As debates about immigration remain at the center of our political landscape, the creators of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat have teamed up with Six-Word Memoirs for a collection of short paeans to immigrant parents and America’s open doors.
Celebrities like Aziz Ansari (“Every immigrant’s journey is truly incredible”), George Takei (“Even after internment, still love America”), Mila Kunis and other stars penned their own Six-Word Memoirs for the book, some of which EW can reveal exclusively below, along with the foreword to Six Words Fresh Off the Boat, written by the show’s creator Nahnatchka Khan and EP Melvin Marr.
Six Words Fresh Off the Boat, edited by Larry Smith, hits shelves Sept. 5.
“A better life for our children.”
— Mila Kunis
“America, thanks for adopting my family”
— Regina Spektor
“Old sod to New World tale”
— Jane Lynch
Foreword by Nahnatchka Khan & Melvin Mar
I was born in Las Vegas; both my parents were born in Iran. My family was full of characters: dad, mom, grandfather, aunts, uncles, (I remember one uncle telling us all to call him Panther)… and they all helped shaped my sense of humor. For me, being a first-generation American, coming from a family of immigrants, it was always important to tell stories from the inside out.
We are telling our story, we are not being told our story. We’re not being looked at in a fishbowl, we’re looking out at the world through a different lens, with a different perspective. Fresh Off the Boat has that same courage. We are confident in who we are, we’re not apologizing for it, we’re not thankful for it, we own it, we live in it every day. And now is our time to share it. My six words?
We exist because
these stories exist.
—Nahnatchka Khan, creator/executive producer, Fresh Off the Boat
My father was the last son to immigrate to America from China. Our family had a long history with this country dating back to the early days of California. They helped build America, but always felt they weren’t a part of America. Growing up, my father told me not to make waves. “Keep your head down, do your work, be respectful. You can never go wrong that way.”
In many ways, I think my father was right about the realities of surviving in a new country; that was what it was about for his generation. They did the bravest thing: leaving their home to come for a better life for themselves and their family in America, the land of opportunity. Whether it was working on the railroad, to later generations working in Chinatown kitchens or delivering groceries to those same restaurants, they have been an integral part of America. Being the first generation born here, it’s my duty to tell our story and participate in making this country a better place. My six words?
I owe it to my father.
—Melvin Mar, executive producer, Fresh Off the Boat
This book is inspired by our audience, by viewers across the country, across cultures, and across generations. They tell us that in the story of our television family they see reflections of their own families. That the show could resonate so personally is rewarding; that through this collaboration with Six-Word Memoirs it can also be a catalyst for storytelling is exciting.
In the pages ahead are hundreds of stories. We hope you enjoy them and will kick things off with Six-Word Memoirs from our cast and creative team.
Designed in Asia,
assembled in California.
—Ian Chen, “Evan Huang”
“Where are you from?”
—Kourtney Kang, co-executive producer
Mom’s recipes get
ruined by me.
—Randall Park, “Louis Huang”
with samosas and turkey.
—Rachna Fruchbom, coproducer
I learned Hinduism
from Urban Outfitters.
—Sanjay Shah, co-executive producer
they let me in.
—David Smithyman, executive story editor
My American dream has come true.
—Lucille Soong, “Grandma Huang”
Warning! Land of Opportunity
—Sheng Wang, story editor
free to be me.
—Forrest Wheeler, “Emery Huang”
why I can fly.
—Hudson Yang, “Eddie Huang”
Fresh Off the Boat returns to ABC Oct. 3.