A Slanted Life

I wrote a one-woman show SLANTED many years ago about growing up as an overweight Chinese American girl in FL.

The show opened with this:

8 YR. OLD ANDREA

“Allah? Ama said if I ask, you will give so when I grow up, I want to be a skinny white American girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. I want everyone to like me. And I want that pink bicycle, the one with the flowers on it. And those gold knickers, the ones that go up to here like Erica has in school. (Bends down in prayer pose) Oh, and please give my family and friends good health and happiness. (Bows her head but then remembers) And I don’t want to be a Chinese Muslim anymore, I want to be Catholic…”

ANDREA (NARRATION)

It was 1983 in Ft. Lauderdale, the Spring Break capital of the world. Everyone was tan, skinny, and hot but above all, just down right white and beautiful. Then there was me. I was the first child in my entire ancestry to be born in America. You’d probably all call it good luck, but I felt like I was a fuckin’ catastrophe in waiting ‘cause in the middle of this paradise, I was born into a short, stocky, yellow colored, wacky family living in a one-story red brick house. From the outside, things looked pretty normal, but as you entered my house, you couldn’t help but notice the tug-of-war between old Chinese culture and new American opportunity especially in my mother’s domain, a state-of-the art classic seventies bright yellow kitchen which smelled like Panda Express.

So, of course, being Asian AND fat…well, let’s just say, I endured some horrible name calling and felt like an outcast, which lead to more issues:

ANDREA (NARRATION)

That was the end of bringing my mother out in public. She deserved to be punished so I’d give her the silent treatment.  I’d turn the TV volume to the max to tune her out, but her God-given voice could never be ignored…

Jin May aka “Ama” massages her face and pats her neck, while watching Andrea.

JIN MAY

Massage your face, that way not wrinkles. Pat your neck, no double chin…Are you watching Genital Hospital? It’s so loud. Can you hear me, can you hear me?

ANDREA

How can I not hear you?

JIN MAY

Oh, hello. How was school today?

FLASHBACK: DAY IN THE SCHOOL CAFETERIA

BRANDON

Hey Andrea, whatcha mom make ya for lunch? Ching-gong-ching-gong, bok choy, looks like fried chicken feet to me! Ya know, I was talking about you’s to my grandfather last night.  We were sayin’ how all of you’s look the same, can’t even tell the difference, ya know? Black hair, big faces, yellow skin, your eyes are so small, we can’t even see ‘em. That’s a nice Gucci purse… 

Brandon snatches Andrea’s purse.

ANDREA

(Tries to grab it) Give me back my purse!

BRANDON

(Taunting) You fat Mongolian, you ugly Mongolian…

ANDREA

I’m not Mongolian!

BRANDON

…You fat Mongolian, you ugly Mongolian…

ANDREA

Give it back! (Snatches it back) I didn’t do anything to you!

Andrea runs to the bathroom and purges a little of her mother’s food.

PRESENT TIME:

ANDREA

School was okay.

JIN MAY

You make nice friends yet to have over here?

ANDREA

Some, but I’d rather go over their house.

JIN MAY

Oh. What you want for dinner? You tell me, I make. (Crosses to the kitchen and puts her apron on) I make you fung, noodles, sugee, gumba. You tell me, I make.

ANDREA

(Opens the refrigerator) I want McDonald’s.

JIN MAY

McDonald’s? Why you want McDonald’s? I cook such good food…

ANDREA

…Because that’s what I want. (Takes out a food container) I want a quarter pounder with cheese and french fries and an apple pie. 

She puts the container back and slams the refrigerator.

JIN MAY

(Takes off her apron) Okay, we eat McDonald’s tonight. 

Food became such a comfort for me. And I didn’t have much luck with boys. And unfortunately, my eating disorder continued…

ANDREA (NARRATION)

We arrived to the dance and stepped into this grand beach side hotel. The ballroom was filled with pastel colored balloons floating in the air.

She sees Nonie and Rina.

ANDREA

Hey, there’s Nonie and Rina!

ANDREA (NARRATION)

It was time to strut our stuff on the dance floor…Hit it!

Nonie, Rina and Andrea are dancing to their favorite song, “You Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. Andrea is off beat the whole time.

ANDREA

Rina, tell me the truth. Do I look fat?

RINA

No, Andrea. Your diet worked, you look great.

