Sam Huynh Le
as Gary Locke
Leaders make precedents for others to follow.
The precedents that will be made are those of resilience and grit. The giants of our communities have already paved the ways, have already shown the resilience to survive the turmoil, and have already lent us the shoulders to stand on. Through the leadership of the past, the present have the platform to lead the future. The doors of opportunity have been opened. There are examples of us in the roles we never even dreamed of. There is the community that will sacrifice everything for us to succeed. Our future, our works, our hopes, dreams, and wishes, have the pathway begging to be taken.
Creating history is my dream. Creating history by crafting the narratives of those in my community is my hope. Creating a history that respectfully and legitimately represents the voices of all communities is what I wish for everyday. Striving to lead is my carriage, my means, to accomplish it all. Now is the time to step into roles of leadership. Now is the time to join your community. Now is the time to advocate, lobby, and fight for the rights and needs of those you see around you. But right now and always is the time to serve.
Every day I struggle with the question of who I am serving. Am I here to further my own career through education or to learn how to serve those in need. What community do I need to help? Which social injustice needs me to expose? Where is the place that is still seeking for service? Over the course of my time at the University of Washington, I have been striving to answer these questions. The answer is I am here to learn how to serve. I am here to serve as many communities as possible. Every social injustice needs to be addressed and the places that needs the most is where I will serve. I find myself fulfilling these in the roles of leadership.
When I am one of the leaders, I will make precedents for others to follow.
(Kim Jung-Yi), Korean/Taiwanese-American
as Wing Luke
The leader I portray in my photo is Wing Luke. He was an advocate of civil rights in the 60's, as well as the first elected Asian-American to hold office in the state of Washington. Luke, having experienced the effects of racial discrimination first hand, sought to create justice and equality for those being affected by racial inequality during his time. I find myself inspired by his contribution, not only to the state of Washington, but to the wider civil rights movement as well. To me, understanding and helping others is a quintessential part of what it means to be an Asian-American. I believe this because I know I have become who I am today in large part due to the gracious support and insightful understanding I have received from those around me.
(Locke Tan Gnook), Chinese/Norwegian-American
as Alex Hwang
Alex Hwang is the lead vocalist to a band called Run River North, who I actually listened to before knowing that the entire band consisted of all Asian-American individuals. I chose this individual because he is outspoken about being Asian American and sheds light on the struggles that inevitably come with this identity as well as the beauty that stems from mixing cultures.
I actually spotlighted this band for a project in one of my classes: http://northriver.tumblr.com.
“But as we grew up and decided to just express different parts of who we were, and finding the limitations of what it meant to be Asian faced and yet at the same time feel very American inside, and it became clear how we had to explain ourselves. But I think growing up — the only thing is when we went to elementary school, you know, we would have sushi or something and that would be weird for peanut butter and jelly people out there.” - Alex Hwang for Here & Now.
University of Washington
Bothell x Seattle campus
(Kaa-vya Maa-gum), Indian-American
as Aziz Ansari
The leader that I am portraying in my picture is Aziz Ansari. I only really started to learn about him when I entered college. I found him to be inspirational when I found out about his early path as a comedian and now, a producer and director of his own Netflix original series, Master of None. His stories on this show resonated deeply with me as he explains the daily obstacles and struggles faced by many immigrant families and second-generation children in the United States. While many might perceive him as a clown or just an average guy, I believe those exact qualities are what made him my inspiration. Aziz Ansari became a hero to so many Asian Americans, including myself, without trying to be one. I moved to America when I was five years old and I grew up learning the importance of giving back to the community. Through Kinspire, I have been able to do just that. Asian Americans in the United States often feel immense amount of competition due to stereotypes and other false beliefs. Overlooking this competition and realizing that all of us can be successful together is a motto that I personally believe in. Kinspire brings together many members of our community here to help orphaned children throughout India. I hope to one day become a doctor and provide medical care to these underprivileged communities. While my dreams are very different from Aziz Ansari's, I would like to achieve them with the same level of confidence and the same goofy smile.
