Luann Algoso is a professional do-gooder with a master’s degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Since moving to Portland nearly a decade ago, she’s busied herself with making the world a better place. After landing a job at one of Oregon’s largest nonprofits, she was thrilled—but soon saw that while the organization’s mission was commendable, it wasn’t exempt from office politics and hierarchical practices. “I was having a tough time trying to grapple with the realities of the nonprofit-industrial complex,” Algoso says. “I realized that you can try and try, and do good for the community, but you still [have to] think about the politics of being restricted in the kind of work you want to do.”
Algoso considered writing a novel about her experiences, but instead a screenplay formed, leading to her new web series, Gabby Smashes the Imperialist, White Supremacist, Capitalist Patriarchy!
“I envisioned more of a workplace comedy sitcom, similar to The Office or Parks and Rec, but as soon as Dawn [Jones Redstone] joined as a co-writer, the story started to shift,” Algoso says. “The show is about more than just working at a nonprofit and rather what it’s like to try and do good work despite being met with so many obstacles.” On Tuesday, February 20, Algoso and Redstone will premiere the pilot episode at Portland State University (it’ll be available online the next day) in advance of financing future episodes.
Gabby Smashes... follows the trials and tribulations of Gabby Antonio (played by Algoso), a bright-eyed Filipina idealist who helps Oregonians at UNHAPI (United Native Hawaiians and Asian Pacific Islanders). The show’s cast is made up almost entirely of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) actors. “I decided to focus on the AAPI community because it would be an opportunity to show how vast and diverse the community is, and how different issues affect different Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups,” says Algoso. “It’s an attempt to see just how diverse the AAPI umbrella is.” The show’s title—a nod to bell hooks—might not roll off the tongue, but Algoso says that’s the point: Intersecting systems of oppression can never be palatably simplified.