Amy Hill - Interview Transcript
Masami Moriya: [00:00:00] Well, Amy, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. I’m super excited for this conversation,
Amy Hill: Great. Okay.
Masami Moriya: honestly, just here to hear you, your, your life story here. What you, you, you, come through over these years. I mean, even a working actress since the early eighties and probably before that in theater, I’m sure.
Amy Hill: Yeah.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, I’d love to hear about how you started within the industry. What got you into acting? you know, what, what, what brought you this passion to stay here?
I always wanted to act. I mean, I always, that was my, inclination. I just didn’t think there was a place for me. I never saw myself being in the movies that I was watching on television because nobody looked like. We all have that same thing. I think that nobody looks like us. So why would we be doing that?
so I just, you know, performed in my yard for the neighbors and, imagined myself doing something like that. But I would [00:01:00] never tell anybody. I never told my family. I never told my friends. It was all just something I did. And I think my family probably thought I was just weird and crazy. But, you know, it was something that I always wanted.
Amy Hill: And then, when I was in high school, I, I, went to drama. I went to the drama class and the teacher was really supportive. He said that I was good. Like somebody validated me. And I think from that moment, I was like, I’m all in, I’m all in. I started taking classes and joining, you know, theater things, and it was like, I was transformed.
Yeah. And I thought I would go to, Carnegie Mellon because Paul Newman went there and I thought that’s where I’m going to go. But then I also wanted to leave Seattle and travel. I loved language. So I had been studying Japanese, French, and Spanish for several years. And, my parents were like, cause my [00:02:00] mom’s Japanese from Japan.
She goes, you could go to Japan. And I was like, Japan. And then my dad who’s finished. American said, well, you can go to Finland. even more obscure Finland. So, I applied to a university in Japan and got accepted. So right after high school, I went to Japan. And then, because I’d studied theater and done things, I was able to sort of parlay that into becoming a tatin though.
So I started doing like, you know, stuff, they’re not acting, but, entertainer kind of things like, you know, television and radio. I had my own travel show on a radio. I did. I, you know, but I also taught English, but the problem was I fell in love with somebody. I fell in love with a Japanese guy, which, you know, as anyone knows you do that and you just, everything goes off the rails, all your plans gone.
So I stayed in Japan for another eight years [00:03:00] and,and I thought, you know, I forgot that. Wait a minute, I wanted to become an actor. So. it kinda was good that he wanted to get his master’s in psychology. So we moved back to San Francisco or we moved to San Francisco and I joined me, Asian American theater company there.
And that, that was the next transformation learning that we could tell our own story. we didn’t, we could cast ourselves in any way we wanted to. We didn’t have to wait for somebody else to say we were okay. it was huge. And those are the days that David Henry Wong was still at, at Stanford. Phil Congo, Tonda was still writing in, he was in the bay area.
And, you know, a lot of us were just learning how to do whatever we were doing. And it was really great because act American conservatory theater was sort of our mentor for everything. Yeah. And so I studied everything and I studied, theater. I studied classical theater. I [00:04:00] studied improvisational comedy.
I studied, I mean, I literally lived and breathed every everything. And,And, you know, life just sort of unfolds. If you just keep doing it, things pop up. Like, I never thought I never thought I would not make a living, but I, my living was very low. I had very low overhead. So if I made like $500 a month fine, I was like, okay, I didn’t, you know, spend money.
So, and then I slowly started making money, doing like little things here?
and there. And I had. Making a really good living in San Francisco doing voiceovers and, industrial film things and just weird stuff. And every once in a while, a television show would come into town or a movie. And I do like, we do things.
So, you know, then I was fine with that. I was happy doing theater, making a little money on the side and, but San Francisco is a small town, so I left. To, explore [00:05:00] new horizons. And I went down to LA not to like, get, have a career. I just thought I needed to work with different people. And then when I moved to LA, it was like, wait a minute.
All the good actors and directors and playwrights come here. Not all of them, but a lot of them come to LA to make a living. And they’re all hungry to do theater. So I was like walking, doing stuff with people that I was like, what you’re using, you know, there. So I felt challenged as an actor. And of course I was at east west players because that was.
New theater home and, you know, hanging out with Satoshi mono and Mako. I mean, these are actors that I saw on film and television and I’m like, they’re my peers. Yeah. So we were all hanging out together and it was so exciting. It was it again. And LA isle, everybody was so [00:06:00] embracing and welcoming and supportive and it was one.
Masami Moriya: I feel like the theater, the theater Asian-American theater scene has always has been there for a long time. Like I just, the in
Amy Hill: you’re so young.
Masami Moriya: I know.
Amy Hill: It just seems like yesterday. What a long time. That must mean I’m old anyway.
Masami Moriya: Well, it’s such a staple. And I feel like a theater was like the first place where Asian Americans could tell their own stories, right? The screen, the playwrights, the actors, that direction.
Amy Hill: well, What was great was like east, west players had a different mandate. They were there for the actors. So they were allowing Asian-American actress to have an opportunity to do classical classical stuff. They were doing Shakespeare and, you know, classical European plays as well as Japanese plays that had been translated.
