703: A Song With A Mission With Katherine Ho

Katherine Ho is a singer/songwriter from Thousand Oaks, California. She is best known for her Mandarin cover of Coldplay’s A Song With A Mission With Katherine Ho“Yellow” that was featured on the soundtrack of the hit Hollywood film, Crazy Rich Asians. Since the movie’s release, the song has reached No. 1 on the Spotify Viral 50 Global chart and has over 13 million combined streams on Spotify and YouTube.  At age nine, she booked her first professional singing job as a children’s choir member in the Warner Brother’s feature film Valentine’s Day. Around this age, she also began pursuing acting and landed both on-camera and voiceover roles in Disney and Nickelodeon shows. At age sixteen, Katherine competed on season 10 of NBC’s The Voice on Team Adam Levine. Katherine is also a proud alumnus of A Cappella Academy, which led to the opportunity to audition to sing “Yellow” in Crazy Rich Asians

Katherine shares the story and mission behind the Mandarin cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” and why it was so important to include the cover song in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians.  She also shares how singing the cover song helped her own confidence and realize her worth as an Asian woman.

Bio

Katherine Ho is a singer/songwriter from Thousand Oaks, California.

Cultural Background

Katherine is of Chinese descent.

Favorite Self Confidence Quote

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Definition of Self Confidence

Self confidence is knowing that you deserve happiness and respect just as much as everyone else.

Her Life Before the Discovery of Self Confidence

Growing up, Katherine wasn’t really proud of her cultural identity. She went to Chinese school, hung out with mostly Asians, and participated in all the Lunar New Year shows that her community put on, but deep down, she was not truly proud to be Asian. It’s really interesting, because she grew up with a super supportive/loving family, attending great schools, and in a town that was open-minded and inclusive, yet she still told herself that she was lesser-than because she was Asian. Katherine felt that because she was inherently worth less than others, she had to work many times harder than non-Asians in order to achieve the same results and somehow “make up” for the fact that she was Asian. Looking back, she thinks she almost idolized white people and always wished that she was white, or at least not Asian. This thinking is obviously very toxic, and caused me to be really insecure growing up.

The “AHA” Moment

Seeing Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast, was monumental in Katherine’s self-confidence journey. Seeing people that looked like her portrayed on the silver screen in such a lovable, contemporary, badass, dazzling way was immensely inspiring. For the first time, she was so, so proud to be Asian, to be part of a vibrant and diverse community that has contributed so much to American society. She is so honored to have had the opportunity to sing the Mandarin cover of “Yellow” in Crazy Rich Asians, a song that meant so much to the director of the film Jon M. Chu.

The backstory behind how the song got used in the movie is very inspiring. In addition to supporting the plot and emotion of the end of the film, Jon M. Chu chose “Yellow” because he wanted to reappropriate the meaning of the word. Historically, “yellow” was an ethnic slur used to describe Asians. But Jon wanted to change that. He said, “If we are going to be called yellow, we’re going to make it beautiful.” Initially, Coldplay denied the use of “Yellow” in Crazy Rich Asians, perhaps out of fear that people would view it as a racist jab. However, Jon was so passionate about using the song that he wrote a letter to Coldplay explaining his mission to turn “yellow” into a beautiful rather than derogatory adjective and how the song inspired him to embrace his identity in a society that told him to reject it.

It was oddly comforting to her to know that even Jon, a person she looked up to immensely as a leader of Asian-American representation in Hollywood, used to struggle with his Asian-American identity. She used to be ashamed of the fact that she was not more proud of who she is, and she thought she must be the only person to feel that way, because all of her friends seemed pretty proud to be Asian. Hearing that other Asian-Americans had similar struggles was comforting, and helped her embrace her identity even more.

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Her Life After the Discovery of Self Confidence

Never in Katherine’s life has she more proud to be Asian than she is now.  She is also consuming and supporting more Asian-centric media than she ever did growing up, because she has experienced firsthand how powerful representation can be for a young person’s self confidence and she wants to support media that would do the same for other Asian-Americans. She hopes to continue to use her voice and her art to inspire others to embrace their Asian-American identity like Crazy Rich Asians and Mandarin “Yellow” helped Katherine embrace hers.

Katherine still doesn’t think she has fully achieved self confidence, but also, she thinks that it is totally okay and normal that her journey of self confidence is not linear. She will always have insecurities and self doubt, but as she matures with age, she will have more and more experiences, learn more and more lessons, and acquire more and more tools to help her keep these feelings of insecurities at bay. Gradually, the feelings of inferiority will become fewer, further between, and less severe.

The One Self Confidence Tip For the Listener

It is really important to surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you rather than be hyper-focused on pleasing everybody.  Katherine overvalued “people-pleasing” growing up, and as a result, she thought it was literally the end of the world if someone didn’t like her or didn’t agree with something that she did. Looking back, she regrets wasting so much time trying to be perfect and save every strained relationship, because it often made her forget to focus on the people that love her to the ends of the earth and will always be there to cheer her on.  She thinks that holding on to the people, experiences, conversations, etc. that make you feel the most fulfilled is especially important when you doubt yourself the most. To sum up these two points: don’t be afraid to let go of people who are causing negative energy in your life, and when you are feeling insecure or hopeless, try to take a mental moment to remind yourself of the people and memories that bring out the best, most beautiful parts in you.

Katherine also finds that consuming inspiring media really helps! Listen to self-confidence podcasts, sing your favorite songs, read books, etc. and often times you’ll find that you are not alone in your insecurities and maybe even gain valuable insight on how to overcome these struggles. Also, she is a HUGE advocate for therapy!! Mental health is SO important, and no issue is too “small” to discuss with a professional. Seeking help does NOT make you weak; on the contrary, it takes immense courage to be vulnerable with your emotions.Two years ago, Katherine started seeing a therapist for some issues that she was going through, and she seriously cannot even imagine what her life would be like today if she hadn’t had her therapist these past few years, she has been so helpful.

Also, Katherine knows it is easier said than done, but it is important to not always compare yourself to others and measure your worth solely by quantitative/material measures that may or may not even be in your control. It is so easy to get caught up measuring yourself by your salary, your career trajectory, the number of likes you get on a picture, etc, but these measures can be misleading and are not truly valid measures of success on their own. It is also very easy to discount your own successes because one of your peers is even “more” successful than you. Everyone is on their own path, so as long as you are actively working on improving yourself, you are already achieving so much success.

Lastly, it was comforting to Katherine to hear about other people’s struggles with self confidence because it made her feel like she wasn’t alone. This isn’t really a piece of advice, but she just wish she could let people struggling with self confidence know that they, too, are not alone. Her journey with self-confidence has not been linear by any means, but she thinks that is perfectly okay. It is important to celebrate your successes, little and big, and not be too hard on yourself if you fall into certain insecurities again. We are all learning, and she believes that no one is truly 100% self confident all the time.

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