KAs@Work: Cat Chung of Kollaboration NY

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KAs@Work is a new series that profiles Korean Americans and their jobs. Want to share what you do, or know of people with interesting jobs? Get in touch.

Cat Chung may have only been in New York for two years, but she already thinks (and speaks her mind!) like a true-born New Yorker. We caught up with her to hear how she got her start working with Kollaboration NY and what it means to be a Korean American in New York today.

What do you do?

I work full-time in entertainment ad sales at Turner Broadcasting and serve as the executive director of the New York extension of a non-profit organization called Kollaboration. Kollaboration is an annual talent showcase and movement that seeks to empower the Asian American community and help launch rising APA artists into mainstream entertainment. I also do freelance marketing, PR, event-production, and graphic design.

Based off of your extensive resume, you have had a lot of experience in marketing and PR. How has social media changed the direction of your industry?

Social media is the new wild west. The landscape is constantly evolving with innovation, trends, and technology. Social media has changed the way conversations are taking place, who’s initiating them, and how information is shared. No matter who you are, you’re able to express an opinion that has potential to elicit an action or influence others, regardless of that being your original intention or not. On the other end, companies/brands/influencers need to find their voice, actively engage their audience and really listen and respond to their consumers, now more than ever.

How do you balance between working for a public company, Turner Broadcasting, and a non-profit organization, Kollaboration New York?

One word: coffee. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it—balancing between two full-time capacities is not easy. There have been plenty of days of little to no sleep. But I am fortunate to work for a company that strongly encourages a work/life balance and has a commitment to philanthropic initiatives. Not only has the stability at Turner allowed me to fully dedicate my time to Kollaboration New York after-hours, but the company has also contributed a monetary grant to recognize the hours I’ve volunteered.

What motivated you to pursue a position at Kollaboration NY, and how did you find yourself working there?

Senior year at Syracuse University (go Orange!), I decided to attend the Korean American Student Conference (KASCON) during spring break. With a passion for entertainment, I naturally signed up for speaker sessions featuring Ted Chung, Michael Kang and Paul “PK” Kim. After learning about their experiences and attending my first Kollaboration show, I was beyond inspired. It was the first time I was made aware that Korean Americans were a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry, and I was determined to be a part of that next generation of game-changers.

After KASCON, I reached out to PK inquiring on how I could get more involved with Kollaboration. He connected me with Jinny Jung, the director of Kollaboration New York at the time. Immediately, I hit the ground running and eventually joined staff  ‘full-time’ as the PR manager. Through Kollaboration New York, I’ve met some of the most influential people in my life, who’ve provided me countless opportunities to strengthen my professional and personal development. Kollaboration proves to continuously open doors, both for the community of artists out there and all those involved in building the movement.

What distinguishes Kollaboration NY from the other Kollaboration cities?

Kollaboration New York is different from other cities because New York truly thrives on the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality and moves at lightning speed. Not to say that this doesn’t exist elsewhere, but the level of competition here is unreal, especially when it comes to the performing arts. As an artist, competition is all around you. From the guy with his guitar in the subway, to the guy with his guitar on the corner, to the guy with his guitar in the apartment above you. If you can’t bring it twice as hard, someone else will. And in the end, this city will eat you alive.

New Yorkers also have the best of the best here, and naturally, there is an inherent sense of elitism. For these reasons, Kollaboration New York needs to execute at a higher standard to compete with the hundreds of things that are fighting for people’s time and attention. We had over 50 acts audition for this Kollaboration New York this year, and we selected the top seven. New York demands the best and this city better watch out because we’ve got it.

Kollaboration New York 6. Thursday, September 29. Irving Plaza. BE THERE.

When scouting for new talent, what specifically catches your eye? And what do you think it takes to succeed as an artist?

When scouting for new talent, the x-factors I look for are solid work ethic, a strong sense of self, and stage presence. It’s all about hard work and creating a powerful brand as an artist. In order to succeed as an artist, you need to continuously refine your craft – practice makes perfect, right? An artist needs to understand who s/he is, what s/he believes in and stick by it. S/he should be his/her biggest champion in order to convince anyone else to give him/her a chance. There are SO many artists out there doing exactly what you’re doing, so why you? An artist should always be networking and building relationships with key influencers. Hustle recognizes hustle, and when you’ve got that x-factor, those people will sing your praises and help create opportunities for you.

The way people are listening and discovering music has also changed, and the music industry has suffered because of it. Traditional paths to music success are quickly becoming defunct. With online music streaming applications like Spotify and Grooveshark on the rise, artists need to understand the shift, the industry trends, and get creative.

Can you name us some of your favorite artists who have gone through Kollaboration NY?

Although all of our competitors have been incredible, my personal favorites are Jen Kwok and PaperDoll. Jen is not afraid to be herself. She exudes so much confidence on stage. How she’s able to sing ‘Don’t gotta be serious, just f*** an Asian man. At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one!’ on stage with a straight face is beyond me, but this is precisely why she’s awesome. Teresa of PaperDoll has the most incredible stage presence. When she performs, she is unapologetic and truly commands the stage with her energy.

Kollaboration New York
Follow Cat on Twitter: @CatChung

[Photos: Courtesy of Cat Chung]


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