On July 26, former Transportation and Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, was recognized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, with the installation of his portrait by artist Everett Raymond Kinstler, in a private ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait is part of the museum’s permanent-collection exhibition, “New Arrivals”, and is on view at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C.
During the reception after the installation, “Norman Y. Mineta: A Boy from San Jose”, the mini-documentary by award winning director/producer E. Samantha Cheng, was shown.
“Norman Y. Mineta: A Boy from San Jose” is a gem, an intimate portrait of a pioneering Asian American who dedicated years of his life to public service, and who represents key roles that Asian Pacific Americans have played in U.S. culture, history and politics. Both portraits, the painting and the video, are fitting tributes to former Secretary Mineta.
In an email, Ms. Cheng shared how she began working on the mini-documentary.
How did you get involved in the making of Norman Y. Mineta: A Boy from San Jose?
Cheng: This has been project of love which began in 2006 when I recorded Norm’s oral history for the United States Capitol Historical Society (USCHS). The recording of his oral history is part of a larger program I developed with the USCHS where I filmed the oral histories for a six current and former members of Congress, Senators Akaka and Inouye along with Representatives Honda, Matsui, Wu and Secretary Mineta. These oral histories were then packaged into stand alone vignettes for the Internet and a highlights piece was created for broadcast and screenings. This program was too well received and can be viewed on the USCHS web site.
Shortly after this phase of the oral history series was completed (there are three phases with number two in development) the acquisition and funding for a portrait of Norm was in the early stages. The mini-documentary, video biography actually started after Norm shared the story that he was often mistaken for Leon Panetta. I made a comment that when the portrait was unveiled the Smithsonian should have a video explaining who and why Norm was so deserving of being the first APA to have his portrait hang in the National Portrait Gallery.
Samantha Cheng is co-owner, vice president, executive producer and CFO of the Washington, D.C.-based Television Production Services (TPS), which produces and authors DVDs. Prior to establishing TPS in 1992, Ms. Cheng, worked as an independent television producer and public relation specialist. Her involvement in broadcast and new media production spans over thirty years, in the United States and throughout the world. Her broadcast credits include: World News Tonight, ABC; Weekend News, ABC; This Week with David Brinkley, ABC; Nightline, ABC; ABC News Special Events; MLK: The Dream Today, PBS Special; The Making of a Holiday, PBS Special; Healthy Indulgences with Lynn Fischer, Maryland Public Broadcasting; World Class Cuisine, Discovery Channel; Low Cholesterol Gourmet, Discovery Channel; and Spa Getaways, Travel Channel. Ms. Cheng is an active member in the Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA); Women in Film & Video (WIFV), American Women in Radio & Television (AWRT), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and the DVD Association (DVDA).
Ms. Cheng has consulted with a variety of public servants, political action committees (PACs) and non-profit organizations. She served as an aide to Vernon Jordan, Transition Team Chair 1992-1993 Clinton Administration, a Public Information Officer Reservist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from 1993-2000; and national press secretary for Women Running PAC in 1984. She is a recipient of the 2004 AAJA Special Recognition Award 2004; 2003 Gold Aurora Award; 2002 DVDA Technical Excellence Award and DVDA Creative Excellence Award; and was a finalist for the 1987 National EMMY Award and National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter EMMY Award.
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As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.
Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.
Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.