‘Insecure’s’ Alexander Hodge is grateful to be your Asian bae

Alexander Hodge Insecure Asian bae

(Photo by Ava McCoy/ Very Good Light)

Weaning off caffeine and dairy, Alexander Hodge is on his way to order a decaf oat milk latte – iced.

Of course, this isn’t just any coffee run and Alexander isn’t just any Australian-Angeleno: it’s a mid-pandemic respite for the Hollywood heartthrob of the moment. 

Despite his partially-obscured face, Alexander’s quest for a midday pick-me-up is noticed by a nearby pick-up truck.

“Hey man,” shouts a masked construction worker. “You’re the guy from that show, the one who gets with the girl?” He waits for confirmation. “My man.”

“That show” is HBO’s runaway hit, Insecure, and “the girl” the stranger speaks of is its perpetually unlucky-in-love lead, Molly (Yvonne Orji). Although he’s only a recent Insecure regular, Alexander’s character, Andrew, has all but won Molly’s heart already – earning Andrew and Alexander, alike, the title of “Asian Bae.” As the series has progressed, Twitter has become increasingly dehydrated – every quick quip or thrust of his naked buttocks prompting another wave of parched posts to flood the platform. 

SEE ALSO: Marcus Scribner is the future of Hollywood we need now

Speaking of his newfound “bae” status via a socially distant phone call, Alexander Hodge can acknowledge the oddity of his situation. It’s one thing for a young Australian to bat big enough to land a recurring spot on a major network series, he says, and a whole other for an Asian man – rarely positioned as sex symbols – to become the subject of an overnight obsession. An academically-challenged Irish-Singaporean from Sydney, the 28-year old never envisioned himself a future as the leading man. In fact, when asked by an acting coach to identify the kind of roles he could repeatedly take on throughout his career, he couldn’t. In truth, there was no one on screen who looked like him. 

Between his relationships with the industry’s brightest and a fanbase determined to propel him to stardom, he’s now poised to become the hottest ticket in town, leapfrogging typecasting in the process. Very Good Light caught up with the up-and-comer to learn how. 

How is navigating life in LA? Has your Australian upbringing given you an edge?

There’s a level of bias toward any kind of exoticism. Accents that are attractive and carry cultural capital, British, Australian, New Zealand. And then there are those deemed threatening. We won the lottery of dialect bias. 

It comes back to colonialism doesn’t it.

That’s true, I never really thought of it like that. 

Then there’s the “what are you working on?” questions, that feel very specific to LA.

Yeah, I just don’t give a fuck about it. I’m very intentional about who I surround myself with. I try to live by one mantra: run towards what brings you joy. I run towards people that bring me joy. The people who ask those vapid, or baseless questions aren’t the people I’m running towards — so I don’t see that side of things as much. 

But you do have to work hard to not be influenced by what is “cool.” If you chase the “cool,” you’re going to be surrounded by the people who are chasing status and ask you those questions. I’m not surrounded by the social hierarchy. 

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So what happens when you are cast in the kind of television show that instantly elevates your ‘status’? 

You just enjoy the meaningless of it. I’m very lucky and grateful to have had the experience I’ve had and be in the situation I’m in, but on the other hand I remember when I was a broke delivery boy living on dollar slices. And I can appreciate the fact this doesn’t change anything about me. It makes me realize that chasing the status is bullshit because, because now it’s been handed to me I don’t feel any different. I’m no more important than I was before. 

And probably no more secure in your abilities. 

No not at all! I watch myself and go, Damn, you suck. Nothing about me has really changed, it’s just more public scrutiny. The bad things people say about me I’ve probably thought about myself before. But sometimes people get creative and then I think, Oh, alright, and move on. I just don’t put any value on it.

How creative?

[Laughs]. Someone tweeted that they would find me attractive if it wasn’t for my forehead. Because if I went down that rabbit-hole, putting value on things strangers say on me I would get messed up. I would be giving a lot of people I don’t know a lot of power. 

alexander hodge very good light cover insecure hbo asian baeBut on the one side it’s a whole lot of “Asian Bae.”

Right but then there are the people saying, “I don’t get it he looks so boring.” It’s a plethora of varying opinions. If I get too caught up in that stuff, then by proxy I would have to get caught up in those saying how butt ugly I am. It’s nice to hear people’s thoughts, I just don’t have to take anything away from it. 

So you’re comfortable just plowing through the comments?

Sometimes! Sometimes I can, other times I feel more self-conscious or — buzzword — insecure. But during those times I get off my phone. I can’t look to Twitter for a pick-me-up, even though I love the fans. 

I’m curious as to the response of your support network to you skyrocketing this way, and also the reaction of the cast. Jay Ellis definitely went through this. 

Oh definitely, Jay is the vet. He directed an episode this season, and it was amazing to be directed by someone who has been through it. To have that kind of trenches-camaraderie. It is such a specific experience and not many people can share that with you or understand it. 

Every time we started shooting Yvonne would say, “Are you ready? I hope you’re ready. Because when this drops it’s a wrap for you.” The producers would do the same, especially after shooting sex scenes, because they’ve just seen this happen so many times. Even now Yvonne just texted me, “How does it feel Mr. GQ? But when I’m out in public I’m in a mask anyway, so it feels like I’m borrowing time.

How does your girlfriend react to the thirst? 

She’s like, I’ve been on this. The level of self-worth and security she has, she’s not threatened by it. To her credit she’s never going through my DMs or looking over my shoulder. The only thing, she’s going to hate me for saying  this, wait–[to his girlfriend] I’m going to talk about that two second thing. What she hates is that when I’m on my phone in this Insecure world with the fans and reading and responding and she asks me a question, there’s a two-second delay before I can answer anything. I think if we didn’t have that we’d be good. 

