William Kueho Yu
 

About me

 

William Yu is a screenwriter, digital strategist, and speaker.

His original screenplay, LOVE YOU, CHARLIE, a high school thriller, recently won the screenplay competition at the 41st New York Asian American International Film Festival.

In 2016, Yu created #StarringJohnCho, a Shorty Award-winning project that used Photoshop to insert actor John Cho into hit Hollywood films in order to spark a global conversation about Asian American representation in media.

An experienced speaker, Yu has spoken for thousands of audience members about the power of authentic representation and diversity within the media and advertising industries.

As a panelist, moderator, on-camera interviewee, or keynote speaker, Yu has brought his presentation “The Rise of the New Asian American” to both college campuses and industry conferences.

As a former Senior Strategist at Giant Spoon, Adweek’s 2018 Breakthrough Advertising Agency of the Year, Yu helped clients like Paramount, Netflix, and Absolut build meaningful connections with their audiences and create ideas that make impactful dents on culture.

His work has been featured on major media outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, CNN, GQ, Adweek, and The Hollywood Reporter, among others.

He is based in Downtown Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @its_willyu.

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Projects

Writing. Making. Writing. Speaking. Writing. Designing. Writing.

Pearl river mart presents… #StarringJohnCho - the exhibit

In partnership with the iconic Pearl River Mart, I created an interactive exhibit that featured the #StarringJohnCho assets printed and framed as full-size movie posters, a #StarringJohnCho mural, life-size cutouts of Captain America and Captain Marvel that viewers could step into, and my #SeeAsAmStar videos.

The exhibit’s opening was one of the store’s biggest reception ever and is still on view from May 18 - July 7 at Pearl River Mart’s TriBeca location at 395 Broadway, New York, NY 10013.

Read more about the exhibit here.

Read an interview I did with the Pearl River Mart team here.

 

2019 Los Angeles asian pacific film festival, narrative features juror

Along with Dan Truong (head of Independent Film Strategy at Prime Video Direct), Jacqueline Lyanga (Variety’s Women’s Impact Report game-changer and innovator), Quan Phung (Strategic Adviser for STXtelevision), I was honored to serve as a Narrative Features juror for the 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

After reviewing the ten nominated films, we were delighted to award the Grand Jury Award for outstanding North American narrative feature to Yellow Rose, written, directed, and produced by Diane Paragas.

Special Jury Awards for cinematography, actress and breakthrough performance went, respectively, to Ante Cheng for “Ms. Purple”; Maya Erskine for “Plus One”; and Eva Noblezada for “Yellow Rose.”

Read more about my fellow jurors here and other festival award recipients here.

 

KOLLABORATION EMPOWER 2019 FILMMAKERS PANEL

The Kollaboration EMPOWER Conference is a two day event where aspiring creatives of all ages and professions gather to learn directly from some of the community’s most inspirational professionals.

On the first day of the conference, I led a panel discussion with filmmakers Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Andrew Ahn (Spa Night, Driveways), Tanuj Chopra (Staycation, Punching at the Sun), & Diane Paragas (Yellow Rose).

We discussed their paths to becoming directors, what goes into their creative process, and how they influences their individual filmmaking styles.

You can listen to the full panel on the Kollaboration podcast, KollabCast, here.

 

Asian american international screenplay competition: LOVE YOU, CHARLIE

The 41st Asian American International Film Festival, with support from SAG-AFTRA, is pleased to present the annual screenplay reading, which features this year’s AAISC winning script LOVE YOU, CHARLIE by William Yu, directed by Veronica Dang.

LOGLINE: When her best friend Charlie is framed for a murder, high school senior Alice Park embarks on a desperate search to prove his innocence and find the real killer.

You can view more about the festival and event here.

 

41st Asian American International Film Festival: Opening Night Searching Q&A

To kickoff the AAIFF41, I moderated a Q&A with the director Aneesh Chaganty, producer Sev Ohanian, and star John Cho on the opening night of the festival.

