Hello, Yasmine! Thank you so much for your time for this interview. We love how you are not just an actress but you have a hand in hosting many events from red carpets to panels to interviewing celebrities in general. Which of the two crafts was your first love, and how did it help you segue into the other field?
Thank you for your time to listen to my journey. My first love of the two crafts is TV hosting/ news reporting. I started off in London and trained as a multimedia-reporter for the UK’s first youth-led news style TV show, London360, broadcast across the UK on London Live and the Community Channel.
Just before moving to Los Angeles, I somehow found my intrigue as an actress pretty late into the game at the age of 25. I had done school plays for fun and acted in commercials since a young age, but never did I think I would enjoy acting or even attempt to make a career out of it. I was incredibly shy growing up. I would even avoid taking classes examined in presentation skills, as I would lose my breath when standing in front of a mob of people. It seems ironic that now I do the exact opposite of what my personality type was then. But I always felt to turn a weakness into a strength – so I sought after workshops, Meet-Up groups and places that empowered me to overcome the fear of public speaking and build upon self-confidence. By default I was forwarded an audition for Crazy Rich Asians, and while enacting the lines I found that I tapped into suppressed memories and deep emotions that I hadn’t expressed before, let alone knew they existed. This felt like a kind of therapy for me! I recognized one day on set though, how much I missed reporting: researching what’s going on in the local community, what stories deserve more media representation, what films creatively scream a reflection of the society we live in today… communicating what is going on, and for my own sake knowing what’s going on, was where I felt the most curiosity and passion for. Acting helped a lot to feel and read emotions of others, since you do a lot of partner work, and give yourself permission to be unafraid of judgment. I found reporting helped acting in feeling confident in front of the camera and not regarding it as an obstacle, as well as the profound research skills that go in hand for both when you’re hosting/ news reporting, or breaking down a character in a film script and their environment.
You talk about using your platform for female empowerment. Can you elaborate on that?
I witnessed from a very young age the hard work and strength my mum had to have, in order for us both to survive and live a better life. I could tell she was determined to make up for the fact that I didn’t grow up surrounded by family and above all with my own father. But I don’t believe I would have become the compassionate and fearless woman that I am today had I grown up with him. Not that I wish for anyone to be raised without a parent, but challenges like these make one realize how unpredictable life can be and that a normal family doesn’t exist. I was fortunate to have really great godfathers to stand in as father figures. Through them I knew that strong and caring men exist. Though often enough my mum had to fight her corner when political debates would arise with these two! But through those moments she taught me, how vital it is to be vocal and stand by your opinion when you firmly believe in something.
Having not grown up feeling any sense of patriotism or being consecrated to a single culture – I find that a lot of ethnic backgrounds, which traditionally have a lineage of strong values, have a vast amount of people in my generation who are trying to move away from those confinements. Cultures are mixing, traditions are breaking and even males have taken on more female energy, just as women becoming more self-empowered, have taken on more male energy. Conformities are different nowadays, which can make it hard to forge a relationship sometimes, but I just want women to realize that they don’t have to rely on anyone in order to achieve or have what they want. That is what I hope people take away from my platforms and also see through some of the features I have produced and reported on, to take notice of some of the challenges women have to overcome. There are far larger male-female disparities across the borders, and so my biggest wish is that awareness and acceptance of the above-mentioned shifts can be created to better the lives of women everywhere.
You also have a philanthropic component to your work. Tell us about International Leader of the King’s College London Alumni Community and a Board Member of Philanthropy for KCL Alumni in Los Angeles and why they are important to you.
