Pop culture writer a powerful voice for representation

Keanu Reeves may be the internet’s boyfriend, but his No. 1 fan is freelance writer Laura Sirikul.

If you’re obsessed with John Wick, Duke Caboom, or the meta Keanu of Always Be My Maybe, you’re going to want to follow Laura (Twitter handle: @Isirikul) for hilarious and relatable thirsty tweets about the lovable Bill and Ted star. As a bonus, you’ll discover there is much more to her than her undying adoration of this Canadian national treasure.

A childhood spent in front of the television and the influence of a geeky brother, who supplied her with He-Man and Spider-Man toys and comic books, contributed to Laura’s encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, film, and television.

A professional background in health, science, and research evolved into a flourishing freelance career, writing about entertainment for such outlets as The Hollywood Reporter, Mental Floss, Bitch Media, The Nerds of Color, and Movie Weekly China. She also serves as managing editor of geek/pop culture website Nerd Reactor

Whether breaking down the latest Marvel movie, analyzing a trailer, or reviewing Disney’s latest release, Laura keeps her finger squarely on the pop culture pulse. She also pushes the entertainment industry to do better, making a compelling case for Asian representation, calling out stereotypes, and championing groundbreaking films like Crazy Rich Asians and Always Be My Maybe.

Laura’s conviction that Asian characters “deserve to be seen” has also fueled her vibrant cosplay hobby. Before the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she was one of the first to cosplay Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico. She has also stepped into the shoes of Star Trek: Discovery’s Captain Georgiou, Disney’s Mulan, and Crazy Rich Asians’ Rachel Chu.

Laura said her pop culture expertise keep her from getting nervous when she hosts videos and interviews celebrities at press junkets and on the red carpet, except recently when she met one of her favorite actors, a certain Canadian whose name begins with “K.”

Laura Sirikul, bounding as Rose Tico at Disneyland.

You’re a freelance entertainment and pop culture writer and editor, as well as a video host for various media outlets. Is writing something you’ve always done?

I’ve been writing for a long time now. I used to write stories in high school that would be in our yearly LA Arts book and then write for several blogs, including my own. Professionally, I’ve written scientific publications prior, but was always interested in pop culture and entertainment. After being spotted for my blog, I was asked by other blogs and outlets to do some writing for them.

You have a background in research, health, and science. How did you become interested in writing about entertainment and pop culture?

I’ve always been interested in entertainment and pop culture. I was the encyclopedia of pop culture growing up and still am. I was writing about science and, all of a sudden, science became cool in pop culture. Since I was already writing, people asked for my expertise in the use of health and science in film and TV. It just evolved from there. I just started doing more pop culture and entertainment because I loved it. I honestly watch a lot of TV. I’m like a sponge for TV shows.

How did you get started in freelancing?

I started writing for some places and wanted to expand. So I really just put myself out there if people needed writers or hosts. I also began pitching to places.

Laura with Jeff Goldblum.

What about hosting videos? Is that something that fits your personality or do you get nervous doing that?

I see myself more as a writer than a host, but I don’t mind hosting. I love talking and I’m pretty social. I also have a wealth of knowledge about TV and films, so I am not afraid to not have something to talk about. I do get nervous often if the interviewee has unexpected answers or if I’m in love with them, like Keanu Reeves.

You’re managing editor and a writer for geek/pop culture site Nerd Reactor. What does that job entail?

I mainly edit articles and give assignments if we are requested. I do a lot of writing, but mostly take care of the writers and make sure the content is out there.

You’ve also written for The Hollywood Reporter, Mental Floss, Bitch Media, The Nerds of Color, and Movie View Weekly China. This sounds like a very glamorous job. What kind of work that we don’t see goes into writing a freelance article or review?

Pitching. People don’t understand how much time and effort goes into pitching.

Also, the back and forth editing. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with amazing editors who are so speedy and just great communicators.

What about interviewing celebrities at junkets and red carpet events? Is that as fun as it sounds?

I was just talking to my brother about covering an event and he thinks it must come easy for me to go and write. Writing is hard. I go to an event and the event is really cool, but I have to come home and start working right away to meet a deadline.

Laura, dressed as Captain Georgiou, with Michelle Yeoh.

Who are some of the favorite celebrities and personalities you’ve encountered through your job?

I’ve been in love with Keanu Reeves my whole life, so meeting him was a dream. I’ve met a lot and they’ve all been fantastic. Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek: Discovery, Crazy Rich Asians), Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and Brittany Ishibashi (The Runways) were my favorites because I’ve cosplayed as their characters before.

I actually met them when I was off the clock, but I also met them on the clock and they were still amazing people. Also, I always look forward to meeting more Asian actors, because they mean a lot to me as an Asian American.

Keanu Reeves is everybody’s favorite right now. You recently got a photo with him on the red carpet for Always Be My Maybe. Tell me every detail about that moment!

It honestly was a blur. I don’t usually wig out from celebrities, but I wigged out. There is a video of me meeting him and people told me I didn’t look or sound wigged out, but I was. I was fangirling so much. I have only a few celebrities that I would internally meltdown meeting — Keanu is one of them. The other is Riz Ahmed (Star Wars: Rogue One) and Chris Evans.

You are a very vocal supporter of Always Be My Maybe and other groundbreaking entertainment when it comes to Asian representation. Why are you enthusiastic about that?

As an Asian American, we didn’t see much representation growing up. I grew up in Staten Island where I was only one of three Asians in my entire class, which was pretty big. I later moved to L.A. in a predominantly Asian community.

Also, when you’re a kid, your parents would just seat you in front of the TV and that is your babysitter. It was for me. That’s also how I got into Star Trek, but unfortunately, there weren’t really any Asians seen in media. If we did have any, it was pretty stereotypical or fetishized. I just wanted to feel like the other kids who all got to “pretend play” any character, but when I wanted to play along, I didn’t look like those people. Kids can be cruel.

