Hey book dragons (and Friday)! I hope you’ve had a great week so far. I know there has been so much drama lately on the internet, but thankfully the book things aren’t all that dramatic (unless your prose is drama of course).
A few weeks back, my final assignment for Brown was to interview a journalist that I admire. Yin Chang is the amazing host of the podcast 88 Cups of Tea. The focus of 88 Cups of Tea is to bring authors and other people in the literary/performing arts field(s) to listeners and help them learn from experts who have already succeeded there. Yin has had the opportunity to speak with people like Morgan Matson (The Unexpected Everything), R. J. Palacio (Wonder), and most recently Matt de la Peña (Last Stop on Market Street). I’ve linked the pages of each chat and the Amazon page of each book in case you wanted to check them out. I highly encourage it – Yin is so warm and engaging with each guest that I can’t help but love each episode I listen to.
Here’s a bit about our amazing host Yin:
Yin Chang is an actor-turned-podcast-host, a #1 Amazon bestselling co-author, short film producer, and writer. She was born and raised in New York and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Yin is the creator and host of 88 CUPS OF TEA, a podcast show dedicated towards helping storytellers move forward in their careers. Yin interviews bestselling authors, and successful directors, screenwriters, and producers. Yin asks engaging questions where her inspiring guests discuss how they created opportunities for their careers, allowing listeners to apply actionable steps towards their own. Through the podcast, Yin creates a tribe, a safe space, for storytellers to learn and feel empowered, inspired, and motivated.
As an actor, Yin made her feature film debut in Walt Disney’s PROM. She is most recognized for her work in three seasons of CW’s GOSSIP GIRL, a TV show hailed by New York Magazine as, “The greatest teen drama of all time.” Yin has also made numerous appearances on major TV shows and starred in THE BLING RING. Learn more about Yin’s work as an actor here.
This is what she hopes to achieve with her podcast
Everyone has a story to tell.
88 CUPS OF TEA is a podcast crafted for the novelist, the screenwriter, the filmmaker, and the creative in you. I interview directors, writers, and producers who are responsible for the successes of shows like 30 ROCK, ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND, RIZZOLI & ISLES, TWISTED, LAW & ORDER: SVU, and many more. I document my chats with inspiring international and New York Times bestselling authors and award-winning writers and filmmakers.
I have my own stories I need to share, just like you. I’ve taken writing classes and joined writing workshops, and from these classes I’ve learned that there’s still so much more to learn.
Through this curiosity, I chat with those who are “doing it”: Those who are able to balance their passion for storytelling, make a living, and more importantly, those who are able to prioritize time for their family, friends, and hobbies. I’m still learning to balance all of that. I want to do work that brings me joy and do it in a way that still provides a roof over my head, and most importantly, I want to always be grounded and human about it all.
I crave for real talk. I get a high from picking the brains of those I’ve worked with and became friends with throughout my acting career, and of those who I’ve admired from afar. That hunger for conversation with storytellers birthed 88 CUPS OF TEA, a podcast for fellow curious storytellers just like me.
The conversations with my guests constantly leave me feeling so moved and inspired, and it will leave you feeling just as inspired through their generous and invaluable tips and advice. These motivating discussions will keep you moving forward in your career by learning how these guests create opportunities for themselves.
88 CUPS OF TEA is a safe space where we all gather together to learn together from these mentors, to be each other’s cheerleaders, and to root for the underdogs in all of us.
Welcome to our tribe.
What’s your story?
So if you haven’t caught on by now, I chose Yin to interview for my final project, and I want to thank her a million times for agreeing to do this for and with me. Below is our own discussion on her career, how she started, and some amazing episodes she captured.
Sophie: Hi Yin! Thank you so much for being here with me! How do you choose what guest you want on your show? Is it hard to contact them?
Yin: Before I launched the podcast, I reached out to friends and colleagues I
made while working on set. At the time, they were my directors,
producers, and screenwriters of TV shows/movies I acted in. Interviews
with them helped me build a very solid roster of guests as a foundation
to reach out to other guests I had never met.
