4 Surprising Celebrity Side Projects That Flew Under The Radar
Celebrities: they're nothing like us, if for no other reason than the fact that their entire existence is a carefully cultivated brand. However, some celebrities occasionally do weird side projects that show us a glimpse of something human beneath the glossy sheen of fame ...
Billy Zabka (the Cobra Kai Guy) Produced A Meta-Documentary About Aid For Uganda
Between Billy Zabka's '80s movie bully heyday and his Cobra Kai resurgence, he was busy making music videos and documentaries. One doc that he edited and produced is Mzungu, or "white wanderer" in Swahili, about four college kids from the West who come to Uganda to try and make things better.
Ultimately, the kids just end up defeated. But that's not how the movie ends. In a meta twist, the movie's real subject turns out to be its director, Shane Gilbert, who ends up ditching her original idea for the film and proceeds to settle in Uganda. She sets up a non-profit, eventually opening up orphanages, taxi services, micro-businesses, and helping Ugandans set up businesses of their own. This enables hundreds of college kids to come to Uganda and make a difference. Basically, the opposite of Kony 2012-style slacktivism.
So what does Zabka think about it? To him, it's a "touching documentary" about American and African cultures meeting and about what we need to learn from one another. He points out that billions of dollars in aid have been given over the last few decades, and basically none of it has actually reached the people it was supposed to help. Zabka feels the movie is an excellent example of how Westerners can actually help developing nations when they truly put aid money to good use -- as Gilbert does.
All of which is pretty surprising from a guy whose TV character runs a dojo with a giant American flag on the wall and inspires his students by shouting, "Don't be a pussy!"
Lucy Liu Spent Decades Making Art Under A Fake Name
You may be surprised to learn that the greatest work of art Lucy Liu has ever created is not Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. That honor probably belongs to one of the many works she completed as Yu Ling, her Chinese name, under which she had been exhibiting her art since 1993 (she stopped using that name in 2011). Her interest in art started at 15, and since then, she's completed paintings, collages, silkscreens, ink drawings, and arrangements of discarded objects (which is as weird and arty as it sounds).
In 2019, she opened an exhibition showcasing her art and that of Indian artist Shubigi Rao at the National Museum of Singapore. The stuff in her part of the collection was mostly, well, discarded objects -- like a bunch of books that were thrown away by a printing house. Liu cut holes in them and put in those holes stuff she found on the street -- like a Tic Tac container or a crushed can. We told you this was going to be arty and weird.