Author Ann M. Martin had no master plan when she decided to make one of the core members of “The Baby-Sitters Club” a Japanese American girl named Claudia.
Claudia Kishi happened to be everything the “model minority” stereotype wasn’t. She got bad grades. She thrived in art and fashion. She wasn’t struggling to belong. For those reasons and more, Asian American girls in the ’80s and ’90s idolized Claudia and felt seen in teen fiction. Some of those now grown fans concede the books fall short dealing with race, but a new Netflix adaptation is bringing Claudia (and her pals) into the modern age.
In addition to the series that’s available now, the streaming service on Friday is releasing “The Claudia Kishi Club” documentary. It’s filmmaker Sue Ding’s love letter to Claudia-philes.
In the short documentary, a handful of Asian American writers and illustrators effuse about how influential the character was for that time.
“For some, their parents were actively not supportive of them pursuing more artistic career choices,” Ding said. “Even for those whose families were supportive, they didn’t necessarily see people like themselves working in media as directors or painters.”
“As an Asian American kid growing up having only seen depictions of nerds, geishas, the villain, having that extra layer of someone who could be aspirational was incredible,” said Baby Sitters Club producer Naia Cucukov.