R&B singer and rapper Audrey Nuna doesn’t feel the pressure, but rather the desire, to be great with her work as an Asian American artist.
Her ambition to have a seat at the table of a genre dominated by men without compromising her real self is what makes her the perfect subject of Amazon Music’s recent short film, “Message In Music.”
The documentary, directed by Christelle De Castro and released in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, takes an intimate look at Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women in the music industry who are breaking norms and defying stereotypes. In addition to the genre-bending Nuna, the film also follows indie pop cool girl Deb Never, soul songstress Joyce Wrice and hip-hop princess Maliibu Miitch as they discuss their artistry, their heritage and where the two intersect.
As Asian and Pacific Islanders are finding their place in entertainment, there is a conversation to be had about the diversity of the industry now versus the diversity of the industry before. Growing up, Nuna didn’t have many female role models in music she could look up to, citing K-pop trailblazer G-Dragon as one of the first Asian artists she resonated with due to his boundary-breaking presence on and off the stage.
But upon second thought, Nuna found a silver lining to the lack of representation. “You look at myself, Maliibu Miitch, Deb Never and Joyce Wrice and you just see how different we are … we’re just all being ourselves,” she said, drawing a box in the air with her fingers. “There isn’t like ‘Oh this is the role model and you have to be like Lucy Liu or you have to be like Sandra Oh.’ That’s not a thing. You can see so clearly across the four of us that we’re just being ourselves—we’re just human beings … with [Asian American] experiences.”
Nuna also doesn’t feel the pressure to be the representation that the next generation of API female artists sees. “It’s something that I feel so blessed being able to do,” she acknowledged, “but I wouldn’t say it’s a pressure because it’s more of a gift—a privilege to be able to do it.”
She also hopes to normalize representation in the media, describing how she would love for a young girl to look at the four diverse women in the Amazon Music documentary and think that it’s no big deal. “I think the ultimate goal … is for girls like us, especially when we were younger, to grow up feeling like it’s so normal to be able to do whatever you want to do,” Nuna explained. “It’s not like this token thing where you have to fill a certain role because you’re Asian American.”
Watch the full interview above to hear more of what Nuna has to say and check out “Message In Music” out on YouTube now.