Local 891 Editor Gary Lam Talks Career and Pride in His Asian Heritage
Local 891 First Assistant Editor, Gary Lam started his career with IATSE in 2001. He is in his third term as Editing Department Co-Chair and is currently on the Negotiations Committee for Local 891. Lam is actively involved in the training initiatives in his Local, which focuses on training skills and outreach for young and less experienced nonunion members to help sharpen their skills and set them up for success in the entertainment industry.
Lam says he is very passionate about his active role with the Negotiations Committee because he knows he is fighting for the best deal possible for his members. “When negotiating, I want to make sure our members get the best contract possible with producers,” he says.
Having a mother from New York and a father from Hong Kong, Lam says his childhood upbringings of being raised in a small logging town in Canada, was an outlet for him to explore his Asian heritage.
“I’ve always had exposure to Hong Kong cinema and actors like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and of course everyone loved Bruce Lee, but it wasn’t until John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, that for the first time in a western film the Asian protagonists were the real heroes,” he added. “This movie made a big impression on me. Here are these Asian characters who were not just the goofy sidekicks, or were just there to dispense wisdom. This made me want to explore what it meant to be Asian in a western community.”
Gary says he’s happy to see IATSE pushing for more inclusivity and BIPOC visibility.
“It’s a great first step in leveling the playing field and providing opportunities to everyone. I think the employers need to be more serious with initiatives like this and partner with IATSE to ensure an inclusive and diverse staff on and off set,” he says. “We must take the initiative to reach out to disenfranchised communities and start early education in diverse communities and schools to help improve representation in Motion Picture.”
“I think right now is a great time to be Asian in the film industry. With movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Shang-Chi, seeing Asian female directors and more, I would encourage anyone of Asian heritage to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities given to you and through the IATSE.”
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), is a labor union representing over 150,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, broadcast, and trade shows in the United States and Canada.