I undertook a Bachelor’s degree in German Studies with foreign languages in Russian and French at King’s College London. Since, I was living at home and knew the it-places to go to in London, I wasn’t as engaged with university life as I could have been. Missing out living on campus and not committing my spare time to student clubs or societies, other than sometimes volunteering, made me realize how much I took student life for granted and kept on seeking beyond my studies for work. I had always wanted to be a part of a Committee, so it was a joyful surprise when the President of King’s College London Alumni in Los Angeles (KCL LA), reached out to me via LinkedIn to get me involved with the group. During and after my studies I travelled to Africa and India to be an Orphanage Assistant and help the Tibetan refugees. Both experiences had a huge impact on my life, and so I was determined to head the Philanthropic aspect. The Committee and each person’s role has become more of a joint effort, as together we put on a lot of mixers, volunteer for a charity and support each other professionally, as well as gain new friendships and connections through this community. None of us studied the same subject or graduated in the same year, so I find myself intellectually stimulated with this group and a sense of home.
As a talent with a variety of ethnic backgrounds (Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese) were there any challenges faced as an actress and a media host?
As a media host, no! Being your unique self, engaging with those around you and showcasing your best qualities is what matters in this field. Since I’m British I only have to be mindful of what words I say, because certain terms differ. As for acting and also commercial acting, there have been casting directors at auditions or per self-tape request, inquiring if I can do an American accent. I felt it important to keep all doors open, so I took American accent classes every week for a month. With the whole diversity discussion nowadays, I have been lucky to not experience any adversities to be pitched for a role or ever felt like I was being type cast. I’m proud to represent both Asian and Hispanic with a British and German twist in the mix.
You’re driven to spotlight the lack of diversity in industries, and this has carried over into a social campaign you were a part of. Tell all our 140k monthly readers about “match4Lara.”
I love that you bring this one up! Yes, diversity and inclusion is so important, and even though we are becoming more aware of some of the issues various ethnic backgrounds face, we still fail to acknowledge those who have more than one heritage. #Match4Lara was a campaign in 2016 based on Lara Casalotti, who is half Thai and half Italian, and who had developed leukemia at the age of 24 years old. None of her family members or friends were a match for a stem-cell transplant. They then launched a social media campaign to create awareness for the lack of diversity, and to recruit new people on to the donor registry. J.K. Rowling, Christian Bale and many other celebrities heard about the campaign and helped spread the word via social media platforms. I came across the story through one of my best friends, who told me about Lara, as they went to school together, and she pointed me toward the registry due to my ethnic mix. Unfortunately at the time, because of my underweight BMI and blood pressure results I couldn’t register. I went forth to pitch this story to my then Executive Producer at London360, and made this my first news feature that I ever produced and reported on. As we followed the story the moment we got to interview Lara, she had just received the brilliant news of having found a match. It was such an emotional and unforgettable story, and a great reminder of other diversity discussions to have.
Here’s a fun one! Which celebrity interviewed had you starstruck the most?
I had never truly been star struck by a celebrity that I have interviewed, performance nerves do kick in sometimes – I see them as super star humans, but they are humans in the end of the day. I would probably become star struck in front of the Clooneys or Angelina Jolie though, they are in my view as far as celebrity status goes, amongst some of the greatest humans on Earth.
What does Yasmine having coming up in 2019? Any cool projects, events, or gigs?
My day- to-day life is pretty unpredictable, but what I can share are some exciting events that I’ll be moderating such as, Eureka Fest, the largest tech and entrepreneur festival in Orange County on April 6th; Hollywood Chills 757 in Virginia, DC that hosts a film and music panel on the last weekend of April;
A talk with special guests set up between USC and KCL LA Alumni on ‘Modern Love: Surviving connection in the digital era’ on May 22nd.
You’ll find me reporting for Long Beach Local News, and at the end of March I will be shooting my first talk show segment for PopFuzion TV, a show that highlights celebrities and their philanthropic work, broadcast on AT&T, Fios, Cox and Comcast.
I’m also co-producing and co-hosting Talkin’ Ted Talks, a brand new show on AfterBuzzTV where we’ll be selecting a Ted Talk and have the speaker and another guest or two experts related to the field come in for a discussion and Q&A with the public via live streaming. You’ll also continuously find me on red carpet/ press junket interviews for FabTV and other networks. The world is your oyster- who knows what other opportunities lay ahead, but expect a whole lot of yoga in between to keep me grounded – Namaste, ha!
Lastly, what is your life’s mission through your works?