(Cho Subin), Korean-American
as David Choi
I feel as though David Choi is a leader in the entertainment business as he was one of the first Asian-American musicians in YouTube and showed how his hard work pays off. With a history in music as his family owned a music shop, David was surrounded in music and started his learning there. At the age of 18, he had won a mash-up David Bowie contest, and at the age of 20, he put out his first album which was loved in many countries such as Korea, Indonesia, and the United States. Also being a Korean-American, to be able to see how accomplished someone can be from all their hard work can be reassuring that even though I am a minority in this world, I can still become a leader.
(Vu Cao), Chinese/Vietnamese-American
as Bruce Lee
The reason why I chose Bruce Lee is not because he was some cool pop figure, but because of the way he proudly carries himself with how his unique perspective of life. He has a strong philosophical background that helped him become successful in day-to-day basis. His successes are shown today in fast-paced kung fu action films along with an Oscar. Bruce Lee is an inspiration to me not because he created a viable form of martial arts, but because he has confidence in his own cultural background. He is not afraid to speak his mind confidentially and he gives off charisma through his pride.
as George Takei
Simply put, in January 2016, I had a pivotal moment with my parents. I came out of the closet as bisexual. I’m a Filipino-American, bisexual, female, catholic, and a business leader. Are these conflicting? Yes, but I’m damn proud of my identity. Has it been an easy year? God no! But I’ve failed a lot, I’ve laughed a lot, I’ve forgiven a lot, and I’ve loved a lot.
I chose George Takei, not because of his famous role as a Helmsman of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek, but because of his work as an outspoken activist in the LGBT community as a Japanese-American. At the end of the day, we all have our own platform. We may not all be like George, having 10M+ likes on Facebook, Star Trek fan following, etc. But somewhere, somehow, there’s someone out there listening to us. I believe that silence is deadly and Takei is nowhere close to silent. He has done public service announcements against controversial celebrities like NBA player Tim Hardaway after he stated “I hate gay people.” George proclaimed that gay people love him and promised Hardaway that “[he] will have sex with you.” I’m not suggesting to tell every bigot you’ll have sex with them, but George has taught me to speak up, and to use your platform to stand up for what you believe in.
I’m a 2nd year mentor for a program called Young Executives of Color (YEOC) where I mentor 170+ high school students across Washington state. The program is composed of underrepresented, high-achieving, minorities. I’m an out and proud mentor and I’ve made strides to mentor my students to be authentic to who they are from all aspects: culturally, politically, etc. YEOC has become one of my platforms and all I can hope for is that my students see me as their advocate. That I can be their George: out, loud, Asian-American, and proud. Live long and prosper George Takei!
(차아리; Cha Ahri), Korean-American
In the music industry, there is a lack of asian representation, especially in the hip-hop scene. However, Dumfoundead, also known as Jonathan Park, is someone who was able to break the “glass ceiling”. Despite the near absence of Asian rappers in America, he continued on his track of becoming an artist. He took in the racism he faced and threw it back in the form of rap. to He did not let stereotypes faze him. Rather, he saw it as a learning moment, to grow and understand one another.
I distinctly remember bringing Korean food for lunch one day during my early elementary school days. Back then, I didn’t understand the complicated background of race and representation. All I knew was that the food I brought was foreign and the kids reacted with disgust. Even though this is not directly related to music, it was one of the first eye opening moments I had about people lacking to understand different cultures. This gave way to my own clarity of how there were barely any Asian teachers, chefs, managers, musicians, and so many more.
Music, especially, is a leeway for many people to connect with their emotions. It provides common ground, support, and rapport. When I was first learned about Dumfoundead’s existence, I was surprised and proud. He continues to produce music about his life and the challenges he had overcome as an Asian American. It gave me a sense of identity as an Asian American that we are beyond the stereotype.
As an Asian American/Pacific Islander, we are in unique situation in which we are the children of immigrants or came to America in hopes for better dreams. Our identity is a mix of cultures that can be hard to label. For me, at least, I was born in America and I want to do my best to provide for this country and its people. However, I will always continue to remember the roots of where I came from and understand the culture.
Megan Nicole Sampang
as Lea Salonga
I’m portraying Lea Salonga. Many people will know her as the voice of Mulan. I grew up watching Mulan and have always seen myself as Mulan. When I found out that the voice of my childhood princess was Filipino, I exploded with so much joy, to finally know there are Filipino actors and singers in the industry of entertainment.