It’s a side effect of increased screen time anyway. 

It is, yes, we’re in quarantine! It’s not my fault! We’re going to have to talk it out but we’ll be okay. But I don’t know how well we’d go with romance and sex scenes if she wasn’t an actor, and probably the same with her family — they don’t disown me if they’re watching and they see my cheeks. 

You speak so eloquently about how Asian men are so rarely the traditional heart-throb, and it’s interesting that when they are — it’s only those who are biracial, or Euroasian. The Henry Goldings. Have you felt that’s put you at an advantage? 

It’s interesting, when I read the character breakdown of Andrew I thought I wasn’t going to get it because I wasn’t Asian enough. I’ll think, Oh, I’m too ambiguous, they’re going to want a full Asian and not want to see me. But that’s when people are trying to make a statement out of the Asian casting — tech workers, or something. But with this, this guy just happened to be Asian, it didn’t matter how Asian. 

Alexander Hodge Asian Bae Insecure HBO

Stereotypes

Exactly. And for mixed-race people, they’re mixed-race or nothing at all. That’s your nationality and identity, your moniker becomes “mixed race.” My experience growing up in Australia was being a white person among Asian relatives, or Asian friend to white people. You’re not really Irish, or really Singaporean. I’ve lost a lot of bros because I wasn’t Asian enough. I had an Asian person who I like tell me that I wasn’t a “real Asian.” They said it so matter-of-fact. 

And then your moniker becomes “Asian Bae.”

I know and I think it makes a lot of Asian people uncomfortable. A lot of people are not really happy that it was me. Though the fact that it was me as a half-Asian, half-white guy is easily politicized. But I don’t think it needs to be. It can be what it is: creating room for mixed people to have an identity. To be considered Asian, even though I’m half. 

But I would go in for auditions and laugh because I thought there was no way I was ever going to get these jobs. I’m not the ‘cookie cutter’ Asian, and that’s okay. I’m grateful the room has been made in terms of representation, because I’m not the only one. 

Alexander Hodge HBO insecure

Could you have predicted this when you started? How did you envision your career?

No. I thought I’d study for a couple of years, go home to Australia and in the worst case scenario end up working in marketing or something. I never thought there’d be a chance for someone like me to break out because I’d never seen it before. I’ve been thinking lately about the way we don’t realize how much we’ve been missing something until we’ve got it — and that’s how I feel about representation. My acting teacher would ask “what’s your type, what’s your type?” And there’s no one I could look to, because there was no one on screen that looked like me. 

I don’t want to represent a whole people, I don’t think I can represent a whole people. But I can represent the Asians with long hair who failed a lot of their education, and took the long way around to do things. I can represent a very specific type of people who definitely exist. 

That ‘aha’ moment, realizing how much you missed something you never had, was that your reaction to Crazy Rich Asians?

I cried my whole way through that film. I cried not only because it was an all-Asian cast, but it was also Singapore — where I spent so much of time as a child and growing up. I had never even conceived of the idea that a part of my identity could be shown like that. It was a complete revelation. Like, Wait, we can see ourselves like that. 

To play devil’s advocate, is there ever a voice in the back of your head when you see those movies become so industry-supported or critically acclaimed do you think, that recognizes tokenism?

It’s funny because Tarell Alvin Mcraney who wrote Moonlight is a friend of mine and you wouldn’t believe how long it takes him or how hard it is for something to get made. And he’s an Academy Award-winning actor. It’s unbelievable, the budgets he has to work with when something does get greenlit. It’s sobering. Publicly, you see this great change and shift and then institutionally, we still have a long way to go. 

Alexander Hodge Asian Bae Insecure HBO

Is television the answer?

Television is definitely having a renaissance moment right now, but it’s an industry just like everything else. I’m having a hard time separating this conversation from everything that’s happening right now. And when it comes to it and we face an economic pit, I’m not optimistic about the hue of which projects or shows are going to be canned first. If it’s already so hard for an Academy-Award winning writer has to fight so hard because he happens to be Black, and queer, who knows what’s going to happen after this pandemic, if people are going to become more conservative. 

I’m also interested to see how our relationship with content emerges after this. Because we’re consuming so much right now. It’s all we have. 

It’s very hard for us to conceive of what’s going to happen because it’s such an unprecedented time. It’s difficult to even ruminate on it. 

It’s big.

It’s huge! When we do go back into production what’s that going to look like? We’re supposed to be shooting another season later this year and we just haven’t received any word. I just don’t know the answer to these questions. 

But still, how amazing that you get to be a television actor right now in the new golden age. 

People followed the money. There’s a lot more money in television than in film these days, and television expanded brilliantly. The stories became amazing, and then the consumption of television changed with streaming and it proved that people wanted to watch on their own time. And then you look at the cast of Big Little Lies, it’s insane. At the end of the day it’s exciting. It’s an industry that is always going to exist because people need entertainment, which has been proved now more than ever. 

(Artwork and design by Alicia O’Brien)

A teen guide to mental health during COVID-19

I don’t think we knew how hard this would be.

The coronavirus has changed our lives in ways we never imagined. Who knew all of sudden we would all be working from home, transitioning to online classes, and social distancing from our loved ones as quickly as we did? From being a teen to a 20’s college student, we adjust to ‘the new normal’ for now, we must find ways to cope and nurture our mental health in the best way possible.

As the world is dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19, racing for a cure, we’re also reckoning with mental health and wellness. PTSD, stress, and anxiety are real, baggage that stems from uncertainty. Unfortunately, we may not know what the news will be reporting next week or even tomorrow, and it’s impossible to see how we’ll navigate, as we’ve never experienced this before. What we can control are our own actions. This includes making plans for ourselves, being mindful of others as well as practicing social distancing and self-care.

