From filmmaker & photographer to thought leader, Masami Moriya dedicates his life to changing Hollywood for Asian Americans
Masami’s journey into nonprofit entrepreneurship began after the 2016 election. His frist business was Rogue Photo, a nonprofit photography agency pairing photographers with nonprofits. It took a fellow activist to help him reflect on his identity and discover his Asian American roots and the history of Asian America.
When he returned to storytelling as a screenwriter he saw the systemic issues of hollywood and needed to find a better way than applying for contest and fellowships. After developing a “Sensei Strategy” method to signing with a manager, he skipped the submission process and took control over his career. Now he wants to teach others how he did it so that they can take control of their careers too.
Strong Asian Lead became the foundation by which he could share that mission and change the way Hollywood sees Asian Americans. Teaching Asian Hollywood history, podcasting, and clubhouse became a way to connect with the community. To build a deeper connection with the entertainment community, Asian Film Network was born to solve many problem into one solution.
While Strong Asian Lead and Asian Film Network are Masami’s flagship foundations for the community, his creative goals are to tell epic family dramas through Japanese American history.
What Can Masami do for you?
Born while the industry faced an 'existential crisis'
Hollywood is all about who you know and who knows you, but if you’re an unknown and not able to be on set to meet new people, it’s difficult to move up within the industry. The next best thing is online screenwriting contests. However, the odds that an Asian American wins a screenwriting contest are slim to none.
The chances that a screenwriter making it into the few screenplay contests solely for Asian Americans are <1%. Mas knew that if he were going to make it into the industry, that screenplay contest would not be the way in and there had to be another way to get his historical story made to teach the public.
What he found was that there was a lack of resources to move himself forward or any of his Asian American peers.
That’s when Strong Asian Lead was formed.
Built from a laptop in his parent’s garage during the height of the pandemic, Strong Asian Lead started with two cofounders, Emi Lea Kamemoto and Masami “Mas” Moriya taking weekly zoom calls that lasted 3 hours each. They knew the industry was broken and a solution needed to be found.
As they continued to hone in on the business plan and how we were going to grow, Clubhouse became a place for them to discuss the issues of the industry with peers and new collaborators. They met with other leaders and big names because of Clubhouse. It was their first big break!
But when burn out set in, and the Atlanta shootings traumatized the country, Emi left the organization to pursue her next passion. With full time effort and a few volunteers, Mas continued to double down into Strong Asian Lead and lay the foundation of the organization.
A few months later, Masami signed with his first manager, proving his strategic plan successful to get himself represented as a screenwriter without winning any contests.
With what he had learned from community organizing, careful career choices, and dedication to the craft of storytelling, Strong Asian Lead was built on the basis that educational resources should be made easily accessible for everyone to make their careers in Hollywood. Strong Asian Lead’s mission is to build a platform in which the Asian, Indian, Pacific Islander, and West Asian communities can work together to build a new entertainment industry without barriers of access.