NBC Bay Area Honors Caleb Jo – APA Heritage Month Honoree
Caleb is the product of two loving, hopeful artists. His parents came to America as immigrants from South Korea to pursue their dreams. Despite having very little money, his father wanted to study music in the US and his mother wanted to practice photography.
When he was 10, his father passed away from a heart-attack, overworking himself between 3 jobs, to put food on the table to support our family, while desperately pursuing his passion for music. With a plunge in financial freedom and parental support, Caleb entered a state of depression and experienced recurring anxiety for numerous years. Thanks to treatment and unceasing support from friends and family, he is more in control of his condition and began to dream again. To honor his father’s legacy, live out his passion for art, and express his love and gratitude toward the Asian American community, he aims to become an actor and advocate for people of color in the very white-dominated environment called Hollywood.
True to his passions and values, Caleb recently produced his short film, Jory. It is a story about a young Asian American teenager who struggles to find a home between his love for dance and his relentless, immigrant parents who want what's "best for him." The film is inspired by the hardships of first-generation Asian Americans who grow up with "tiger parents" and are constantly told to meet extremely high expectations, whether that means sacrificing sleep, extracurricular activities, or mental health.
This short film explores the perspectives of both first-generation Asian Americans and their immigrant parents and what it means to be a good parent or a good immigrant son/daughter or none of those.
Caleb successfully raised funds via Kickstarter to be able to produce this film (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1268548430/jory-short-film). He premiered it to a full theater of supporters and fans.
He is additionally on the board of the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific Film Fest, where he oversees marketing and the short film program. He has also created numerous short films tackling the issue of mental illness to break the taboo. Always active in the community, Caleb also gives free dance workshops to local high schools and is a youth counselor in his church.
Caleb is a born storyteller and will continue to hone his skills in this medium to advance the stories of Asian Americans and those that do not have a voice.