ANDREA

Do you see Lou anywhere? I don’t see him anywhere, have you guys seen him?

NONIE

I think I saw him near the bathroom. 

ANDREA

Okay, I’ll be back. 

She walks away through the crowd.

ANDREA

(To fellow party people) Excuse me…Hi..Oh, thanks…

She overhears a guy JIMMY talking to LOU in the bathroom.

JIMMY

So Lou, are you gonna fuck Andrea?

LOU

(Pushing him) Hell yeah. I’ve never fucked a Chinese girl before. (Fixes his bow tie) Do I look okay?

ANDREA (NARRATION)

In that moment, I wanted to go back and ask the one thing I never did.

IN A DREAM-LIKE SEQUENCE, SHE TURNS TO HER MOTHER AS A LITTLE GIRL:

ANDREA

Ama, what do I say when they make me feel bad about myself?

JIN MAY

Sweetheart, just smile big and say, Nee Jigou Wong Ba Dan, Nee Che Da Bein Sze Deeyou. 

Andrea comes back to reality where she just heard Lou’s words. She walks away and bumps into people.

ANDREA

(To fellow party people) Sorry…so sorry…

ANDREA (NARRATION)

And I didn’t feel like a princess anymore. I left the dance early and back at home, I had this void in myself that I needed to fill. 

Andrea opens the refrigerator.

ANDREA

I filled it with massive amounts of food…Chow fun, beef bao, chicken fried rice, lichee. 

She purges in the bathroom toilet and stares at her face in the mirror.

JIN MAY

(Knocking) What are you doing in there?…Are you sick?…Let me in, I can help you!

ANDREA

(Covering up) No! I mean yes! I mean I’m sick, just wait a second! I think I ate something bad. Hold on… hold on! (Opens the door) Hi.

JIN MAY

Hello. You look tired, your face all red, you okay?

ANDREA

Yeah I’m fine, I’m just tired, I’m gonna go to bed.

JIN MAY

Wait, I have questions. How was dance and is Lou your boyfriend now?

ANDREA

No, he’s not my boyfriend. Guys don’t date girls like me. Do you ever see mixed couples around here? If you do, everyone stares at them. Why would a guy want me when he could have an American girl?

JIN MAY

Because you are more special. You are different.

ANDREA

Then they’ll just want me because I’m different…

JIN MAY

No, that’s not what I mean…

ANDREA

I don’t want to talk about it. Good night. 

Over the following years, I grew to appreciate my ancestry and everything my parents went through to get to America. I was proud of being Chinese and when I moved to LA, well, I felt right at home! 

The show ended with this:

ANDREA (NARRATION)

And I knew that it would never end, that there’d always be somebody out there ready to knock me down, making me want to raid the fridge and run for the toilet…But I try my hardest not to because I am not going down like that…But I do cry and I kick and scream at the world until I am physically exhausted…And now I see myself as I truly am and I am flawed and I am imperfect, and that is what makes me beautiful…And I hope that day will come when I can face my worst demon in the eyes and in a loud and clear voice, say what my mother had taught me: NEE JIGOU WONG BA DAN, NEE CHE DA BEIN SZE DEEYOU… Which in translation means EAT SHIT AND DIE ASSHOLE. Now that, would make my mother proud.

The show was a very therapeutic and lovely experience. I have been able to face my worse demons and tell a certain few off in my adult life! And I’ve been able to keep the story alive in adapting it into a TV pilot and a web series. Now, I’d be lying if I said I’m 100% secure of myself everyday. It’s still a battle and I struggle with everything. But no matter what the day brings, I can say that I love who I am inside, and I’d rather be me than any other person on this earth.  


Andrea Lwin | Los Angeles, CA | USA

Andrea Lwin is an actress/writer living in Los Angeles, CA. Aside from credits in both film (Underground Comedy Movie 2010 with Adrien Brody, Mini’s First Time with Alec Baldwin) and TV (90210, Party Down, So Notorious, Alias), Andrea’s most proud body of work is her highly praised autobiographical one-woman show, SLANTED. With producing partner/director, Cristina Anderlini, they have co-created the adaption of SLANTED into a web series (LA Web Series Outstanding Achievement Awards, Rising Star Award at the Women’s International Film Festival) and a TV Pilot (Slamdance Finalist).  

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