We asked Dr. Jessica Pae, Psy.D from Grace Counseling in Colorado to help us better understand ways to ease our anxiety during this time of the coronavirus. Here’s what you can do if you’re a college student, young adult or teen. 

SEE ALSO: A holistic career coach on managing coronavirus-induced stress and anxiety

Mental health Gen Z teen guy

Keep a schedule

Maintaining a sense of control and structure in your life will help minimize feelings of ambiguity in times of uncertainty, says Dr. Pae. While staying up late and sleeping is now an option with your newfound freedom, it’s best to keep a sense of structure to better serve the needs of your body and mind. Dedication to eating regularly, incorporating exercise, and stepping out into nature will ease your mind and allow excitement when looking forward to these activities.

Stay engaged in a healthy way 

It’s human nature to want to be within the company of people, even if you are a little introverted. If getting out and seeing people IRL while remaining socially distant isn’t an option for you (i.e this fun neighborhood Zumba class) luckily, we have the technology to help keep in touch with friends and family. Staying engaged with friends and family through video calls, phone calls, and even platforms like Netflix Party is essential for our social lives and overall well being.

Avoid overindulging in the news

Dr. Pae suggests staying informed should not result in over usage of social media and news coverage. “Too much or too little information can overwhelm people and increase anxious feelings” she tells Very Good Light. Pay attention to your limits and when it triggers your anxiety. Watching in doses is key and she encourages deep breathing practices (count to five breathing in, hold for three, then breathe out for five). In times like these, we can’t forget the relaxation tools that have helped us manage and work through overwhelming news in the past. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

We are all experiencing and coping with the news of the pandemic in different ways. As we are encouraged to ‘shelter in place’ and only leave our homes for reasons of necessity and well being, anxiety can arise from the thought or fear of leaving the comfort of our own homes. “We know avoiding anxiety will only increase one’s anxiety,” says Dr. Pae. Ignoring and holding onto those feelings of fear will only hold us back. Instead, Dr. Jessica suggests consulting a professional to help ease those feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or neighbor for help if you are too fearful to go out and take advantage of delivery services if available.

Take advantage of telemedicine services

Dr. Jessica stressed how important it is to keep seeing your therapist as needed. “Many therapists are creatively responding to the crisis to remain engaged with clients and expanding their telehealth electronic services,” she notes. And if you don’t have a regular therapist and are feeling the need to speak with someone, online services such as Better Help, Talkspace, and Breakthrough are super helpful. 

Reflect on the positives

Reminding ourselves of all the positives happening in the world can help curb our anxious feelings. While these times are uncertain and can bring about fear, we are also experiencing a time of community building as we see individuals lend a helping hand to those who need it most. “People are stepping out of their way to think about the common good,” says Dr. Pae. “We are practicing kindness, generosity, intentional family time, and a slower-paced life that can be healing and restorative for our souls.” Perhaps all this time spent reflecting on the positives and taking in the slowed pace of everything around us will stick with us long after this is over. 

Be intentional

Remaining calm when possible is easier said than done. Taking everything in and being intentional with all of this extra time we are given can keep us feeling focused and serene. For Dr. Pae, this means thinking of things to be grateful for in the form of writing it down in a journal. This has helped her, as well as making a list of gratitude each day, walking outdoors, getting exercise. It’s good, she says to be “relishing in this slower pace of life.” Taking this time to catch up on things you’ve been meaning to get to whether that’s talking to an old friend, immersing yourself in a new book, or taking up a new hobby. Each of these can easily help you refocus, relax, and pinpoint what is important to you. 

While we can’t ignore our feelings of anxiety, panic, and fear we must learn how we can control those feelings and save our energy for healthy and productive activities. Setting a daily intention and schedule for yourself can keep you on track and focused on what your mind and body needs. Remember to breathe! 

This too shall pass.

‘Ellen Show’ Kalen Allen on his skincare regimen

If you’ve watched The Ellen Show recently, you’ve probably been thoroughly entertained by Kalen Allen, the show’s newest – and might we add, most delightful – addition.

The correspondent now interviews bands from BTS, has his own segment OMKalen, and gives his personal hot take on what’s trending on the Internet. All this happened in only the past year, where the 24-year old correspondent was plucked off of his viral Facebook videos where he judged people’s cooking recipes.

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“It all happened by chance and the short answer is I got lucky!” he tells Very Good Light. “I made a video about some food one night. It went viral, Ellen saw it, and I had a brand new job and home.”

But getting on Ellen and inspiring millions came after years of accepting – and embracing – who he was as a person. “I live my life based off of the energy I feel,” he tells us. “I don’t do anything that doesn’t make me feel good! To love and accept myself made me happy and that was of the upmost importance to me.”

And one of those aspects is self-care, as seen from Kalen’s glowing skin regimen. Below, the correspondent tells us everything about his skincare, what products he swears by and why it’s important now more than ever to embrace yourself.

“I am whoever I choose to be.

I think I have many different personas. I’m always changing, evolving, and growing. Who I am today can be totally different tomorrow. But I do know that I am optimistic, resilient, strong, and a boss!I know deep down, that my disdain for the gym is rooted in the fact that I hate the beauty standards associated with it. I don’t have to have a fit, muscular body to be beautiful. Beauty is defined by our own perception.

live my life based off of the energy I feel. I don’t do anything that doesn’t make me feel good! To love and accept myself made me happy and that was of the upmost importance to me.

When we start to base beauty on what other people consider beautiful, that is when our perception gets skewed. Confidence can be beauty all in itself. You ever met someone who may be the most plain person you ever met, but the way they carry themselves or their personality as a whole just makes your heart sing! Beauty isn’t always cosmetic, it can be what lives within you shining out, causing internal beauty to seep from your pores.

