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Meet Cathlyn Choi of Asian Culture and Media Alliance or ACMA in Mission Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cathlyn Choi.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Cathlyn. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
All my life, my parents have always taught and reminded me to be grateful and humble, no matter where I stand. That Life is about following your journey and discovering where its path will lead you.

March 2, 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of my immigrating to San Diego, California from Seoul, Korea. Since then, my life has taken me down many paths and I certainly have been on many memorable and wonderful journeys, each filled with wonderful memories full of people and places that have touched me in so many different ways. My latest journey actually is one that has always been a part of me, but not recently, have I been able to fulfill it.

After launching the fourth season of my cooking show Cathlyn’s Korean Kitchen on national PBS in 2012, I founded a grassroots non-profit media organization called Asian Culture and Media Alliance or ACMA, with my husband and business partner Eric Michelson, who’s also a filmmaker.

ACMA’s mission is to provide a voice of representation, education and awareness for the API communities through the power of media arts, specifically television, film and online media. We are fortunate to have a very diverse group of like-minded advisors and board of directors who have been supporting our mission and programs for the past seven years.

Has it been a smooth road?
As with any startups or grassroots non-profit organizations, there have been and will always be obstacles and challenges along the way. In our case, the first three years were the hardest, especially with fundraising, because most foundations and corporations weren’t familiar with our core media programs or understood our mission.

It was definitely not easy having to face a lot of rejections along the way, but Eric and I have always been ones who like to see things through, no matter what the circumstances. Whenever we stumbled on a roadblock, we always reminded ourselves of these two quotes, “A Winner never Quits and A Quitter Never Wins. /Anything is Possible”. That’s how we were able to face and overcome the challenges, which got us to where we are today. All in all, Eric and I are proud of all our accomplishments in the past seven years.

Asian Culture and Media Alliance or ACMA – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Overall, my personal experience with ACMA as the founder and Executive Director has been rather humbling, gratifying and fulfilling. Today things are obviously different with the advent of technology that allows any individual to connect to anyone, anywhere in the world. But yet, not all communities are heard equally. Many factors are responsible for how others perceive a community or how well they’re understood.

As a media activist and TV producer, my initial quest was to provide the Asian community with a platform that could serve as a voice for our underserved API community, i.e. Asian Voices TV show. Currently in production of its fourth season series, our award-winning program is the first television show of its kind produced in English highlighting interesting and inspiring stories of the Asian Pacific Americans, artists, culture and events, broadcast through our cable TV network partners Yurview and TVK24, available to over 30 million households in in the US.

Equally important to my mission and commitment to inspire and empower our next generation of filmmakers, in 2016 Eric and I launched a youth media internship program called Take One, a bi-annual 12-week vocational training program, provided free of charge to young adults ages 18-25, a unique opportunity for them to learn technical media skills and how film can be used as a powerful tool in creating a better awareness and understanding of our community.

Currently, ACMA is the only non-profit organization in San Diego that provides high-quality educational media and film programs that identify and empower future filmmakers from nontraditional backgrounds. In collaboration with Take One interns, I was inspired to accomplish one of my goals of producing and directing my very first short film called Butterfly. My next goal is to produce feature length films with Eric in the next two to three years.

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 pandemic, this year, a lot of programs have been suspended or cancelled. In our case, we were able to adapt our spring workshop to a virtual environment utilizing online technology. Over the course of 12 weeks, our creative media instructors and interns were able to collaborate on various media projects producing amazing results including Public Service Announcement (PSA) video addressing anti-racism and unfounded hate crimes targeting the Asian community in hopes of creating a national dialog and awareness about this issue, as well as a video addressing our solidarity in supporting the black community as they struggle to face social injustice. All their work can be viewed on our website at and our YouTube channel.

I am proud that through ACMA’s media programs, we are now able to create a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the API community to not only be heard from within, but to bridge the cultural gap to those outside our community and create better awareness understanding and respect of who we are.

However, as a grassroots non-profit organization, ACMA is in need of on-going support and donations, which will help continue providing a voice for the API community through our core media programs.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I like most about our city is diversity of cultures from all over the world. What I like least about San Diego is the high cost of living.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cathlyn Choi’s portrait and red carpet photo of board members by Eddie Lain, Lainscapes
All other photos by Eric Michelson, Carma Media Productions

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