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Special Project
From the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Chella Man: Breaking barriers through language

Entered in Diversity & Inclusion


In The Know’s mission is to improve the lives of our Gen Z audience by amplifying unheard voices. Our monthly initiatives highlight diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality. According to this study, Asians are the largest group of new immigrants to the United States, and 74% of Asian-American adults were born abroad. The cultural separation many Asian Americans feel is a constant struggle, even more so after the COVID-19 outbreak. 

For our Asian American Pacific Heritage month initiative, we looked to interview a Gen Z Asian changemaker who has his own understanding of Asian-American identities and can provide a different perspective on and solution to such issues. 

Born to a Chinese father and a Jewish mother, Chella Man began to lose his hearing at only four years old. In college, he came out as transgender and genderqueer. As an artist, model, and activist, Chella has been using his social media platforms to educate the public about disability, sexuality, sexual orientation, and Chinese and Jewish cultures. Language is intertwined with cultural identities. Being a second-generation Chinese American, he is often asked why he doesn’t speak Chinese — a question Asians are rather familiar with. Meanwhile, language is a sensitive topic to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people because being able to communicate with someone who knows American Sign Language is an experience that, as Chella described, “instantly puts me at ease.” 

Our objective with this video was to find commonalities in his experience that resonate with immigrants from different cultural backgrounds.

Strategy and Execution

Video production during quarantine was no easy task, not to mention interviews. 

Following the CDC guideline, we were required to conduct remote interviews, and the technical challenges that came with it were apparent: poor audio quality, potential Internet collapse, insufficient lighting, limited camera angles, and so forth. In this situation, the interviewee needed to double as a cameraman (to position the laptop/camera), a sound mixer (to record his speech on his phone), and a set designer (to pick an appropriate set background). 

After 2 months of extensive research and preparation, we wrote a documentary-style interview script, which meant that the flow of the interview was determined on the spot. 

We took appropriate measures to make Chella feel 100% comfortable with the interviewer. Considering Chella is Hard-of-Hearing, the interviewer typed out the questions to him when possible/needed, faced directly to him, positioned herself in good light to show her mouth, kept her hands away from her mouth, and spoke slowly. 

In order to ensure that our edits were accessible to the disability community, In The Know collaborated with Verizon Media's accessibility team for open-captioning. 


The video went live on May 28. The story was shared across our In The Know’s social pages and all of our sites, including In The Know, Yahoo, AOL, and more. 

In an email exchange with Chella, he described the video to be “a gift for my family and I.” 

The video received over 7K views on-platform and about 88K off-platform.


Video for Chella Man: Breaking barriers through language

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In The Know


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