Ella Beth and The Journey To America

Ella Beth is an incredible singer and became my good friend after I saw her on the The Voice Vietnam and I invited her to be my guest in 2019. After the Pandemic, she went to America and we haven’t had a chance to have a face-to-face conversation.

It’s been a while since Ella Beth joined us back in season 2, and her life has taken some exciting detours. This talk strolled down memory lane with her time in Vietnam, then explored her experiences navigating life back in America. 

By sharing our last experience, this talk highlighted friendship across borders, the difficulties in the Pandemic, and also true love through long distance.

Revisiting Past Experiences and Covid Pandemic

It’s hard to believe it’s already season ten of A Vietnam Podcast! We reminisced about how our friendship blossomed since then. It’s amazing how these connections can form and last. 

It was difficult to remember where we even recorded that season two episode – things get hazy after a while! Funny how time flies –  we even have a whole studio set-up now, compared to the single microphone we used back then.

  • Language Retention & “Culture Clash” Moment

I was curious how Ella Beth’s Vietnamese held up after all this time. To both our surprise, she remembered a lot more than she thought! Especially the curse words! We talked about her using Vietnamese with street vendors and even rediscovering some forgotten phrases. I, on the other hand, jokingly admitted my own struggles with Vietnamese. 

  • The Pandemic’s Impact on Career and Creativity

The pandemic’s effects were a big topic. While Vietnam wasn’t hit as hard initially, it still disrupted things for Ella Beth in 2020. It was actually how I first learned about her on The Voice Vietnam, which led to me inviting her on the podcast in the first place. 

We talked a lot about how the pandemic affected her creativity. It was tough for her, especially with the singing gigs drying up in 2021. But amidst the struggles, something unexpected emerged. Turns out, our shared love of comedy blossomed after her appearance on the podcast!  Who knew she had a hidden comedic talent?  She’s been trying her hand at stand-up, and it sounds like she’s having a blast.

Long-Distance Love and Their Happy Ending

On A Vietnam Podcast, Ella Beth filled me in on her love story with Tony, and it’s a real rollercoaster! They met in Saigon, of all places, called TNR bar. Maybe it’s something about being foreigners in a third country like Vietnam, but they hit it off right away. Things seemed perfect until the pandemic struck.

Tony’s visa became a huge issue, and he had to return to the US. Neither of them wanted a long-distance relationship. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine dealing with that! But they somehow made it work. Movie nights on Zoom, regular calls, and a whole lot of commitment kept them connected. It sounds like that long-distance phase ended up strengthening their bond. They knew if they could survive that, they could tackle anything.

The good news is, things have a happy ending! Ella Beth eventually got a visa and moved all the way to Atlanta to be with Tony. They even got married, officiated by the same person who did the weddings on season one of Love is Blind – talk about a unique touch! This whole story is a testament to the power of love and perseverance. 

Unique Marriage Connection and Adjusting to Life in the USA

Ella explained on A Vietnam Podcast the crazy story of her move to America to be with Tony. It all started with them being huge fans of Love is Blind (who isn’t?). She even managed to track down the officiant who presided over those reality TV weddings and also signed Ella Beth and Tony’s marriage certificate. A touch of Love is Blind magic for their real-life love story!

Moving to Atlanta was a big adjustment for Ella Beth. She went from expecting a New York City skyline to a surprisingly green city. Even at the airport, things got interesting.

Her first taste of American bureaucracy came at the airport. With a shaky itinerary and a “dubious” flight ticket, she encountered a friendly TSA agent who calmed her nerves with a “Don’t look so scared, it’s not that serious.”

The initial months felt like a dream vacation. Fresh out of lockdown in Saigon, she reveled in the freedom to explore – hiking, attending music venues, and even a trip to New York to meet Tony’s family.

But reality eventually set in. Without a long-term plan, things got serious.  Marriage became the answer, and on a whim (or rather, April Fool’s Day), they headed to the courthouse and tied the knot. It wasn’t a traditional proposal, but it sealed the deal for their future together.

Green Card Games: Ella Beth Fights the Bureaucracy

The path to a green card wasn’t always smooth sailing for Ella Beth. While acknowledging her privilege (having a passport from a country friendly with the US), she highlighted the struggles of others in the system.

Getting a green card is a permission to live and work in the US. Ella Beth knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she also knew some people had it harder than her.

They applied with a lawyer’s help in August 2022. The wait time? Up to a year! No problem, they thought, Ella Beth even had a wedding planned back in Vietnam for April 2023. But months passed with no updates. They started to worry about the wedding. Could they even get back to Vietnam without the green card?

Panicked, Ella Beth decided to fight for what she believed in. She wrote letters to important people in the US government, explaining the situation and how long she’d waited. She even mentioned all the other people stuck in the same boat.

Here’s the crazy part: they postponed the wedding to April 27th. And guess what? Just a few days before, on May 12th, the green card arrived, along with a work permit and driver’s license!

It all worked out in the end, but Ella Beth’s story shows how getting a green card can be stressful. Waiting for months with no information is no fun for anyone.

Ella Beth thinks the system needs to be faster and easier to understand. We hope so too, so more people can live their American dreams!  We’ll be sure to tell you more about Ella Beth’s adventures in the US next time!

From Podcaster to Performer: Ella Beth Embraces Suburban Bliss

Her music career took off! Once she got her work permit, she became a lead singer in a band! They travel all over the Southeast, singing at weddings. It’s a dream come true for Ella Beth, who never thought she’d be a professional musician in America.

