(Zhao xue ling; 赵雪伶), Chinese-American
as Mindy Kaling
I chose Mindy Kaling because she is a beautiful, charming, and charismatic individual. My first discovery of Mindy was pretty late in the game. It was on a Tuesday night (not really) when I sat down to watch No Strings Attached with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. While the stars of the movie melted my heart with their love story, I was really drawn to the person-of-color nurse sidekick of Natalie's character. From then, I fell in love with Mindy. As I looked more into her career, I found new characters to fall in love with: Mindy from the Mindy Project (that she writes and produces for), Kelly Kapoor from The Office, and many more. Although she has a spectacular resume, I enjoy watching her because she takes on issues challenging her identity. In February of 2014, Kaling appeared on the cover of Elle magazines series along with other three-quarter shot of Allison Williams, Zooey Deschanel and Amy Poehler. Her cover sparked controversy because they were noticeably different from her white and thinner counterparts. Her witty Twitter response to the outcry not only was businesswomen savvy but reminded me of how beautiful she is.
as Richie Le
The reason why I chose Richie Le is because he inspires me to not be embarrassed of the language that is spoken at home, or even to avoid the people who speak the same language as me. But instead to be able to embrace the fact that I was raised this way. Richie Le, himself was ashamed of the language his parents spoke since people couldn't stand it. He was afraid of talking to his parents on the phone since they spoke too loud and it sounded like they were screaming, but really it was just their normal tone. Now he looks back and regret the fact that he can't speak the language anymore. Growing up, hanging out with groups of Asians, other people of different ethnic backgrounds would give me looks. They saw me as a Fob aka "Fresh off the boat" and I wanted to avoid being seen as that for so long. Any culture or ethnic personalities were hidden behind a mask where I picked up the slang of these streets of Chicago. Even though both of my parents are half Asian they know where their culture came from and speak the language every day without a drop of english. Since I was little, I was told to understand where your roots came from or aka "Nước" which is translated into country, ethnicity, culture, and pride. To understand where my ancestors are from is important for me to realize what it really means to be Asian-American. It's more than just knowing your language but the history behind it all. Being able to embrace what you and other Asian-Americans had to dealt with growing up, and to be able to defend your roots.
as Sarah Chang
I’ve been playing the violin for 11 years. I’m not an Instrumental Performance Major nor am I a virtuoso who plays multiple solos; however, I continue to play in college because it’s something I love to do. If I weren’t a violinist, a huge part of my identity would be missing. Sarah Chang is an extremely talented individual who could resonate with the previous statement. If she didn’t have access to a violin and wasn’t a child prodigy, her life would be completely different. Sarah is recognized as one of the world’s greatest violinists. Her career started at the age of 8 when she performed with the New York Philharmonic. She has an extensive list of accomplishments: she has performed with multiple North American orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; her performances take place in various countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Malaysia, Australia, and Japan; she performed with many distinguished artists including Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. Sarah Chang has definitely made a name for herself in the performing arts world, but she doesn’t necessarily get enough recognition from other people. Many people can assume that a musician’s career merely involves traveling, practicing, and performing; however, they still have the power to make a difference in people’s lives. Sarah manages to inspire others even though she’s not a writer or a singer. She was a Young Global Leader in 2008 by the World Economic Forum (WEF). She was recognized for her “...professional achievements, commitment to society and potential in shaping the future of the world.” She was also one of the 20 Top Women in the 2006 edition of Newsweek Magazine’s “Women and Leadership, 20 Powerful Women Take Charge.” Another one of her accomplishments includes running with the Olympic Torch in New York for the June 2004 Olympic games. All of her achievements are significant, but they mean so much more knowing that she is an Asian-American woman. Sarah doesn’t let her ethnicity or gender keep her from reaching her potential as a musician and as a leader. Minorities sometimes do not receive as much recognition as they should, so it’s great to know that she’s being recognized for all that she has accomplished. It might seem like being a violinist is the perfect career for her only because she has this natural-born talent, but this is a unique opportunity for her to inspire and empower people all over the world.
as Dante Basco
Growing up in a predominately white neighborhood, I could never really find a reason to be proud to be Asian-American. One day, Disney Channel released and animated show about a young Asian-American living in New York. While the American Dragon was not the most realistic role model, being a short Asian kid in middle school and seeing a short Asian kid on TV made being Asian pretty cool. Fast forward 10 years and I am in college finding out that the mac daddy dragon of the NYC was voiced by not only an Asian-American voice actor, but a Filipino-American one at that.
Dante Basco being a Filipino-American Actor in an industry that has historically lack the desire to provide representation to this community is a pretty good example of an AAPI leader by today’s standards. Not only does he provide an example of Asian-Americans in today’s media, he also goes and breaks the model set for Asian-Americans by stepping into a career field outside of being an engineer or a doctor (or for Filipino-Americans a nurse). Not only does he stand out as an Asian-American in the media, he also plays Asian characters that have so much personality and that do not fall into these ridiculous stereotypes that Asians fall into. Basco was able to show that being Asian doesn’t only mean kung fu and math, but that it can be so much more.
as Constance Wu
Asian-American actress Constance Tianming Wu was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, in a Chinese family. After landing the role as Jessica Huang in ABC’s Chinese- American sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” she did not realize how impactful her work was to the Asian-American community. At the time she accepted her role, she was only thinking about paying next month’s rent. However, as the show took its course, she began to build her platform
and advocate for Asian-American visibility in Hollywood. As a matter of fact, the last predominantly Asian-American cast was ABC’s “All American Girl” in 1994, nearly twenty year ago. Imagine being an Asian or Asian-American individual wanting to pursue the showbiz industry only to be rejected roles after roles because of their race. Many books, novels, and comics have characters that are Asian, but when movie adaptations are made, these roles are played by white Americans. Ms. Wu, and other Asian-American actors and actresses, decided that Hollywood’s monotone vision of the world has to stop. I chose Constance Wu because I know the struggle of being overlooked in a field of work that one excels in. I see it in my parents every day. They are just as qualified and hardworking, if not more, than their colleagues, and yet they are rarely recognized for their performance. It is disheartening to me that dedicated and diligent individuals in the AAPI community are easily forgotten and overlooked. I hope that during my college career, I will fully prepared to join the workforce and have the voice to speak about issues people are afraid of talking about because everyone deserves to be seen and heard.