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Celebrating 10 Years In Media: XiXi Yang

Celebrating 10 Years In Media: XiXi Yang

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been a decade since I began my career in media. I remember transferring from NYU to UCLA at the age of 19. Moving across the country as a freshman and “balling on a budget” was not easy. I didn’t know anyone in California at the time but I did know that somehow, it was the place I needed to be in order to get started on my career. From the celebrities to the red carpets to the palm trees… I was hooked!

When we are aligned with our passion + purpose, the stars align with us.

Growing up, I was glued to the television like a moth to the flame. I remember running home as soon as the school bus dropped me off to catch the beginning of the biggest hit on MTV at the time – “TRL”! Ah, yes. The stable of every kid who grew up in the late 90s/early 2000s! When Suchin Pak, the first South-Korean born TV host joined MTV News as a correspondent in Spring 2001, I cried. When she was bumped up to be the VJ of “TRL”, I died almost.

I was 20 when I scored my first major meeting with a huge broadcast agent in LA. I remember walking in all doe-eyed, thinking my life was going to change overnight. Within the first 5 minutes of the meeting, the agent glanced at my headshot and goes, “How do you pronounce this? Is it Zizi? Gigi?” After I corrected him, he replied, “If you want me to represent you, you gotta change your name to something a lot more Americanized – Jennifer, Tiffany, something… anything. Take a note from Julie Chen or Connie Chung. The American audience won’t trust a name they can’t pronounce!”

I walked out feeling extremely conflicted. Do I really have to change my name to get gigs? But nothing really feels more like me than the name I was given since birth. And even if I were to change my name to something more “Americanized”, I still can’t change this Asian face. 

Needless to say, I decided to stick with my name. Although I didn’t find my voice as a host back then, I knew deep down inside that if I were going to follow my heart in pursuing an unconventional career path, I had to follow it all the way. I won’t be able to get to where I want to be without understanding my culture, my upbringing, my heritage. At the end of the day, these are all elements that make up who I am and if I couldn’t be authentic to my own DNA, I really wouldn’t be capable of delivering any type of message truthfully to the viewers.

Throughout the past 10 years, the face of television has changed so much. Asian-Americans are more accepted on a mainstream level, but it is still an uphill battle. I get messages every day via social media from young diverse kids all over the U.S., telling me I’m their “role model” and they want a career just like mine. Truth be told, although I never really look at myself as a role model, I knew since the beginning of my career that I had a calling that was much more bigger than my own journey. Due to the platforms I was given and the followers that I have, I feel 100% responsible for fighting for my own dream and help be a guidance to those kids who look up to me and see a face that is relatable to theirs.

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I’m forever grateful to have been able to work with some of the most amazingly talented people in Hollywood media. My mentors and friends are a diverse group of individuals who have believed in me enough to take a chance in me by opening the doors for me at some of the biggest media organizations in the world.

They believed that this little Chinese-American girl with a name no one can pronounce should be given a platform to tell her story too.

Welcome to Chapter 1 of “XiXi by XiXi Yang”… will you join me in the journey?

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