PothMolita Dou, 20’s
Los Angeles, CA
Current Role: Special Effects TV/Film Makeup Artist
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Tell us about your family story.
I moved here alone for my makeup school. I got makeup scholarship for the Oscar makeup artist winner name, Ve Niell, in 2016 and came to the USA in 2017. My makeup school is called, "Cinema Makeup School" located in Hollywood. I graduated in 2018 and currently working in Hollywood as a Makeup Artist.
I was born in Stung Treng province in a really rural area and grew up there. I later moved to Phnom Penh for my Bachelor's Degree in TESOL (Teaching English As a Second Language).
What are the strengths and challenges of being Cambodian?
When I first moved to the USA, I wasn't aware of the racial issues we are facing here. I was just excited to start my school. I did zero research on the lifestyles and cultures in the USA. I was confident that whatever happened, I would be able to take it with an open heart.
Unfortunately, it started since the first day going to school on the Metro when I got harassed and asked by a white male if I was looking for a husband to marry to get a green card. Since then, I have been harassed constantly on the street, I got followed when I walked home from school. I got racist comments from my makeup teacher. I even got questions like, "How can you speak English so well?" or "How can I find a wife from Southeast Asia?'' from Uber drivers.
At my makeup school, 99% of my makeup artist classmates didn't know how to match my skin color with foundation or do Asian eye makeup. I got stared at a lot when I ate my Khmer food or Asian food. I struggled to make friends with our fellow Khmer-Americans her. I became really lonely. One year with being far away from home while experiencing all of these microaggressions and racism, I lost my dad from a traffic accident in Cambodia.
Shortly after my graduation, I fell into depression and got PTSD. I can't go out alone without feeling unsafe. I slowly lost my confidence to speak in public because of my accent. I am constantly asked to repeated my own sentence because people didn't understand what I said. Throughout this hardship, I would say that I have learned a lot from American culture and attitudes towards immigrants.
I eventually got better from my mental health issues by turning it into my art and connect with everyone through that. I would say that I'm still fighting hard and standing up for myself when I face any unpleasant situations. Different from how my parents raise me to stay silent and to never confront or fight back, I'm grateful with the freedom of expression and speech that America has given to me so that I can have my voice be heard.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I'm the first ever Special Effects Makeup Artist from Cambodia who got a scholarship and is now working in Hollywood.
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
My family started out from nothing. My dad was a construction worker and my mom was just a normal office worker so I'm really grateful that I can make them proud. Back during my childhood, I was surrounded by kind people with good natures that helped shape me into who I am today.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Since I was born and raised in Cambodia, I still speak Khmer fluently.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
I would say, be proud of our heritage. Stop apologizing for who you are. Cambodians have come a long way. Our history is the reflection of who we are, so please study them and share them to keep our culture alive.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
I love Angkor Wat and the nature around it. The silent sea in Koh Rong and good Khmer food.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
I made a lot of creatures in special effects makeup that is inspired by our Khmer culture, as well as jewelry pieces that represent our Khmer story.
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
Want to share your voice?
To be featured, read the directions and fill out this form. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome.
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