So. The actors got an opportunity to really hone their craft Asian American theater company in San Francisco was for [00:07:00] playwrights. So they were telling their stories and actors were just there to. Support that. So as an actor, it was so wonderful to go to theater where the lines were already pretty established up to try to make it work. yeah. So as an actor now, I like now east-west is more of a hybrid where they have new plays as well as they will do time or Shakespeare or something else. So that works for playwrights as well as that.
Masami Moriya: What was the most challenging thing to, to either get yourself started or within. I don’t know what was the after you’ve made it to LA and, you know, to make that a living for yourself, was there a big challenge to get over or, something that you, had had to overcome?
Amy Hill: Well, you know, I was such a big fish in a little pond in San Francisco. I never. I had established myself. It’s a [00:08:00] tiny, it’s tiny San, Francisco’s a tiny little town, even if you include the east bay tiny. So everybody knew me, everybody w you know, I had, I had it. I was good. I was doing well. And then when I moved to LA, suddenly there were like casting people, thousands of agents, I didn’t even know how to get an agent. And, and I tried really hard and I ended up getting, agents through people that I knew in San Francisco. They contacted people and said, you know, you got it taking me, but it was a struggle. You know, it was like, I had to start from the beginning again. Nobody knew in LA, nobody knew who I was, nobody cared.
And I was weird, you know, I didn’t look. Like any of the classic parts that people were getting. I mean, I didn’t look like a, you know, in those days Asian-American women were generally like prostitutes or girlfriends or something. [00:09:00] I didn’t look good like that. I didn’t look like any of that stuff. I was always a character actor, so it was hard in the beginning.
I mean, I think that was one of the reasons that I started writing. My own stuff, because I’d had the experience in San Francisco. So I wrote a solo show for myself, but I never expected that it would become a huge hit or anything. I just needed to tell a story. And I, the only way I knew how to do it was theater.
So,because I knew so many people because I’d been in the Asian-American community. The, Japanese American cultural community centers said, I heard you had a solo show. And I said, yes, even though I didn’t, but I said, yes. And I wrote it real fast. And, but it was a story that I wanted to tell about my experience being in Japan and coming to terms with my identity, because being raised in Seattle being multi-racial, wasn’t so great.
And when I went to Japan, I became strong [00:10:00] in my identity. I mean, I think we all go through that. Who am I? Am I, what am I. And, then I felt like nobody could mess with me. Like, cause even in Seattle, J AEs, Japanese Americans would be like, well, you’re not, you’re half you, you know, I’m, I’m not fully, you know, evolved as a Japanese American.
So. When I came back, it was like, yeah, don’t mess with me. I can speak Japanese. you anyway, you know, I mean, I was more comfortable in my identity as Japanese American, for sure. And Asian-American then a lot of people who were trying to figure it out because, you know, for so many years we were kind of like told not to.
Be that to assimilate. So, you know, we were discovering ourselves anyway. I, yeah, so I did that show and that sort of opened up the doors and I didn’t even intend it to open up the doors, but it did because I found myself being, feeling [00:11:00] free to create my own work and to express myself,Well, honestly, and authentically, and you know, that always works.
That is a good thing to do. I tell everybody, you know, young kids nowadays, you don’t have to change a thing. You are the thing they’re looking for, but you just don’t know it yet.
Oh, no, I can’t hear you. What happened?
Masami Moriya: Oh, that was good.
Amy Hill: Okay. good.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. yeah. So it’s like learning about yourself, really being comfortable with yourself, understanding what, who you are and then like packaging it into in that
Amy Hill: Right. I mean, I think, young people now are much, well, I’m not sure, but I think young people now are much more comfortable in who they are and more proud of who they are. God
Masami Moriya: I think,
Amy Hill: say yes.
Masami Moriya: I mean, I mean, I haven’t gotten that far, but you know, it took me 25 years to get there
now. Right. Being mixed Japanese American myself, like I had to be told I was Asian. Like you’re, you’re a person of color.
Amy Hill: You’re like [00:12:00] what?
Masami Moriya: Right. Yeah, I’m really, I can be a part of that. And it was such a, an identity opener, that I had to go.
I was like, Marcus, my father, go say so I’m fifth generation. My father didn’t know anything. And so I had to go to the books and read things and talk to other people just to get a part of that identity. I’ve never been in Japan, my father hasn’t my grandmother hasn’t and so just being. Just aware of who you are, where you come from, where your family comes from, can be such, such a, a process, but then being able to channel that into art is what artists do.
Right? Understanding how has that built in becomes authentic, real, authentic storytelling, that give doesn’t need to make you feel fake. You can just be, and
Amy Hill: right. Yeah. I mean, I think all the things that we thought were,negative growing up are.
the things that make you. Really special and great. So when it’s hard to tell people that, [00:13:00] you know, it’s you look back and go, what the hell? What was I thinking?
Masami Moriya: was the show called? What was the
Tokyo bound. And then, it became a trilogy because people wanted me to write more.
Amy Hill: So then I did, beside myself, which was about my childhood and trying to figure out how I fit into my horrible environment. People were mean to me anyway, and then I, it was right after the riots. So it was also about me coming to terms with the. Racism and other ism that I faced as a child and how it had become part of me.
