental health and know that there is help out there. Just find it in whatever source you can.

Maggie: (00:48:26) Thank you so much for sharing that may. I mean, it’s, especially in the Asian community. I think it’s so hard for us to ask for help, but once we do, once we do ask for help or find that inner strength within ourselves, everything changes. You knew exactly what your father had wanted and what your father had wanted was for you to find your inner strength and turn your previous experiences into something positive for you in the future. I’m so glad that you were able to find that inner strength because for a lot of people it’s really hard for them to do that. It’s hard for them to ask for help and again with the stereotypes and Asian community and we rarely ask for help, there’s just, that we’re rooted in competition but once in a while we do need to ask for help though. Once we recognize that everything is easier when we support each other, It’s so much easier.

May: (00:49:26) When you admit it and when you open up, it’s, you’re surprised about how many other people are like, yeah, me too.  I feel the same way too and so if we can just open up that door, then we’re gonna see that there are so many other people behind it and that then you can build a community.

In that way in that shared experience and man, how powerful is that right? To share in that experience and then help each other and not feel so alone and I think that’s the problem. People feel like, I’m the only one who feels this way. No, you’re not. Don’t be so arrogant. No, you’re not. Other people feel the same way.

Bryan: (00:50:07 That is our goal to foster a community of over a hundred thousand members and that’s the goal you want people to feel like they have somewhere that they can call home and that they can share their experience and belong to. When we first started communities, it was from a sense of belonging and knowing that we aren’t alone in this journey. 

May: (00:51:05) How inspirational that you two decided to just say, oh, what the hell? Let’s give this a go and see, you know, if there are other people out there who feel the same way, so you took the step to do something about it and to create an agent hustle network, and now look where it is. So that’s. Congratulations to you guys too. Thank you. That bold stuff.

Bryan: (00:51:27) We appreciate that. And at first, you weren’t so sure about the word hustle or whatever. We still wrote that hustle.

May: (00:51:36)  Like how badly do you want to do this? And what, why are the reasons, what are your reasons? If someone tells me, oh, it’s because I want to be on TV and be famous. I’m like no wrong answer because what people don’t understand, especially about journalism and broadcast journalism, it is tough.  It’s not that glamorous. Yes, there it’ttle glamorous here and there, but most of tit is most of the timeing. It’s tough and it can be grueling, but if you love the idea of being adventurous and getting stories and meeting people and interviewing them and giving again a platform to the voiceless.

That’s the first thing and the second thing is if you just decide to go into it, start connecting with people in the business, start networking, and meet people who can help you get in the door. I got an internship one summer in San Francisco and I got accepted into it but while I was there, I was able to meet some of the reporters who were willing to take me under their wing. One of them was Sherry Woo, a Chinese American reporter. She was willing to help me give me that extra momentum as well.

So definitely it’s about connections to a certain extent, but don’t think you have to have these like deep connections who are just going to get you through the back door. You still have to do the work. You’ve got to do your work and you got to do it well, and you’ve got to prove yourself.

You must be able and willing to do the work and these are the two pieces of advice I would give anyone interested in joining media.

Maggie: (00:55:35)  Thank you so much to me. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us

May: (00:55:44) I’m so happy to be part of this and you guys keep up the great work because you’re doing an amazing thing.

Bryan: (00:55:53) Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, May!