My initial process for selecting guests for the show was pretty organic
and spontaneous. I would either pass through Barnes & Noble and gravitate
towards books that stood out to me, or I would read through summaries of
books that were displayed in the bestsellers list and reach out to
authors whose stories resonated with me most. As the show progressed, I
became more involved with social media and found fantastic guests by
paying attention to whose work the listeners are currently reading. I’ve
also had several authors pitched to me by publicists, publishers, and
literary agencies, and I bring on the ones who would fit the show best.
For guests outside of the world of authors, I make sure to keep an ear
out for cool new movies or TV shows that are in the works, or are in the
film festival rounds before they’re released to the public. I tend to
lean towards creative people who have created something from absolutely
General rule of thumb I like to stick to: Only invite or accept guests who
I’m interested in having a genuine conversation with. Something about them
needs to jump out at me and keep me interested, or else it wouldn’t be
interesting for my listeners either.
For all of my guests, aside from a few guests who were already my friends,
I reach out to them via email.
S: What’s your strategy for interviewing people? Is there one question you
like to ask every time?
Y: Generally, the guests and I have about 3-5 minutes to ourselves before we
get into the interview. This is where I give them a friendly reminder
about the audio technicalities. In those few minutes, I’m usually able to
feel out their personalities. Although rare, there are times we instantly
click like long-lost best friends and we’ll hop right into a beautiful
conversation about life overall, and if appropriate, I’ll steer the
direction of the interview with questions I feel would best benefit
listeners. Most of the times, I like to kickstart conversations by
having guests backtrack all the way to their earliest memories of the
first steps towards their creative path. From there, I pay close
attention and engage by listening intently, asking questions, and giving
my two cents, like I would with a close friend.
At the very end of the episode, I love to wrap it up by asking each guests
what kinds of books they recommend for listeners to check out!
S: How long does it take for you to conduct an interview for a podcast? Does
this include editing as well?
Y: It usually takes about an hour for an interview. Unfortunately, that
doesn’t include editing. I wish it did! Editing takes about 10 hours.
S: Do you usually conduct your interviews in person or another way? Do you
have a preference?
Y: I’ve yet to do an in-person interview, though I’d love to when the time
is right! I travel quite a bit and am always on the go, so I conduct all
of my interviews via Skype.
S: What’s your favorite part of doing research on an author?
Y: I love learning about their personal lives (I also love chatting with
them about their personal lives!), their favorite hobbies, and their
daily routine. It humanizes them beyond the work that they’ve created and
are most recognized for, and I’m able to connect with them on a deeper
level in addition to just talking-shop.
S: Why a podcast? What do you like about publishing your work through a podcast?
Y: I was obsessed with podcasts about a year (might’ve been about a year and
a half) before creating one. I love the ease and convenience of podcasts.
I’m able to multi-task— hike, shower, put on makeup, cook, drive, etc.—
all while learning and feeling productive with each episode I’m listening
S: How did you figure out that this is what you wanted to do after your work
as an actress? Have you always also been a writer?
Y: Shortly after moving out to LA to work as an actor, I created a short
film, “Strain”, about bullying prevention. My intentions were to have it
available as a free resource that would spark important conversations
amongst teens about the effects and consequences of bullying. The short
film went on to do way more than I had hoped and was used as an
educational tool for teachers, parents, and students. Having experienced
what it was like to tell a story that mattered to at least one viewer,
and experiencing first-hand the kind of effort it took behind-the-scenes
to bring something to life, together with the entire team, was enough to
hook me into the “other side” of acting.
From there, I reconnected with my love for writing. I took fiction and
screenwriting classes online and joined an in-person writing workshop. I
realized through those classes that I had so much more to learn, not just
about the craft of writing but also about real-world experiences. I had
listened to a ton of podcast episodes about small business start-ups and
entrepreneurial topics, and I desperately searched for podcasts that were
in the same vein but geared towards writers. I couldn’t find a show I
could relate to, either I wasn’t vibing with the host’s personality or I
couldn’t relate to the conversations.