Being married was wonderful, but music was her other passion. She sang in her church choir too, and even recorded music during the week. This schedule allowed her to focus on music while still having a good work-life balance.

At first, Ella Beth worried about being an outsider in the music scene. Luckily, Atlanta’s music community welcomed her with open arms. The pandemic even helped, as everyone was rebuilding connections. Now, she felt lucky to be part of this vibrant group of musicians chasing their dreams.

Looking back, Ella Beth never imagined she’d be living the American dream in the suburbs. But life had a way of surprising you, and she was loving it! She was excited to visit Vietnam soon for a wedding celebration with friends and family (the fun party, not the courthouse part!).


This reunion with Ella Beth on A Vietnam Podcast was a heartwarming testament to the power of friendship and the unwavering pursuit of dreams. From “The Voice Vietnam” to navigating the complexities of a new life in America, Ella Beth’s story is one of resilience, adaptation, and the joy of rediscovering one’s passion.

She was going to celebrate her wedding ceremony in Vietnam and this was amazing. Support Ella by following her on social media, and don’t forget to follow A Vietnam Podcast for future sharing!

Ella Beth


Opening Banter and Podcast Introduction

Niall Mackay: are

Ella Beth: are you laughing?

Niall Mackay: at? Did we


Ella Beth: the wrong way? It’s amazing that you managed to spit it into your cup and not that way.

Revisiting Past Experiences and Friendship Evolution

Niall Mackay: Welcome to season 10 of a Vietnam podcast. We are back. I am so excited. And today I am with a guest who first appeared in season two, back in 2019.

Ella Beth: Isn’t that so crazy to believe? Yes.

I’ll just go and have a three month break. And at the end of three months I was like, I don’t wanna leave yet. I’ll just stay another three months. So it was originally six months and six years later it’s 2019. I’m still here. So it’s good. I like it.

Niall Mackay: Thank you so much for wherever you are in the [00:01:00] world for tuning in. My guest today became my friend after we met. You’d just been on the Vietnamese Voice. We’d maybe come across each other once before and I invited you on the podcast and I’m really excited to say I’m going to be at your wedding this weekend or your wedding ceremony and I’m going to be an emcee at it.

So my guest today is Ella. Beth

Ella Beth: Ooh, it’s so awesome to be back here. Thank you so much for getting me back on the show. Um, yeah, it’s surreal. It’s surreal to be back. first of all in Vietnam, to be back talking to you, but uh, to be on season 10, that feels like, I’m like, Oh, congratulations for you. 10 seasons is great. I get to be on the 10th season.

Okay, cool. I

Niall Mackay: I can’t believe you’re on season 2. I thought it would have been 5 or 6 or something like that. So, 2019, I honestly can’t even remember where we recorded it. Would it have been at my home in Phu Nhien?

Ella Beth: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, That was the first time that I met anyone who was living along Trung Sa and, uh, [00:02:00] and now I’m actually staying there while I’m here in Vietnam.

So it’s like a nice little circular sort of moment in time.

Niall Mackay: it’s crazy. And to think back then I had a blue Yeti microphone, one microphone between us in my front room. Now we have all new microphones. We’re in a

new studio. lights,

Ella Beth: New

Niall Mackay: headphones as well. It’s pretty exciting. And, uh, um, I can’t believe how much it’s changed since you’ve been gone.

Reflecting on Language Skills and Life Changes

Niall Mackay: But the whole reason for season 10 is I’m bringing on guests that have been on the podcast before and finding out where are you now. you haven’t been on the podcast for five years, so that’s quite a big gap. So you’d just done the Vietnamese voice back then, and I know we talked about that you could speak Vietnamese.

Ella Beth: So,

Niall Mackay: now?

Ella Beth: it’s, it’s surprised me how much it’s come back to me, just being here on ground, you know, obviously things like if you don’t practice it, if you don’t use it, it does tend to sort of like go to the back of your brain, like little important things, [00:03:00] talking with street hawkers or my GrabBike driver or.

Restaurant people or even my Vietnamese friends like little things are coming back and I’m surprised by myself. I’m like, okay I remember this is kind of like riding a bike. I guess they say I Would say that my Vietnamese is still conversational. I’m I never I never reached fluency Conversational if you want to have a joking conversation, there’s going to be a lot of laughs a lot of things, but I Surprisingly, I would say that, yeah, no, I, I’m really surprised at how much I remember. Yeah, sometimes they still look at me and they say no English, and I smile, I’m not speaking English to you! Vietnamese!

Niall Mackay: I mean, I can only say about three things and I still get that. I’ll ask like, Bao Niu, which is how much. And then they get the calculator out and show me it and I’m like No, you could say the [00:04:00] number, but to be honest, today I got lunch, I asked Bao New, she said the number and I had no idea what she said, so the calculator has probably been best

for me.

Ella Beth: What, What, really surprised me, um, about Vietnamese coming back quickly was yesterday I went to go get a massage up in Phu Nhuan. It’s beautiful. I came out feeling like I was walking on a cloud. And as I was crossing the road, I, I looked both ways, you know, I did the Vietnamese thing and I was like, right, this sounds, this seems like a very, uh, fair enough point to cross.