I chose her because of her story. She was originally an orphan to be later on be adopted by a producer who’s well known in the Philippines. That’s how she was able to rise to her debut. Salonga was gifted many opportunities to act and sing in multiple production in the Philippines, it wasn’t until she was in college that she ventured into international roles and productions.
In some ways I see myself like Salonga. She started college intended to have a medical career, that was actually when she had ventured into international roles. Much like myself, I had always set my mind on becoming a doctor. But just after taking the second class of chemistry in the sequence my brain couldn't handle the course. I was just not retaining the information or able to grasp the concepts. When I looked into public health after one of my role model/big sister from church told me about her experience in public health. It made me more interested. With Salonga intending to have a medical career but later choosing to prioritize her gift of singing and acting.
Knowing Filipino parents, they want nothing but their children’s success. I can only imagine the hardship Salonga had to face, but at the same time it would’ve been easy for her parents to accept it as they were producers in the entertainment industry.
For me being Filipino-American is a chance for me to mesh two cultures of my identify together. It’s a way for me to share my Filipino heritage with those who don’t know of it. While it has been hard for my parents to understand American culture, they have done an amazing job of making sure I still know my heritage and traditions. I don’t think I could be where I am today graduating with a degree in Public Health with a minor in Policy Studies, if it weren’t for the individuals that have been in my life to belittle me. Much like Mulan she was told a girl can’t do certain things. So I’ve worked countless hours, got myself involved with Filipino-American organizations to further my efforts and experience. With that I would like to thank God, my parents and friends for the support!
as Sal Khan
I'm portraying Sal Khan, the creator of Khan Academy. I chose Sal because of his contributions towards the democratization of education. An MIT and Harvard graduate, he could've kept his cushy job as a financial analyst. Instead, he chose to pursue service and provide an accessible education to everyone who'd seek it. This is the epitome of being an Asian-American: to engage with and better society just like any other American. I got to where I am today because of my parents and teachers who pushed me academically and intellectually, and Sal is doing that for millions of viewers on the Web.
(Nas Ej; Naah-Ayee), Hmong
as Brenda Song
I grew up watching TV shows, mostly on Disney Channel and my favorite show was The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. I remember adoring Brenda Song’s role as London Tipton. She lived a luxury life and she was also super funny. Brenda Song is an inspirational actress to me because if I remember correctly, she was the only Asian actress with a main role on the show. Her contributions has inspired me because she is childhood actress that represented the Asian-American community. Even now, the percentage of Asian-American actors/actress in the movie industry is still pretty small and so just knowing that she is there along with many other actors/actresses to represent me as an Asian-American is inspiring.
(Le Tuong-Vi), Vietnamese-American
as Maggie Q
In today's mainstream television, it seems as if Asian-Americans have to fight teeth and neck in order to get roles that aren't a geeky nerd, a submissive geisha, or a dumb foreigner, and are always put to the side. Hollywood has even admitted that they haven't cast Asian-American characters because, apparently, "there's no good enough actors" that happen to be Asian American.
Clearly Hollywood hasn't seen enough of Maggie Q, a Vietnamese-American actress. Although some may argue that Maggie Q isn't really Asian, as her father is Caucasian, that doesn't detract from her contributions to the Asian-American society. Maggie Q has never taken on a role that portrays her as a submissive oriental bride. When she's on screen, Maggie is always kicking butt, and always does her own stunts. She's the definition of a bad bitch. Maggie Q even has broken the Hollywood expectation that, "Asians are always the sidekick", by starring in her own TV show, "Nikita", a woman who plots to bring down the organization that trapped her.
Maggie Q inspires me not only because she's Vietnamese like I am, but because she's good at so many things, and she's not afraid to push herself. She started out as a model, in a country where she could barely speak the language, and was discovered by Jackie Chan, the king of martial arts movies, who convinced her to become an action star, seeing the potential in her. He trained her to reach her potential (which I'm not even sure she's reached yet) and pushed her to try scary things, like doing her own stunts, because he believed in her. I'm not going to lie, Maggie is a pretty face. But she's a pretty face who can act and who is someone you would not want to encounter in a dark alley alone.