My skin’s not flawless all the time! Chile, somedays I have to bathe in holy water! My friend Tony loves a good hydra facial and I am now obsessed with them. It’s nonsurgical and it brightens, tones, and makes that skin glow. Clearly I like to glow. When it comes to my regimen, it varies depending on what my skin needs at the time. But, it goes a little something like this.

Day

Kalen Allen skincare peter thomas roth

1. Peter Thomas Roth, Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser, $30

I learned about this product after redeeming points at Sephora. My skin is neither oily or dry but more so in the middle and this cleanser does a great job of giving me just the right amount of moisture.

2. Peter Thomas Roth, Water Drench Hyaluronic Micro-Bubbling Cloud Mask, $52

I only use this product once a week. I also have a plethora of different masks, depending on how my face is doing. This mask really locks in the moisture!

3. Peter Thomas Roth, 24K Gold Hydra-gel Eye Patches, $75

Out of all my Peter Thomas Roth collection, these are hands down my favorite. Baby, because these bags can be something vicious!

Kalen Allen skincare glam glow lush

4. Tend Skin, Ingrown Hair Solution, $16

Unfortunately, I suffer from ingrown hairs, which is my least favorite thing about my skin. Most barbers swear by this product. It has helped me reduce inflammation immensely.

5. LUSH, Eau Roma Water Toner, $10.95

When it comes to toner, I like it to be very lightweight and clean. This one from Lush will leave you feeling refreshed.

6. GLAMGLOW, Tropicalcleanse Daily Exfoliating Cleanser, $34

I also don’t use this one every day, even though it says daily. When I may sense a breakout coming along, I use this to exfoliate!

Kalen Allen skincare tatcha biossance

7. Good Genes, All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $122

Another product I love dearly. Since this is an acid, you can’t use it every day. But, it does do a deeper exfoliation that the GLAMGLOW. My friend Andre put me on to this!

8.Biossance, Squalane – Phyto-Retinol Serum, $72

I mean everyone needs a retinol! I discovered this through redeeming points at Sephora as well. I don’t know what retinol does but I know people swear by it on twitter.

9. TATCHA, The Dewy Skin Cream, $68

I love a good moisturizer and PatrickStarrr loves Tatcha, so I too decided to try it. I love how it makes me glow! Especially in the sunlight. It also works well with makeup application.

10. Dior ONE Essential, City Defense SPF 50

SUNSCREEN IS ESSENTIAL! You have to have some kind of sunscreen in your beauty regimen. This one by Dior is lightweight, doesn’t leave any residue and will get you smooth together!

11. GLAMGLOW, Brighteyes, $39

Like I said, bags! This just brightens them up!

Night:

Kalen Allen skincare regimen

1. TATCHA, Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $48

I only use this when I have on makeup and it is remarkable. I mean you just throw this oil on, rub it around, and boom makeup be gone! A blessing!

2. Dior – Hydra Life, Extra Plump Smooth Balm Mask, $69

This just makes sure my face doesn’t start drooping before it should. Don’t do it on a daily basis.

3. TATCHA, Luminous Dewy Skin Night Concentrate, $110

This just adds to maintaining that glow and we know at night that skin can dry out.

Who is Kim Toni from Netflix’s Itaewon Class?

Netflix just wrapped its season finale of the popular Korean drama, Itaewon Class and we’re all crying.

One of the most talked about stars is Kim Toni, played by Chris Lyon, who’s fluent in English and Korean. The show centers around a character named Park SaeRoy, played by Park SeoJoon who was recently released from prison and his journey with opening up a bar in Itaewon. While it shows his journey, the show also highlights the life of five other free-spirited and ambitious young adults in his life.) As we watch the trailer and see the star-filled cast showcase their amazing acting skills towards the end, there is one actor who stood out. 

Debut poster for Itaewon Class

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One of its most heralded stars is Chris Lyon, a 27-year-old African American from the United States. It’s historic as South Korea, a mostly homogenous country has never had a foreigner become one of its dramas’ stars. But the drama’s breaking barriers by not only showcasing a three-dimensional, non-stereotypical black character but also a trans character as well. Along with the awesome storytelling, it’s no wonder the series is already trending in the top 10 most-watched series on Netflix in various countries.

In the show, Lyon plays Kim Toni, a Guinean character who came to Korea in hopes to find his Korean father and is working part-time in a restaurant. 

At times, his character faces racism, based on real life.  “There have certainly been several times where I’ve found myself in the exact same situation as Toni did in the show,” Chris tells Very Good Light. “It’s frustrating when you do meet people like that, but there have been Korean friends who have stood up for me in those situations. It’s really heartwarming to see people’s reactions to it.”

Chris Lyon as Kim Toni

It’s a challenge Chris and many foreigners face in Korean media. With the ethnic makeup of South Korea being over 99% Korean, it’s often tricky when it comes to writing in diverse characters who aren’t based on stereotypes or tired tropes. Historically blackface has been implemented into entertainment and is unfortunately still prevalent today. While many do not mean to insult African Americans it still is because of the lack of diverse writers or cultural and historical context. 

Which is why Chris’s representation of black people is so important. But the actor’s path to stardom in South Korea wasn’t planned. 

Growing up in Orlando, Florida his only relation to Korea as a child was through a children’s song titled, 산토끼 (Mountain Rabbit) that his mother learned from a Korean friend and would sing to Chris. Later in high school and college, he’d befriend Korean exchange students. They shared both of their cultures which piqued his interest in Korea and the entertainment industry. It’s only after completing his degree in Information Technology at Andrews University he decided to move to Korea. 

The drama’s breaking barriers by not only showcasing a three-dimensional, non-stereotypical black character but also a trans character as well.

“When I first moved to Korea I struggled the most with the things I took for granted: getting an apartment, setting up bank accounts, getting a phone,” he says. “The systems are slightly different than the US.”

