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Interview: Chloe Dykstra & Michele Morrow Discuss BiteSizeTV's Chaotic Awesome

Written by Nightfly on Wednesday, April 30 2014 and posted in Features

Interview: Chloe Dykstra & Michele Morrow Discuss BiteSizeTV's Chaotic Awesome

Chaotic Awesome hosts Michele Morrow & Chloe Dykstra tell The Outhouse about their live weekly show, their shared love of gaming, tease upcoming projects and more.

For those that might've missed it, renowned gaming experts Michele Morrow & Chloe Dykstra launched BiteSizeTV's new YouTube channel late last month with the online debut of Chaotic Awesome. Live streamed for nerds by nerds, Chaotic Awesome is a two-hour weekly talk show co-hosted and co-created by the pair, covering a wide array of topics via interviews, live remotes, reviews, game play, live performances and more -- all broadcast from their glass-enclosed studio on the corner of Hollywood and Vine alongside Tinseltown's legendary Walk of Fame.

In addition to being gaming mavens of the highest order, Michele and Chloe are both actresses, producers and internet content creators who throughout their careers have counted Chris Hardwick's Nerdist empire among their closest collaborative associates. Morrow regularly contributes to Zooey Deschanel's girl-centric HelloGiggles website, while Dykstra (daughter of visual efx legend John Dykstra) has gained notoriety through appearances on multiple Doctor Who specials for BBC America as well as being one of Syfy's highest profile Heroes of Cosplay (Season 1.5 premieres May 27th @ 9/8c).
Last week just hours before hosting their weekly Wednesday show, Chloe and Michele graciously spent time with The Outhouse to offer insights into their fresh geektastic enterprise, share memories of past projects and hint a bit about what's to come.
OH!: Chaotic Awesome streams live every Wednesday from 2-4pm PST. Is hosting a live 2hr show more challenging than you initially expected?
Dykstra & MorrowMichele: Actually it's been a lot more fun than I originally expected. I thought hosting a live show was gonna be a lot of pressure but luckily everyone we work with is so on top of it and we have such a great crew at BiteSizeTV, we have a lot of fun doing it because it's just stuff that we'd be talking about together anyway. It's just been a really fun time.
Chloe: We sort of intentionally structured the show to make it relaxed. While we still have lines on a prompter and stuff like that we make sure that most of the show is just us talking and being ourselves. We're not really afraid to stray from all the fancy lines in the prompter.
Michele: That's what makes it a lot of fun, actually, because we can just be spontaneous and have a good time and luckily everyone on set is cool with that. We all enjoy it.
OH!: Your show has recurring segments that cover different topic areas, do either of you have a favorite segment you look forward to most each week?
Chloe: It's Chicks With Joysticks! It's always Chicks With Joysticks because video games are my passion. I think you can even see it when you watch the videos, how my eyes sort of light up when I talk about games. That's my favorite thing. Dogs, video games and Michele Morrow are my favorite things.
Michele: Aww, thanks Chlo. [laughs] Chicks With Joysticks is kind of like our alligator in the water because it's the segment we started doing with BiteSizeTV before we had Chaotic Awesome, way back when they paired the two of us together prior to us even knowing each other. It's our little thing from a long time ago that we got to restructure and put into the show in a way that we like, so it's a lot of fun when we do it.
OH!: Just before talking with you today I retweeted a brief IGN interview with Olivia Munn discussing the demise of the G4 network. Do you hope Chaotic Awesome's gaming coverage can fill some of the void left within the gaming realm by the absence of G4 and its programming?
Michele: Yeah, absolutely. G4 was its own thing and it was awesome and we all loved Attack of the Show, X-Play and all of their programming. It was a great network. But it seems like YouTube kind of took over in the wake of that. I haven't seen her interview so I don't know exactly what she said but it seems that during that time there was a bunch of YouTubers that came on the scene that were offering that content and people could just get it for free online. With our platform it's a little bit different because of the way that people can access our content. We're doing it in our own way. It originally started off with the idea that we were going to be playing video games in a fort, called FortPlay, and it was going to be on Chloe's channel. Then it kind of spun off into this bigger thing. So, it's like partially that but mostly we just wanted to do something where we were hanging out and having fun. It's cool if it fills some of that void but we weren't necessarily aiming for that.