And as I’m crossing, I was looking, so I. made it past this side and I was crossing looking this way because there was a car coming and the back of my heel got clipped by a young guy on a motorbike and he wasn’t going super fast so like I didn’t fall over and he stopped and he said sorry sorry sorry but It definitely, um, speaks to how I’ve grown as a person because in that instant, all of the Vietnamese swear words that I knew came back to me and old me before I like chilled out a little bit would have turned around and unleashed the torrent [00:05:00] of them.

But I didn’t. I was like, it’s okay, man, just be careful. But I was really surprised that, uh, all the naughty words that I remembered suddenly PTSD or something, but it was fun.

Niall Mackay: So we podcast five years ago nearly now. What has changed in your life since then? We’ve mentioned that you’re just back in Vietnam. to get married, but I feel like that’s the end point. So what’s happened between October, 2019, and right now we are in

April, April 2024.

five years after, that’s Wild.


So Tell

us, where have you been and what have you done in those five years?

Ella Beth: So, when I, when we first did the podcast, I was very new in Saigon. I, I didn’t really know my way around the city. Um, I didn’t really know heaps of people and I’d, I’d moved down to the, to Saigon to really pursue my singing career after the Voice.

I really wanted to be making more money and getting more [00:06:00] opportunities. And Saigon being the biggest city, just had that to offer a little more than Hanoi at the time. Um. I think the last time that we met, I, that we, we chatted, I had only just met Tony. So that was, that was pretty new. So

Niall Mackay: And we’ll talk about who’s

Tony in a minute. We’ll get

there. So

Ella Beth: So

Navigating the Pandemic: Personal and Professional Impacts

Ella Beth: the last, the last five years, um, obviously early 2020, the pandemic hit the world. And so that, um, stunted some of my opportunities, but also in Vietnam, we were really lucky in 2020 because people Things were still sort of just happening. Life was going on, even though the rest of the world was burning.

So I was still able to do some really cool things musically. I sang for like the Viettel group and I sang for the Vinh group and I got to do some little tours. Um, and, and I was, I was definitely sort of building momentum as a vocalist here in the city. And then 2021 came along and. That was when Vietnam got hit harder.

And so [00:07:00] my my performing and singing just really was put on the back burner. I was I was able to still teach online with the school that I was teaching here in Vietnam, but I I didn’t get to really perform for about eight months and that was that was hard. That was really tough. Um, just as a creative person, you know, if you’re not stretching your creative muscles, they get a bit stagnant.

And also I just get so much joy from being on stage. So I would say that I probably wasn’t the happiest person at that point.

Niall Mackay: So, I remember that, Actually, the whole reason that I invited you on a Vietnam podcast was because I was at work and my Vietnamese colleague said, Niall, you’ve got to come and see this girl singing on The Vietnamese Voice. She’s from Australia.

Ella Beth: and you were like,

Niall Mackay: what?

Yeah. And

I went over to her desk


watched you perform on YouTube on The Vietnamese Voice and I was like, wait, what? Oh, this should be a great guest. And then that’s how we got in touch. Obviously, as I mentioned at the beginning, I’m coming to your wedding this weekend, so we’ve stayed in touch and we’ve become good friends over the years.

You and my wife, Adrie, and then obviously [00:08:00] Biscuit, and Ella does what everybody does. The first thing she asks about is, How’s Biscuit? Nobody gives a shit




Adrie. They

only care

Ella Beth: about we talked about you and Adrian. We talked about you going up to Perth first. I waited. I waited a good 10

Niall Mackay: Only because you know better. Only because you know better. Everyone’s the same. Wherever I go, it’s

always been like that. It’s fine. She’s

way, way cuter. Everyone’s the same. Even today she turned up, the first thing she said was, Is Biscuit coming to the

Ella Beth: wedding?

You’ve got to ask the important questions, you know

Niall Mackay: So we, we met after, obviously to do the podcast was when we first really got to know each other and then we continued to see each other around Saigon. And then you started doing comedy just like me as well. And it was really amazing to see you do comedy and do musical comedy with me as well. We

performed together at the Hard

Ella Beth: we did that show. I still honestly, that’s still one of my favorite performances in Saigon because never in my life did I think I perform at a hard rock cafe. I’m like can you know, I can put that tick that


Niall Mackay: I’m the same as well, yeah. [00:09:00] [00:10:00] And it closed down because of the pandemic and I’m really sad about that. I would just be like, ugh, Hard Rock Cafe, but then once we started performing

there and they’re like, oh wow, this is a really cool place


Ella Beth: and for them to be supportive of it and stuff, that was, yeah.

Niall Mackay: Yeah. So what was it like doing comedy? Was that something you’d ever thought about doing?

Ella Beth: No, no, I, I’d never seen myself as a comedian.

I mean, I think as a, As a performer, you have to have like a level of being able to improvise on the spot. So I was kind of used to being on stage and having a mic in my hand, but I always just valued my, my vocal prowess over like my personality, which. Whatever, whatever anyone has to say about that. I think my personality also is a winning thing.

So it was really interesting thinking like, Oh, maybe I can expand my creativity. It’s still performing. It’s still have a microphone like you still want to entertain people. Um, it’s just using. Using words in a different way. So [00:11:00] I, I really, I really enjoyed my, my foray into comedy. I, still to this day there’s a notes, like a notes on my phone that I go on there and I write like little jokes in and stuff.

