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Don't be marginalized, says bond trader
turned award-winning playwright
March 23, 1998

Learning how, when and where to use your skills is the key to success, said Lucy Wang, a bond trader turned playwright, in a talk at the Asian American Cultural Center on March 12.

Wang, author of the award-winning play Junk Bonds, was the guest speaker at a dialogue session in honor of Women's History Month.

Junk Bonds is about a young Asian American woman who uses the force of her intellect and will to gain acceptance in the white male-dominated arena of Wall Street.

The play won the 1995 Katherine and Lee Chilcote Foundation award for the best new play with political socio-economic significance and the 1994 Roger L. Stevens award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Play.

Wang described the personal and professional obstacles that she faced in her career transition from bond trader to Hollywood playwright.

"I wanted to voice the conflicts that I observe in our daily lives and chose to do it by writing about them and communicating to large audiences. It is important to have hope and a vision of grandeur of a new world beyond the great walls around us," she said.

She used the metaphor of a fork to describe the way of life one should adopt to look for opportunities and achieve success.

"Don't sit back and agree to be marginalized. A fork is an instrument that feeds and nourishes us. Anyone can use it. Be quick in picking up the fork, use it as a tool, explore and find a way of feeding and nourishing yourself," said Wang.

Yet women and Asian Americans who are brought up to be model minorities are often passive, self-effacing and non-assertive, she said, adding that anyone who is not a model minority is often an object of ridicule and hatred.

Born in Taiwan, Wang came to the United States when she was two years old. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, where her father was a research chemist. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984 with a major in economics and Asian studies, and later earned her MBA in finance from the University of Chicago in 1987.

Before making her way into Hollywood, her work experience in New York included stints as deputy chief of staff to Deputy Mayor Barry Sullivan, and assistant vice president, fixed income department, Kidder Peabody & Co. Inc.

Wang is the author of a number of theater productions and several other publications, including But Still, Like Air, I'll Rise: New Plays from Authors of Asian Descent (Temple University Press, 1997) and Women Playwrights of Diversity: A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook (Greenwood Press, 1997.

She is now working on a play, Raison D'Etre, that explores the reason for living through the eyes of Sylvia Plath, a renowned poet who committed suicide.

Usha R. Palaniswamy