Chloe: I think we started with our own model but it was partially inspired a bit by Attack of the Show because we just loved how fluid their whole show was and their different segments and how they just hung out and had fun. We loved the spirit of that. But I feel like as we've gone along we've sort of realized that Chaotic Awesome is different in that it's more like a talk show than anything else, just because we love to talk. We love to talk to people and ask them questions and I think that's just sort of where it went. I think it would be awesome to fill a little bit of that void left by G4 but I feel like we're going off and doing our own thing.
Michele: One of the coolest things about Chaotic Awesome is that we're providing a platform for a lot of people on the internet that are making really great content and really cool stuff. On today's show we're having a friend of ours named Brendan Bradley on who's an actor who has done a bunch of stuff. He's doing this project called Shakes450 in celebration of Shakespeare's 450th birthday. He's cataloging a bunch of online monologues to create the largest online database of Shakespearean monologues. He's not going to be on some of the big late night talk shows or anything, so we offer a destination for the nerd community to come and talk about the cool stuff that they're doing that we like.
OH!: Do either of you have a favorite guest that you've interviewed so far since Chaotic Awesome's launch last month?
Chloe: We just talked to Ed Begley, Jr. but it wasn't on our show, but we did just interview him for BiteSizeTV and that was really cool. Maybe it's silly, but I think having Holly Conrad and Jessica Merizan in from Crabcat Industries was a favorite just because they're two of my closest friends and it was really fun to have them in a different setting with me.
Michele: I really liked when Justin Willman came on. He's a magician who is so great. It was awesome because he was on-set on my birthday and it was like the best birthday ever. It was so fun. We had a lot of friends come on the show and Justin came on and did a bunch of magic tricks for us. It was great. He's a great guy and really funny.
Chloe: Mike Diva's performance was also amazing.
Michele: Yeah, that was a great live performance by Mike. Grant Imahara [from Mythbusters] was on who is another good friend of ours.
Chloe: So in conclusion all of our guests were our favorites.
Michele: That's the right answer. I think we could come up with a reason why each one is our favorite.
OH!: If you had to name just one person that you've each geeked out over the hardest while interviewing, ever in your whole careers, who would it be?
Michele: Okay, so we can have celebrities on the show or friends of ours and it's okay but when game developers come on we get a little bit more nervous because we love video games so much. We recently had Josh Mosqueira on who is the game director for Diablo III which made us so nervous. Diablo II was a life defining game for me. It truly was such a great game, and Diablo III is so beautiful, it's a great successor. The Reaper of Souls extension is awesome. So he came on to talk about it and we got so nervous.
Chloe: Game developers are so tough for us because we just get tongue-tied. We have so many questions and we want to look really cool, but we get so nervous and stumble over our words. We mispronounce their names even though we've said 'em five hundred times. It's so silly. I had that happen with Randy Pitchford [of Gearbox Software], and even though Ken Levine [of Irrational Games] is a friend of mine I still have trouble talking to him sometimes.
Michele: That happened to me with CliffyB (Cliff Bleszinski) [formerly of Epic Games] on the red carpet for the VGAs. I had to ask him who he thought the sexiest video game character was. It was the most ridiculous question and I didn't even want to ask it to him. His answer was Solid Snake [of Metal Gear].
Chloe: He should've said Jazz Jackrabbit. That would've been the proper answer.
OH!: Who are some folks that you'd like to have guest on Chaotic Awesome in the future?
Michelle: Jane McGonigal would be a dream guest for me. Jane did an amazing TED Talk about video games, about Word of Warcraft in particular. She wrote a book called "Reality is Broken," and she's just such an inspirational woman. She built an app called SuperBetter that's all about rehabilitating and basically gamifying the wellness program. She's brilliant. I would love to have her on our show.
Chloe: If we're naming dream guests, I really would love to have Gabe Newell [of Valve Corp.] on the show. I don't know if I could handle it, but I'd love to have Gabe Newell on. I'd also love to have Jeri Ellsworth, probably not at the same time, but I'd love to have her on too.
Michele: Chloe loves Gabe Newell so much that she actually wanted a cardboard cutout of him on our set. Originally we were going to do that but then they told us that we couldn't.
Chloe: On FortPlay we had a framed picture of him hiding in the bookshelf. He's an amazing person.
