Asian artists have achieved great success in Hollywood, in recent years, but getting that seat at the table has not been easy. Asian stars of the past like Anna May Wong, Sessue Hayakawa, and Miyoshi Umeki paved the way through challenging paths. Their journeys are a tale of resilience, adversity, and strength on the quest for authentic representation.Wong, Hayakawa, and Umeki dealt with constant typecasting into stereotypical roles, despite their undeniable star talent. Their experiences underscore the serious challenges faced by Asian women and men in breaking free from stereotypes. Beyond limited film choices, these stereotypes also meant financial hardships. Anna May Wong received unequal pay in 'Daughter of The Dragon’ in comparison to her white costar, even though she had a larger role. Even Miyoshi Umeki, who won a 1958 Oscar for 'Sayonara,' was confined to submissive Asian female roles, showcasing the challenging choices confronting minority actors. Hayakawa faced major criticism from the Japanese-American communities for perpetuating harmful racial stereotypes as an Asian man in Hollywood.While recent progress in Asian representation deserves celebration, lingering challenges persist. The industry must learn from the struggles of these trailblazers to ensure meaningful representation and break free from the historical erasure of Asians in Hollywood. The legacies of Wong, Hayakawa, and Umeki continue to shape the narrative for future generations of Asian artists.
Is the world’s biggest climate summit actually just a trojan horse for fossil fuel companies to make more money? And does COP28 actually change anything? The COP President, selected through the regional group members of the host region, is Sultan al-Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Meanwhile, $700M has been committed to the loss and damage fund in the first day of the conference. Equally important, this is the one stage where activists, Indigenous delegations and the media come face to face in one room with world leaders. This video is produced and hosted by Sophia Li and edited by Seung Won Baik. With additional archival from UN Climate Change, Sky.com, The Intercept, KCCU, The New York Times, The Guardian, FRANCE 24 English, Bloomberg.com, Daily Sabah, Visual Capitalist, Statista, NPR, Simpleflying, Climate Change News, BBC, Earth.org, Oxfam, Instagram: climatereality.indsa, Instagram: reearthinitiative
Just because you rap doesn’t mean you can battle rap! Dumb has been doing this for a minute. That’s part of the reason he’s so respected in most Asian creative communities. Korean-Argentinian-American rapper Dumbfoundead is a multi-talented artist, rapper, and comedian. He stepped onto the scene as a teen, spitting rhymes in the world of battle rap. Being one of the few Asian guys in the game, it was where he found his voice and learned to be unapologetically Asian. Battle rap can serve as an intimate battleground for exploring the complexities of identity. Dumbfoundead's experiences as an artist and storyteller, particularly as a battle rapper, have served as a vehicle for exploring the Asian American experience, both for him and his audience. While Dumbfoundead's lyrical legacy lives on as a prominent figure in the battle rap scene, he continues to grow as an artist and discover new forms of authentic self-expression.
The first Korean Show on Broadway, ‘KPOP’, reminds us that joy is a universal experience. ‘KPOP’ follows the journey of 2 music groups striving to become K-pop idols and debut in New York City. This show unites the audience in a shared celebration of music and storytelling. It is a story made to be enjoyed by everyone because embracing the beats of K-pop doesn't require you to know Korean. ‘KPOP’ unexpectedly closed its curtains after a short, two-week run. Its abrupt end echoes the fate of many BIPOC shows on Broadway that have ended too soon. This opens up a larger discussion about the unfair standards imposed on BIPOC representation. Asian stories deserve to be told, and ‘KPOP’ serves as a reminder of the beauty of representation on the grand stage.
Roni Mazumdar is a culinary trailblazer. The mastermind behind popular NYC restaurant, Masalawala & Sons, Roni is ready to disrupt your idea of what Indian food really looks like. Largely impacted by colonialism, the richness and diversity of Indian food has never been accurately represented in the West. Roni is changing that. Together with Chef Chintan Pandya, Roni co-founded Unapologetic Foods, a visionary restaurant group in NYC that boldly offers unapologetic Indian cuisine. The duo present authentic Indian dishes from lesser-known regions, shedding light on unexplored Indian culinary traditions. While making waves in the NYC food scene, Roni Mazumdar never forgets his roots. His first restaurant, Masalawala & Sons in NYC is an ode to his father, Satyen Mazumdar, and the cherished dishes of his childhood.
There is a Sifu hidden in the hills of Monterey Park who remains a true guardian of tradition and community 🥋🌟 He dedicates his time to training the next generation of martial artists, teaching kids not only self-defense but also the rich cultural heritage that comes with it. As the community has grappled with change, triumph and tragedy, this community of mostly kids holds on to a ritual and practice that keeps the diasporic community connected to their ancestry and home countries. What’s more? The classes are free in an effort to keep as many people practicing as possible.