As the daughter of immigrants, who fought tooth and bone in order to get to the positions that they are in today, being an Asian American to me means to be bold, be unapologetic about yourself, and to push yourself to the limit. For too many years, I've been told, "Don't be so brash", "You're not good enough to do this, because you're too weak", and "What you are presenting yourself as to me is wrong". I'm fed up with it. My parents did not come to this country, with no knowledge of the language and barely any money, to have me act like a white man's little submissive bride. They came to this country, so that I could be bold, I could be unapologetic, and to push myself. And Maggie Q does all of those things. I want to break the barriers that society puts up for me, like Maggie does.
I'm not some guy's sidekick. I'm a bold unapologetic Asian American b*tch who's going to break down every barrier society puts up against me, just like Maggie Q.
(최세종; Choe, Sejong), Korean-American
as Steven Yeun
I was raised in a Christian household and heard a lot of praise music, so that's what helps me get to an emotional place. Steven Yeun grew up in a christian Korean household, and I have as well. He majored in psychology in college with a focus in neuroscience, which seems to be the stereotypical path that Korean-Americans are expected to take. To either become a lawyer or doctor. However, he put aside becoming a doctor to follow his dream of acting, and became successful at what he enjoys. Being successful, especially in the Hollywood industry where Asians are extremely under, and misrepresented. I believe that Steven is being a voice, character, or leader that young aspiring actors, and Asian-Americans alike can look up to.
as Fujimatsu Moriguchi
Fujimatsu Moriguchi along with his wife founded the famous Uwajimaya supermarket chain native to the northwest. After being placed in an internment camp during World War II, Moriguchi relocated to Seattle where he started the store. His ability to successfully start a store that sold items from Asian Cuisine at such a time where race divisions were more pronounced and overt inspires me to work hard for my goals and push myself to success. Having a father who is American and a mother who is Japanese puts me at the center of a convergence of two cultures which I feel privileged to enjoy. I chose Fujimatsu because not only is he a successful Asian American businessmen, but because his pioneering efforts exposed people to new cultures and foods, which helped normalize how Asian Americans are seen, paving the way for many others to follow.
as Rupi Kaur
The leader I am inspired on a daily basis is Rupi Kaur. She is a graceful, persevering, strong, and eye opening woman, who emigrated to Toronto, Ontario (my hometown) from India. In late 2014, she published my favorite book of all time, Milk And Honey. The book contains beautiful works of art that challenges love, heartbreak, healing, abuse, and femininity. Rupi Kaur inspires me as a fearless woman, but most importantly how she dealt with stigmas and taboos that are specifically posed as being a South Asian woman. Making her all the more relatable and honorable in my heart and soul. Her visual representations contain conversations society typically shies away from, and I think that is what draws me more into her. The people who define themselves as Asian American are fascinating because each family has a unique story of struggles, failures, successes, and comfort. Then showing how their disconnected lives languidly began to connect while finding home and a place to settle new roots in the New World. It is truly amazing and heartwarming to see how traditions, language, culture, values from America and Asia, together, are what begin to shape ourselves and younger generations' ideologies on life.
My parents got married in January 1992, and emigrated to Toronto shortly after. They had around two thousand dollars, two suitcases, no jobs, no family, but a dream to one day build a home. My dad first worked at a gas station, while my mom went door to door selling candy bars. Soon, my mom got a job working at a bank, and they would pay to rent out a room/basement in people's homes. I was born in 1996, and that definitely caused a lot more struggle. Two years later, and with much hope, work, and luck, my dad got a job in DuPont USA. Our family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. We lived in Georgia for about 8 years, until we moved to Washington, resulting to where I am today. My parent's story motivates me, and makes me want to prove to them that I am thankful for their hard work to provide a life in the "land of opportunity.”
(Dong Hun Kim), Korean-American
as Robert T. Kiyosaki
I've always been interested in ways of making a living that does not require me to grind every weekday from 9-5 aka entrepreneurship. Robert T. Kiyosaki is a man that has built his life on multiple different sources of income which is something I aspire to mimic one day. My life goal is to become successful similarly to how Robert became successful.
as Maya Lin
Design has taught me many lessons, it involves my identity as a Vietnamese American. I learned that the field of design lacks diversity, if you were to ask me, “Name 5 tech giants that made a difference in society today.” I would have trouble thinking of individuals who aren’t people of color. However, Maya Lin is a designer that I look up to.