OH!: Nathan Fillion follows both of you on twitter, perhaps you can get him to come in and be on your show?
Chloe: We want Nathan to come on and hold signs behind us through the window while we're filming.
Michelle: Yeah, just letting us know he's our fan. He's a good friend of ours. His girlfriend, Christina Ochoa, is our science correspondent. Christina's fantastic and a card carrying member of Mensa. She's gorgeous and super-smart. She's from Spain. She's incredible.
OH!: Tell us about your other specialty correspondents and the areas that they cover. Let's start with Marisha Ray.
Michele: Marisha Ray is awesome. Chloe's known Marisha for longer than me. You've known her for a long time, right Chlo?
Chloe: I've known Marisha for many, many moons. She was one of the first people I hosted with. When we went out to either GDC (Game Developers Conference) or E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) or some game conference or convention for the first time she was just so bold in interviewing everybody, like she knew what was going on. She was in charge and was so intimidating to me. It's really fun to still be working together as we've grown as hosts. She's really, really smart and talented. She's a stunt girl, an actress and she's just so cool and down-to-earth.
Michele: She's such a cool chick. We have her as our action-adventure correspondent out in the field. We've sent her to brave the streets of Hollywood Boulevard to play a game we call Street Pass. She goes out and asks people questions such as the origin of Captain America. It's funny to hear people's responses, especially on Hollywood Blvd. She played football for us in the Vikings Versus football league (see it here) and went with us to Tony Swatton's Sword and the Stone armory (watch it here). She's fantastic, we love Marisha.
OH!: I've been a fan of Marisha's ever since Bat in the Sun launched their Super Power Beat Down series which she hosts. Do either of you have a favorite matchup that you might've seen on SPBD?
Michele: I think they're all pretty cool. I love anything that puts two different boss characters or two heroes together to see how they would fare out even though they're from completely different worlds. It's kind of like what the Deadliest Warrior did on television where they'd take people like Attila the Hun vs. whoever from throughout history. It's a very smart concept show, and we love the fact that our specialty hosts are doing so many other great things that bring it all in. Christina Ochoa's doing a project called Scirens with three other girls who are all science enthusiasts and she hosts Science Soirées at her place where different scientists come and talk, which is great because a lot of those scientists want to come on our show and be on her Know Brainer segment or just come and be on our Character Sheet. We just recently had Jennifer Ouellette come on who is phenomenal, she's married to Sean Carroll the cosmologist, she wrote a book called "Me, Myself and Why: Searching for the Science of Self," and she's just a brilliant woman. It was awesome to have her on. (see Jennifer's Character Sheet segment here)
OH!: Another of your special correspondents is Taliesin Jaffe, what can you tell us about him?
Chloe: I've known Taliesin for even longer than Marisha. I think we met at The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's sort of been an oddly paternal force in my life. He held my hand and showed me Doctor Who. He's taught me many things and showed me so many cool and obscure comic books, I'm pretty sure he lent me a couple that I still haven't given back to him yet. He has the most interesting pool of knowledge that you wouldn't find in 99.9% of people. He's so intelligent and well-spoken. Even his own history is pretty intense and crazy.
Michele: So true. He's kind of like our on-set Shaman. He's fantastic. He really focuses on comics and anime. (see Jaffe at work here and here) And then we've got Coy Jandreau who focuses on comics very specifically. He gets deeper into comics and he's kind of underneath our umbrella. And we also have Bryan Forrest who we're bringing in who is a blacksmith over at Sword and the Stone. He's a stunt guy. He's incredible and he's going to be our history guy.
OH!: Do either of you have a favorite science topic that's been covered on your show so far?
Chloe: Maybe this is just because it's fresh on the brain, but Earth Day was yesterday and we had a segment on Chaotic Awesome where we talked about some of the really cool new Earth-friendly technologies. I just really like talking about some of the positive aspects of technology. You hear a lot of gloomy stuff about the ecosystem and the world but ultimately we as a society are creating such interesting and cool technologies that are hopefully going to save our lives. I really love to focus on the stuff that's making a difference in the world.
Michele: It's nice to not always focus on the doomsday scenarios. Obviously, we sort of end up going there when we're talking though, we're like, "Oh my God! Is Google gonna take over the world?!"
