Little Tokyo Complex Gives APA and Asian Cinema a Vibrant West Coast Home

By Erin May Ling Quill, Special Contributor


December 20, 2007 – This year ImaginAsian, the ‘only’ Asian American television station – broadcasting on an Internet or cable TV channel near you, reopened the historic Linda Lea Theatre as the ImaginAsian Center.  This renovated, state of the art complex will be dedicated to presenting first run and classic Asian and Asian American films. Ticket prices are fairly “average” — $10 general admission and $7 with valid student I.D. Matinees are $6 Monday through Thursday, with no discount on holidays.

What you are getting when you buy a ticket is, hopefully, a great film, community spirit and  a chance to ‘represent’ in what is increasingly the only way that people pay attention to you in Hollywood — with financial support. If the ticket prices go through the roof, somewhere the phone will ring and before you know it, Asian American faces of all shades will be more prevalent on our television and movie screens. Sometimes, it is that simple.

IA Center offers a spacious 250-seat auditorium with stadium seating, a VIP lounge, and a rooftop garden, Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the IA Center provides a contemporary, streamlined space for film screenings, festivals, live performances, art exhibits, and satellite-fed events.

What this means to you, the general audience, is that almost every Asian American film is all but guaranteed to open there. There is room for a covered, heated tent, and a red carpet. Carrie Ann Inaba already walked it when she hosted, with Michelle Krusiec, a star-studded opening night. Also strolling and strutting their stuff down the carpet, vibrant Asian American stars including Will Yun Lee, John Cho, James Hong, Dante and Dion Basco, Elaine Kao, DJ Shy, Natalise, David McGinnis, Tina Sugandh, Chil Kong, CS Lee, and many more.

The opening of this complex is enormous, and we should thank ImaginAsian. It finally gives Asian American cinema a ‘home’, and to put it into historic context – we’re taking some of our ‘own’ back.

The Linda Lea was a vibrant piece of Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo, back in the day, and was subsequently closed by the internment of Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It’s had a long and dusty road back to state of the art – and in the past few years, was also the site of an intense bit of infighting between the artists who originally wanted to renovate (paging Nic Cha Kim…) and the owners and managers of the property. When the dust settled and we looked around to see who was left standing, it was ImaginAsian leading the charge to find an L.A. roost to match its theater in New York City.

This is the first place in Los Angeles to give a voice to cinema from every part of what can be lumped together as “Asian American”. A casual glance at the website shows films that are set in Mongolia, India, Japan, China and Iran — exciting times indeed.


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Erin May Ling Quill is an actress, singer, director and producer of both stage and film productions. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon, she was member of the original Broadway cast of the 2004 TONY Award-winning musical, Avenue Q, and has also played Lady Thiang in The King & I opposite Debby Boone. Other credits include NYPD Blue, girlsclubChina Dolls, Godspell, Anything Goes, and numerous workshops. Former Vice Chair for the Screen Actors’ Guild Asian American Subcommittee and a member on its National EEOC, she consulted on the revision of the Asian Language Contract.  She is a member of East West Players and Lodestone Theater Ensemble.  In addition to her own sold-out shows They Shoot Asian Fosse Dancers, Don’t They? and When My Slanted Eyes are Smiling, I Can’t See a Damn Thing, Quill has produced Lodestone Theater Ensemble/FOX’s All American APA Comedy Jam and, most recently, the upcoming short film POLLEN, starring Alec Mapa. She recently shot a pilot the Bravo pilot, Dishin’.  Recent and upcoming projects include the pilot of Screening Party, based on the book by Dennis Hensley, and Associate Producer credit on the film, The Sensei, a new feature by D. Lee Inosanto. Learn more at is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.