There may have been significant strides toward more representation and visibility for the Asian community in recent years, but the fight is far from over. Fortunately, these fiercely talented individuals are giving a voice to a minority that’s often stereotyped and overlooked in a very white-dominant industry like Hollywood.
Since it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let’s take a look at some of the Asians shaking things up in showbiz:
The Chinese-American director, who is most known for her work in independent film circuits, recently made history as the first woman of color to win Best Director at the 93rd Academy Awards for her 2020 film “Nomadland.” Zhao’s next feature film is Marvel Studios’ “Eternals,” which is slated for release this November. It is also confirmed that she will direct a modern retelling of the Dracula lore under Universal Pictures.
The R&B singer-songwriter, who is born to a Filipina mother and African-American father, became a regular chart-topping artist for her raw and vulnerable music. Her song “I Can’t Breathe,” a scathing and powerful track about the police brutality toward the Black community in the United States, won Song of the Year at this year’s Grammys. She also received the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Fight for You” from the film “Judas and the Black Messiah” at the Oscars.
The South Korean-born actor starred in Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” a moving drama on the immigrant experience of a South Korean family in the Arkansas countryside. For this film, Yeun became the first Asian-American to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category. The 37-year-old actor also voices the lead in the critically-acclaimed Amazon Prime Video animated superhero series “Invincible.”
Liu is headlining Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the first feature film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe centered on an Asian lead. Prior to his “Shang-Chi” stint, he rose to fame for his role in the sitcom “Kim’s Convenience,” which wrapped filming its fifth and final season last year. Aside from being an actor, Liu is also a stuntman, writer, filmmaker and founder of his own production company, 4:12 Entertainment.
At this year’s Oscars, Ahmed became the first Muslim and Pakistani actor to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category for his lead role in “Sound of Metal.” Unknown to many, Ahmed is also a musician, who incorporates politics in his rap music as part of his activism. In 2020, he released an album titled “The Long Goodbye,” which was acclaimed by critics for its strong musicality and timely message.