Kulap Vilaysack is a child of refugees from Laos. Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Eagan, Minnesota, she currently resides in Los Angeles . Her debut documentary Origin Story chronicles a road trip into her complicated past. Vilaysack is also the creator, showrunner and sometimes director of the comedy series Bajillion Dollar Propertie$. She served as showrunner and co-executive producer of the NBC special, A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy.” Kulap recently directed the Emily Heller Comedy Special, "Ice Thickeners" for Comedy Central digital. She is the founder and big sister to Laos Angeles, a community that advocates for the advancement of Laos and her diaspora in media and entertainment.
"A day came when I stopped letting doubt and fear stop me from seeing what I could do."
You in a word -
On your mantra -
On work and purpose –
I am a writer, director, producer, creator, filmmaker, show-runner, performer, actor, podcaster, community organizer, friend, wife, daughter, sister and connector.
On what motivates you –
Soul satisfying work. I love being an individual within a collective working towards a common objective.
"...the people and the food, but even more-- the ground and the spirit charged me like a battery. When I came home I became more engaged with Lao American organizations, found like minded individuals and set to be Lao my way."
On a formative memory –
A day came when I stopped letting doubt and fear stop me from seeing what I could do. If I survived my childhood, flew across the world to meet a stranger who is my father, and lived through the death of a dear friend-- I not only can survive whatever is to come, I can thrive. I am battle born and I am strong.
On a moment of transformation –
For years I had been resigned to the false idea that the path to my cultural heritage and "Lao-ness" was blocked, because of the turmoil with my parents and past negative experiences within the refugee community. In many ways, I left being Lao behind to pursue my career and life out in Los Angeles. When I went to Laos during the shooting of my documentary, a part of me that was long dormant was awakened. Yes because the people and the food, but even more-- the ground and the spirit charged me like a battery. When I came home I became more engaged with Lao American organizations, found like minded individuals and set to be Lao my way. That energy created Laos Angeles-- a LA based, progressive and inclusive community. We seek to support one another and amplify our identity/representation in mainstream media.
On love -
Hugs, laughter and hosting a crowded table.
On what makes you laugh -
On ARTICLE22 -
"Origin Story" was turning my garbage into gold, so I love anything that embraces the magic of alchemy-- Article22 transforms weapons of war into emblems of love.
My favorite bangle is The one that my dear cousin Susandra Soumetho gifted me.