Subtle Asian Traits isn’t just a Facebook group– it’s a growing community where Asians from around the world feel like there’s a place for them. Whether you’re Simu Liu, Hasan Minhaj or any other of the group’s nearly 2 million members, here, you'll discover the most niche memes about the little aspects of Asian culture – and the Asian diaspora in particular – that are often overlooked. Like the tradition of removing shoes when entering a house or the experience of always having your name mispronounced at Starbucks. And the reason why the group is so successful? Humor. Lighthearted and fun, the space binds thousands of people together through what is common and funny to them. But that doesn’t come without its challenges. When moderating such a large group, the group’s nine founders – Chinese-Australian students from Melbourne – have run into a few problems. “Why are you only representing Chinese culture?” “You need to speak out about more issues.” “Asians are not a monolith.” Despite issues of representation, co-founders Kathleen and Tony are trying their best to honor all identities. They strive to make sure the members have a good relationship with the group, that it’s a welcoming space for all and somewhere people are not afraid to be who they really are.
Indo-Chinese is one of India’s most popular foods, though most people haven’t heard of it–including Chinese people. Why did Chinese food become so popular in India and what does it tell us about the history of these two regions? Today, this collaborative cuisine is taking over the world. Did you know that Chicken Manchurian isn’t Chinese? Nelson Wang, a third-generation Chinese immigrant in India, created the dish in 1975 while working at Mumbai’s Cricket Club. But Chinese food in India dates way further back than the 70’s. The oldest restaurant opened in 1925, and was frequented by many Bollywood stars. Chinese immigration to India dates way back to the 18th century, when many Chinese workers filled industries from sugar-mills to leather and carpentry. To cater to them, eateries began opening that would replace native Asian ingredients with Indian cooking staples. Further, Chinese men began marrying Indian women, making the union of these two cuisines even more tangible. Now found around the world, here’s the history of Indo-Chinese cuisine.
Biryani, one of the most beloved dishes in India and Pakistan, is iconic, regal, and dates back 3,000 years. Today, it has become a street food that is affordable and accessible to all–and it’s thanks to a brand that was launched in Karachi in the 1980’s: Shan Masalas. Usually made with meat and cooked in layers of spicy, tangy, and sweet flavors, Biryani is an elaborate rice dish. In the 1980’s, Shan Masala, packaged spice mixes, were launched–modernizing desi cuisine and freeing up many South Asian women’s time. In 2020 alone, Shan Masala made around $85 million USD in revenue. Mentions of Biryani have been found in Tamil poems that date as far back as 200 CE, to 17th century cookbooks from a royal Mughal kitchen. Biryani today represents several millennia of the subcontinent's unique mix of different flavors, techniques and cooking cultures. Though there’s a lot of hype around who invented biryani and who has the best biryani, every region has delicious biryani–and comes with its own story.
12Pell says they’re the Madison Square Garden of barber shops. What they mean is when certain folk come through New York City, they don’t leave without visiting. The barbershop is always packed, and there’s a few reasons why barbers combine Japanese style precise scissor work with the sharp shaves of Dominican barbershop, layered on top of K hair techniques. They are one of a kind, and their audience of nearly 2 million followers on TikTok and 300,000+ on Instagram has made them some of the most sought after barbers of our generation. Customers book months in advance for a slot, with prices starting at $150+ for a trim. But 12Pell is important not just because of the popularity. . During the COVID-19 pandemic when Chinatown became a 'ghost town', the store rarely got any customers. 12Pell translated this downtime into community-driven initiatives, offering free haircuts when customers spent $45 dollars at any Chinatown store, and investing in their TikTok community. Soon, 12Pell had things up and running again for the entire neighborhood, including themselves. The barbershop cares beyond just the business of hair – they show up for the Asian American community by creating a space for young Asian men to feel a sense of belonging.
In 2019, streetwear designer Khanh Ngo launched his online store and made $90K in less than three months. He landed his “dream job” at Levi’s, but when COVID hit, he lost his job. Growing up in a rough neighborhood, Khanh wasn’t typical in the fashion industry, and people judged him for not being the model minority Asian. He also felt shamed by his father–a Veteran and Captain, who projected his own losses onto his son. Between familial pressures and stereotyping, Khanh wasn’t in a good place. Today, Khanh speaks on how those difficulties made him more authentic, and a source of inspiration, for even his own family. He’s proud to represent where he’s from and tell the stories he believes are important. He’s also focused on love–not normalizing being defensive “because you’re Asian” anymore.
Lai Lijuan, a 67-year-old woman, learned how to play video games from her grandchildren. She just won first place in the Ageless E-sports competition, after three months of training. In a world that rejects elders, Lai found courage and curiosity is a winning combo. Lai is a member of HK Evergreen Gaming in Taiwan, an all-senior e-sports team in Hungkuang University. Her gaming character, Morgane, has skills like burning enemies and protecting herself. But she wasn’t born with a love for gaming; in fact, Lai hated it. Her grandkids' obsession with gaming made her curious, and they ended up teaching her. When looking back at her life before gaming, Lai remembers depressing days where she should watch TV, scroll on her phone, and sleep. Today, she feels invigorated, confident, and closer to her grandchildren than ever. She feels younger, and reclaimed her value in society. Lai has found play.