So I was now othering people and re and was unknowingly, unconsciously being racist. So I’d become the, the, the, the bad people. And I was like, horrified by that. And I tell you, when I do this show, people would be like, yeah, they’re with me. Cause they’re all like, you know, feeling like victims that when I [00:14:00] say, and then I was a victimizer, they were like, I’m not going there with you because I think in all of us, if we’re raised in this world, it’s so easy to succumb to those feelings.
You know, if, you know, if you’re in a dark alley and a black time is walking down the street, that he might hurt you, you know What I mean? So those are things you have to think consciously or even, you know, among Asians, how we can make assumptions about people, even though we were raised with Asians, like I know it’s just horrible.
So these are things that because of. When I was writing the show, I thought it was just going to be about me being so such a terrible childhood. And then as I’m writing it, I realized I’m also the problem that I need to be aware of that. And so those are things that I like when I’m writing to find out what it is that I’m actually writing about.
Cause I don’t know when I’m going in that this is what I’m writing about. So, and then the [00:15:00] third part of the trilogy is my mother’s story, which I didn’t know. I was writing about. Too. I mean, I, I had to interview my mother who had been taught, you know, how, I don’t know what your mother was like, but my mother did not shut up.
She was always talking about her life and herself and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And now I know, cause I haven’t done. Who also is like, mom, you talk too much. So I think I just tuned her out, but because I had to write a show?
I actually asked her questions and listened to her story. And so that was another gift of, I didn’t know where it was going, but it became a gift of how seeing her as a mother.
As a woman and as a woman who has reinvented herself through many adversary adversities, is that a word? Yeah.
Masami Moriya: yeah.
Amy Hill: Mike that she had, you know, she had a lot of stuff, [00:16:00] so it was really wonderful. And there were things in there that were things that I found out that weren’t so. nice. And, and I remember before I did the show, I said, do you mind I talk about this and this and this?
And she goes, Yeah. no, if It’s true. Okay. And I realized too, that, you know, many of us hold shame about things that we’ve done or w or we think, but if we’re honest about it, it allows people to not hold that shame. In themselves and in their lives and we can heal and move on.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. It’s like a coat, not a collective shame, but you know, I have my shame. You probably have
Amy Hill: we all we all do. I was thinking about it today. I thought, should I write that book now?
yeah, I think there’s, there’s, there’s a lot and I would love to, talk more about your, your mixed identity. I’m mixed too. And I feel like there’s a lot of,and it’s not talked about enough. And so was it, what was it like being an Asian American community [00:17:00] being mixed? I feel like there was less mixed people,
Amy Hill: Oh, yeah. When I was back in the day.
I was it until high school. And then I met somebody in high school who was. To hop a families. There was John and, John Williams and his brother, they were so good looking. They were really cute. And I remember his brother was talking once and he said, you know, when you’re mixed, you have a.
A larger gene pool. So generally we’re smarter and more good-looking and I was like, oh Yeah.
that’s right. You know, when you’ve tried to find something, that’s makes you special, better than other people, you know, there’s nothing like it, but you know, I’ve come to realize that’s not necessarily the case.
and then this other friend of mine who was Hoppa, which wasn’t a word, then you were just half in those days, we just called each other half. She was, she came from kind of a dysfunctional family. So she was strange anyway, so she [00:18:00] wasn’t all happy about being half, but she was more involved in the Japanese American community.
Amy Hill: She also, her mom was Japanese like Nisei. So there’s a whole nother bunch of stuff about the Nisei and the Sansei. Cause they got that history of camps and my so much stuff. So, Yeah.
her mom was. And may have been to camp. See, we didn’t even know about camp until I was in high school. All the friends that had, you know, families, they talk about camp.
We all thought it was like camp, like summer camp. We literally thought they had this wonderful time at camp cause they never emotionally. Talked about it. Like it was a bad thing. I think they would think about the good times they had in camp, like the singing and the sports and stuff. You’d never. And then you find out it’s like what? It was shocking. yeah.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, I think that’s a divide between the [00:19:00] post-war and pre-war Japanese Americans who I think there is, there’s a connection because we’re both Japanese American, but there’s also this disconnect because if like my family intergenerational trauma is very specific.
Amy Hill: It is. It’s so huge. And. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a complicated thing, especially in the Japanese and Japanese American community, the Japanese community. Cause I’m now sort of straddling both because I feel more connected to Japanese. Cause I didn’t have that camp experience. My mom’s Japanese from Japan and most of my, I don’t know, identity stuff happened when I lived in Japan.
So I feel more connected. Like I have a lot of Japanese friends from Japan. More than I will not have a lot of Japanese American friends too. But anyway, I have a lot of friends, but I always felt like not now, but in the, my youth, I always felt like the Japanese Americans did not accept me and they didn’t accept me.
And that lasted probably through [00:20:00] my early twenties, because I remember working with the, a filmmaker who had an office at the JCL and the ladies would always talk. Dirt about the cherry blossom queen contestants, because they were all Hoppa and they were like, they should not let them in the competition.
