Updated: May 2
The month of May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage month. As the month of May comes to a close, I will highlight prominent figures in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander in the film industry. The list composed is in no specific order and individuals listed have proven to break boundaries for people of color in a predominately white industry.
1. Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is known for her role as Kelly Kapoor in The Office. More recently she starred in the hit sitcom series The Mindy Project where she portrayed Mindy Lahiri who faces many obstacles all while being on a quest for personal growth. Kaling pushed new boundaries by becoming the co-creator of the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, a coming of age story of the main character, Devi Vishwakumar a first-generation Indian-American teenager who navigates the obstacles of high school. The writer’s room for the series was filled with young Indian women who learned from each other’s experiences and were able to produce a #1 show on the Netflix 10 list.
2. Eunsook Choi
Choi is the CEO of the Korean Television Network in Atlanta. KTN is a network that works to inform the rapidly growing Korean community in Georgia. Under her leadership, the network has become more prominent and works to unite the Korean community by keeping them informed with local current events and entertainment segments. KTN is the only Korean television broadcasting station in Georgia.
3. Constance Wu
Constance Wu is no amateur in the industry; her debut role was in 2006 in the film Stephanie Daley. Wu has a plethora of other roles under her belt while appearing on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Torchwood, One Life to Live, etc. over the years. Wu landed her leading role in 2014 in the ABC series Fresh Off the Boat. Because of her performance on the show, Entertainment Tonight named her the breakout star of the 2014-2015 television season. Wu’s acting career reached new heights after she was named the lead in the film Crazy Rich Asians. The film production grossed over 230 million dollars globally. The film was released by Warner Bros. and was the first major Hollywood production to feature an all-Asian cast in over 20 years. The film was up for four nominations at the 24th Critic’s Choice Award and winning one award for Best Motion Picture. The movie also won the title of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 25th Screen Guild Awards. Wu has resigned her role as Rachel Chu for both sequels to Crazy Rich Asians.
4. Jason Momoa
Momoa was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and is of Hawaiian descent on his father’s side. Momoa is best known for his role as Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe film. The film was nominated for over 38 awards and grossed over 1.1 billion dollars worldwide. Momoa was nominated by Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor and Favorite Superhero in 2019. Momoa is also known for his depiction as Khal Drogo in the hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. Momoa currently stars in the Apple original series See as Baba Voss. The second season of the series has been renewed.
Johnson is of half Samoan descent and is known for starring in action-packed films. Johnson has a lengthy acting career. Johnson portrayed Luke Hobbs in the Fast Saga films and starred in the spin-off film Hobbs & Shaw in 2019. Johnson also was a producer and had the leading role in the show HBO series Ballers. The series had four Emmy nominations and four NAACP Image Award nominations. Johnson starred in the remake of the film Jumanji and the two sequels as well. The Rock has been named in Time’s 100 Influential People in the World list in 2016 and 2019.
This list only name a handful of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders making a lasting impact in the film industry while the list could go on. The people above have given color to screens globally that are traditionally white spaces. Their impact allows for inclusivity in the industry and allows them to control the narrative and gives an accurate representation of their communities.