K-Pop Crossover: Dancer-Rapper-Talent Manager Brandon Chow On K-Pop's Allure For Asian American Talents [EXCLUSIVE]

In K-pop, entertainment companies expect trainees to be multi-faceted artists, and that is something Brandon Chow is very familiar with.

Chow is a New York-based hip-hop dancer, rapper, actor and talent manager. Unlike the K-pop training system, however, the Japanese-Chinese-American embraced his diverse background all on his own.

"In elementary school they were recruiting dancers for the National Dance Institute," said Chow. "They would recruit students and teach them, and they would perform at the end of the year. From there, I enrolled in the Broadway Dance Center and I started doing tap, jazz and ballet, African, hip-hop, lyrical."

Soon after, Chow was accepted to the Professional Performing Arts School, where his passion for rapping and performing grew.

"Being in that school I was surrounded by this hip-hop movement of dancing and rapping," he said. "To create your own rhythm, tempo, metaphors and similes and make them into a song, I just found it fascinating."

But despite his educational background, Chow believes that a formal training system like the one utilized by K-pop also needs to be balanced out by street experience.

"I think you need a mixture of both," he admitted.

"You do need the education background but you also need the experience. If you learn what they teach you in school, it doesn't really prepare you for the world. But if you're a person who's always been in the world and you have the street smarts, you're already surrounded by that. Experience will always trump education."

Still, K-pop remains as alluring as ever for aspiring Asian artists around the world. Many Asian American talents transition into K-pop in order to secure better opportunities compared the States. But for Chow, such a transition will not make breaking into the American entertainment industry any easier.

"If you're an Asian American, you already have a leg up on the people coming from Asia trying to make it in America," said the talent manager.

"Prime example, one of my clients is Indonesian American, but he's moving to Indonesia because they love him. For them, it's like having an American who's [also] our people. Over here, he's just an average guy trying to make it in the modeling industry. But if you're here and you're already getting work, you can always go back and get the love, but if you're here, you might as well put in all your time and energy while you're young."

And one way Chow is contributing to the process is his own talent management company, ANCHORED Talent Group.

"In 2010, I started my own hip-hop dance company called Hip Hop Dance Junkies," explained Chow.

"I created it to provide an introductory course for people who wanted to try hip-hop but didn't know where to start. I know I'm not the best dancer but I try to be the best teacher. I had been getting a lot of requests from people asking if I knew this or that, and most of the time I get responses and people get put in roles or auditions or whatever the case may be. Then I started thinking, 'Why not make a business out of this?' Make it official, make sure I am with them every step of the way. Just being their voice of reason and having their back."

Like other agency founders like Yang Hyun Suk of YG Entertainment or J.Y. Park of JYP Entertainment, Chow understands the struggles of an Asian artist, or any artist for that matter.

"I was and am an artist," he said. "I know how it feels to try to make it on my own, and I want to give people that chance."



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