It’s just not fair. They should have rules. They could only be a hundred percent or, you know, like I’m standing right here. You know, you felt still that we were not pure to them in their eyes, that we had done something that our parents had done something horrible. But in Los Angeles, there was a much larger bi-racial Japanese, Caucasian, or Japanese African-American community.
So it felt much more,accepted in common. There. You know, as I wrote my first Tokyo bound, I remember that that [00:21:00] opened up this floodgate of a lot of people who felt that I had told their story, even though it was just my story specifically. Yeah.
And I didn’t realize how many people had had. You know, identity issues, multi-racial identity issues growing up.
So, you know, I was the poster child for a lot of, Asian American, or even multi-racial, groups in all of the universities across the country. I would go talk to them. I’m not an academic, so it was very sad. I would just be like, I don’t know this. That’s how I felt.
Masami Moriya: Oh a life experience. He can’t,
Amy Hill: I know. I know.
Masami Moriya: whole thing. Right.
Amy Hill: Yeah.
how, you know, what was been, I spend some of your biggest memories and biggest personal achievements.
Amy Hill: Well, I think my biggest personal achievement is. That’s solo show that I wrote because it was me writing it, performing [00:22:00] it, and it was going to be judged on its the story, which was my story. So I felt incredible pressure that on all those levels I would fail because you know, too many, too many factors in.
and because it made such an impact that was huge. And then it opened the door for me telling more stories, but also it opened the door for me commercially to be able to, you know, make some good money doing what I love to do. So I was able to start doing other things and I think,I mean, you know, it’s never an easy path being an actor or being a director of being any kind of creative in the business. But,you know, if you have a passion and you just follow it, it’s just such a cliche, but you’ve just, you know, you just have to forge ahead and it’s, and I think maybe that’s one of the strengths I have.
Amy Hill: Is [00:23:00] that being multi-racial this is going to sound terrible. There wasn’t a lot of. There wasn’t a lot of anticipation that I would do well in life. You know what I mean? I think my mother was told by one of her Japanese friends that they were, you know, they felt sorry for her, that she had these two kids that, you know, probably wouldn’t succeed because they were multi-racial and my mother was mad that she said that, but I think in the back of her mind, there was part of her that was like, Yeah.
how are they going to fair?
You know, this is the fear of. all parents, I guess that they’re always going to be challenges, but particularly in the United States, or even in Japan, if we lived there, the color of your skin, you know, where you come, the class, you come from, all these hurdles are in front of you. And you know, you never know if you’re going to be able to face them and overcome.
So I didn’t have any, I didn’t have big expectations. So everything that has happened is like, [00:24:00] wow, that’s cool. Well, that’s nice, but I’ve always been a hard worker and I’ve always tried to do really well. And that’s probably part of my cultural heritage. You said I I’m, I always know my lines. I always hit my marks.
I’m early. I always have a good attitude anyway.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, those are the
Amy Hill: big, things.
Masami Moriya: four big things that you just need to show up on time early, know your lines
Amy Hill: your lines
Masami Moriya: professional. It’s most of the
Amy Hill: be positive. So, but I have to say, I love living here. This is the, when I moved, when I first came to Hawaii, when I went back and forth to Japan. I just thought, why wasn’t I raised here? This is, this is my people who come here. No. Have you been to Hawaii?
Masami Moriya: a couple of
Amy Hill: yeah, Nobody says, what are you never? They just think I am there.
I’m there. Yeah. I’m here.
I have a question about, across ethnic actors. So if you’ve played so many different types of Asians over the years, and [00:25:00] now we’re getting into this world of authentic casting and being, you know, somebody shoppies American, like Jarvis American, or, you know, Koreans playing. What was it like playing so many characters?
Masami Moriya: I think over the years before it was really just not the biggest problem was we used to just have enough Asian-American actors to play these roles. So kind of filling in and, Phillip on with one of the first Korean Americans to play, play, cross out the acting. did you have a lot of trouble, with.
The community, just letting you play those roles are having trouble getting cast for certain roles, or did you feel, very connected to the Japanese American roles that you got to play?
Amy Hill: Well, you know, because I was in theater first at the Asian American theater company, I played many times. Character, I mean, many kinds of ethnic backgrounds, but I would approach them just I would approach as I would approach any part. I try to be as specific as possible. I remember one of my first, characters that I played, I done camp shows.
I played [00:26:00] Japanese American and they’re all different too. I mean, you know, you can’t just play one. Person for all the different things that you might do. I played immigrant Japanese. I played, you know, I always think of them as different people. And so I had to play a Filipina matriarch in a play. And I, I went to the film.
There’s like a Filipino theater. I mean, a film that’s cinema. San Francisco that I used to go to and I’d listened to them. I’d watch movies. I didn’t understand anything, but there’s like a physicality. There’s a way of speaking. There’s a, you know, there’s kind of a body language that exists. And I saw, I tried to do that.
And then I had it. I had Filipino friends. I’d been to the Philippines. It’s not like, I, I think if you are Philippines, It’s even better because that, you know, when you’re raised in it, you have like, you’re, you know, you’ve got the whole thing going on, but I did a great job and people came up and they were like, you know, [00:27:00] also where are you from?