Around the same time, I had a handful of friends from the entertainment
industry I wanted to catch up with and chat about their career and how
they got started. I was sure that there were other people out there who
shared the same kinds of questions, thoughts, hopes, and fears as a fellow
creative soul. Everything clicked from there on out, I realized I could
basically record our conversations so that listeners could learn along
S: Have you ever interviewed someone then decided against publishing? Why or
Y:There’s only been two people I’ve interviewed that I couldn’t publish.
One was due to extremely poor audio quality. I had the file sent to
several different editors and even they couldn’t do anything about it.
The other guest’s file was corrupted when I brought the laptop to Asia
while I was traveling for three months. I had that file passed around to
about 5 different computer repair shops over a span of about 7 months
hoping to somehow recover the file. I was devastated and still am because
those are precious quality time that was set aside for the conversation
and moments like that can never be re-created.
Aside from that, I’ve published every single interview because there’s
always something someone can take away from that particular conversation!
S: What is your favorite part of this job?
Y: I’m so lucky to have listeners like you see this as a job. Podcasting was
a dream formed from another dream, and it’s incredible to watch it grow
into something very “real” through hard work and commitment. Seeing it
from idea through execution is one of the proudest moments I’ve had.
Having incredible conversations with guests give me an absolute high.
Hands down though, my favorite part of this job is hearing directly from
listeners about how the podcast has helped them. When they go the extra
step of dedicating a blog post to the podcast, it’s outrageous, I’m
overwhelmed with happiness.
S: What has been your favorite episode to record? The most challenging one?
Y:This is a tough one! Been thinking about this for nearly an hour and I’m
still having difficulty narrowing it down to one favorite episode. I’ll
give you three of my favorites: Jean Kwok, Tyler Knott Gregson, and
Jacqueline Woodson. The most challenging episodes are the ones where the
guest and I have the best time chatting for nearly two hours and then
having to edit it down to about 45 min – 1 hour.
S: Would you mind chatting about those episodes?
Y: Jean Kwok, Tyler Knott Gregson, Jacqueline Woodson were guests I
immediately clicked with emotionally and shared very similar values and
view points. Talking to Jean was like re-connecting with a long-time
friend, we had so much to talk about, to laugh about, and to ponder about.
We shared very similar upbringings because of our Asian cultural
backgrounds it was so natural and easy for us to understand where we came
from, and the kinds of struggles our parents had and how that influenced
and impacted us growing up. That laid a great foundation in touching other
topics with genuine and authentic ease.
With Jacqueline, I resonated with the racial injustices she and her
children have to face every single day. It was the show’s very first
episode where we removed all guards and had a very honest and raw
discussion about race, injustices, and diversity. I always tend to focus
on topics about writing but with Jacqueline, I felt a heavy responsibility
and urge to dig deeper and discuss the grim reality of race and
injustices. In order to create change, we need to start with honest
conversations. I’m honored to have had the chance to touch on where my
frustrations and concerns were coming from with one of the brightest
Tyler was someone that I immediately connected with on an emotional and
psychological level. We’re both very sensitive to our surroundings and
share a very similar outlook on life and the philosophy of it. I loved
learning how Tyler sees the world in a way that magnifies the littlest
details that most people overlook. It automatically creates a shift in
perspective and makes you so much more grateful for the things you already
have and the people in your life.
Rita Williams-Garcia was another fantastic guest that I thoroughly enjoyed
chatting with. We met up at her favorite coffee shop in Queens, New York
while I was visiting my family! The coffee shop is cozy and welcoming, and
Rita was just as I had expected– warm, inviting, open, and a bundle of
positive energy. Man, we were chatting for nearly 3 hours and it was the
very first time we met face-to-face! If I didn’t have a lunch meeting to
get to, we could’ve chatted more! She is just one of those people who you
can talk to for hours at a time and swap stories like long-lost best
Thank you again so much Yin for chatting with me! I had a great time, and I can’t wait to hear what’s coming from you in the future. I appreciate you taking time to talk to me with your busy schedule!
If you’re looking to find more episodes go to 88cupsoftea.com. I highly encourage you to check them out because even if you’re just a reader they’re fun to listen to 🙂