Almost immediately, Chris became a working model, while working in music. He ended up getting his first gig working on a project with Big Bang’s G Dragon and the shopping conglomerate, Shinsegae. That led him to work on his first film, “Live Hard.” The indie film would prove to be life-changing as it eventually won the audience award at Bucheon Film Festival the following year. The role caught the eye of the movie’s scriptwriter, who was also working on Itaewon Class. He recommended Chris audition. “Honestly, that time is still a little bit of a blur to me. I want to say anywhere between a few days to 2 weeks,” he says. “There was some correspondence before we had any actual meetings, though.”

But the real work came after landing the gig. “I feel like becoming fluent is a never-ending process,” he says. “There are always subtleties that are buried in the nuances of a language. Expressions themselves and the intonations that are used for each expression are so different from Latin or Germanic based languages. I think that’s what made acting as Kim Toni so much of a challenge for me.” 

Chirs Lyon Headshot

On set, he recalls a time that the drama’s lead Park Seo Joon supported him. “I remember the first day of shooting he (Park Seo Joon) pulled me to the side to sit down with me and went over my script with me one-on-one to show me how he prepares,” he says. “He’s a real veteran and had so much to think about with his role and his lines. So for him to take the time out like that was something that I think not a lot of people would do. He’s a really great friend.” 

His other costars have also given him a few pointers: “Ryu Gyeong-su and Kim Da-mi have both given great advice on not sounding like I grew up in the countryside, apparently I’ve picked up a dialect that sounds from rural Korea. – The main cast gets together from time to time when we’re not busy to go out to eat for dinner or just have fun. It’s like a small family. 

While he’s becoming more fluent with the country, he’s also learning to appreciate Korea more each day. “I wish people realized how much inspiration you can get from other cultures like Korea,” he says. “There’s an entirely different set of social references that people make memes out of, an entirely different way they tell stories, an entirely different way they portray emotions. There are definitely similarities, and I think movies like Parasite and TV shows like Itaewon Class are really bringing that untouched sea of inspiration to people’s attention.”

In his day to day life as a foreigner in Korea, he is also able to see the stark differences between how masculinity is perceived in Western Culture and Asian Culture: “Surprisingly now even to me, not that different these days. Even 5-10 years ago, I feel like there was a huge difference in style and fashion. kim toni itaewon class netflixI think cultures both in the East and West have really started to be exposed to a lot of different types of masculinity.”

With all the love Itaewon Class is getting, Lyon is becoming a known celebrity across Korea: “The attention Itaewon Class has gotten has been different than anything I’ve been apart of before. It’s difficult for me to even walk out of my house to the convenience store down the road without getting stopped on the street now. I absolutely love meeting all of my fans. They’re all interesting people! It just takes some getting used to. I guess I just still think of myself as a normal person.” 

7 college students on how they’re dealing with coronavirus

With the recent COVID-19 crisis, many schools are implementing a lot of new changes from working remotely to postponing commencement in May. Many are scared. Others are worried. The unknown is super nerve-wracking. 

As a lot of unknown and disruption in our daily lives occur, we spoke with seven Gen-Z college students across the country, scared and worried about what their schools are doing and how they’re dealing with all of the lockdowns, self-isolation, and keeping it together through these trying times.

Below, in their own words…

SEE ALSO: A holistic career coach on managing coronavirus-induced stress and anxiety 

Leeks, 24, Senior at University of New Haven, @leekycrowder

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“COVID-19 has impacted my day to day life most by the fact that internship programs are getting canceled.

I can’t go out in public and do all the things I’ve been scheduled to do in terms of networking, social events, meeting up with friends. I have to use whatever money I’m getting this month from the government to get groceries because of social distancing and quarantine. I have been able to finesse and delay bills because of it.

I began commuting to school and moved back to my hometown of Long Island, New York in 2019 so I do not have to deal with the dorms.  I currently have 10 credits left to complete. From what I was told via emails, campus news articles and friends, everyone has to evacuate the dorms. The only folks who are allowed to stay in the on-campus dorms are international students, people who live 300+ miles away and students who have special circumstances.

Some professors have been empathic because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. I have two professors (and granted this is online classes we signed up for before the coronavirus came into the picture) who pushed back due dates and even allowed students to submit late assignments. 

Because of the outbreak, I am frequently washing my hands, keeping my room clean, and keeping myself busy through tv shows, movies, music, and lastly praying.

To be honest, I haven’t really figured out how to mentally stay calm during this time. But I have done things like, recently got a subscription to the headspace app, attend tarot card readings, and lastly would say music is my savior at the moment.”

Serenity: 21, Second Semester Senior at New York University, @sophieisserene

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“I had a trip planned to Paris for Spring Break, but because of the outbreak, I ultimately decided to cancel my plans in order to do my part in containing the coronavirus.

NYU has notified students living on campus that they must be out of the dorms no later than March 22 and they cant come back for the remainder of the semester.  Students are only allowed to stay on campus for ‘exceptional reasons that require you to stay in New York and the bar will be high.’ Room and board will be prorated but they basically said, ‘Everyone go home.’

I wouldn’t say NYU has done anything to ease panic because they basically were like, ‘Classes are online, leave the dorm, very sorry and I know this is unexpected but thanks for being flexible, bye!’ I can say though that even though I don’t work on campus they sent out an email about working on paying the students that were on federal work studies so that they will still get paid through the rest of the semester. 

My job is closed (NYC Public School) and of course, classes are all online and I might not get to have a graduation ceremony. Because of how aggressive coronavirus is spreading, I’ve been way more conscious of my body, where my hands are going, what I’m touching, how often I’m washing my hands and for how long. 