Are you from Manila? And I’m like, no, I’m from Seattle. And then a few days later, like right after the show closed, somebody called the theater and said they were looking for somebody to be the voice of Philippine airlines. I auditioned, I got it. And I was the voice of Philippine airlines for 16. I fooled all the executives from Philippine airlines, but I think it’s because my name is Amy Hill. They automatically will try to figure out where, like maybe I’m married to a white guy or they don’t know. So when I was in dim sum, I was a Chinese daughter. I remember, I mean, so all through that, everybody thought I was Chinese for a while.
And then I did, you know, I mean, I try to be a human, a very solid human. So all the little things are just little bits and pieces that you sort of use to create a character. And then [00:28:00] when I was doing Margaret show, I had a woman that I followed around. She was so sweet and I had my own, Korean, cultural consultant who also helped me with my accent and everything.
So I, you know, I tried to be a specific to that. Although the core of that character on all American girl was my mother. So that was really a sort of an homage to my mom, but I had to change the accent slightly and do other things to her to make her more Korean. But, you know, I approach everything as specifically as possible.
And so far it’s worked. I haven’t had any, but I mean, I do. What’s weird is I think. The few times that I’ve had to audition for some Japanese character. And, you know, I lived in Japan for eight years. People asked me why I spoke English, how much Japanese thought I seem Japanese to them, people here like white directors, they’ll go, you don’t look Japanese.
And I’m like, [00:29:00] all right, so I can never get Japanese roles and I speak Japanese fluently. Yeah.
Oh, Well, that’s the luck of the draw.
Masami Moriya: will you play all the other characters? So, well, I thought I was, I was so confused, like, oh, shit background.
Amy Hill: tried hard. I mean, I really try hard. The only thing I think I’ve said no, to is, Tai Tai. Cause I have trouble with that accent and Thai Vietnamese and Cambodian those. And they also seem really tiny. I’m too big. I’m too large. Anyway, I’m probably wrong. I need to go and visit.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, it’s probably great places. I would love to talk about all American girl. I just recently, you know, came and watched it all went through the whole series.
Amy Hill: Oh, wow.
Masami Moriya: grandmother, I show him my grandmother now and she loves your character. She’s like, oh my gosh, that’s so great. And she would just watch it as he here watching TV all the time.
Just. Reminds me of her.[00:30:00] and that my dad, that’s John, my dad too. He says really great. so, but what was that experience like? I mean, it was one of the first sitcoms, as Asian American family. It was also so controversial and in both the Asian-American community with Austin through ABC, Being, you know, Margaret, she was the only Korean American.
There were so many problems here and there, but you know, when I watch it now, I’m like, this is just fun. You just forget about all the other stuff. It’s fun. It’s a sitcom. It was good. You’re just good fun watch. So we reflecting on it. What do you think about it today?
Amy Hill: Well, I think, you know, I think Margaret was really young and, She had too many voices around her saying, you know, this is what you need to do in order for it to be successful. And I think she just wanted to make sure the show stayed on the air. So she was willing to do anything pretty much to make it what she thought was palatable to [00:31:00] the middle America audience.
But she, I, you know, she, I know she didn’t have any issue with casting outside of the Korean community, but she wasn’t making, like, there was some weird articles saying that Margaret had made a decision not to have any Koreans in the show. Like nobody does that. It’s not like we haven’t had many people around.
you know, she was, she, her heart was pure, but the problem was Hollywood and they wanted to make a Cosby show. like, you know, hit with, an Asian American family. So there wasn’t anything specific if they had followed her humor and her stories, that would have been huge, but they were too scared to do that.
Amy Hill: And also in a weird way, the Korean community. You know, or mostly the Korean community. I think they don’t want to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be laughed at so in their minds, her standup [00:32:00] was also very difficult to swallow because it was very brash and, Tawdry, all things that made Margaret special.
She had a voice that was really specific, but you know, she was raised in San Francisco. Her parents owned like a gay bookshop that had in the bath gay porn. I mean, they were, this is the stuff that should have been on the show.
Masami Moriya: Yeah.
Amy Hill: know what I mean? That would have been specific, be specific. That’s the way to go.
They wanted to wash all that out, make her sort of a cute little college kid or something. I don’t know. So we were all sort of, and I was sort of left to my own devices, which was great because they were so busy trying to figure out all the other people, they just let me play. That was nice. Margaret was sweet.
And then they canceled the show. before we finished everything retooled. Because they thought Omar, they loved Margaret still. They retooled it and decided to make it like, [00:33:00] cause friends was so good, such a hit. So they did one episode at the tail end where I suddenly moved out of the house into my own apartment.
No, no, no, no. I stayed in the house, but nobody in the house ever came out again. I got in a bus and I would go to her apartment. Where she was a roommate with other young people. It made no sense.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, it was really weird. The ending was just, this is why.
