We’re excited to mark one of our favorite times of the year, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, especially as it rounds to a close.
Over the past decade, it’s been rewarding to watch the rise of compelling Asian-American figures in our arts, comedy and culture.
From Mindy Kaling to David Chang, everyone we spotlight on our list below inspires us. Through their determination, persistence, and passion, these creatives are blazing a path for generations who are seeing and hearing their stories told on-screen for the first time.
Anyone inspiring you’d like to add to our list? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: Entrepreneur
“If you don’t see a clear path for what you want, sometimes you have to make it yourself.”
We love Mindy Kaling for the signature mix of intelligence, empathy and humor she brings to every production. Kaling is perhaps best known for her career-launching role as a triple-threat writer, executive producer and director on the popular TV show, The Office. Since then, in a prolific wave of creativity, Kaling has exercised her distinctive voice through a range of shows and movies, netting Emmy Award nominations and earning a spot on Time magazine’s “100 most influential people” list along the way.
Image Credit: NYT
For me, the most interesting thing is longevity and sustaining a career, because that’s what’s truly difficult.
We appreciate John Cho for his thoughtfulness and passion for taking on the question of Asian representation in his industry. Cho first became well-known for his role in the Harold & Kumar movies, as well as the Star Trek reboot series. Since then, he’s strayed into much more experimental territory, from his hit indie film Columbus, to his starring role in the unique film Searching, where he became the first Asian-American actor to headline a mainstream Hollywood thriller.
Image Credit: Vanity Fair
I never want to tell a story where I’m lecturing to the audience.
We adore Lulu Wang for her ability to capture the sensitive spectrum of the human experience as a film director, writer and producer. Her breakout feature film, The Farewell, follows a Chinese-American writer named Billie, who struggles with her two cultures when she returns to China to see her dying grandmother. Wang refused to compromise on filming the movie nearly entirely in Mandarin, a choice that ultimately paid off. The raw honesty of her film struck a chord at the US box offices, becoming one of the year’s biggest success stories, and surpassing even Avengers: Endgame for that year’s biggest per-theater average.
Image Credit: NYT
No one gets to where they are going alone.
We admire Aparna Nancherla for her commitment to being her quirky, honest and hilarious self, no matter what. As a comedian, she tackles mental health stigmas with her frank, self-deprecating commentary on the experience of living with anxiety and depression, empowering her many fans and followers. In 2013, Nancherla appeared on Conan, becoming the first Indian-American female comedian to perform a late-night set.
Image Credit: Flare
We can choose to be afraid of the future. Or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.
We love Sandra Oh for her open, down-to-earth energy and reserves of sheer talent. She first rose to fame as the beloved, ambitious Christina Yang in the ten-season show, Grey’s Anatomy. Oh has since gone on to impress audiences in a range of roles, the most recent being her turn as Eve Polastri, a British intelligence agent, on award-winning TV show, Killing Eve. She became the first Asian woman to host the Golden Globe Awards in 2019, and is the first Asian woman to win two Golden Globes herself for her work on the aforementioned shows.
Image Credit: Aliwong.com
How do you overcome failure? A tolerance for delayed gratification, a passion for the craft, and a willingness to fail.
We are awed by Ali Wong’s ability to bluntly deliver the perfectly hilarious, dead-on observation on anything you can think of. A stand-up comedian, actress, and writer, Wong is best known for her Netflix specials, Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife. She’s tackled topics such as dating, race, pregnancy and motherhood in a no-holds-barred way that often makes her audiences simultaneously double over and cry with laughter. Wong has also performed on The Tonight Show, John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show and Chelsea Lately.
Image Credit: Wired
“We’re hoping to succeed; we’re okay with failure. We just don’t want to land in between.”
We are impressed by David Chang’s boldness and sheer will when it comes to carrying out his culinary vision. A restauranteur, author and telievison personality, Chang is the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, with locations in NYC, Sydney, Toronto and Washington, D.C. He also is the creator, producer, and star of a Netflix series called Ugly Delicious which unites themes of travel, cooking and history. Chang is best known for his unpretentious, straightforward attitude, and for transforming the idea of the “traditional” dining establishment.