There aren't a lot of people in the media today that put in work like Angela Sun. She's the host of the Yahoo! Sports Minute, sideline reporter for the epic American Ninja Warrior, and budding documentary film maker with her upcoming release, Plastic Paradise. Even more impressive is the fact that she's one of the few female minorities in sports media and is knocking down doors for Asian American females behind her. On top of all that she's an athlete who claims to have played almost every sport. We sat down with Angela and got to know more about the renaissance woman behind the mic.
Interview by Elias Ahmed (@thatetdude)
So, we’ve heard that you’ve played almost every sport. How did you get into sports growing up?
Well, my mom wouldn’t let me try out for cheerleading. [Laughs] I wanted to but she didn’t let me try out for cheerleading because she didn’t think it was a sport and the thought the uniforms were too expensive. So I did everything else under the sun: volleyball, basketball, softball, and then dance. Then when I realized I wasn’t going to grow too much more after reaching 5”3 and I moved on to board sports. Surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding.
You’ve worked for ESPN, Fox Sports, the Tennis Channel, Yahoo Sports, and others. You’ve also been a trailblazer in that you’re an Asian American female and the first to have worked for all these different networks. What has that been like for you?
I do get asked about being a female minority in sports or the sports media world. My response is always that I never asked to be that, I never asked to have that role, but I’ve always went against the grain. I’m the middle child of three, the black sheep unofficially [Laughs]. So, I tend to do things a little bit differently and blaze my own path. I think that I would like to see more faces like myself in sports media and in the media in general so if I can represent I’m happy to.
We’ve seen that you’ve done a couple movies with Street Kings, A Perfect Getaway, and Shackles, do you have anything in the works now? Is acting something you want to pursue further?
I love acting because you get to step out of yourself and become a character and really live out a fantasy role. Yeah I would love to do more of that in the future but right now I’ve been focused so much on my documentary that I’ve been working on. Plastic Paradise has been a passion project for the last seven years and I’m really excited to share that with the world. Along with juggling four or five shows at a time and the documentary, that’s really taken up a lot of my life really [Laughs].
What's Plastic Paradise all about?
I’m pretty much a water baby; I grew up around the water. I surf, I dive, and I’m always in the ocean. And so knowing that our Earth is covered by over 70% water, I was always intrigued by everything underneath the water, beneath the surface and finding out more about our underwater footprint. So Plastic Paradise was really an organic endeavor for me to find out what was going on with the plastic pollution in our oceans. If you think about it, nobody really thinks about how much plastic we use every single day. But plastic is made to last forever, that’s why it’s great, it never goes away.
So, if we don’t see it we just dump it in a garbage can and we think that it just goes off magically to a landfill and disappears. But it doesn’t ever go away, so where does it go? And that’s what I embark on, a personal journey to discover that a lot of this plastic ends up in our oceans and we uncover much more than just the great pacific garbage patch. I want to spark conversation. I think that I’m a little bit of an accidental environmentalist because I love the ocean and the water so much. Of course you want to protect it, when you’re surfing with plastic bags around or you see the effects of what plastic is doing to marine life and not just marine life but how it’s affecting us, it’s really disturbing. So I hope that through Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch documentary we are able to share that and shed a little bit of light on it for the people.
So, you’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world, we saw on your site you’ve been to over 40 countries and studied abroad in Australia before graduating from UCLA. What are some of your favorite places that you’ve been to?
There have been so many favorite places. Vanuatu [an island nation about three hours northeast of Sydney in the South Pacific Ocean] has one of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever been to. That’s called—actually, I’m not going to tell you what it’s called because it’s a little secret [Laughs.], they have this beautiful secluded white sand beach. Palawan in the Philippines has some of the most amazing soft coral I’ve ever seen. Hawaii is some place that’s near and dear to me, I go there a lot and I have a lots of friends and family there. The Kolner Dome in Germany in Cologne, I think is one of the most amazing architectural structures.
Gosh there’s so many places. Bora Bora is also a highlight of mine, as you can tell I have a water theme going on [laughs]. Chasing sharks and chasing sunsets is what I like to do when I travel. There’s so many different travel places to travel, every place is unique and I think traveling gives you perspective to appreciate the things that you have at home and also to expand your horizons and take in and appreciate the world around you.
Chasing sharks and chasing sunsets is what I like to do when I travel.
What's been your favorite experience while traveling?
I think one of my best and most favorite experiences was when I was in Salvador in Brazil and randomly ended up meeting a great group of people and dancing through the streets on a Tuesday night, on these cobblestone streets, to an Afro Brazilian steel drum band. And everyone started following them like the Pied Piper, there was about 200 people following them who were dancing in synchronized Glee fashion. It felt like a cardio dance class [Laughs.]. For three hours through these cobblestone streets, and I never would have had that experience if I never would have stepped out of my comfort zone and gone there. I think life is all about experiences. It really invigorates me, it feeds my soul. There are some great experiences, good and bad, whatever it is, it always makes a great story.
As far as broadcasting goes, is there one moment that sticks out to you as far as the coolest thing you’ve witnessed or been around?
I think that going to the Vancouver Winter Olympics was amazing. That whole experience was just amazing, being around so many elite athletes and just the atmosphere and vibe of Vancouver. Not to mention the really good food in that city. I think was definitely one of the highlights of sporting events that I’ve covered.