I really clung onto any Asians I did see, like Trini from Power Rangers and Keiko from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was thirsty to be seen. Seeing the changes being made now and feeling seen by my favorite genres — sci-fi and romantic comedies — made me feel like a kid again and just welcomed.

It’s a hard feeling to describe when you see people who look just like you being normalized. I love that Asian Americans are getting their own stories told like regular movies we grew up with. Visibility is so important because future generations can just feel welcomed and normalized.

You’ve written intelligently and passionately about Asian representation and representation in general (I’m a big fan, for instance, of your analysis of All the Boys I’ve Loved Before for Bitch Media). Is that something you plan to continue to do/would like to do more of?

Yeah, I’ve written a few analysis pieces and I’d love to do more. It is hard to pitch some stuff because you really need to work new angles. So, I’ve been working on a few things. Hopefully, it’ll come to fruition.

Have you encountered any pushback or negativity because of your outspokenness on this subject?

Oh yeah. I was doxxed a few years ago by some angry guys regarding Asian American feminism and, also, defending people’s life choices. I’m just more careful now about my personal life on public social media. Also, the block and mute button is my friend.

Laura on the set of Captain Marvel.

You have also written an awful lot about Marvel and Marvel movies. (I loved your breakdown of the Avengers: Endgame finale in The Hollywood Reporter!) What sparked your interest in Marvel/the MCU?

I’ve always loved comic books and cartoons. Like I said before, the TV was my babysitter. I also had comic books cause I had an older brother and I would read his. So I really enjoyed DC and Marvel growing up. I would watch Saturday morning cartoons, which included Batman, Superman, X-Men, Spider-Man, and others. So it really just stuck with me.

Why do you enjoy writing/reporting about Marvel?

I think Marvel speaks for itself. It’s just a fun topic to work on. I love watching Marvel take from their pages and put it onto the big screen.

If you had to choose just one MCU movie, which would it be?

Shang-Chi. I know it hasn’t come out yet, but it will be the first Asian superhero directed by an Asian American (Destin Daniel Cretton), written by an Asian American (David Callaham), and potentially starring a Westernized Asian. It’s about time.

What’s your geek origin story? Were you a geeky kid?

The earliest childhood memory I have is playing with my brother’s toys — He-Man, Spider-Man, and others. I think I was always meant to be a geek. I remember the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes as a kid. I was a geeky kid, but I felt like I had to hide it a lot because it wasn’t considered “cool.” I wasn’t cool in school either, so it was all I had when I got home. I guess that is an origin story.

Laura, dressed as Rachel Chu from Crazy Rich Asians.

You don’t just write and talk about geek culture. You’re also a cosplayer. You’ve said you “try to cosplay all the Asians.” What are some of the cosplays you’ve done?

I used to do a bunch of anime characters — the Sailor Scouts, Dragon Ball, Final Fantasy, etc. I also did Star Trek and Star Wars costumes that didn’t require race because I used to be called the “Asian version.”

The thing about cosplay is there aren’t many Asians in Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who and other sci-fi shows. So, the fact we are seeing more, I wanted to showcase them all. I want to celebrate all the Asian characters because they deserve to be seen.

Recently, I’ve done Rose Tico, Captain Georgiou, Wreck-It-Ralph Mulan, animated Mulan, the Tethered (from the movie Us), and Rachel’s Crazy Rich Asians dress.

Laura, Disneybounding as Mulan.

Tell me about the process that goes into putting a cosplay together. You’ve said “it’s insane but worth the energy and effort.”

If I could purchase pieces for it — like if the cosplay is simple clothing — I’ll buy it. If it’s something that isn’t made yet, I will go buy patterns and fabrics to put it together. It’s a lot if I have to do it that way. Sewing is not fun, but when you do have a finished result, it’s a major accomplishment. But, honestly, if I could just buy it, I’d rather do that because making stuff is so time consuming.

Laura, dressed as Rose Tico, with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson.

Is it true you were one of the first people to cosplay Rose Tico from Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

Yes. When they first announced Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico at Celebration years ago, I quickly put something together when they showed a side angle. It wasn’t until her Vanity Fair cover (which was the first Asian on the cover) that I was able to make Rose Tico 1.0 and wear it to D23. I’ve changed it a lot since then.

Laura with Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

You’ve been a vocal defender of Rose. What does the character mean to you?

I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since childhood, so it was amazing seeing an Asian American woman get cast in a starring role in a Star Wars film. Representation is so important. It felt like we were finally being seen by a fandom I grew up with and never really got to see myself in. I mean, I do love Princess Leia and looked up to her, but it felt so good knowing that Star Wars saw me and people who looked like me. Rose Tico means so much to me and the Asian American community.

What first inspired you to start cosplaying?

I liked costumes and my mom helped me make some in the beginning until I knew how to. My mom loved making us costumes growing up, so I think it really grew from there.

What do you enjoy about it?

I loved the idea of creating something myself. I made some creative costumes, like different versions of the LEGO Doctor from Doctor Who. At this past Gallifrey One (Doctor Who convention), I made myself into a Kerblam! package.

When did you first get hooked on the Star Wars franchise?  

When I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8, when my dad showed it to us. My dad turned it on and I was the only of the three children who really got into it.

Aside from Marvel and Star Wars, what are some of your other favorite fandoms?

Star Trek, DC Comics (Superman is my man), Doctor Who, Harry Potter.

Do you have any goals, dreams, or hopes for your future writing/hosting career?

Just to keep putting my name out there and push for more Asians in entertainment.

What’s left to check off on your geek bucket list?

Oh, there is just too much.

 

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