Chloe: But that's just because we like to imagine what's going to be happening once the world ends. We like apocalypse stories. [laughs]
OH!: Speaking of science, Cara Santa Maria would be a great guest for one of Christina's upcoming segments.
Chloe: Yeah, we were planning on having her on.
Michele: She's said she wants to come on.
Chloe: I just sent her a text message the other day and she said she'd love to come on.
Michele: We saw her at the Science Soirée. It was actually really interesting because at that same Science Soirée we met a guy named Jason Goldman whose crow story we had covered on one of Christina's Know Brainer segments (see it here). He was like, "Hey, you talked about one of my articles on your show." And we said, "Wow, you should come on." And he said, "I would love to." Then Cara came up and mentioned that Chloe had texted her about us wanting to have her on and she was totally down to do it. Everybody in the science community is really excited about this which makes us super-happy because nerds often get this cred where people think, "Oh, it's science fiction and fantasy and stuff that's not real." But the actual, legit, super-nerds of this world are real scientists that are really hitting the books super-hard to make this world a better place.
OH!: In light of your extensive Con attendance, does any moment stick out in your memories as a kind of "all-time" favorite Con experience?
Chloe: If you look at my wall, this isn't a bragging thing, it's just true that I have hundreds of Con badges because I've been to so many damned Cons. It makes up a really good part of my life. So it's really hard to name just one, that's like, "What's your favorite moment of all-time?" I've just spent so much time at Cons, it's really tough for me to say. I think that one of my favorite moments, maybe my favorite moment I guess, was walking into E3 for the first time even though it's not technically a convention, it's more of a conference. When I walked in and I saw all these giant game booths and saw all my favorite companies my jaw just dropped because I had no idea what the inside of a conference was like. Now, Michele and I walk in and we're all like, "Hey, what's up? It's E3. It's cool. Whatever." But that first time I almost fell to my knees and started weeping from joy.
Michele: She's not exaggerating at all. My most memorable experience was a very strange moment where my boyfriend and I were at San Diego Comic-Con, it was maybe three or four years ago and on a Sunday after the Con had kind of chilled out. We were just kind of milling around and booths were kind of closing down and I look over at this one booth and see this guy who I went to elementary school, junior high and high school with. I was like, "Is that Mike Krahulik? Hey, you're Mike Krahulik, right?" And he turns his badge around and says, "Yeah. No. Maybe." We reintroduced ourselves and something that I hadn't realized is that he created Penny Arcade. I had no idea that Penny Arcade was created by him because his online moniker is Gabe (a.k.a. Jonathan Gabriel). It turns out Gabe and Tycho Brahe (a.k.a. Jerry Holkins) both went to my high school. Jerry is a couple years older than me, so I didn't know him but Mike was only a year above me. It was a really cool moment to see that someone I grew up with had made such a huge difference in the nerd community, especially in the way that I was consuming content that he had created without even realizing that it was him. It was really neat. I felt a sense of pride for Spokane, Washington. It was like, hey, we did a good job, right? We did good.
Chloe: That's so funny because my other idea for a most memorable moment was when I met Mike Krahulik. It was really cool because I was dressed as him.
Michele: Chloe's first cosplay was as Mike Krahulik. She was so cute. She showed me this picture, and, it's weird to me because I went to elementary school with this kid and here she is now by best friend years later and we're doing this show, and that was her first cosplay. The whole thing's just really weird. [laughs]
Chloe: I got to meet Mike at my first actual convention which was New York Comic-Con. He was just hanging out at a booth and there was no line. I thought, "What is going on?!" This was years ago. I couldn't understand why there was no line. I was a massive fangirl. I went up to him and he recognized me because of a fan letter that I'd sent to him over MySpace. He was like, "Oh, you're that weirdo that sent me that fan letter."
Chloe & MicheleMichele: That's so funny.
OH!: In your most recent Cool Story Chlo entry you mentioned that you'd opened a storeenvy store to raise funds for your next cosplay costume. Is there a date that you're hoping to sell everything by?
Chloe: No, there's no specific date. Essentially what it comes down to is that I like shiny things, so I don't really think and I buy things that I don't need and then I ultimately go, "Man, I could've bought some worbla [thermosoftening plastic] with that." Ultimately, I'm trying to thin out the stuff I don't need because I don't really need that much stuff. I'm just trying to make room in my bank account for things that'll bring me more joy than a pair of designer jeans.
