Kira Omans on being an actress and storytelling as an Asian adoptee

Conversation Piece with Patrick Armstrong interviews actor and advocate Kira Omans, about her experiences in the entertainment industry.

Get to know Kira Omans, a Chinese American transracial adoptee in Conversation Piece with Patrick Armstrong. She is a voice actor, actress, and adoptee advocate who has collaborated with organizations such as Hate is a Virus, Adoptees for Justice, and Adoptee Bridge to increase awareness of the adoptee experience. 

Learn about her journey in becoming an actress and what intentional storytelling looks like for her as part of the Asian adoptee community. 

Being an actor as an Asian Adoptee

Omans’ journey to being an actor started in high school, where she participated in acting and theater. Since then, she has narrated over 200 audiobooks and appeared on TV shows and commercials. When she started acting professionally—before on-screen representation meant anything—Omans was only sent minor roles like the babysitter, nail technician, or nurse with two or three lines. But with the release of Crazy, Rich, Asians, she says there has definitely been a positive shift in the industry.

Although mainstream media has become more inclusive to different communities and diasporas, specifically the Asian diaspora, for Omans, as an Asian adoptee, her experiences differ slightly from the “typical” Asian diaspora experience. 

“I have just started trying to think about my identity in that way about what it means to be a transracial adoptee actor, as well as an Asian American actor,” says Omans. “I wanted to best represent my community because of what I was doing… I might one day be able to pique people’s interest in learning more about other people’s experiences with adoption.”

In recent years, Asian adoptee stories in Hollywood have evolved from the orphan trope to telling complex stories about identity, reunifications, and birth searches in films like Joy Ride, Blue Bayou, and Return to Soul. Despite these major films, to Omans, she felt these blockbuster narratives are feel insincere. 

In the case of Joy Ride, Omans notes that birth searches are complicated and deeply personal and shares that “just for someone, especially people who aren’t adopted, to take that and turn it into a raunchy comedy not only made me feel like the butt of a joke or outside of it, just wasn’t inclusive. I felt like I was, my experience and the experience of others in my community being laughed at, was really infuriating to me.”

See also: Joy Ride arrives at an intersection of inclusive storytelling for the Asian American diaspora

The responsibility of storytelling

Our stories can impact the public’s understanding of an entire community, so upholding intention and integrity while storytelling is crucial. From fulsome community consultations to producers casting the right actors to enough resources available, Omans says, “[storytellers] have a responsibility to try [their] best to integrate yourself into the community and understand what that community needs and understand a vast array of experiences,” says Omans.

“I would much, much rather help inform specifics of a story development than have to combat harm that a one dimensional portrayal might bring.”

Omans shares that self-education is the first step to helping the Asian adoptee community. For those outside the community, seek out podcasts and interviews yourself. There are many resources to begin learning. Then “engaging those voices, amplifying them, and then if you have something to say, sharing your own and making sure that studios and executives know that the adoptee community is here, vocal, ready, and willing to contribute to this conversation,” says Omans. 

“It’s been a long time coming. It is a long past time for us to reclaim our own stories and have a level of ownership over them that I feel we have not before… We’re here. We’re ready to talk about them. We’re ready to engage with them.”

Cold Tea Collective is partnering with Conversation Piece with Patrick Armstrong, a podcast exploring the missing pieces of the Asian diasporic conversations. From topics about the Asian adoptee experience, imposter syndrome, and more, discover the latest episodes today. 

Help us uplift Asian diaspora voices

Support Cold Tea Collective with a monthly contribution to help ensure stories for and by the next generation of the Asian diaspora are here to stay.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top