I am now practicing social-distancing by just staying in my apartment. I did my grocery shopping already so now I’m looking at just staying home. 

‘Everyone go home.’

All in all, to stay calm I only read credible sources and tell myself to remember the facts, and that it’s not just some completely unknown monster to completely lose your mind over but it is something serious and what the logistics of it are — what precautions to take, what are the symptoms, etc.

I mentally coach myself about thinking to the future when this all dies down and how Paris will still be there and Universities are gonna come up with some way to make commencement up to us.

Right now, we have to just take it easy, watching Netflix, eating snacks that I normally wouldn’t, and taking this as a time to just stay home and practice self-care. To have some sort of normalcy in all this, I would suggest doing some Spring cleaning, give yourself a manicure/pedicure and put on face masks.”

Tim: 20, Sophomore at Fashion Institute of Technology, @timohtreee

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“The coronavirus is affecting me most in the way that I intended on starting a new job soon.

Since the virus is shutting down businesses, my start date was pushed back. Before all of this happened, I put my two weeks in at my other job already, so starting next week I will be unemployed for two weeks.

I live at home, but FIT is requesting that people leave their dorms by March 31st and if not, they are willing to accommodate them. 

To do my part in containing the virus, I am staying indoors. If I do go out, it is to go to my girlfriend’s house and I always use hand sanitizer and wash my hands the minute I am able to. To ease the panic, my school has suspended all in-person classes including labs. My school also constantly sends emails informing us of the steps they are taking as the virus is rapidly spreading. In order to stay calm in such an overwhelming time, I am catching up on my school work, sleeping more and improving my Spanish.”

Bre 19, Freshman at Oregon State University-Cascades, @bree.sandal.chin

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“I currently live on campus. Oregon State said that students are allowed to stay in the dorms, and are encouraged to remain on campus and practice social distancing in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

Like many schools, all instruction will be online but the thing is I have a printmaking class next term that is a hands-on, studio class. That also takes away from the experience and learning process that we would be blessed with if we still had in-person instruction.

Moving classes and finals online affected everyone in a different way. For me, I had two papers and a project that needed to be turned in online anyway but, I did have a project for 3-D art that we needed to bring in and present with everyone. That, unfortunately, took away the learning experience of being in class, observing each other’s projects that we worked hard on, and having a nice time with each other sipping on tea.

They have shut down our gym indefinitely and doing body workouts is something I do not prefer in my opinion. But right now, I have to make do with what I have. I am cooped up in my room a lot more since they did ask us to social distance and I’d rather keep myself and my friends safe.

Honestly, I like my room since I made it a more comfortable and cozy space, but being in it the majority of the day feels like I don’t get much done and I’m not getting out there and exploring, even though I can’t right now. It makes the days feel much longer.

I am practicing social distancing by thoroughly wiping down and cleaning everything I have come in contact with, staying updated with the outbreak through reliable sources, and keeping contact with family members to make sure they’re ok.

My school has done great in responding to the outbreak and easing everyone’s panic:

They are allowing students to stay on campus because some may not be able to travel due to funds. They are keeping the dining halls open and helping those with meal insecurities. They also have opened the computer labs and laptop spaces will be available around campus (at a safe distance) just in case some students can’t work remotely. Lastly, they are keeping everyone updated with any changes they decide to make or the district/state implemented them.

Since I’m in my room more often, I clean my room to destress. With that being said, I only leave my room to do things that need to be done and not making unnecessary trips anywhere.

I practice a little more self-care, which to me looks like, playing video games (add me on PSN: @hater_nation5827) LOL, watching anime and drawing/painting while listening to music.”

Ty’Ren, 18, Sophomore at Pace University, @tyrentillett

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“The biggest effect that coronavirus has had on my life is that I can’t go home to California unless I want to be quarantined for two weeks upon my return to NYC.

I have decided to ultimately stay in the city as Pace has allowed us to stay in the dorms, though many have left on their own accord.

With that being said, I’m personally being a lot more cautious with what I touch out in public and trying to stay in as much as I possibly can. Pace sent out emails with updates on the virus and how it will be affecting us: we were just notified classes will be remote for the rest of the semester and commencement will be postponed.

To keep calm, I’m just kind of acknowledging the existence of the virus and hoping for the best for myself and those around me.”

Hana, 20, Sophomore at University at Albany SUNY, @kastratihana 

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“The largest way corona has impacted me is that online classes aren’t that compatible with my major and the classes I have to take. I’m currently live in the dorms but am packing to go home. 

The university decided on the 18th that they would be closing the dorms and gave us until the 5th of April to move our stuff out. Those with extenuating circumstances such as international students, abusive households, no wifi/food are allowed to stay. We will be getting partial refunds when we move out based on the amount of time we’ve been here. 

I can’t go to work because my job is closed due to one of my coworkers possibly having come into contact with the virus. I’m lucky that my parents have a car and that my school is only three hours away so they can come get me this weekend. I’m also lucky that I have friends that live off-campus that can hold some of my stuff for me until I come back in the fall. I’ve been staying home and going out as little as possible. The coronavirus isn’t going to affect me much because I’m young and healthy but I don’t want to risk exposing someone else. However, when my job opens back up, I will be taking the bus to and from work.

I’m honestly not worried much because I know I’ll be okay and my family is okay, I’m just trying not to get exposed to the virus and not expose anyone else.”

Haunani, 22, Second Semester Senior at University of Hawaii at Mānoa, @haunanipreston 

showcasing student who contributed to coronavirus article

“The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted me in the ways that I am a senior and they canceled our graduation ceremony set in May 2020.

I live at home but as of right now people are still living on campus but are not allowed to attend class or eat at the cafe. The school is offering dine-out options for those who currently live on campus. UH Manoa has its counseling services currently open for a limited amount of time Monday through Friday to offer students therapy during this time. 