So perhaps, perhaps in a year’s time when I think I’ve got a good five minutes together, I might get up and do that again. But, um, I’ve been able to focus again on the music. So.

Niall Mackay: That’s

great. And I’ve essentially retired from comedy now to focus on, on podcasts, but I have got a good joke for your wedding and don’t worry, I won’t tell

you about

it until we get there. But so

you started in comedy and then like a lot of the guests on this show, we had COVID happen between your first time on the show and now.

Even when I was recording this podcast during the COVID years, as I guess we can call them, we never really talked about COVID because I didn’t want the show to be about that. Every time you turn the TV on, it’s all everyone knew, everyone talked about. So I was like, let’s just make it not about COVID.

But we’re not going to go into detail about COVID, but how was that for you and how did [00:12:00] that change your life?

Ella Beth: COVID wasn’t hard in 2020. 2021 was incredibly tough for me. I didn’t, I wasn’t able to perform. Um, um, there were just weren’t venues open people didn’t need singers because nothing was open and not being able to be on stage and and to sing and perform was really tough because I It’s just what I what I love to do.

It’s what I want to do. I’m very blessed to be able to um, to work in my passion and also to be talented at what I’m passionate about. Like I feel really blessed to be able to do that. So not being able to perform all of 2021 was really hard on me. You know, apart, apart from the fact that the world was just in chaos, everyone was stressed.

Everyone was anxious. Everyone was probably feeling levels of depression and anxiety. Um, so. Yeah, COVID really affected me in the way that by the time the pandemic was over, I kind of felt a bit rusty as a performer [00:13:00] and that in my whole adult life, I’d never, never experienced that because I’d been regularly performing.

So that was tough. It was really tough to not be on stage, to not be able to Share my gift with people and not be able to entertain people. That that was tough for, for the all of

Niall Mackay: Yeah, it was tough for everyone, right? I mean, I went from doing comedy

two, three times a week

to not doing it.

So when you do get used to having a microphone to being on

Ella Beth: stage, we


some online

Niall Mackay: shows

together though, if I remember right. It’s not the same I remember, but it’s still amazing to be able to. I remember doing a show online to like 40 people, 50 people on a zoom call or watching me do like a Neville

stand up set. It’s

Ella Beth: amazing? incredible.

be able to gather people around the world, I, I guess in some ways I kind of think of, of that time as a blessing because it did really highlight the fact that technology is such an amazing thing these days.

We can be so unbelievably connected through the internet. So.

Niall Mackay: Well, I love I’ve read this before. This is not an original thought, but I lived it. I loved it during that time. We could [00:14:00] meet somebody that we hadn’t seen in years. Like I watched with some friends. Watched some old World Cup football games. It was like Nigeria against Italy in the 94 World Cup. And I organized and it was like three or four of us.

We met up. We had beers. And then the pandemic’s over, you never see those people again. You never, you never like call them and be like, Hey, you want to

meet up on Sunday online and we’ll have some beers and watch

some football? It’s just like,

done. Like I will never speak to

you again,

Ella Beth: the beauty of

Niall Mackay: beauty of the pandemic, meaning we will become closer and share this, this moment together.

It’s so weird, right?

Ella Beth: What a weird time. And even like being, being foreigners here in Vietnam, I, I feel blessed that, that the country, that the government really wanted to like protect the country. And I, and I think we did have a much more easy time of 2020 than the rest of the world had, you know, like there was, there was silver linings in what was just such a weird time.

But I also felt like we did experience it in a bubble. Like when I talk to my friends from Australia, or I talk to my friends in America now who [00:15:00] experienced the pandemic there, they’re like, Really? Really? Life just went on? I was like, I mean, okay, I live in the South now, or for a lot of places in the South, life just went on there too, because in the South, they’re like, my rights, my freedom.

But um, like we did experience such an interesting time in history in such a strange little sort of bubble of it

Long-Distance Love and Moving Forward

Niall Mackay: of We’ve alluded to the fact that you’re no longer in Vietnam. So tell us a little bit about that journey from living here in Vietnam, meeting somebody, which we can talk about, and, and your journey now to, as you’ve alluded to, now living in America.

Ella Beth: so Tony and I met here in Saigon. At Tien Aba, which I think is just so funny. We went back and got a photo outside there last night Just be like, yeah, the good old days so we went there and Like many international couples in Vietnam We were really happy and and it was very easy for us to have a relationship here Because it was in our third country in the middle ground So when the pandemic happened [00:16:00] and things started to get harder for people to be able to get visas, unless they were sponsored by companies and stuff, Tony realized he really needed to go home.

It had been years since he was home and, um, he just, he needed to be back in America. So we thought we would have to break up. And that was so, that was another thing that was just so tough about 2021, like so emotionally taxing and, um, Having to go through that, you know, together, it’s really hard when you love somebody, but you think you’re doing what’s right for them or what’s right for you.

So 2020 is sort of from May to June 2021 was hard because he was sort of packing up his life in Vietnam. And as he’s packing up to leave, things are getting more, um, harder and harder to be outside doing things. It was all really just like, just kind of on the fly.


Niall Mackay: remember you were messaging me during that time asking for advice because obviously [00:17:00] Adrienne and I are from two different countries. I remember you saying how did you guys make this work and

yeah it was heartbreaking to see as well because obviously you guys were so close and then to see you being ripped apart like many couples were

Ella Beth: Right, right. And it did, it felt like that.

