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About Us > How NAAP Began

National Asian Artists Project is the result of many years of working, observing, discussing, and dreaming. In the professional careers of Baayork Lee, Steven Eng, and Nina Zoie Lam, there had been much to experience as theatre artists of Asian descent: Baayork as a highly-regarded director/choreographer/dancer on Broadway, Steven as an actor/singer on the West End, and Nina Zoie as an actor/dancer on Broadway.

Throughout their many projects, independent and collective, they saw and encountered the same dilemma. With the relatively few well-paid professional jobs that existed for any theater artist, prospects were even more dismal for an artist of Asian descent.

Since 2004, when Baayork directed the national tour of THE KING AND I and brought on Steven and Nina Zoie to assist, they had watched numerous Asian/Asian-American theatre artists enter and leave the profession from lack of opportunity. Even the children from THE KING AND I tour (mostly hired from an exhaustive Chinatown search) found themselves returning to lives without theatre, despite expressing strong interest in the arts.

To take on these concerns, Baayork with Steven and Zoie started a summer Chinatown musical theater program for kids and gave opportunities to sing, dance, and act (with a little Shakespeare thrown in the mix). Also, with subsequent professional directing assignments, Baayork advocated employment opportunities for fully qualified Asians artists onstage and offstage, when appropriate to the production.

With so many complex issues to confront, they decided to organize in a unified voice, becoming National Asian Artists Project. As an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, they continually seek to bridge diverse communities with the outstanding work of professional artists of Asian descent to inspire children and adults and bring them to the arts, as well as the art into them.

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