Arden Cho, an actress best known for her role as Kira Yukimura on MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” spoke about the difficulties of being a minority in the entertainment business and staying relevant on Wednesday at a Minority in Business conference.
The conference, hosted by Boston University’s Financial Planners Association and Taiwanese American Student Association, took place at the George Sherman Union, where Cho said that film and television producers are more willing to take a risk with unknown white actors than minorities.
“A lot of people say that OK, fine, this industry is tough. Yes, there’s racism. Yes, there’s less opportunities for women. There’s less opportunities for people of color. I fit into both those categories and I’m paid less,” Cho said in her speech. “Everything sucks, but why do we still do it? Because we have to try.”
Claire Yu, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, found the reality of Cho’s experience in Hollywood surprising.
“We have always heard from people that the entertainment business is brutal, but I never would have thought it to be as brutal as described in her speech,” Yu said. “I really admire how she still has the motivation and drive after so many rejections in Hollywood.”
Feiya Suo, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, said she was inspired by Cho’s speech.
“Arden Cho spoke from her heart, telling us the ups and downs of her journey to and in Hollywood,” Suo said. “She truly inspired me to be persistent to fight for what I believe and to embrace myself for who I am.”
The conference was intended to “expose students to unique and personal insights from the speakers’ experience as minorities in their various fields of work,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
“Many of our E-Board members and friends are minorities, so we wanted to make an event that would be as inclusive as possible,” said Louis Tzamalas, president of the FPA.
Ray Ishizaki, secretary of the FPA, said the conference’s speakers were invited to speak as prominent minorities in their respective fields.
“We first reached out to prominent minorities within business fields and there were many people who were willing to speak on their experiences as a minority in fields that are generally not very diverse,” Ishizaki said. “Arden’s position as an Asian American woman in the entertainment industry made her perfect to speak on the minority experience in a field outside of business.”
Ishizaki added that planning the event presented the FPA with a variety of challenges.
“The planning was difficult at times just because of all the logistical issues that came with holding a conference with such a diverse group of speakers,” Ishizaki said.
In early April, $15,000 short on funding, the FPA almost canceled the conference. Tzamalas met with BU President Robert Brown to discuss the FPA’s financial difficulties and later received an email stating that the university would be able to support the event.
Many of the conference’s other speakers were financial planning experts, who discussed their respective experiences in the field.
Gerald Loftin, the principal of Proficient Wealth Counselors, discussed the barriers minorities face in the financial planning industry.
“I think there are firms out there that are trying to bring people into the industry because they recognize that we do have a problem. We want more diversity; we want more inclusion in the industry,” Loftin said. “So they’re starting to embrace these stereotypes and trying to bring more people in.”
Phuong Luong, the director of financial services at Compass Capital, shared how her experience working in low-income communities inspired her to pursue financial planning.
Prior to obtaining her certification in financial planning from BU, Luong was a mathematics and special education teacher. After witnessing the financial problems of her students, Luong wanted to help low-income families and decided to seek certification.
“I found Phuong’s speech really engaging,” said Rebecca Lee, a freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “It was empowering to see how passionate and professional she was about what she does and the impact she makes as a [certified financial planner].”