Amy Hill: but it was like, Yeah.
that’s it. Let’s just copy another show with a bunch of white folks and make it like multi-year. I don’t know what the hell made no sense.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, I could see that, that, executive producer direction coming from the studio saying, let’s change it this way to, to follow our trend somehow and really just get
Amy Hill: all the
Masami Moriya: Asian story and
Amy Hill: ideas in the world. So yeah, I mean, it’s always going to anyway, Margaret Margaret has totally risen above [00:34:00] all that. She’s her own woman. She’s funny. She’s doing all kinds of great stuff. She’s, you know, she’s amazing.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, no, I think there’s so many big great people from came from that show, but you know, you’re here, we’re on the strong Asian legacies part and like you’re a legacy, right? You’ve been doing this for so long and you’ve paved roads for our generation to be, to have someone to look up to. But I think one of the things that I, as I discovered in just kind of.
Researching and just, loving Asian American cinema and television and entertainment, history. you know, we don’t know all these names. We don’t know people like yourself, like off the top of our heads on the tip of our tongues would just, you know, I want to pay homage to everybody. Who’s who’s done great work.
and who consistently working, you’re still working on your own Magnum PI right
Amy Hill: I am
Masami Moriya: Is that correct? Yeah.
Amy Hill: now I’m Hawaiian.
Masami Moriya: Yeah.
Amy Hill: But actually, I think I’m Samoan, but I’m not sure they keep sort of [00:35:00] changing my storyline, but it’s okay.
Masami Moriya: Oh, well, what’s, what’s some advice or some,things you want to pass down and share that you’ve learned in, in the decades you’ve worked in this industry.
Amy Hill: Well, I think I would. I would like to let people know that it’s okay to speak up on set. If you feel as though,what you’re working on, isn’t accurate in some way, but instead of. Just just try to come from a positive, like I have, you know, I look over all my scripts and all the things that I do on this show.
I don’t know. What’s, you know, accurate because I’m not Hawaiian, but I have my own personal cultural consultants that I, approach and pass things by and say, you know, this looks fishy. Is this good? And there’ll be, it’s fine. Or they’ll say, nah, so. But I always go in to the executive producer with an option.
[00:36:00] I don’t just say this is wrong. I say, how about if we do this instead? And you know, maybe because I’m old and I know how to write, and I know things, I know I don’t want to make more work for them. And they’re usually very happy to, you know, shift things around as long as you come in with another option or other options, like I think.
You know, all American girl, maybe it wouldn’t have worked in that case, but if, you know, if somebody had come in and said, how about if we take this tack instead of this? What if we did this and this and this instead, you know, instead of saying, oh, I mean, it would, it would, would it have hurt? Just come up with another idea?
Cause if that’s all they have, you know, and they don’t have. generally still the rooms are mostly non-Asian or not. diverse, it’s getting better. The rooms are getting much better, but, you know, the chances of a, an Asian American being [00:37:00] able to write for a white guy is much better than a white guy writing for an Asian American cause we have lived in their world all this time.
So we can imagine that a lot of times, you know, It doesn’t work the other way. So it’s like, bring us in, bring us in. We know this, we know your stories, we’ve lived your stories. We’ve watched your history. We know everything about you. People we can do, you, you can’t do us so easily. So, yeah, once that shift happens and I think the shift is happening, there are more Asian Americans.
Not Just doing. Asian-American stuff, but you know, people around succession and, you know, a lot of fancy shows those episodics writing, writing, writing, just writing, good writing. So just having people around will make a huge shift. Right. just be, just do it.
Masami Moriya: Just keep.
Amy Hill: Don’t focus on the things that are in your way.
Focus on the thing on the other side of that big [00:38:00] wall over there. Go there.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. You know, I talked to someone today and she was so worried. Cause someone else had brought up a project and went on deadline and stuff like that. Like look at their project. It’s just because that thing is happening. Doesn’t mean you can’t do yours. Doesn’t mean that yours is going to
Amy Hill: That’s the other thing, even in my day, like I’d write something and somebody said that was my idea. It’s like, I remember somebody was upset cause I was using a Blackboard. it was that like before the show was being done. So it was like a workshop. So I had a Blackboard instead of like real props and stuff and she goes, I had a Blackboard in my show and I went, you think nobody’s thought about Blackboard and writing? I did not steal your idea anyway, so Yeah.
there’s so many. And even if you do exactly the same thing, you’re never going to do it the same way. Anyway. It’s like, come on.
Masami Moriya: Yeah. And there’s so many Asian American stories that haven’t been
Amy Hill: Oh my God.
Masami Moriya: in the history it’s
Amy Hill: crazy to think how many there are out there. And then they keep doing, you [00:39:00] know, reboots.
Masami Moriya: Reboots and martial arts and wizards and stuff. And
Amy Hill: So many
Masami Moriya: like, we’re still,
Amy Hill: Yeah. I hope.
Masami Moriya: and we’re still Orienta lies. Right. And just magical creatures even showing. And she was still going back to China and going into the mystical land
are you writing?
Masami Moriya: I am.
Amy Hill: Good. Okay.
I finally got my manager, which feels really good. Someone who believes in the project and deal with that, but I got, you know, I didn’t win any screenplay contests, you know, I had to,
Amy Hill: Did you do that thing? Did you do that thing.
