Behind the Scenes: I CHOOSE JOY Music Video Starring Riza Takahashi, Telly Leung, Raymond J. Lee, Kimberly Immanuel and More

Riza Takahashi-Actor/Founder of Broadway to Japan. Photo by Rebecca J Michelson

Riza Takahashi is the founder of the “Celebrate Asian Joy” project, and most recently appeared in Mean Girls on Broadway as one of the original cast members. She was born and raised in Japan and at the age of 16 she left Japan, by herself, to pursue her dream of being on Broadway. Through her unique experiences as an immigrant on Broadway, she has learned how important it is to have representation for the younger generation of AAPI artists. She has now made it her mission to inspire the AAPI community to walk tall, and to proudly and boldly claim their joy.

I met Takahashi when I was asked to be part of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Celebrate Asian Joy Featuring Portraits of 30 AAPI New York Theatre Artists by Rebecca J. Michelson.

Photos: Riza Takahashi, Rebecca J. Michelson and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Celebrate Asian Joy Featuring Portraits of 30 AAPI New York Theatre Artists 

Celebrate Asian Joy for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Photos by Rebecca J Michelson

Takahashi produced, directed and stars in “I CHOOSE JOY”, a music video released in September on the CELEBRATE ASIAN JOY Youtube Channel. 

Riza Takahashi, Telly Leung, Raymond J. Lee and Kimberly Immanuel star in the video, which was shot in New York’s Times Square.

Riza Takahashi (center), (l-r)Telly Leung, Raymond J. Lee and Kimberly Immanuel. Photo by Shiori Saito

Featured ensemble includes Kristine Bendul, Jolina Javier, and Jordan De Leon. Aaron J. Albano, Andrew Cheng, Jason Garcia Ignacio, Saki Masuda, Marcus Shane, Kyra Smith, Angelo Soriano, Emily Stillings, Kelli Youngman, and Minami Yusui round out the ensemble.

(“I CHOOSE JOY” Music Video filming in Times Square). Photo by Linnae Medeiros
Jason Garcia Ignacio, Minami Yusui and the company of I CHOOSE JOY Music Video filming in Times Square. Photo by Shiori Saito
(Cast and Crew of the music video “I CHOOSE JOY” after the shoot in Times Square).

The production team includes Producer Riza Takahashi, Executive Producer Shiori Saito, Co-Producer Holly Coombs, Co-Directors Shiori Saito and Riza Takahashi, Choreographer Darren Lee, Lyricist Jay Kuo, Music Director Ted Arthur, Composer/Arranger/Orchestrator Naoya Iwaki, Director of Photography: Art Parnitudom, Sanae Ohno, Editor Shiori Saito,  Animator Kae Hirose (Shinbido), Production Manager Holly Coombs, and Production Coordinator: Matthew Lewis.

A musical video experience produced, conceived, directed, edited and performed entirely by AAPI artists and a few of their allies. This music video focuses on ones’ courage to choose joy amidst all the noises and the setbacks that surround us all.

Music Director Ted Arthur and the cast at the Vocal Recording at Power Station. Photo by Shiori Saito

Takahashi shared, “We’ve created this music video in hopes of changing the narrative that has surrounded the Asian community during the pandemic- a narrative that has been defined by fear mongering and coverage of attacks on the Asian community. As we continue to raise awareness of racial injustice, we wanted to shine a light on how strong the Asian community is amidst the current climate and encourage everyone to celebrated Asian Joy through arts.”

Support them by purchasing CAJ merch: https://celebrate-asian-joy.myspreads…

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. Click here for Cre8sianproject.com’s latest profile on Lia.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2021 Lia Chang Multimedia, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Studio filming of I CHOOSE JOY with Riza Takahashi, Telly Leung, Raymond J. Lee and Kimberly Immanuel.

The mission of “Celebrate Asian Joy” is to inspire the AAPI Community to walk tall, to proudly and body claim our joy. In response to recents social events involving the AAPI community, we want to empower our community to not succumb to the scariness and anger which diminishes our humanity. Instead we wanted to produce art that both highlights and celebrates Asian joy. Our hope is to celebrate and showcase our Asian sisters and brothers as well as give our non-AAPI viewers a small glimpse into our lives through he AAPI lens. 

Directors Riza Takahashi and Shiori Saito/ DP: Art Parnitudom). Photo by Saki Kawamura

SHIORI SAITO (CO-DIRECTOR/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER) Originally from Japan, she runs her own videography firm named “Opal Studio”, based in New York City. She was involved in a number of documentary TV shows with major production companies in Japan. Working on these shows let her travel to over 15 countries for filming, which gave her an international perspective and vastly influenced her work. She’s also a founder of a female-exclusive educational community “mimosa” for beginner video editors. She had studied design for musical theatre in college, and is honored to be able to combine two passions; live theatre and videography, of her life in this project.

Riza Takahasi and Choreographer Darren Lee in the dance rehearsal before the filming. Photo by Saki Kawamura

DARREN LEE (CHOREOGRAPHER) Broadway credits include: Associate Choreographer on Pacific Overtures. Other New York productions include 24 Hour Musicals (Orchard Project), History of War (NYMF), Heading East starring B.D. Wong (Asia Society), The Report, Bronx Express (Fringe Festival), Hidden Sky (Prospect Theatre) and Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Celebration (New Amsterdam). He has choregraphed all over regionally, including Victor/Victoria (Ogunquit); The Music Man (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Miss Saigon (St. Louis MUNY, Paper Mill Playhouse) Herringbone starring B.D. Wong (La Jolla Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Shakespeare Festival); Up in the Air (Japan Festival, Kennedy Center) to name a few. Performance credits include: Broadway – roles in Chicago, Guys and Dolls, and the original companies of Allegiance, Shogun the Musical, Miss Saigon, Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews, Kiss Me Kate, On the Town, Seussical the Musical, Pacific Overtures, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Most recently Mr. Lee performed the King of Siam in the National Tour of The King and I.

JAY KUO (LYRICIST) Lyricist for Allegiance on Broadway. Other credits include: Upwardly Mobile, (writer and producer, Insignificant Others (winner of the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Original Script), Worlds Apart. In addition to composing, Jay has produced several shows on Broadway. Jay is also a graduate of the U.C. Berkeley’s School of Law and is an appellate litigator admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court. He has co-authored a best-selling memoir and currently is Chief Creative Officer at The Social Edge, a digital publishing and social media company that generates one of the largest sources of traffic on the Internet.

Website: https://www.celebrateasianjoy.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/celebrateas…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/celebrateasi…

Twitter: https://twitter.com/asianjoyproject

Support their future projects by donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/celebratea…

Support them by purchasing CAJ merch: https://celebrate-asian-joy.myspreads…

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. Click here for Cre8sianproject.com’s latest profile on Lia.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2021 Lia Chang Multimedia, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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