In front of a sold out crowd at the famous Village East theater, I facilitated a discussion that revolved around the team’s unconventional process of making the film, authentically representing a Korean American family on-screen, and what a movie like Searching means to the community.

See more coverage of the night here.

 

T Magazine: Why Do Asian-Americans Remain Largely Unseen in Film and Television? - by Thessaly La Force

I’ve fantasized about recasting various classic American films with faces that look like mine.

For T Magazine’s Travel Issue, published November 10th, 2018, I was commissioned by The New York Times to reimagine iconic 80s coming of age movies - The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and The Graduate - with Asian American leads.

In her personal essay, T Magazine Features Director Thessaly La Force examines her identity and “discusses why Asian Americans aren’t seen or heard while other kinds of work is celebrated and admired. Why won’t you look at us?

Read the full essay here.

 

Searching x #StarringJohnCho Movie Poster

Searching is a 2018 American thriller film directed by Aneesh Chaganty in his feature debut and written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian. Set entirely on computer screens and smartphones, the film follows a father (John Cho) trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter (Michelle La) with the help of a police detective (Debra Messing).

To celebrate the release of the first mainstream, contemporary thriller headlined by an Asian American, SONY and IW Group approached me to create an original Searching movie poster: A movie poster starring John Cho, by the creator of #StarringJohnCho. The original piece of content was shared by stars John Cho and Debra Messing. Additionally, even with minimal paid media support, the tweets garnered over 100,000 impressions.

Since its premiere, Searching has grossed $26 million in the United States and Canada, and $49.4 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $75.5 million. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 226 reviews.

At the Independent Spirit Awards, Cho was nominated for Best Male Lead.

 

#seeasamstar

#SeeAsAmStar is a multimedia project that uses Deepfake technology to provide a living depiction of Asian American as the heroes, romantics, and leaders that Hollywood refuses to cast because it “can’t see” Asian movie stars.

In the three weeks since the project has launched, #SeeAsAmStar videos have received over 50,000 views.

With $0 media spend,#SeeAsAmStar has also received mainstream media attention from outlets such as The Huffington Post, Slate, South China Morning Post, DigitalSpy, and Inverse, among others.

Learn more about the project here.

 

2018 University of Reno - Reynolds School of Journalism

In February, I was invited out by the Reno chapter of the American Advertising Federation to give my talk about The Rise of the New Asian American. While I was there, I also stopped by the UNR - Reynolds School of Journalism to present my learnings. 

I had a wonderful time speaking with faculty and students. My thanks go out to Kurt Thigpen (AAF Reno) and Bob Felten (Reynolds) for hosting me for my first ever visit to Reno!

You can view the presentation to the left.

 

#StarringJohnCho

#StarringJohnCho is a social movement that literally shows you what it would look like if today's Hollywood blockbusters cast an Asian-American actor - specifically, John Cho - as their leading man.

The project has garnered multiple awards (2016 Shorty Award for Best Use of Hashtag; 2016 AAF Mosaic Award for Multicultural Digital campaign) and over 1 billion impressions worldwide, as well as continuing the conversation of how Asian-Americans are perceived in our society today.

Over the course of the campaign, the @StarringJohnCho Twitter account has garnered over 7K+ followers, and has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, The Huffington Post, Refinery29, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, AdAge, mic.com, Vulture, Business Insider, among many others. 

As the sole creator of the campaign, I steered the strategy, led the community management, managed interview requests, and created the Photoshopped posters.

Learn more about the project here.

You can view the case study video here

 
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2017 AAF WESTERN REGION CONFERENCE - KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Hosted at the Snowbird Resort, located in Snowbird, Utah, members of the 800 person AAF Western Region delegation came together to advance their careers, build connections and celebrate the advertising industry.

Other speakers included Colleen McGee, Group Brand Director from Venables, Bell & Partners. Authentic Brands, Ryan Brijs, Senior Creative Director of the Sacramento Kings, and Ryan Berman, founder of Courageous and i.d.e.a

On September 15th, 2017, I was the morning keynote speaker. During my presentation, I discussed the #StarringJohnCho project, a growing audience dubbed "The New Asian American," and how practical investments in diversity can lead to positive creative and business results. 