It felt, because it was so, it wasn’t in our, it didn’t feel like it was in our power. You know, I really feel like we were being ripped apart. And that just took such a toll. Amongst everything else on YouTube. like my confidence, I think, and my, and my mental health for a bit. So we did the last half of 2021, um, the last six months of 2021 as long distance.

And I had never ever wanted to do long distance with anyone. I was like, no, that seems too hard. That, no, that’s like, it’s unnecessary, you know? until you’re in

Niall Mackay: until the pandemic

and everything is

Ella Beth: So,

Niall Mackay: Yeah.

Ella Beth: So,


Niall Mackay: People had long distance relationships within Saigon. Like I knew somebody. Who’s partner lived like two streets over

Ella Beth: Yeah. and [00:18:00] months.

Yeah. ’cause he, they just

couldn’t leave their houses

or the street.

This is so insane. So he went back and, and we did six months of long distance, which even though we both thought never really wanted to do, we made it work and we made it happen. And we did things like. Watch old movies together over zoom and try to figure out what the best time for him was mainly because they’re 12 hours behind.

Niall Mackay: such a horrible time as well, 12 hours is like, 7am such vastly different, like,

you’re doing such different things

Ella Beth: Yeah. I don’t want to be in his way when he’s going to work and like, he didn’t want to be trying to keep me, keep me up

on the weekends and stuff. So it was, it was definitely a challenge. But. I also, I also feel like it gave us more of the emotional stability that we needed to, to be like, well, if we, if we can make this work, we can probably make anything work.

Um, which is amazing. [00:19:00] So, so yeah, we did that last six months apart and he went to Atlanta and we’d call a couple of times a day. And I would get up and teach my classes online on Zoom and then I’d call him afterwards. And then in December 21, I also got on a plane and I went to Atlanta. Which, yo, I mean, I tell everyone this, like, you know, we talked about this, like, I never, never, Never thought I would even visit America.

I was just like, it’s too far away. Like there’s too much bureaucracy. I certainly didn’t think I’d marry an American for the bureaucracy thing alone. I was like, I hate paperwork. Like I don’t want to have to worry about falling in love with someone who I have to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork for, but God has a sense of humor.

I truly believe that. And I just played right into the, right into the joke. I was like, well, this is what we’re doing now.

Niall Mackay: Do you remember what I wanted you to do?

fiance. Yes. 90 day

Ella Beth: You weren’t, you [00:20:00] weren’t, you weren’t the only one who said that. Quite a few people were like, you know what, Ella, you’d probably do great on 90 Day Fiancé. And had Had we had a little bit more time to plan, that could have, that definitely could have been a thing. That’s


Niall Mackay: have seen you on 90 Day fiance, 100% funny.

It’s one of the worst shows in the world, but it’s also one of my favorites. It’s amazing. I’ve stopped watching it lately, but during the kinda pandemic times, a couple years after that, that was like my go-to show

Ella Beth: So, I’ll tell you, like, it’s, it’s um, sort of, uh, parallel to 90 Day Fiancé. Have you ever seen the show Love is Blind?

Niall Mackay: course I have. Yes. Of course I have.

By that, I mean, Adrie started watching it and then I started leaning over and going, wait, what did he say? Wait, what did she say? What are they doing now? Okay, hold on.

Fanboying Over Love is Blind and a Unique Marriage Connection

Ella Beth: Okay, And now you’re the one like, hey,

guess what? This next season’s coming out next week.

Niall Mackay: And, uh, I recently started making a podcast for, uh, A girl, a woman who was a producer on season one and I so fanboyed so much.

I was like, Oh my God, love is blind season one. And she’s like, yeah, everyone gets so excited about it. [00:21:00] She’s like, it’s really not that big a deal, but she’s like, I was one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had to do. She had to help when they like filmed all day. You can imagine just hours and hours of footage.

She had to go through it all and then find out all the interesting bits that they would then make

Ella Beth: And then try and, and also like try and edit a storyline into it. So it kind of makes, yeah, I can imagine that must be hard. So on that note, actually, season one was, filmed in Atlanta. When Tony and I, were, when we got to the point where like, how am I going to stay in America?

And we got to the whole sort of talking about marriage thing. I did my research for officiants who could sign our marriage certificate in Atlanta. And I managed to track down the officiant who signed all of the season one Love is Blind certificates. So we have a little bit of like connection to Love is Blind too.

How funny.

Niall Mackay: You

purposefully tracked down the officiant

Ella Beth: Absolutely.

Niall Mackay: Is Blind?

Ella Beth: Yeah. I was like, I know he’s from Atlanta. So I went and looked for him. We went to his office and it was also COVID there. So we couldn’t spend long in there, but we just said, Hey man, like we’re big fans [00:22:00] of the show. It’s really cool that you did that.

We were watching it when we just started dating. So yeah. And he signed our certificate and

Niall Mackay: How much business do you think he got from being on that show?

Ella Beth: he must’ve been rolling in it, rolling in it. He charges a hundred dollars to, uh, to sign a certificate. So I was like this guy, this guy,

Niall Mackay: Amazing.

Ella Beth: up the road from us. So yeah, it’s really cool.

Niall Mackay: Yeah, so I mean, I knew you were obviously you and Tony were going through trying to be together. Then you moved to the States kind of quite suddenly, right? Like it

was, you were the last we’ve kind of spoke, spoken and cause nobody could leave.