The coronavirus is really impacting the job that I love. I am currently in the Elementary Education Program to teach grades k-6, and I am unable to teach my students at all. This makes me feel horrible knowing that my students do not have access to technology at home, leaves me without the opportunity to teach them as all public schools in Hawaii are shut down until April 7th. I suppose that this date will be pushed back too, because it would directly impact the safety and wellbeing of teachers and students. 

Knowing that I can’t teach my students, that I am not able to spend time with them and even do what I’m supposed to do to pass all of my courses (which is to teach them daily) gives me a lot of stress.

My niece and nephew also aren’t able to go back to school, and their parents do not trust them going back to school, so currently I am helping to find homeschooling curriculums for them to easily transition into.

Since I am home, I set a solid schedule for myself, similar to what I would be doing in general. Usually, I wake up and get a good workout in, then I make coffee and breakfast for my husband and I. Afterward, I am continuing to do all of my assignments. It’s important for me to find a routine that works because being stuck at home can feel horrible to some people.  For some normalcy through the chaos, I have been doing bible studies as often as I can to keep me busy, using this time to really get my coursework done, and spend time with my family as much as I can.

We know, these are difficult and sad times right now. We all have a responsibility to ourselves, and society to self-distance in order to go back to our normal lives as soon as possible. While a lot of things are not in our control, we are able to promote peace of mind and sense of community as we fight COVID-19. Drink some tea, meditate, and binge watch that series you’ve always wanted to.”

With so much at stake and so many unknowns, we’re wish you all well. Take care, Lighters.

I woke up with a sore throat thinking I had coronavirus. An online doctor told me what to do next.

It’s really never a good time to be a hypochondriac, but living at a time of COVID-19 really is not the time.

So said my brain loudly to itself this past weekend. I woke up with a sore throat and having read way too many articles on COVID-19, was paranoid that I, too, may have gotten the virus.

SEE ALSO: I’m surviving self-quarantining with beauty meditations. 

Covid-19 black male sick coronavirus

I’m currently in Colorado, in a city that confirmed its third case. But I’ve also been in contact with people at the supermarket, and having to go back and forth to another city due to a death in the family. Without the luxury of being indoors 24/7 for the past two weeks, there’s no doubt that I’ve been in spaces that the COVID-19 virus could have lingered.

It’s horrifying to read studies that find the virus and remain in the air for up to three hours. Worse, it can survive up to four-hours on copper, 24-hours on cardboard, and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. Essentially, this virus isn’t playing around – it’s serious.

But with mixed messages from our president, a shortage of COVID-19 tests, and phone lines to doctors tied up, the best you can do is fend for yourself, self-diagnose or spiral. Which is why it was so amazing to discover that Ro, the telehealth company, offers free video consultations with real doctors. Called a “free telehealth triage service,” it’s one that provides you with a one-on-one video chat with an expert.

This service is a game-changer for so many reasons. For one, if your symptoms aren’t serious, you can unburden the phone lines to those who need emergency help. It also frees you from exposing yourself or others to potential illnesses by walking into a hospital or doctor’s office. For someone with “low-risk,” that is an individual who hasn’t been exposed to people in the past few weeks, it could even be more dangerous to visit said doctors IRL.

Roman telemedicine Covid-19 coronavirus

This past weekend, I took Ro’s offer to assess myself. I woke up with a sore throat and a stuffy nose, unsure if this was allergies (it is the season!), or, perhaps, something more nefarious.

First, I took Ro’s assessment, which asks you questions on your symptoms, if you’ve been exposed to someone with related symptoms, or traveled outside the state/country. Afterwards, I received a text informing me the doctor was in and that I could connect with them.

Below, my experience with Ro’s triage assessment, who matched me with Dr. Smith, a physician in Tennessee. And now, for Very Good Light readers, you, too, can talk to an online doctor for free. Just check out covid.ro.co/vgl.

Roman telemedicine Covid-19 coronavirus

David: With this virus, it’s really scary because you can go asymptomatic for days – or weeks. Where can you get tests?

Dr. Smith: New York is limiting testing for asymptomatic people. But you can be incubating for 7-10 days and potentially spread the virus when you’re asymptomatic. I agree with the whole stay at home and don’t go out unless you have to. This prevents spreading to someone who is at-risk or more susceptible to it.

D: Sneezing isn’t a symptom?

DS: The big thing is the dry cough, fever, tightness of the chest. It’s not to say someone with COVID-19 doesn’t have sneezing. But I’d say you’re safe. Don’t touch your face, practice social distancing, wash your hands, don’t go out in the public unless you have to. Even in the home practice distancing, no hugging as well.

D: How do we flatten the curve?

DS: If people follow the rules, if you’ve seen the spring breakers, it’s disheartening. But once testing is widely available, unfortunately, I think we’ll find more people actually have the virus. That will further show the scope of what’s happening.

I think flattening the curve will happen if people heed the warnings. There are a subset of people who don’t think it’s real and think it’s just like the flu. Unfortunately, those are the Americans who are going to get others in trouble.

D: Is flattening the curve going to be soon or our new normal?

DS: I think it’s going to go on at least for another 3-4 months. I think two weeks is sort of an opening of the door to prevent the spread. It’s going to take more than that. Looking at the situation in China and Italy, we’re going to parallel that. It’s not going to be an major concern until at least July.

D: Talk to me about high risk people.

DS: Any age past 50 or with anyone with immune issues regardless of age, that’s a high risk part of the population. I would say 70 and above are at high risk.

D: More than the virus, I feel it’s taken an emotional toll on people. For me, I realize I haven’t wanted to go to bed in fear that the next day I’d wake up with chills or a fever. 

