I always thought I knew what it meant to bring “Empowerment through Entertainment,” but it was something I only knew by head, not by heart. However, as I spent a whole day with our 2013 show finalists in The Jungle recording studio, getting to know them on a personal level and seeing them work together to bring out their best for our promo video, I’ve realized, for the first time, how real the power of entertainment is.

The Jungle recording studio was a packed house as the Kollab Chi 2013 team and finalists took over. It was hot and crowded, and probably the last thing the finalists wanted was an obsessed staff member with a camera all up in their faces. Guilty, but I could not control my impulsive clicking of my camera. I mean, come on, I was in a room full of stars! I wanted to capture their every move and I could not stop admiring their talents. But aside from this, another thing that I was in awe of that day was seeing how these various Asian American artists from all over the Greater Chicagoland area were brought together to one place for one goal and seeing the passion and the joy in their eyes as they took ownership of their unique talents. In that recording studio, I saw our mission statement come to life right in front of me and I gained a greater appreciation for the performing arts.

Well, first of all, I would just like to send a round of applause, a pat on the back, and maybe even a kiss on the cheek to all our beautiful finalists who realized that their talent is too precious to just let it sit and be buried from the eyes of the world. Each talent is precious and it encompasses so much potential. It is something no one can take away and it is unique to whoever has possession of it. Talent should not be kept in private, but rather, be showcased. If it isn’t, it becomes a king without a kingdom, a car without an engine, and a diamond never discovered. It is when the talent is disclosed that it becomes entertainment, and entertainment has the power to bring pleasure and to bring people together.

Entertainment, I believe, is an outcome of one of the most selfless qualities of humans that we often dismiss. Entertainment can only exist because there are those willing to use their talents to bring joy to other people, and on the other side, there are those who can selflessly admire and respect others’ talents. The line between admiration and jealousy is very thin, but entertainment has the power to defeat jealousy to bring pleasure.

Looking at our finalists all gathered together in this small studio room made me think back to our auditions. In the audition room, something we asked most of our contestants were questions regarding their ethnic background and where they currently reside. We had some contestants who drove hours to audition, some who took the train, and some who just live right in the neighborhood.  Wherever they came from, they all represented their own Asian American community, whether it be the Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Mongolian, or other API (Asian and Pacific Islander) communities within the Chicagoland area.  It was amazing to see all these talented individuals pulled out of each of their communities to be brought together to that one place for a common goal.  And what’s even more amazing, in September, there will be a whole venue packed with members of each distinctive community, united together to support this movement to promote a stronger API presence in today’s entertainment and media. Kollaboration’s mission statement which before, I only knew by head, came to life in that small studio room, as I saw before my own eyes, the power entertainment has in bringing people together.

Talent is alive in Chicago, and that’s why I’m so proud to be part of Kollab Chi and part of this movement to empower the Asian American artists to pursue their dreams in the entertainment and performing arts industry.  We appreciate talent and we know the power it possesses. But we also know the limits it has. We know that without a stage and without the opportunity to present to the world what talent we have, this talent is as good as nonexistent. But as I experienced inside the walls of The Jungle recording studio, and as everyone will be given an opportunity to see for themselves in our 2013 show on September 28th, Chicago’s got the talent and it is raging to get out. We have the fuel, so Chicago, let’s light up the fire and embrace the power of entertainment!