Last Thursday, a group of Asian Pacific Islander celebrities — from Hasan Minhaj and Sim Liu to Deepti Vempati and Jessica Henwick — attended the Asia Pacific Islander Excellence Celebration, an event hosted by Netflix, the Hollywood Reporter and Gold House to commemorate the API. community achievements in 2022.
And it seems almost each the creativity was there: actors, musicians, comedians, reality stars (yes, from Love is blind and Bling Empire), name it.
The night began and Squid game– an inspired performance by the GRV Dance Crew (complete with pink guard outfits and green players) and the MAMA Night Market (which aims to protect immigrant culture through food) provided an incredible array of food from local API-owned businesses.
Los Angeles-based artist Simon Kim even unveiled a mural of API characters from the 2022 Netflix lineup featuring the faces of Jason Momoa, Arden Cho, Randall Park, Shen Wang, Simone Ashley, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Jo Koy, the cast. Bling Empirethe infamous doll from Squid gameand more.
Needless to say, it was quite a night. In her welcoming remarks, host Rebecca Sun, Senior Editor of Diversity and Inclusion at The Hollywood Reporter, emphasized the importance of “[amplifying] telling stories from underrepresented communities’, as well as the fact that the API community is ‘not a monolith’.
Throughout the night, numerous celebrities stopped by to talk about the media and representation of Asian and Pacific Islanders, especially after the 2022 wins, with this to say:
Hasan Minhaj: “If you think about how Hollywood viewed our culture 20 years ago, we were considered culturally irrelevant. Now we’re making some of the most relevant, moving, cutting-edge work.”
Yoshi Sudarso: “There’s a lot [of impactful work]. That’s the beauty of it; you won’t get bored because there’s so much to do.”
Jessica Henwick on today’s abundance of API media: “Saying ‘Asian’ kind of doesn’t mean anything anymore. We’re getting specific and finding original authentic voices.”
Rich Ting: “We are finally being recognized for all the assets and quantity that we have [APIs]. We are not all Chinese. Not all of us speak a certain way. There are thousands of stories in our community.”
Deepti Vempati on Asians and Pacific Islanders in reality TV: “[It’s] very white people and we still get in.”
Kevin Kreider: “Nobody saw us like that when we’re on reality TV. People didn’t see us as romantic leads before, but we are. People didn’t see us as women who are superpowers — I’m not a woman, but I’m just saying that people they didn’t see and we did.”
Dinah Jane on Pacific Islanders in the media and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in DC’s Black Adam: “We’re used to being very humble, so to come out and show that we’re here too – that’s what matters. I feel like [successful East Asian media, like Squid Game] it gives us Polynesians the strength to stand right behind you and say, “Let’s all do this together as a community.”
Dr. Gabriel Chiu on the API community’s journey to justice and equality: “You have to take action before you can run. And as you can see from tonight, we’re starting to run.”
Hopefully, these wins for the API community will continue into 2023 and beyond. We are already expecting new ones Star Wars series Acolyte (starring Lee Jung-Jae and Manny Jacinto, among others), live action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, season 3 indian matchmaking, 2nd season Pachinkonew Disney+ series Chinese born in America (starring Michelle Yeoh), Season 2 Our flag means deaththe last season I’ve never never and more!
What do you think of these celebrities’ comments? If you are Asian and/or Pacific, did you feel more visible and see yourself on screen in any of their works this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!