DS: I can share that with you. I look at Worldometer and looks at the cases around the planet so I think to a certain extent, just focus on something else before you go to sleep, which affects your sleep, which affects your immune system. Make sure you stay well hydrated. Take a zinc supplement. Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine has been used for SARS in the past but Dr. Fauci from the CDC he’s being cautiously optimistic about it. There have been trials done to see if it does make a difference or with safety with it.

D: What would you suggest to people who do exhibit symptoms?

DS: Self-quarantine for two weeks, don’t just go to an emergency room. People call because of the fear. They don’t have concerning symptoms and just want to talk to someone to be reassured that they don’t have it or have increased risk. I think it’s peace of mind. A lot of practices have the abilities to do a test to say, an Urgent Care. In this situation they’re working on a point of care test, a courier has to take it, they then test it. It’s 48-72 hours and you can imagine the fear and stress of waiting for it to come back. A lot of it is evaluating the person as a whole, their risks and their symptoms. I’m disappointed that testing hasn’t been widely available in the United States. Here locally in Tennessee they were doing drive-thru testing but again, you won’t get results by the time you leave.

D: Thoughts on ibuprofen?

DS: There’s been some concern with ibuprofen decreasing the immunity’s response. In one way, a lot of people think a fever is a bad thing but it’s the body’s attempt to get rid of the virus. A coronavirus is heat-sensitive, a fever is the best defense against it. I would stick with Tylenol because it’s not an anti-inflammatory and not use an Aleve or Motrin.

D: So, just to be clear: you don’t think I have COVID-19?

DS: Unless you have a fever or tightness of the chest, I don’t think what you’re exhibiting is COVID-19.

D: Thank you, doctor! Be safe. 

Get your own assessment with Ro x VGL’s free COVID-19/coronavirus assessment here: covid.ro.co/vgl

I’m surviving self-quarantining through beauty meditation.

Hey, self-quarantine, nice to know ya.

Now that you have so much time on our hands, might as well do something productive for ourselves Between baking, FaceTime sessions, re-watching The Office (generally surviving) it’s time for us to stop, unwind and do things for ourselves. I, for one, am venturing into beauty meditation. Yes, beauty meditation. It’s a thing. There have been countless articles about glowing skin just from being intentional about it. Could I truly meditate myself into a better complexion? Now was the time to truly put this to the test.

Full disclosure, I’ve rarely meditated before. Outside of the wellness retreats (for stories, of course) and hyper-millennial press events that serve overwhelming positivity straight up with a shot of kombucha, I’ve never been one to really disconnect. In a fast-paced NYC world, meditation seemed relatively futile.

SEE ALSO: How to manage coronavirus-related stress and anxiety

That all changed last week when news of COVID-19 reached fever pitch in the U.S. It was re-branded as a pandemic with hundreds of confirmed cases across the country appeared overnight. ‘“Social distancing” became the buzzphrase that birthed a million memes. Seemingly rational people began stockpiling. For me, the paranoia set in.

Black teen meditating

That’s when I realized skin meditation was necessary for not only my routine, but life. I discovered a couple of brilliant YouTube videos to lead me along my journey. The combination of breath work and many of the videos’ melodic voiceover became self-care, and whether or not I was completely delusional, I felt my immune system strengthening with each exhale.

Meditating for something specific — like a clear visage — for 15 or so minutes a day, seemed doable when I began last Monday. Placebo or otherwise, I felt like I saw results within several days: old acne was healing faster than ever, milia self-corrected, and the overall texture of my skin altered. But mostly, my mind started to calm down.

As more cities shut down and the mandate remains to limit regular activities to confines of your home, we’ve been forced to fill what feels like a never-ending abyss of time. Couple that with the cabin fever-induced hypochondria, boredom, financial stress, or even just pure loneliness, and you have yourself a breeding ground for anxiety. So what do you do? I’d suggest practicing skin-meditation, it truly changed my life. Here’s how I’m surviving this week.

Head on over to YouTube, and hypnotize yourself out of your funk with the most-effective meditation practices. Here’s what I used, below. 

For great skin

Ah, where it all began. After trying several guided meditations, I stumbled on this bad boy. It’s bridges the gap between meditation and hypnosis, which almost makes it easier to buy into. The voiceover gives you a free few minutes at the end of the video to consider your intentions and let go of any remaining stress. I felt an immediate flood of serotonin post-session — something I can only relate to accomplishing a workout.

For a healthy body

If you’re browsing meditation videos and wondering how on earth anyone can commit to a six-hour meditation — never fear, many are intended to focus your subconscious on healing and promoting health overnight. This clip (which has racked up a remarkable 10 million views), relaxes you for sleep while it reiterates the power of the mind when it comes to fixing the body — awakening the mind, surviving the next day– to transform any medicine you’re already consuming into the ultimate weapon to fight what does not serve you.

For lessened anxiety

So you’ve entered a state of panic and are in need of a quick fix: stop, and put this on. It’s a five minute meditation coupled with an instrumental that takes you through breathing exercises to take you out of your head and into your body. It incorporates a repetition component, so you’re forced to fully engage with the meditation — give it a try, we can guarantee you’ll feel instantly at ease.

For financial relief

With a wave of lay offs across the country, the Coronavirus is having an immeasurable impact on the lives of working Americans. If you’re feeling nervous about potentially losing your job, have already been let go or are confronting dwindling work prospects amid the madness, this meditation will train you to attract prosperity. It’s also 8 hours, so pop it on before you sleep and feel free to knock on out.

For a better mood

It may be that what you need most in trying times is just little morale boost. This endorphin meditation invites you to dedicate a quick 10 minutes daily to pivot you toward positivity, let go of what’s concerning you and surrender to what you can’t control — we guarantee you’ll feel better for it.

Photo by Marco Trinidad from Pexels