You were, you



and suddenly you were gone.

The Big Move: Adjusting to Life in the USA

Niall Mackay: And then, And what was that like then living in the States after saying that you were never going to live there

Ella Beth: Man, it’s been a trip.

It’s been such a trip. I, I don’t know, I tried not to go with any expectations. I just wanted to, you know, experience America as I saw it and as I felt it. So the first big shock that, that hit me was flying into Atlanta. I don’t know why. Before I went to America, I just assumed that every major city looked [00:23:00] like New York.

I just thought that New York was the most famous. looking one of all the major cities. I was just expecting everything to be just, you know, miles and miles of high rises. So flying into Atlanta, which is known as one of the greenest cities in America, I was thinking to myself, why are there so many, looking out the window, why are there so many trees?

Like, why are there so many trees in this city?


Niall Mackay: are there so many trees

Ella Beth: I was like, am I in the right place? So that was my first experience. And then I got off the plane. And to this day, It’s, it’s one of the most like American things that I’ve, I’ve ever experienced. I lined up at TSA and I had all my paperwork on, on my flight over there. I had like written out a little itinerary.

Niall Mackay: I’ve just remembered, did we not rehearse this before You left?

Ella Beth: gave me so many tips. You were

Niall Mackay: were asking like, what are they going to ask me, because I remember One of

Ella Beth: of the tips

I told you was, are they going to ask

Niall Mackay: you what colour is Tony’s toothbrush.

Ella Beth: Something like



about Right [00:24:00] about like my money situation and stuff, which I wasn’t going over with.

I didn’t really have a plan, you

know, I

Niall Mackay: yeah. I’ve just remembered that now.

Ella Beth: So


get up to the TSA agents this big guy first of all also, um Atlanta quite a big It’s a very international city, like a huge melting pot. So I get, I get to the TSA desk and it’s this really big guy. I don’t know. He looked like maybe he could have been like Middle Eastern or I don’t know, really big dude.

And I’m packing it because I have, uh, I have like a somewhat, um, dubious flying out ticket and a somewhat made up plan for being in America. And this, this guy, I get up to this thing and he looks at me, he goes, take your mask off. And I was like, And then the next thing he says, Don’t look so scared, it’s not that serious.

And I’m thinking to myself, everyone that I’ve ever talked to told me it’s really serious. And he’s going through my itinerary asking me things and, um, [00:25:00] asked me where I was staying at this point. It’s like, okay, when, when’s your flight out? And my, my ticket said the 20th of January. And I was just like panicking so much.

I was like, um, my ticket there is the 20th of July. He goes, July? I said, July? Sorry, sorry, sir. I’m just really nervous. I’m just really nervous. It’s my first time in America. Sorry the 20th of January He’s like, all right, and then he stamped it and let me through and But I was packing it like totally terrified.

So that was my first sort of hour and a half in America I was like, okay. All right. Well, they’ve let me in. I’m here Yeah, right. I’m here now So it was it was interesting my first three months there. It really felt like a holiday When you go to a new place, everything’s just new and fresh and I’d just come out of being locked in my apartment here in Saigon for six months.

So it was really nice to just, we could go out and go hiking if we wanted to. We could go down to like a little music venue if we wanted to. So I was just loving America for six months. for being able to get out and experience it. And we went, we did end up going to New [00:26:00] York, um, a couple of weeks after I arrived to see Tony’s extended family.

So I got, I got a really cool experience of, of America my first couple of months. And then, and then it was, as it, as it happens for anyone who doesn’t really have a plan, if you go to America, you have to get a, like, get a plan or get out. And so Tony and I were like, well, I guess this is the plan. So he put a ring on


Niall Mackay: I love it.

I love it. How did he propose?

Ella Beth: We, uh, What

Niall Mackay: make a plan here.

Ella Beth: mean, the plan? We, we just decided. He he didn’t propose. We, we went to, we went to the, uh, to the local courthouse on April Fool’s Day, and we just got married

and that was it. Took the certificate over to the guy, I got him to sign it, went and filed all our stuff and went and had some lunch with, with my in-laws. But yeah, it was ki it was, it wasn’t like sudden, sudden, it [00:27:00] was definitely more sudden than we thought. I honestly thought that I go to America and I was like, I don’t have a plan.

I’d been living in Asia for so long. I was like, if anything, surely I can just go and do visa runs, can I not? Like, I can just leave every 90 days and come back to America. So I thought I was going to go and have a little holiday in Mexico, drink some beers in Cancun. And the lawyer was like, don’t, don’t leave.

Don’t try to come back. Like, don’t do that. Really, I recommend you guys seriously look at getting married. If you think you’re going to, it might sort of push your plans up further, like sooner than you thought. But if you already think that you’re going to do it, Just do it. So we did, we just did it. So I went from being a girlfriend to a wife in one


I’ll never see all that coming, but I was like, cool, cool.

Niall Mackay: And obviously I follow you online, not follow you online, I’m friends with you online. So I, I seen, I saw what you went through.

Navigating the Green Card Process: A Journey of Patience and Privilege

Niall Mackay: Just briefly describe, because you’ve now got the hallowed green card, right? And without going into too much detail, but what was that process like? That’s super [00:28:00] stressful, right

Ella Beth: right? Absolutely, absolutely. I, I’ll be the first to admit that I realise that I’m very, um, privileged that I, that I come from a, that I have a passport and come from a country that has good relationship with America. That definitely made things easier for us. Um, then then for example, some of my, um, in laws on, on Tony’s side of the family who’ve come from Central America, like some of their stories are horror stories compared to how easy our process seemed to be.

