Bowen Yang Teases Working with Jon M. Chu in ‘Wicked’ and Mandy Moore Talks ‘Princess Diaries 3’ at The Las Culturistas Culture Awards

Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers, creators of the award-winning Las Culturistas podcast, hosted their third annual Las Culturistas Culture Awards on Saturday, June 15 at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. In our current climate of FYC campaigns pulsating as Emmys voting nears, this award show feels like a breath of fresh air in the midst of festival season and before our official awards season kicks off.

Real life attendees Hannah Einbinder, Julia Fox, Julio Torres, and Josh Sharp & Aaron Jackson (as Natalie Portman & Julianne Moore) presented awards to the likes of Tilda Swinton, Pedro Pascal, and Sabrina Carpenter, who all submitted video acceptance speeches. From “Anatomy of a Fall” star Messi winning the award for Most Amazing Impact in Film to Cole Escola winning the Cate Blanchett Award for Good Acting, laughs roared and roared as winners were announced.

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Looking back on the world that they have created in the past eight years, Yang and Rogers reflect on when they each realized that Las Culturistas was going to be as big as it has grown to be. “As I look back on the totality of Las Culturistas, everyone’s been so generous with their time,” Yang tells IndieWire. “I feel like because the podcast is so low-concept, it gives room for all these people to come through the show and answer the questions and do their ‘I Don’t Think So Honey.’ The first ‘I Don’t Think So Honey’ Live we did in Brooklyn in 2017 was very fun, the energy was very palpable. Jesse David Fox from Vulture wrote about it in his book in a very beautiful, generous way. I’m glad that we got to be sort of like a nice footnote on the current landscape of comedy. That’s the proudest thing I feel about the podcast.”

And funnily enough, Matt Rogers shares the same anecdote, “The first time there was, like, a mark of huge change, was the first time we ever did a live show at The Bell House in Brooklyn,” Rogers tells IndieWire. “This was years ago now, but it was the first time I realized that people would even gather and see something that we were doing. It was ‘I Don’t Think So Honey’ Live, we had 50 comedians, all of our friends, get on stage, and we [considered] it like a gay Woodstock.”

“I remember looking out to the audience, seeing how excited everyone was, how prepared everyone came, and how amazing it was to all be together,” Rogers continued. “That’s when I realized, ‘Oh, this is potentially something that could be even bigger.’ If a bunch of people that were there loved it, why couldn’t more people? I also think I knew something was different when our managers looked up from their phones and were like, ‘Oh, wait, hold on, something’s happening here.'”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 15: Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp attend the Las Culturistas Culture Awards at Kings Theatre on June 15, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by John Nacion/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 15: Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp attend the Las Culturistas Culture Awards at Kings Theatre on June 15, 2024 in New York City. (Getty Images)Getty Images

Mandy Moore, friend of the podcast, received the inaugural Lifetime of Culture Award. “I did the podcast a couple of months ago and they mentioned if I happened to be in New York on this particular date, this is when the show was happening,” Moore told IndieWire on how Yang and Rogers approached her about the award. “And I was like, ‘Yeah!'”

Additionally, with rumors of a third “Princess Diaries” swirling, though no one has approached Moore about making a return, she “would be down.” “I mean, I also understand that, like, it’s hard to think of how my character would be a part of the story now, unless it were some sort of redemption,” she tells IndieWire. “Like, she, I don’t know, sort of turned over a new leaf and she’s a kind person who volunteers, like, walking foster puppies or something. There definitely needs to be that element in the story, but it would be so fun to be involved.”

With just recently wrapping Season 49 of “Saturday Night Live,” Bowen Yang will be keeping a very busy schedule throughout the next few months. Today, he has to fly back to Vancouver to continue filming with his “Fire Island” director Andrew Ahn on his latest project, a “reimagination” of Ang Lee’s beloved 1993 film “The Wedding Banquet.”

“We just shot for two weeks and I came back; they were very generous to give me time off for this. We go back to Vancouver tomorrow,” Yang tells IndieWire. “We have got two more weeks of shooting. It’s been an unforgettable, whole indelible thing. Lily Gladstone is amazing. Kelly Marie Tran is amazing. Joan Chen is in the movie. Yuh-jung Youn is in the movie! Oscar winner Y. J.! It’s going to be a really fantastic movie.”

And, of course, what we’re likely all most excited for is Jon M. Chu’s “Wicked,” slated to hit theaters later this year. Yang will be playing Pfannee, a college friend of Galinda [Ariana Grande]. “Oh my gosh, my biggest lesson in working with Jon is that the scale of the movie has nothing to do with the intimacy of it — with what it’s trying to do, with the story that’s being told, at the end of the day, or just about the emotional environment of set,” Yang said. “Everyone was so taken care of. No one’s bigger than The Wizard of Oz. No one’s bigger than Oz itself. Everyone was there completely humbled and Jon really didn’t push. He just kind of let that cultivate itself and I’m so lucky that I got to be minimally involved in it as I was. He’s such a good director and the scale doesn’t ever actually scale up with the word.”

The Las Culturistas Culture Awards was produced by Lauren Mandel, for her production company Disco Nap. Absolut x Kahlua sponsored the event.

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