Where you going wow, big win. Why didn’t I win? Cause it seems like everybody’s winning those screenplay contest and I’m like, I never even heard of them, but that’s great. I mean, you have to, you know, the more people come on. The better chances of you coming up, you know, you have to just celebrate everyone.
Cause one time, one time it’ll be you. Or maybe it is already you. I don’t know anything.
Masami Moriya: Oh, no, no. I mean yet. well, one day, [00:40:00] but like, I think it’s the whole point of what we’re doing here at strong Asian lead. And, our, their upcoming platform is like, well, as much as I might have my manager or I’m, even if we do make my screenplay, right, we got to, what are we doing to help the community?
Not by me breaking the barrier. It’s really just how. Organizing together, how are we sharing resources? What are we doing to come and build a community so that we can build our own industry or build our own table and let people in. But if we’re just going to, if I’m just going to only self satisfy myself, there’s no, that’s just not, not as helpful.
It’s helpful to me, but it’s like we, we can work together. And I think coming from like a political, a little bit of political background and grassroots, it’s like understanding that we have more power together than we do if we’re just going to try for
Amy Hill: right.
Masami Moriya: And I think that’s the great
Amy Hill: There you go. We have more power together. said it in
Masami Moriya: Do you have. Did you ever have those kinds of moments, you know, [00:41:00] building union, the theater company, when your Heather had to other actors and just had a community of people, or did it feel separated or,sharkish where people were just didn’t want to work
Amy Hill: in San Francisco, there was more of a sense of sharkish. There was no industry, so I don’t know what they were doing. you know, but in LA I’ve never, I’ve always thought. Especially, you know, cause I was a part of east west. The people really, really held each other up. They, it was, it’s such a, it is a really wonderful community of actors and creators that want each other to do well.
So, you know, that’s really wonderful here in Honolulu. It is a different community because there really isn’t an industry here. I mean, there are shows that are shooting here, but, I think it’s starting to happen. Hawaii international film festival, has just started a project with local filmmakers that are telling their stories.
It’s [00:42:00] sort of a anthology kind of thing where each one is telling their own story around a one single event. But,
just working with them. You know, it’s exciting because there is real talent here. It’s just finding a way to have them tell their stories or be their most powerful selves as creators. So. I look forward to that.
I mean, I’m now sort of heavily into this community and trying to get the young people because everybody’s younger than me, you know, sort of moving forward into a powerful place.
Masami Moriya: How are you, how are you doing that? How are you championing them to do that? Are you
Amy Hill: Well,
Masami Moriya: actually actively working with them where.
Amy Hill: Well, I was working with, some of the, you know, Daniel Dae. Kim is really involved with a lot of stuff here cause he does live here now. you know, he works out of other places, but he’s here a lot and he’s really, incredibly supportive financially and physically there. So, you know, I try to be [00:43:00] physically supportive, like, you know, workshops and things like that, but also, you know, Physically go to every show that I can go to and support them, the actors.
I mean, it’s a very, they get very excited when I show up. It’s very nice, but I also want them to say, you know, this is worth seeing, this is worth doing what you’re doing is valuable. You are worth something. So those are things that I try to,you know, pass on as much as possible. So, yes I am. And weirdly
Masami Moriya: that going?
Amy Hill: it’s hard. It’s hard. Cause I don’t really, it’s a real solitary, you know, it’s not like it’s lonely and then you, you spend a lot of time. I mean, I’d been in workshops with, lots of different writers and stuff and what’s nice to know is that. People that you admire feel the same way you do all the time.
Wow. This is shit. What am I doing this? Nobody’s going to listen to this. Nobody cares about, you know, you have to spend a [00:44:00] lot of time,talking yourself into writing
Masami Moriya: How do you get past that?
Amy Hill: or you just, you just have to write.
Masami Moriya: You just
Amy Hill: You just have to write, you just have to write no matter how crappy it looks to you just keep going.
Cause what’s weird is you look at it like months later and you go, wow, this is brilliant. You may look at it.
and go, Oh, I was so good. You know, like anything it anyway, just don’t you just gotta get up and you have to just keep writing. And then at some point, hopefully something will get. I like deadlines though.
If I have a deadline I’m much better.
Masami Moriya: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. I think my Andrew was like, oh, give me the next 20 pages. Just don’t do the whole thing. Just we’ll start at 20. So then you don’t have to do the whole thing. And it still took me a month, month and a half.
Amy Hill: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Masami Moriya: It was just like, was mostly like copy paste from
Amy Hill: Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Masami Moriya: oh, it took me 20 minutes.
But, yeah, I think there’s a, it’s just doing it sometimes and figuring out when you’re, when you can. do you. Do you feel like the industry has changed [00:45:00] in a really great way or do you, and there’s obviously still more work to do, but do you feel about it today?
Amy Hill: Well, I think with the. With the advent of streaming services and YouTube, and I mean, all these different venues platforms, it has changed because people are able to, self produce at the very least for little to no money, you can create content. and that makes a huge difference. So it is about just, doing.
If you have a story to tell you don’t have to wait for a Kickstarter, go fund me or anything for lots of money. You can just do it with your iPhone. Quality sucks. But I mean, picture it, you know, I think the most important thing is sound sounded lighting.
