The Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association

ON THE RED CARPET: Covering a Hollywood Premiere

Above is the work of Stepfanie Aguilar (UCLA, Editor-in-Chief, Evonne Liew (freelance), and Liberty Zabala (CSUN, KCSN news anchor, RTDNA chapter president) at the Hollywood premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2 on May 22.

AAJA-LA board member Suzanne Joe Kai, provided equipment from her company StudioLA.TV, secured press credentials and access to the red carpet, and mentored us in the planning, shooting and production of the video, print and online stories.

Liberty Zabala (CSUN, KCSN News anchor, RTDNA chapter president) at the press screening of Kung Fu Panda 2 in Hollywood. Photo by Suzanne Joe Kai.

Evonne Liew (freelance reporter/ photographer) at the Red Carpet premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2 in Hollywood. Photo by Suzanne Joe Kai.

To see additional footage/ reporting from Aguilar, Liew, and Zabala, check out


When I was offered the chance to cover the L.A. premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Not only do I love 3D animation, I enjoy covering movies that highlight Asian-American culture and teachings. Working with a team of other reporters, Stepfanie Aguilar and Evonne Liew along with the executive producer of StudioLA.TV, Suzanne Joe Kai, was a wonderful learning experience. Suzanne and I attended the press screening the day before the red carpet premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where we got a sneak peek of the film a week before it opened.

Stepfanie shot amazing celebrity photos/ footage on the red carpet, and Evonne shot great photos/ footage all around the red carpet area.

We even got free popcorn and soda! Ah, yes, the perks of being press, I can get used to this! After the movie, I started writing a script for my stand-up and my review of the film. Suzanne had already spotted a perfect area to shoot a stand-up right out in front of the theater with a giant Kung Fu Panda 2 poster hanging in the background.

We probably shot 2 different versions of my stand-up about twenty times. I especially liked when people would walk in front of the camera and costumed superheroes would try to get into the shot! We finally got the perfect stand-up and wrapped up for the day.  Suzanne was a great mentor throughout the shoot helping me work on my voice and energy in front of the camera. I greatly appreciated her encouragement and support.

We worked separately for most of the piece.  The team shot, narrated, and produced the feature, with Stepfanie Aguilar editing the video on Final Cut Pro . Our team was very tech-savvy. We coordinated each other’s part primarily via email and phone. I gained a new appreciation for technology and the wonders it can do for young journalists who may not have such professional equipment. My review of the film also went up on I was very happy that I was not only able to report but also write about the film and my experience covering it.

Stepfanie Aguilar (UCLA, Editor-in-Chief with AAJA-LA board member Suzanne Joe Kai, reviewing footage from the Red Carpet event. Photo by Evonne Liew.

STEPFANIE AGUILAR I have lived in Los Angeles for three years, and I had never seen a red carpet premiere until a few weeks ago. I didn’t think I’d go to my first one as a photographer.  Suzanne Joe Kai, a board member of AAJA-LA, offered students and other young journalists a chance to cover the red carpet premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2 for
I arrived at the Kodak Theater at 8:00 a.m., waiting for Suzanne and Evonne Liew—all of us as a crew, preparing for the event coverage.

After meeting up, it was time to check-in. Although it’s good to be in front, I learned that shooting photographs would even be better when closer to the entrance.

With two DSLR cameras around my neck, I captured shots of every actor and actress, including the director Jennifer Yuh Nelson. It was tougher taking photos of more popular celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt since they rushed down the carpet. Luckily, I did get Lucy Liu to look at my camera. I copied other photographers when they shouted out the celebrity’s name so that they could directly look at my camera also.

After everyone went inside the theater, I lingered around some more just in case anything would’ve popped up. I met with the rest of the crew, who were filming the event. After hours of exchanging photos and video clips, we all headed home. We weren’t done yet though. Post-production started the next day and lasted all week, mostly communicating through phone calls, e-mails, and Skype-chatting.

This whole experience was a thrill—nothing I’ve ever done before. Now knowing it’s possible to cover events like this one, I’m on the lookout.

(L-R) Evonne Liew, Stepfanie Aguilar and John Sakata working on their stories from Kung Fu Panda 2's Red Carpet premiere at a Hollywood diner. Photo by Suzanne Joe Kai.