OH!: Will Chaotic Awesome be officially represented at San Diego's Comic-Con this summer?
Michele: Haha, we've been talking about it.
Chloe: That's what we're planning. We would love to. 
Michele: We'll have more information about that soon.
Chloe: We'll definitely be there, we just have to figure out in what capacity. I like to not work at Comic-Con, I like it to be my vacation convention but we'll see.
Michele: We might have a location with a couch where people can come and talk to us, but we don't know exactly how and what yet. We're gonna release the details when we know a little more. But there are talks about something that would be really cool that might be happening.
OH!: Both of your careers have generally revolved around a fun sense of infotainment, but have either of you ever had fans surprise you with tearful or emotional thanks for influencing or inspiring them?
Michele: Extremely, actually. There's been a couple things that actually happened but probably the most meaningful involved a kid named Ethan Nichols. I was really closely related to a character in World of Warcraft named Lady Sylvanas. When I was going through an injury period where I'd broken my neck and was going through rehab and physical therapy for it Ethan sent me this frisbee with my face on it as Lady Sylvanas. I posted a photo of the frisbee because it was the first real personal gift I'd received. I had gotten gifts before, people had sent me a few things like Thank You cards or fan art, but this was special. It was a cool frisbee that was kind of different and just neat. Then a couple months later his mother had written on my fanpage that he and his girlfriend [Carissa Horton] had been murdered in a park the night before. So I created a page called Gamers Vs Violence and we helped his girlfriend's family come out so they could be there for the murder trial because they lived in another state. It was really great that we created this community, a sort of army on Facebook that we'd created, to support him. He was a fan that had done something so special for me so we motivated as many people as we could to do something in return for him.
[see Michele explain Ethan's tragic death and her campaign in his honor in greater detail here via TradeChat]
On a more positive note, when I went through surgery a lot of people from my fanpage went into World of Warcraft and sent me screenshots of them healing Lady Sylvanas in the game as Get Well cards to me while I was in the hospital. That was super-cool.
Chloe: My moments were not quite as large as Michele's but every time I go to a convention at least three or four people will come up to me because of this show I do on Syfy called Heroes of Cosplay. It's a show that's received in different ways. I feel like a lot of the world likes it but a lot of the cosplay world despises it with their very being. At first I was really concerned about the way people were receiving it, but ultimately the things that people come up and say to my face when they come up to me at conventions makes everything completely worth it, especially stories of little girls getting back into cosplay. One example that Michele was there for, was this little girl that was dressed up in costume who looked great. She came up to me and started to motion to me and speak to me and I understood that she was deaf. We brought out our phones and just started typing to each other on our phones and it was just so meaningful to me because she had had so much trouble with the cosplay community she was insecure and nervous. She said I had inspired her to start dressing up again. I don't know what the hell I did to do that but it meant so much to me and stayed with me for so long.
Michele: It really was a cool moment. It was good that you inspired somebody. That's the part that just keeps surprising us over and over because it's a weird feeling. It feels so good to know that you did something that made somebody happier and made them feel inspired. There's something about it that's never stopped surprising us.
Chloe: I hope that I never stop being surprised by it because every time it means so much to me.
OH!: IMDb lists the status of The Road to Azeroth, the first feature length documentary film from Nerdist Industries and produced by Chris Hardwick, as "currently filming." What can you tell us about how that's going? And what would each of you most like fans to know about it?
