If you tuned into Ryan Murphy’s fantastical series Hollywood on Netflix earlier this year, you got to see some of the backstory of Hollywood actress Anna Mae Wong. While (spoiler alert) liberties were taken with portions of her story, one fact solidly remained true; Asian talent in Hollywood remains sorely underrepresented. Thankfully, filmmaker Quentin Lee and comedian Kit DeZolt are about to change that with the premiere of their new series Boy Luck Club. The show focuses on six gaysian best friends who get together weekly on Friday night for Zoom cocktails, helping each other navigate their way through quarantine.
The unscripted show is set to premiere on Sunday October 11, 2020 on National Coming Out Day, The first season will release an episode every Sunday for eight subsequent weeks following the premiere. Totally unscripted and entirely improvised, the conversation between the stars of the show truly leave anything up for possibility. As Boy Luck Club launches, I caught up with the co-creators to speak about finally having some solid LGBTQ Asian representation, what it was like creating landmark content during quarantine, and how co-creator Quentin Lee is paying tribute to Anna Mae Wong in his own distinct way.
Michael Cook: Can you both tell me how Boy Luck Club came to fruition?
Kit DeZolt: Over lunch with our shared desire to bring Asian American LGBTQ+ stories to life, we stumbled upon mixing both Quentin’s extensive filmmaking background and my improv background to create Boy Luck Club.
Quentin Lee: As we’re Facebook friends, Kit and I met for lunch wanting to know more about each other’s work, and I was inspired by Kit being an improv actor. I proposed to Kit about making an improv television show on Zoom as I really enjoyed shooting on the platform with Comisery, my last Zoom feature. I also saw Kit performing in his web series Homework, which was entirely an improv show. I had this idea to have KIt play the glue of the group and he put the cast together… and two weeks later we shot the pilot.
MC: What is it like premiering on a site like AsianAmericanMovies.com? This is truly the kind of representation the Asian-American community has been needing.
KD: As someone who grew up in a predominately non-Asian city of Loxahatchee, Florida into an all Caucasian family, I wasn’t exposed to Asian American content in my formative years, so it’s great to see a channel that brings Asian American narratives to the forefront.
QL: I started filmmaking in 1992 fresh out of graduating from Berkeley because I wanted to make gay Asian content as there was none then. I made my first short To Ride a Cow with myself and my friends as actors that got me a lot of film festival exposure. Twenty eight years later, having become a more diverse filmmaker and started AsianAmericanMovies.com, I still haven’t seen that much gay Asian content out there with the exception of my works and Andrew Ahn’s. Now, there are so many out gay Asian actors like Kit so I wanted to create a show that could showcase them.
MC: Tell me about Boy Luck Club. Are we seeing an Asian/gay Sex and the City type show?
KD: Boy Luck Club is your hang time with gay best friends. Each week we see this friend unit hold their weekly Friday night hang in the midst of the pandemic. Each episode is improvised, so you never know what’s coming next.
QL: It’s based on an idea for a television series I have about a few gaysian friends who would get together at one friend’s house in West Hollywood before clubbing… and they would never end up going out because of drama of one kind or another. Meeting Kit during the pandemic made me think that it would be perfect to set the show during the quarantine on Zoom.
MC: Gay Asian American representation is not nearly at the level we need it to be. Why do you both think that is and how can we change it?
KD: There is always a need to bring more awareness to POC voices in general. I personally believe the model minority myth serves as a hindrance for bringing specifically Asian American voices due to the idea that Asian Americans are self sufficient. Queer issues have been a taboo subject within many Asian American communities, so the idea of bringing it to life on screen is often shied away from. LGBTQ stories have always faced a struggle making their way into the conversation, but thankfully it looks like this is a good year for more LGBTQ content to find its home. Change starts within each one of us, whether for some that means embracing the idea of inclusion and equity, where for others it might mean going a step further and asking how to invite these narratives into everyday conversations.
QL: As I discussed earlier, twenty eight years later after I became a filmmaker it was only myself and a couple other filmmakers telling gay Asian stories. We need more writers, directors and producers willing to take chance on telling more gay Asian stories now.
MC : Kit, as an adoptee, that aspect of your life adds a different layer on creating Boy Luck Club. Can you elaborate?
KD: The idea of a chosen family is key within the LGBTQ + community, and in the projects I have a hand in creating, I always like to bring adopted and fostered stories to life in a comedic manner. Each week, Boy Luck Club likes to highlight some social issues and adoption will make its way into one of the latter episodes.
MC: Quentin, representation for LGBTQ Asian Americans was always a passion. What does it feel like to finally be seeing that dream realized?
QL: I was just talking to a studio executive and I told him it was very freeing to make things like Boy Luck Club that doesn’t need financing or external approval. It’s very satisfying to be able to make exactly what you believe in as an artist.
MC: For both of you, what are your favorite parts of collaborating with the other?
KD: I’ve been a fan of Quentin ever since I saw Ethan Mao, when I was younger, so the ability to work with such a powerhouse within the Asian American LGBT film community has been a dream. Coming from primarily a performer’s background and working with Quentin, it’s like getting a master class in producing.
QL: The improv genre is completely new to me so I’m having so much fun learning from Kit and the actors about how compelling content can be made from improvisation. And really having a lot of fun working with Kit.
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A fun project yesterday. Did my own make up given the fun times we live in. Makes me miss real makeup artists, I just made my self look like a shinny mess. (Note to self get powder or rice paper) Oh well, glad to get a chance to play, looking forward to seeing how it turns out #backtoplaytime #joysofquarantine #makeup #indieproject #playtime
MC: What is next for you both?
KD: Hopefully create a fun series that resonates with people. In this time of a pandemic we all need to laugh every once in a while, and hopefully we can be that friend that makes you giggle.
QL: Well, I’m on post for the documentary short Searching for Anna May Wong that I’ve been producing for three years. The film about Asian actors in Hollywood features Hollywood luminaries such as Sandra Oh, James Hong, Tzi Ma, Jake Choi and up and coming actors such as Ludi Lin, Lance Lim and Natasha Tina Liu. I’m looking forward to it finally getting done and having the theatrical release for Academy qualification from Nov 20 to 26 at a Laemmle theater in Los Angeles. Right now, I just have a lot of work.
MC: How have you been staying inspired and creative during quarantine?
KD: For me, I’ve been working with a few different improv and sketch comedy teams creating content through virtual zoom shows.
QL: When the pandemic started, my ex-professor sent me an article about how Newton kept being productive and used his time wisely working at home during a pandemic. Inspired, while staying safe, I really never stopped working and kept developing and making content. I also got trained as a COVID compliance officer on set. So far the result have been my Asian American sci-fi comedy Comisery, the first gaysian TV series Boy Luck Club, and finally finishing up Searching for Anna May Wong.
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For more information, head over to BoyLuckClub.com