In Atlanta, there’s only one place you can get late night sushi on a Thursday: Trap Sushi. Fusing Atlanta and Japanese pop culture, Trap Sushi builds community around food, music, anime, and cosplay. Founders speak on the due diligence it takes to appreciate (and not appropriate) culture. Artist Tolden Williams, aka Troop Brand, grew up in Mississippi loving Dragon Ball Z. Stephanie Lindo, an environmental scientist, first learned about manga and anime from her Vietnamese best friends. When Tolden discovered Stephanie art online, their shared love for Japanese culture fueled a project that has now become centerstage of Atlanta’s growing cosplay community. Many Black cosplayers are on the rise–and so is racism. This exists in anime communities too, where being Black means you cannot play a certain character. Trap Sushi has become the place where people of all backgrounds feel safe and accepted to tap into cosplay, anime, and community in general.
In Korea, K-pop dominates the dance industry. But shows like Street Girls Fighter are legitimizing dance–giving performers a platform to be seen as more than just back dancers. They say dance helps them be present–something that is still hard to do in Korea. Street Woman Fighter and its spin-off Street Girls Fighter are dance competitions that began highlighting more than K-Pop. They featured street dancing, which for many adults in Korea, is a pointless path. Even for the teens who are successful dancers, finding the answers to the questions from adults – “What are you going to do with this?” – feels like a very real pressure at a very young age. Despite the societal pressures, physical tolls, and injuries that come with this career, dancers like twenty-year-old Hong Hayeon say they hope to dance for the rest of their lives. Working together with other dancers as a unit is an art form, and being able to draw from your own personality to pair it with the dynamics of others is a skill of its own.
Heesco, a Mongolian-Australian artist known for his murals, speaks on being born under communist Mongolia, and how he used graffiti to escape. Today, when Heesco paints with the next generation of Mongolian artists, he reminds them that dreams are greater than environment. When Mongolia’s economy collapsed overnight, Heesco’s mum moved to Poland, where he began drawing for his schoolmates to avoid being picked on for being a “foreigner”. From an early age, Heesco was drawn (no pun intended) to graffiti because it was a culture built by kids, and rooted in freedom of expression. He also loved that it cut out galleries, critics, and collectors from dictating what art is, or isn’t. Heesco shares that as a kid growing up in a rough area, he can empathize with how difficult it can be to keep dreams alive and not fall into depression. Today, he is an ambassador for ‘Lantuun Dohio’, a non-profit that crowdfunds to build services and libraries for children in Mongolia. He paints with Mongolian children, and has learned that creating on walls with them is healing and inspiring to them both.
Huỳnh Thị Cẩm Tiên is the only African-Vietnamese to compete in a Miss Universe Vietnam Contest. During the competition, some praised her dark skin and mixed appearance, but viewers and judges also told her that she didn’t represent Vietnam because of her mixed-race identity. Despite the racist criticisms about how her skin color cannot represent Vietnam, she remained self confident during the competition and in doing so, found a way to bring Cameroonian culture and Vietnamese cultures together. When Tiên was younger, she would get tone-deaf comments from her friends about her curly hair and melanin skin. While Tiên experienced racism, her mother wanted Tiên to feel confident in her natural features by accepting herself. Her mother taught Tiên to stop seeking validation from others and to live a life that would build and prioritize her happiness. Tiên is currently a fashion designer making clothes so that people who wear her clothes can feel confident about who they are.
Many call him their grandpa! Harumichi Shibasaki is more than a regular painter. Through each brushstroke and youtube upload, he heals the hearts of his 1.4 million subscribers. These life lessons were hard-earned through his own life, when as a young painter he faced a serious creative rut and hard past after WWII, but he never gave up. Seeing each watercolor as a battle, he courageously picks up his paintbrush and cheers us on to tackle our own battles, and in the process gained millions of adoring fans who look up to him as a grandpa.
Put an egg, go broth less, or turn it into a cake - there is no wrong way to make your Indomie. For the last 50 years, Indomie has been the ultimate comfort food for Indonesians. The Indomie cult spread far and wide, even generating rap songs in Nigeria. Watch how Indomie got popular, and meet the chefs that are leveling up how these comfort foods are prepared.
Tony Leung is considered Asia’s most successful actor. Born in Hong Kong, Tony grew up without a father, he found refuge in Hong Kong cinema during his youth. Connecting with his emotions through cinema would end up paying off for Tony, who would take up acting because his friend, Stephen Chow, told him to audition. This is the story of an acting legend: “the man who can speak with his eyes.”
The Police force in Pakistan is changing. Women only make up 1.5% of the police force in Pakistan, but Neelam Shaukat is trying to change that. She's training the next generation of police women to protect communities, in ways that aren't possible without more women. In Swat Valley, a conservative part of Northern Pakistan where honor killings still happen, Neelam is one of few female police chiefs. There she and her crew of other police women have to be ready for everything from supporting domestic violence survivors, to being ready to protect if a terrorist strike happens. This is a day in her life.