Why I started doing youtube videos with Mama Lai

2017 Video Recap & Reflections

At the beginning of the year, my goal was to “find my voice” and “put myself out there”. I envisioned blogging more, pursuing public speaking opportunities, and facilitating support groups.

I didn’t think I’d do Youtube videos with my mom (aka “Mama Lai”). I told myself I shouldn’t do videos because of the following reasons:

  • I have no background in video.
  • I would look stupid on film. I don’t speak well.
  • People may think I’m dumb.
  • Nobody will look at these videos. Nobody cares. I’m not a Youtube star, so why should I do it?
  • I don’t know what I’m doing. The video won’t be professional enough.
  • It’s too much work.
  • I don’t have time.

However, I was interested in doing video with Mama Lai because of the following reasons:

  • I love storytelling. Stories are a way to relate to people.
  • I’m passionate about preserving family history. I’ve been back to my ancestral villages, and that experience taught me the importance of knowing my past.
  • I care about my mom. I want her story and influence to live on. By hearing someone’s story, I’m sending a message that your life matters.
  • When loved ones pass away, we always wish we recorded the memories. We wish we took the time to ask them questions about their past and hear about their life.
  • Video is a way to engage with audiences. People don’t read as much anymore, and video captures attention. It’s a different platform versus writing and photos.

In the end, the pros outweighed the cons. I decided to put aside my fears and make my first video in June. Since then, I’ve done one video per month with my mom. It’s been a fun project, and I find a sense of purpose and meaning through it.

I experimented with different video topics. My first video was a “Meet Mama Lai” video, and my second video was “Life lessons from the NBA”. In these videos, we chat a lot about the NBA, as we’re both huge basketball fans. For the following videos, we tried talking about different subjects.

In our third video, we talk about overcoming struggles.

My mom shared about her spinal cord injury accident, and I opened up about going through months of unemployment. I enjoyed doing this video because we showed the trials we’ve been through. Even though we both present a positive demeanor, we’ve definitely been through valleys in life. We are “human”, as my mom says.

In the next two videos, we talked about more personal experiences- childhood memories and culture shock.


More Lai family history comes out in these videos. Mama Lai shares about her US immigration experience, the hardships she faced in China, and how she ended up in Oakland. I share about my time studying in Hong Kong, about the time I went back to my mom’s village in China, and  about my Bay Area childhood shenanigans. It’s a blend of serious and funny commentary.

For the final video of 2017, I did a Christmas greeting of “12 pieces of Mama Lai advice”. 
I was able to reuse previous video content. As a marketer for my full time job, I’m always looking to repurpose content. =)

We’re still experimenting with video topics, though I’ve noticed a few reoccurring themes in these videos:

  • Inspiring life lessons, words of wisdom, and friendly encouragement
  • The Chinese American experience
  • Underlying messages of being who you are, persevering through trials, and being thankful… oh, and enjoying life =)

These are my personal highlights from doing videos:

  • Bonding with my mom in a different way. It’s been fun hearing the stories and laughing together. I’m thankful I’ll have these memories forever.
  • Connecting with people. I appreciate the comments and reactions on social media and Youtube. With all the chaos in the world, I’m glad these videos generate positive conversation.
  • Creating a final product. It’s extremely satisfying to CREATE something. These videos are very personal and almost an extension of who I am. These videos have opened up a new side of my creative brain. I never thought of myself as a “creative”, yet I’ve realized creativity takes all different forms.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the process:

  • It’s better to do something than to not do anything at all. Don’t be all talk and no walk. Don’t let perfectionism stand in the way. My videos are not Hollywood quality, yet that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.
  • I shouldn’t get wrapped up in what people think. People really are more focused on themselves than on me.
  • Who cares if nobody else watches these videos. I do these videos for myself, not other people. I should not seek validation from others in terms of views, likes, or comments. If I do things for other people’s validation, I’ll never be satisfied.
  • Videos do take a lot of work. Yet, when I like what I’m doing and when I find meaning in it, the work is worthwhile.
  • Video takes time. Uh, everything takes time. I can be busy with anything. Yet I make time for what’s important to me.
  • When I do what I’m passionate about, I don’t compare myself to others. I become thankful for who God made me to be. I feel like I’m functioning within my gifts, and it’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to be who you are.

With 2018 around the corner, Mama Lai and I plan to continue to do videos. We’re debating different video themes- NBA analysis, Chinese American stereotype busting, or a life advice series (to name a few).

What are your suggestions for Tall Asian Girl and Mama Lai’s videos? We’d love to know what topics you’re interested in. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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