Masami Moriya: Oh, yeah.
Amy Hill: Oh my God, I can’t listen to, they can’t be in the dark either. But, you know, I mean, you can do [00:46:00] anything. There’s so much freedom now. So I think we have to, again, not think about what the obstacles are, but you know, what is your intention of.
Masami Moriya: Hmm. Where do you find your inspiration to either write or.
everywhere. I mean, I think, just be a part of the world, be in the world. I remember years ago when I was doing improv sketch comedy,I was. I had a little notebook that teacher said, you know, carry a notebook and just write down thoughts or, you know, look at characters that you see that intrigue you or, you know, whatever.
Amy Hill: So those are things that I still do. I mean, just moving through the world, I’ll be talking to somebody and they’ll say something funny to me. I think that turn of phrase is good and I’ll write it down. Or, you know, I mean over here, conversations just, and all the, playwriting classes, same thing, you know, the little exercises you do when you just sit in the park and listen to people, talk, and you know, there’s all kinds of play.
It’s just the world is, is [00:47:00] there for you to inspire you? And some things are only meant for like sketches. They don’t go very far. You have to know the difference sometimes. And then sometimes, you know, it leads, it leads you on a path. A lot of times I just have a question and a question will make me right.
Cause I want to know what the answer might be. And it might not be the answer that I think, and it’ll go in another direction and then that’s kind of cool that it opens up that way. So it’s like part of it. Learning to open yourself up. And that’s for acting too, is that you study everything, you know, what you think you’re going to do, but then being open in the moment to be able to change it, you can’t change the lines. Writers don’t like that, but you can change how you, how you, you know, react to whatever somebody gets.
Masami Moriya: no, I think that’s great. And I think, you know, reaction is the biggest
Amy Hill: know.
Masami Moriya: tell for actor
Amy Hill: Yeah. Jimmy Cagney said that he said acting is reacting and I went,
Masami Moriya: Yeah.
how’s your kind of closed up. I know we’re a little over, so we’ll kind of [00:48:00] wrap it up a bit, but you know, being on legacy, you yourself, you know, you’ve already left for me. You’ve
Masami Moriya: left a
Amy Hill: thank you.
yeah, I think it’s just, you know, I see work. I I’ll see, watch something like up there. There she is.
but is there a legacy you would like to leave?
well, you know, the, the fortunate or unfortunate thing about television and film is that it’s there forever. guess that would be a legacy in some fashion. You know, I look forward to being able to do something. I worked this last spring during hiatus. I did a film with Lois Smith who was 91 and she just won a Tony on Broadway, 2 91, and she was bright.
Amy Hill: And. Curious and full of life. And I just thought, that’s what I want. And so I hope between now and then I will have created cause I, you know, I think I’ve done. Okay. But I don’t know if I’ve done. [00:49:00] My best work has always been on stage. And that is a femoral seeing how brilliant I can be. No, but I’d love to have the option or the opportunity.
To leave something behind on film and television that you know is memorable. but you know, I have a daughter too, so I think that’s a good legacy. Yeah,
Masami Moriya: that’s a good answer. You don’t feel like you’ve, you know, you have a, you’ve left a role on TV or film. That’s not a, that’s something you’ve you’ve hit hardware yet.
Amy Hill: No. I mean, I loved working. My favorite role was on all American girl playing grandma because that was like my mom. So it was sort of a, you know, homage to her and that’s lovely, but you know, and I’ve done good work on television and film, but I don’t know if. Has made an impact on anybody. So, you know, it’s one of those things you go, I’m done, I’m out, you know, what did they call it?
The journeyman [00:50:00] actor. I’m a journeyman actor. I go in,
Masami Moriya: What’s a journeyman
Amy Hill: well, somebody who goes in and,does a good job. And I think sometimes I may be better than good, but you know, I don’t think myself, I think of myself as. Although I do think of myself. I could, if I had the opportunity, I could do something really spectacular, but you know, generally I don’t have that opportunity to do anything super spectacular.
We’ll see. I don’t, I don’t think it won’t happen because things are opening up.
Masami Moriya: What would that, what would that role feel like and what would that, where do you, where would you see that
Amy Hill: I think the role?
would be something that would scare me. So it would be one of those that I go, oh God, I don’t know if I could do that. And then I say, yes, that’s the one.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, well, you got so much energy and he was her bright and I think
going to live up to that 91.
Amy Hill: I am going to live to 91. Thank you.
Masami Moriya: Thank you. Well, Amy, this has been a true [00:51:00] pleasure. thank you for spending so much time with me today and.
Amy Hill: Well, thank you for inviting
Masami Moriya: I’ve it. Hasn’t been great. And we’ll definitely have you back in some other, other time or place, but, you know, I just really wanted to appreciate and spend some time with you today and thank you for your work.
Amy Hill: Well, Thank you. And good luck. Keep me updated on whatever you’re doing. Okay.
Masami Moriya: Yeah, we’ll do for
Amy Hill: Okay. Bye.
Masami Moriya: I think bye. Okay. We’re gonna keep it here. Stay here for me.