Download the presentation here

 

THE 3% CONFERENCE - INSTAGRAM STORIES TAKEOVER

I was invited to do an Instagram Stories takeover for The 3% Conference, an organization that is championing creative female talent in the advertising industry. Over the course of the day, I’ll went on a tour of my favorite spots in NYC, talked about the women who have shaped me, introduced viewers to badass female creatives to should follow, and shared tips on how to be a male feminist.

For the all-day event, I created 70+ pieces of content that included live video, photographs, GIFs, and other graphic design elements. 

Watch the full Instagram Stories takeover here

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ADCOLOR LIVE! ON FACEBOOK LIVE AT FBNY

I co-hosted ADCOLOR Live!, a Facebook Live event for the 11th Annual ADCOLOR Conference and Awards.

During the event, I joined our moderator, Luvvie Ajayi (a New York Times best-selling author, speaker), as well as ADCOLOR founder and president Tiffany Edwards (SVP, Chief of Diversity at Omnicom Group), Marc Strachan (VP On Premise Strategy & Multicultural Marketing at Diageo, North America), and Brian Ellner (‎General Manager, Corporate & Public Affairs at Edelman) in announcing the 11th Annual ADCOLOR Honorees, Nominees and 2017 FUTURES.

As an ADCOLOR FUTURES alum, I was so proud to be there to announce the next class of FUTURES and celebrate leaders in the advertising industry. 

The Facebook Live announcement video, the second of its kind for ADCOLOR, generated over 67,000 views. 

Watch the full announcement video here.

 

Project Untold presents... Get Shelved

I started Project Untold, SapientNitro's internship project that asks 9 interns to Tell An Unforgettable Story. In its inaugural year, the project produced Get Shelved, an online interactive journey that centers on the issue of ugly food waste. 

I managed the team and provided strategic and creative direction as they tackled a project that stresses collaboration and digital experimentation. 

Get Shelved, with a $0 budget and no media spend, received over 4,000 visitors in two weeks, and garnered press coverage from notable outlets like Adweek, The Huffington Post, and was named one of "The most creative summer agency internship projects" by Digiday.

Play the game at gogetshelved.com here

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Recommendations

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A phenomenal speaker.

I first heard Will speak about the #StarringJohnCho campaign at an AAF conference. I was deeply inspired, and knew that I had to bring him out to speak in Reno! Will came and spoke to AAF Reno on the importance of representation & diversity in media and advertising.

- Kurt Thigpen, President of AAF Reno, CEO of Ace Studios

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Simply amazing.

He brought strong perspectives and ideas for solutions to the product definition and design phases. He has an exceptional talent for facilitating sessions and leading interdisciplinary teams. Whether it was a journey map, a value propostion, a co-creation synthesis deck or a video, Will just did and did really well.

- Manja Kurzak, Creative Director, Experience Design, SapientRazorfish

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Composed, intelligent.

He didn't settle on the first idea that popped in his mind, but he was always very methodical, thoughtful in how he approached problems. I appreciated that Will always brought novel ways to unlock different insights from clients and focus group participants. A clever framework, a smart way to reframe a discussion. Again, someone who thinks independently and thoroughly.

- Tara Hagan, Director of Digital Strategy and Content Planning, TBWA\Chiat\Day

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A top talent.

He consistently strives to hone both his delivery and leadership skills - from reading the right books to staying on top of trends and from asking the key questions of clients to helping strategically steward the team. Will is a natural leader with a keen knack for workshops, storytelling, and creative problem solving.

- Marco Ambrosio, Director, Growth Manager, LivePerson


Follow me @its_willyu


Contact Me

Work Experience

Senior Strategist, Giant Spoon

Senior Strategic Planner, TBWA\Chiat\Day

Associate, Marketing & Strategy, SapientNitro

Associate, Program Management, SapientNitro

Jr. Associate, Program Management, SapientNitro
 

Education

Bachelor's Degree in English, Communications and Media Studies

Tufts University