So we, we got married, we have to be married to be able to file for the marriage certificate by green card or green card by marriage. Um, we put in all the paperwork at the end of August, 2022. So we were told that it would be about Um, Nine, nine to eleven months. And so we really thought that we’d given ourselves enough time.

We were like, you know, it’s cool, [00:29:00] you know, with, with, with how the USCIS is saying that things are moving through the system, now we’re going to have enough time, it’s going to be okay. Um, and we had a lawyer help us out. People do do it by themselves, but I was a little bit nervous with all of the paperwork to be doing it on our own.

So we had her help us out, um, and she was really helpful being, making sure that she’s just in contact, making sure that we were sending the right paperwork at the right time, if they needed like extra parts of, you know, forms and stuff. She was really good with that. we were waiting. I was okay waiting.

When you’re in the system, you’re just waiting. They don’t give you updates. You’re just waiting for the next thing to come in the mail. And it got to, so we were waiting till the end of 2022. And I was like, okay, that’s cool. We’re good. We’re good. We got time. Cause we’d planned to come back to Vietnam. in 2023, in April 2023, so a year ago.

And we were like, no, no, we’re good time. We’re five months out. We’ve still got time. It’s fine. And I really wasn’t worried. Like I’d been praying about it. I was like, it’s totally going to be [00:30:00] okay.

Niall Mackay: had my hotel room booked and everything.

Ella Beth: yeah, I know, I know.

Niall Mackay: you were coming back to have your wedding

ceremony to have our wedding ceremony and we really thought we’d given ourselves enough time and it got closer and closer to it.

Ella Beth: And I’m starting to panic. And I’ve told the lawyer, can you put in a, What’s the word to make it quicker?


Niall Mackay: expedite

Ella Beth: an expedite

request for us? And she said, okay. And that got denied on the basis that it wasn’t like an important enough thing for them to do it. hurry up?

Niall Mackay: up?

essentially, right? That’s

Ella Beth: Right. I even filed, I even said, look, cause I was supposed to sing at a wedding in March in Ireland.

So I was like, look, it’s, it’s a work. I need to get my green card for a work thing first. Okay. And then I’m planning on leaving in April as well, but that, that got rejected, and so I just, I don’t know, one day I decided to just use all of my American rights, my rights, my freedom, and I wrote a letter to our local senator, [00:31:00] I wrote a letter to the congresswoman for our area, I wrote a letter, I wrote a letter And then I went, I was like, you know what, I’m just going to go straight to the top of the chain.

So I wrote a letter to Kamala’s office. I wrote a letter to President Joe Biden’s office. And I said, I said, I realize that I have an intensely privileged position to be writing this to you in English.

And for someone,

Niall Mackay: the definition of white privilege

Ella Beth: absolutely. And I

said, I said, to them, I said, look, I realize that I’m probably not going to get this piece of paper for what I want it for.

But just so you know, they’re like, I’m aware. that I’m privileged and I’m also aware of how many people are backed up in the system who can’t speak English, who might not have had the money to do this, who might be waiting and have family members who are ill and passing away on the other side of the world.

And I said, not just for me, like, I’ll be sad for my situation, but I feel like I need to say something on behalf of all the other people who are waiting in the system because your system really sucks. And I understand that it got slower after the [00:32:00] pandemic and there’s a lot of Ukrainian refugees coming in.

So it really had like backed up the system. I understand that, but the USCIS system really sucked at that point. So I was like, well, if no one’s going to say, I’m going to say it. So I wrote to them and I got um, messages back. Oh, you know, thanks for writing to the office. So I don’t know if they ever read them, but I was like, well, I feel like I, I was able to use my, my American privileges to say something.

Um, yeah. So the ironic thing was though, we postponed the wedding. It was supposed to be on the 27th of April and all of my, all of my stuff, my green card, my work permit, my driver’s license came through on the 12th of May. And I was like, So were they really listening and they were just like, let’s just, let’s just like, I, you know, I can’t think like that, but I was like, are you serious?

So that was my experience of the system. It wasn’t too difficult in regards to like getting things done because we went with a lawyer. But I really feel for people who have to wait in the [00:33:00] system for years, who’ve been waiting for years with just no response. They just don’t know where their case is on someone’s desk.

And that, that to me, like, that’s no bueno. I think America, they need to either hire more people or get someone to code them a more efficient system. Like, something’s got to give, because people can’t be waiting for years and years with, with no, no word as to what’s happening with their system. So

Niall Mackay: one of

From Podcasting to Life in the Suburbs: Embracing New Beginnings

Niall Mackay: the podcasts that I make now is for an architecture firm.

If you want to go check it out, it’s called Red Lines. It’s one of my favorite podcasts to make, but it’s actually heartbreaking. So they cover, uh, how architecture, mostly students are treated that come from other countries to study architecture in the U S and get completely screwed over by the immigration system and really, really

Ella Beth: interesting.

Niall Mackay: um, yeah, it’s quite heartbreaking.


