Meet Emma Wang: theatrical producer, television hostess, and CEO of a youth arts academy. She recently immigrated to the United States and produced the Off-Broadway hit The Little Match Girl. Wang also goes by Yaya — she hosted the Yaya Show in China and has worked as a television broadcaster there. Wang is committed to producing shows enhancing empathy to various audiences.

Woman with hand on chin and wearing red shirt

Emma (Yaya) Wang is a theatre producer who has worked in both China and the United States.

Current International Thespian Officer Rosanna Gao spoke with Wang. Here are highlights of their conversation on producing theatre in China and the United States, and doing advocacy work. 

Producing Theatre That Moves Audiences

Producing powerful theatre is difficult and comes with experiences over time. However, these are my three best tips to producing theatre that moves people:

#1 Find an Entertaining Story
Storytelling is a big part of a successful show. Audiences want to be entranced by the characters, plot, set design, costumes, etc. When you have an enjoyable and interesting show, more audience members will want to come see it and share it with their friends and family.

#2 Communicate & Work Well With Others
The producer is in charge of, basically, all the various developmental steps in a show. They handle the finances and work with each department within the production. To produce powerful theatre, it is very important to meet regularly, and communicate well, with all your teammates. Communication helps the process run smoothly. Having a good relationship with the people you are working with will inspire and motivate everyone to be their best. And when everyone is at their best, you are more likely to have successful performances.

#3 Organization & Time Management are Key!
The producer should have a timeline of tasks to accomplish by specific dates. This plan should allow ample time for rehearsals, press conferences, marketing, etc. All the components of a show come together during a performance, and the producer should make sure that everyone involved is on the same page. Meeting deadlines helps to produce a successful show!

Tell us about immigrating from China &  producing theatre in the U.S.

I had lived in China for 30 years before immigrating here. I brought my husband, children, parents, and cat. When we arrived, we did not have a place to live. I did not understand the culture or English. My children had no school to attend. However, in two weeks, my daughters could attend school, and I found a place for us all to stay.

I have always strived to make use of every opportunity, and began rehearsals for The Little Match Girl. Then COVID-19 hit, and Broadway closed, but I was able to produce many shows in China. I hope to create more in America now.

Stage production of The Little Match Girl

Tell us what you hope to convey through your productions

I hope to convey various cultures and empower young people to tell stories. Right now, I am 40 years old and have two daughters. I don’t want to waste any of my time. I have found my passion, and I think now is one of the best times to pursue my career and personal goals.

I also hope to highlight the youth onstage. I want to showcase various cultures. I am currently working on Mulan and love producing shows featuring women. All of the shows I have made have focused on women and youth. I want to create shows that can be experienced worldwide, and that embrace unity among all different groups and ideologies. I want to create an international echo chamber of unity.

Talk about the difficulties of producing theatre right now

COVID-19 and the ever-changing safety protocols are a constant challenge to Broadway shows right now. I produced The Little Match Girl Off-Broadway; we had prepared for a year. We had only done 7 performances of the show, and then COVID-19 occurred, so we had to close. I have not been able to open a running show in the United States in the past two years.

Recently, I was able to produce The Little Match Girl, but the theater closed again. Also, during these past two years, many actors have gone on to find work elsewhere. I know an actress who used to be on Broadway and now works at Disney in Orlando because of the lack of opportunities on Broadway stages.

What is your advice for aspiring AAPI artists?

I hope AAPI artists will continue to pursue their passion for the arts, and advocate for more representation of BIPOC performers on the stage. It is challenging to dismantle systems in power that oppress so many communities, but through policy changes, unity, and dialogue, we can reach more diverse theater spaces.

In the future, I want to create an Asian Broadway alliance/ coalition that will advocate for representation within theater spaces. I also urge the AAPI youth to have faith in their abilities and take on every opportunity that comes their way. The youth need to be confident in themselves as they are the future of the arts.

Tell us what you are working on now

I am currently working on a production of Mulan, which will have an all-Asian cast. This show will emphasize the bold and mighty Asian culture, and I hope it serves as an opportunity for more Asian actors and actresses. 

Annissa Gao is a sophomore at Great Neck South High School in Long Island, New York. She is passionate about art, photography, and fashion. She has won many awards including State Fish Art Contest International Art of Conservation Award, two Scholastic Gold Keys, and currently has artwork displayed at The Atelier of Flowerfield. Connect with Annissa at annissagao@gmail.com 

Rosanna Gao is a 2022 International Thespian Officer and a passionate advocate of BIPOC representation within the arts. She is currently a rising senior at Great Neck South High School and is excited by the prospect of combining her passions for musical theatre, social impact, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship through opportunities within the performing arts industry. Connect with Rosanna.

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