Who Do You Show Up For?

By Mas Moriya

Recently, I’ve been invited to many in person events, as i’m sure and hope you have been too. There’s something special about being in a venue with other people and showing up for your friends or colleague’s events. 

What do I mean by showing up? 


I believe in the value that when you show up for other people, you build honest relationships. This could mean showing up for work or showing up to their invites, or responding to their asks. It could be as little as showing up to respond to their e-mails or text. 


They say Hollywood is about who you know, it’s more about who knows you and if they like you. I could know a lot of people, but if that person doesn’t know me or knows me and doesn’t like me, then that doesn’t do me any good. I believe that showing up to people’s events, especially when they’ve invited you out, is the best way to get in touch with them and to meet other people. The more often I show up, the more apart of their community I become. I get to know them and they get to know me. 


When I shifted my career from being a photographer back to being a filmmaker, I knew showing up to meet others was the way to build my career. The more I showed up, the more often people get to know me and more likely they’re going to ask me to work with them or refer me to someone else. 

Monica Kang (Center right) and Friends at the Line Hotel, LA
Maria Gee (top left) and friends at 4th of July Hangout

But when I moved out to LA as the pandemic hit, my “break into Hollywood” strategy was completely stopped. No more in person events. No live shows. Not even breaking into the mailroom,  assistant’s desk, or production assistant position could get me into a room to meet anyone. I hadn’t broken into hollywood enough to have people let me work remotely. Much like many others, I was completely out of a job, but even worse, I moved back when I made a career change and not knowing enough friends to help me get back on my feet. 


There was no one for me to show up for. I was forced only to show up for myself. Which was fine, until now. I don’t want to show up for myself anymore, I want to show up for others.  


But I can’t show up for everyone, so how do I choose who to show up for?

Sometimes, I get to show up for people who are celebrities, or those who I hink are celebrities. But I don’t go to their events because they are celebrities or famous, I go because I want to go, or I want to support that person’s work. I especially make an effort when i’ve met them in person or over zoom. Other times, I just happen to be in the right place at the right time in the right situation. I see celbrities all the time, but I almost will never approach them, that’s just me. 


Either way I still show up. You don’t have to be famous for me to show up. I show up because I want to. Or I don’t show up not because I don’t want to, but that I have other things I want to do more. I do my best to show up for others. Not only is it a good way to meet them and meet others who know them, but I enjoy getting out of my one bedroom apartment and away from the computer screen. 



Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong from Giant Robot
Soju night with Brenda Hua (2nd from left) and William Lex Hex (far left)

There’s a magical thing about showing up for others. It feels good to help others. I do it all the time and I constantly seek out to help others. From as little as a phone call to calm nerves or guide careers, or as big as an on-site job. But there’s a limit of what I can do for free and a limit to how much time I can put into someone else’s project without putting my own career in jeopardy. 


It’s even difficult to justify reading screenplays without being paid to do it. I have so much to do that i”m already not paid to do, reading a screenplay is at least a full hour of my time that I’m not getting paid for when I could be sleeping or helping people at scale. For me to help one person at a time is impossible, and I must draw the line. 


I don’t show up for everyone’s events or say yes to everything they ask me to do, and there’s not a malicious reason that I go to one person over the other. Often times I’ll get two invites or asks for the same day at the same time, but what it generally comes down to is if I’ve built up good rapport with that person and if they’ve done me a favor. 

Other times, I get offered to go to an event or read a script, or watch a film from people who I’ve never met. Even worse, I get added to newsletters that I never asked to be on. The chance I’m going to that event for reading your script is very low. 


Think about it, if you were asked to go to 30 events a month, and read 15 scripts by people you don’t know, all for free, how many would you go to? Would you say yes to every person or would you say yes to yourself for a few of those days just to sit and relax? Which would you choose?


Showing up for yourself is just as valuable as showing up for others. You should be showing up for yourself. We all should show up for ourselves. 


I also think it’s important for us to show up for one another and to show up for the community, even when there’s no camera around to capture the moment. 

Akemi Look at Smorgasburg Los Angeles.

Personally, I don’t mind being invited to your events, or be invited to watch a screening, or anything that you’re doing. But I just can’t respond to everything, and I do my best to share your event, but i know this is not sustainable for me. That’s why I created the membership platform, so that you can share your events with others, so that they can show up for you, and you can show up for them. But don’t show up cause you want something from them, show up because you honestly want to support them or are honestly interested in what they’re doing. 


This is what I mean by Showing Up. 


So I repeat the question. Who do you show up for?



Thanks for reading. If you would like to show up for the next Strong Asian Lead event, our next meet up is July 20th, 2022, at 6pm in DTLA Arts District. Donation based tickets can be found at THIS Eventbrite link. 

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