Michele: The Road to Azeroth is a project about a sixty-four year old woman named Terry Bolt who has terminal cancer and who plays World of Warcraft as therapy. There's been a lot of research out there that shows that people turn to games when they are in times of need and it helps them communicate with other people, especially in a MMO environment or even in just regular co-op games when you have another person on the other side. Andie Bolt, Terry Bolt's daughter, is a documentarian who started by going on Chris Hardwick's Nerdist podcast talking about her mom. She explained that one of her dreams was to do a documentary on her mom's situation so he encouraged her to do it. We call it The Road to Azeroth. Originally, I was just one of the b-line stories in it because after I'd broken my neck one of the games that I majorly got into while healing from that was World of Warcraft. That's kind of why I got tied to WoW so hard during that time. After I was interviewed for it they ended up making me a producer on it. We got into BlizzCon and there were things that I could do to help the project in a lot of different ways. Andie's really the big driving force behind the project, it's her baby, I'm just a producer on it. Chloe's part in it comes from having her dress up Andie's mother as her goblin in the game and her sister as her panda. One of the things on Terry's bucket list was to go to BlizzCon and what was really great about that was seeing a 64yr old woman talking to twenty-two year old kids and realizing that this was the greatest equalizer. She's talking about her spec and rotation and her transmog gear and they're all just talking on the same level. Age didn't matter. Gender didn't matter. Disease didn't matter. She was able to just talk about something she was passionate about to thousands of people that were at this convention center. It was amazing. I can't tell you how many times this project has brought me to tears. We're trying to raise an additional $50k for an orchestra and some additional things we want to include through an upcoming Kickstarter campaign and we're hoping to take it to film festivals where I have the feeling it's going to do quite well. It's a two-part thing, it's a web series as well as a documentary.
Chloe: Michele's been so emotional and has been brought to tears so many times working on this because it's her baby too and she loves it so dearly. I've seen her working so damned hard on this movie, she's put a lot of her soul into it. I'm really excited to be a part of it.
Michele: There will be more information about it coming soon. Its Kickstarter will launch in about a month and that's when the trailer will come out for this film. The trailer is gorgeous, it's perfect. Andie's mom is a star and hopefully we'll spread a lot more information about this type of cancer, NET Cancer, it's the same cancer that killed Steve Jobs. She was told three years ago that she had six months to live and she's still going. She's one of the most inspirational women you'll ever meet.
Chloe: She's amazing. Completely amazing.
OH!: I think it's amazing how you've both consistently used your influence to improve the positivity of the world.
Chloe: Thank you.
Michele: We really appreciate that and I think that's ultimately what our goal is. We just want to make sure that we stay positive about things and put good things out into the world.
OH!: In closing, what can you tell us about your upcoming web series Pen & Paper & Laser Guns?
Michele: People should follow our twitter accounts for more info! A trailer should be dropping soon.
Follow Michele and Chloe on twitter to stay briefed on all of their exciting projects and make Chaotic Awesome's live stream goodness part of your Wednesday routine. The full two-hour broadcast runs from 2-4pm PST on BiteSizeTV, and true to the network's name you can catch the show's segments in convenient bite sized chunks (5-9mins in length) later if you're not able to catch the whole program all at once. Look for Chloe & Michele at SDCC this summer, keep an eye out for Pen & Paper & Laser Guns' highly anticipated trailer, tune in to Season 1.5 of Syfy's Heroes of Cosplay (premiering May 27th) and don't forget to support The Road to Azeroth's upcoming Kickstarter campaign in any and every way you can.


About BiteSizeTV:

Founded in 2013 by internet pioneer Ron Bloom, BiteSizeTV currently features six channels of programming including entertainment, fashion, gaming, technology and sports. In addition to its website, BiteSizeTV reaches its growing audience of more than 90 million people per month via cable syndication, third party OTT, and digital out-of-home. A first of its kind multi-channel destination, BiteSizeTV is a vertically integrated entertainment network producing and delivering proprietary, premium, Hollywood studio-quality (scripted and unscripted) programming available on any connected device online and OnDemand. In addition to "Chaotic Awesome," the company is known for its live in-studio Pop-Up events, tent-pole shows "Hollywood Today" and "The Girl Spot," as well as recent features such as "Film Junkies," "Reality Relapse," "Pedal to the Metal" and Dave Stewart's "The Ringmaster."


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About the Author - Nightfly

A proud member of NBCUniversal's and A+E Television Networks’ Digital Media Teams, Nightfly routinely interviews producers, creators and stars of various network programs and films with a concentrated emphasis on the Syfy channel. Formally educated in Communications, Computer Science and Music, his résumé reflects more than a decade broadcasting in the fields of television and radio. With pieces routinely published at ScreenFad and Press Pass L.A., his primary areas of interest include TV, film, music, web series, comic books, fashion, pen 'n paper RPG gaming as well as various other pop-culture topics. An avid Twitter user, Nightfly supports the arts, the entertainment community, numerous charities and crowdfunding projects through his journalistic netizenship and non-partisan, multicultural-centric activism.

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