Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja (After Yang)
Cairo Zion (American Ninja Warrior Jr.)
Abigail Lopez, Daniel Girdo, and Fanny Lawren
Instead of delivering her little sister's forgotten lunch, a 13-year-old, Chinese-American girl, joins two boys for a skateboarding escapade on the streets of New York.
Photos by Emmet Luciano
On an afternoon when ROSIE is skateboarding, she drops into her mother, KIM's dry-cleaners and is tasked with delivering her 6-year-old sister, AMY's forgotten lunchbox.
When Rosie arrives at school to pick up her sister, she runs into two skater boys: her cool crush SKYLAR, and his rambunctious best friend COOPER.
Trouble ensues when Rosie joins up with the boys, as they express their hunger, Rosie must choose between her family responsibilities or her new skate crew.
Innocence, young love, complicated beliefs about oneself, and relationships with family are all budding issues that tend to feel larger than life growing up. When writing Sunflower Girl, I drew direct inspiration from tapping into buried memories of my past as a young teen growing up in New York City, and from my family's history as Cantonese immigrants who owned a Chinese laundry storefront in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, American news media became inundated with stories of discrimination and violence against Asians. Wanting to steer clear of showcasing hate and suffering, I felt moved to tell an uplifting and personal coming-of-age story that explored the universal experience of growing pains from the perspective of a young Chinese-American girl in New York City.
Americanism coming in contact with the Asian American experience is the greater theme that I’m exploring. Where Americanism seeks to devour the other, Sunflower Girl offers a tender, yet complex slice of Asian American life through the lens of the female gaze.
- Holly M. Kaplan