by Molly O'Neil
In the past few years, the careers of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) entertainers have become more and more prominent! While I can’t write about every single one (even though they are all talented!), I’d like to highlight some staples who have helped to diversify the entertainment industry and feature some of their work!
Here is a list of actors that might satisfy that feeling of, “Oh! I know them from something! What was it again?”
Randall Park has starred in multiple movies and television shows, including Fresh Off the Boat, The Interview, and Ant-Man and the Wasp, not to mention many short videos created by the Youtube channel, “Wong Fu Productions”. Throughout my life, I watched him in many different videos and movies, each with a spectrum of emotions.
You may know Lea Salonga from the movie Yellow Rose as Gail Gargia and filmed concert Les Miserables: The 10th Anniversary Concert as Eponine. You might recognize her voice even more, as she is the singing voice of the titular character in Mulan (1998) and the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin (1992). I grew up watching and singing her songs over and over again.
Kumail Nanjiani is a hilarious comedian who starred in the movies Stuber, The Lovebirds, and The Big Sick (which he wrote with his wife, based on their relationship). His deadpan sense of humor has a way of making even the person in the back row laugh as loudly as they can!
Vanessa Hudgens rose to fame on Disney Channel, starting with the movie High School Musical. In her more recent years, Hudgens has gone on to star in Grease: LIVE!, Dog Days, and Second Act. Her career took off at a young age and I loved being able to watch her career grow while I also grew up.
Mindy Kaling is an icon whose name you may want to remember. She was a writer, producer, actor, and directed some episodes of The Office (American) for eight seasons; she created, wrote for, and produced The Mindy Project, which ran for six seasons; and acted in Ocean’s 8 and A Wrinkle in Time (2018). She is a very talented and hard worker and I can’t wait to see everything she has coming soon!
Lucy Liu might be one of the first actors to come to mind. She has been in an assortment of movies and television shows including, Tinkerbell, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Why Women Kill, and Elementary. She is so fun to watch in all her different roles and truly a talent you shouldn’t miss.
Brenda Song is another name that got big on the Disney Channel. You may know her from movies like Get a Clue, Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior, and The Social Network. She was an empowering role model to have growing up, showing that you can be someone who is smart, athletic, and fashionable all at the same time.
I realize there are so many other amazing talents in the AAPI community and I am sad I cannot write about all of them. The industry is growing more and more with so many gifted actors joining and I cannot wait to see everything they have in store for us.
Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!