Student Blog: From China to Broadway- Yaya’s stories – Broadway World

This Q&A was co-written with Annissa Gao.

Yaya Wang is a theatrical producer, hostess, and CEO of a youth arts academy. She recently immigrated to the United States and produced the off-Broadway hit The Little Match Girl. Yaya used to host the ‘Yaya Show’ in China and was a TV broadcaster. She is committed to using citizen artistry for social change and empathy.

Student Blog: From China to Broadway- Yaya's stories
An edit of Yaya representing her passion for citizen artistry and sharing voices from around the world.

Tell me about your experience immigrating from China and producing your first show in the United States?

I had lived in China for thirty years before immigrating here. I brought my husband, children, parents, and cat. When we arrived, we did not have a place to live; I did not understand the culture or English; my children had no school to attend. However, in two weeks, my daughters could attend school, and I found a place for my family and me to stay. At the same time, I’ve always strived to take on any opportunities and began rehearsals for A Little Match Girl. COVID-19 hit, and Broadway closed, but I was able to produce many shows in China and hope to create more in America now.

Through your productions, what do you hope to convey?

I hope to convey various cultures and empower the youth. Right now, I am 40 years old and don’t want to waste any of my time. I have found my passion and have 2 daughters, and I think this period is one of the best times to pursue my career and personal goals. I hope to empower and highlight the youth onstage. Also, I hope to showcase various cultures. I am currently working on Mulan and love producing shows surrounding women. All of the shows I have made have focused on women and youth. I want to create shows that can be shown worldwide to embrace unity between all different types of groups and ideas- an international echo chamber of unity.

How did COVID-19 affect your productions?

I think it’s one of the most significant factors challenging Broadway moving forward. I produced The Little Match Girl off-broadway and prepared for a year on the show. We did 7 productions of this show, and COVID-19 occurred, so we had to stop the show. I have not been able to open a running show in the United States in the past 2 years.

Recently, I was able to produce The Little Match Girl, but the theater closed again. Also, during these past 2 years, actors and thespians may change professions and/or move onto something else. I personally know an actress who used to be on Broadway and now works at Disney in Orlando because of the lack of opportunities on Broadway stages.

Student Blog: From China to Broadway- Yaya's stories
Yaya speaking at a webinar regarding

her new musical Little Match Girl

We started to see East Asian representation in the Arts and TV shows. Why not as much in theater?

More and more Asians and Asian Americans have been a part of Broadway. Asians and Asian-Americans are incredibly hard-working, and I have seen an increasing rise of racial representation on Broadway, but of course, there is still a lot of progress that can be made. In Hamilton, two Asians perform as leading characters. I felt represented and heard- I hope to create this feeling of welcomeness to multiple audience members moving forward.

Do you have any advice for aspiring AAPI artists?

I hope AAPI artists will continue their passion for the Arts and advocate for more representation of BIPOC performers on the stage. It’s challenging to dismantle systems in power that oppress so many communities, but through policy changes, unity, and dialogue, we can reach more diverse theater spaces.

In the future, I want to make an Asian Broadway alliance/ coalition to create a community of Asian Artists and advocate for representation within theater spaces. I also urge the AAPI youth to have faith in their abilities and take on every opportunity they can possess. The youth needs to be confident in themselves as they are the future generations for the Arts.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a production of Mulan, which will have an all-Asian cast. This show will emphasize the bold and mighty Asian culture, and I hope it acts as an opportunity for more Asian actors and actresses.