Ella Beth: even coming to the U. S. and like on study visas and everything

Niall Mackay: Yeah, it’s the whole process, but we won’t go into it, but go check out Red Lines. It’s one of my many podcasts. This is why a Vietnam podcast has been on a break. Well, to [00:34:00] round off, tell people now what’s your life like in America? Because I obviously see it. I know what you’ve been doing. Give us a bit of a roundup of life in America with a green card, with a husband,

Ella Beth: come back to

Reflections and Future Plans: A Musical Life in America

Ella Beth: So, I, I truly can say, without a shadow of a doubt, as an Australian who was never interested in going to America, I love America now.

I, you know, I live in the suburbs and, and, and that’s that’s really nice. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. We have a beautiful little neighborhood and um, Tony and I hang out with friends that he went to school with and I had never experienced what it was like to live in the suburbs with people that you went to school with because I left Australia so long.

So I’m, I feel like I’m getting these experiences that I just didn’t get in my twenties as someone who lived abroad. Um, and after I got my work permit last year, so that came in May. Probably two weeks after I was contacted by the leader of a corporate band And I’m now one [00:35:00] of the main singers in this corporate band and we travel all over the southeast between the Carolinas Tennessee, I go to Alabama sometimes, Mississippi, Florida, and I sing at really cool big fancy southern weddings And it’s so so fun.

Like I could I I didn’t think that I’d go to America But I certainly didn’t think that I’d ever be able to work with a band work as a professional working musician, like that has been. Probably the most, um, surreal experience in America, just to be able to do what I love, and being married is so lovely, like, honestly, it’s nice, isn’t it?

You are, and you married an international person, like, as much as, as much as there can be little cultural differences or something, you know, little things. Differences in how we were raised. Um, I am so blessed to, to have the husband that I do and to, to have the life that we do in America. So I’m, yeah, I, I don’t know what I, I’m, I’m [00:36:00] just like stoked to be doing what I’m doing.

And, uh, and I sing, I’m, I’m involved with the church over there. I sing at church. So yeah, being able to work in music and just perform as a musician and also to have the schedule that I do. is so awesome. Like I just, I basically have a 36 hour window that I perform on the weekends and then the rest of the week I can be recording in the studio, I can be working on music, like,

Niall Mackay: And podcasting I saw as well.

Ella Beth: so I got that’s kind of taken a hiatus for now But it was awesome to be able to be in your position to be the interviewer meeting cool musicians the young musicians really diverse people from Atlanta because Atlanta is an amazing city like

it it has There’s this real like go go kind of vibe about this real hustle culture and people are making their entrepreneurial dreams work and people are working on being full time musicians.

It’s just such a cool vibe and everyone’s really [00:37:00] working to build towards something and I really like being a part of that. And I, and I wondered when I got to America, if I was kind of going to be on the back foot, because I’m not, I’m an outsider, and, and you, the musician, the music world is really about who you know, but because America, the whole world had just come out of the pandemic, like these musicians, even ones who are really seasoned in Atlanta, were just getting back onto the scene.

So I kind of felt like I, you know, started at the same place that these guys did. Everyone was just working on reestablishing connections with venues, was working on rejamming with people that might’ve met. So it’s been awesome to be able to experience it kind of as just another musician in the city, which I’m, I feel really blessed to do.


Niall Mackay: awesome Beautiful. It’s so amazing to hear.

And you mentioned May 12th, that is a special day as well. That’s the day I proposed. To Adrian,

May 12th. And you talked about going to TNR Bar with Tony, so I just came back from Perth, Western

Australia. Which is

where I [00:38:00] proposed to Adrian. We went to Kings Park, which is where I



it’s one of my favourite spots in the city. It overlooks the Swan River and it’s absolutely beautiful. We’ve been married now over 10 years. and it’s a beautiful thing. So I’m sure you’re going to catch up soon.

Ella Beth: Yeah. We’re going

Niall Mackay: be at your wedding this weekend. We can’t wait. Your wedding ceremony.

Ella Beth: Right, I’m already, that’s what I keep, people are like, are you already married? I’m like, yes, I’m already married, but we’re having like, The ceremony and the party,

Niall Mackay: the fun part, not the courthouse part.

Ella Beth: right.

Niall Mackay: in a courthouse as well, and it was fun, it was beautiful, we had friends there, but yeah, the party’s the best part.

Ella Beth: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Eat, drink and be merry. Dance. Dance with the Hanoi Jazz Band. That’s what I’m really excited

Niall Mackay: I can’t believe that we got to know each other by you. coming on this

podcast in October 2019.

And I’m going to be at your wedding this

weekend. I’m so glad


back in Vietnam even for a short time. Uh, make sure you check out Ella Beth on social media, Instagram, I assume all those good things as

Ella Beth: Ella Beth Dot Music on Instagram, Ella Beth Music on Facebook, uh, Elizabeth Music on [00:39:00] YouTube. I,

I just eth


ele? Yeah, just you can find it anywhere. Um, and I did, I did release, I did release a couple of projects end of last year and early this year, um, out of some studios in Atlanta.

So if you wanna go and listen to the kind of music that I do, uh, you can find me also on Spotify.

Niall Mackay: Spotify. That’s right. Thank you so much, Elabeth, for coming on.

This has been amazing. Thank you for joining me in the studio. And most of all, thank you for listening to this episode of a Vietnam podcast. Remember, the best thing that you can do is tell somebody about this podcast who may also like it, ask them to share it. You share it as well, please. And please subscribe wherever you’re watching or listening from right now.

So thank you very much.

Ella Beth: Thank you Cheers.

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