Maya Lin is an Asian American designer and artist that is known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. She is honestly the only Asian American designer that most people know of, which speaks to the design industry we see today.
Maya Lin was looked down upon for being an Asian American woman, which was controversial back then in the time of woman's rights, as she received harassment from many individuals. Lin broke the status quo of design, an asian minority that won many awards that include the National Medal of Arts and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
To connect with all Asian Americans out there, most of us have the pressure of going into college doing something related to the medical field or becoming an engineer because of the desire that comes from our parents. However, after taking a route similar to that, it’s better to do something you are passionate about. Even if your parents want you to become something else, you know yourself better than anyone else.
I remember waiting for my letter of acceptance from the University of Washington Seattle. Weeks after weeks, friends on social media would be posting their letter of acceptance in a form of a golden letter.
“Karl have you received your letter of acceptance.”
“Nope, I submitted my application in late December, maybe they’re still looking through applications.”
Damn, the wait is killing me. I would sprint home to the mailbox just to see nothing weeks after weeks. I would check facebook often and it seemed like all my friends were getting accepted.
I thought to myself, “This is looking good for me.” I’m the oldest sibling, oldest cousin from my mother's side so there were high expectations for me. The pressure was stressful and excruciating, and I lost sleep because of it.
1:45PM. Schools out. I sprint home to the mailbox as usual, I got mail, and it was from the University of Washington Seattle, in the form of a white letter. I already knew what this meant.
Seeing the letter of rejection, I thought to myself, “Wow, not even wait list?”, I constantly thought I wasn’t good enough for anything, I thought I was a failure. My family of course wasn’t pleased with the news and I felt embarrassed to tell my friends about it, because I was the only one in the group of friends that got rejected. Only negative thoughts surrounded my mind, I didn’t know what to do.
My backup plan was to attend the University of Washington Bothell. In the beginning, I felt hopeless, going into freshman year of college with low self esteem, I didn’t know what to do with my life. It was very difficult to make friends in a small community, UWB is a commuter school so students just come and go. This took a toll on my grades. I aspired to become a software engineer, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
With low grades and difficulties involving my personal life, I took a huge risk, and it was to start the Vietnamese Student Association. In the beginning, I didn’t have enough support to start this, my parents only wanted me to transfer to UW Seattle so they were against it (so I hid it from them) and my friends were in other big clubs so they thought there wasn’t a point in starting something new. But I just went with my gut.
Leadership is something I knew little of. It can be defined in many ways, but it’s something that honestly changed me. Starting VSA was something I spent countless hours into, I spent more time on it than doing my homework. It was a year of ups and downs, but the risk was worth it.
I understood what it meant to become a Vietnamese American. The common theme of sacrifice was something that was always mentioned. Many individuals in VSA are grateful to be in the US because of the sacrifice our parents made during the Vietnam war. It’s something that I hold true to my heart till this day.
My experience in VSA taught me many life lessons. Passion was perhaps one of the most important things I was able to grasp. I struggled during my freshmen year of college, studying computer science (CSS). I then thought to myself, why am I doing this? Is it something that I’m going to enjoy in the future? After thinking about these questions, I knew this field wasn’t going to be right for me.
I wasn’t passionate about CSS and thought the long term wasn’t worth it for me. So I took another risk and thought about doing design. Creativity is something that was missing for me in CSS and it’s something I hope to do for the rest of my life. (Something I throughout VSA) Long story short, I applied to the Interactive Media Design program at UWB and got accepted out of the 90 applicants, they accepted only 30.
After learning about Maya Lin’s hardships and struggle of being an Asian American designer, I believe it connects with me. It taught me that overcoming obstacles in life takes a lot of sacrifices, with sacrifices there must be passion. As an Asian minority, she overcome many difficulties when it came to her gender as an Asian American woman, but her passion and drive for design define how successful she is today.
“To fly we have to have resistance.” - Maya Lin
Risk. Sacrifice. Passion.
This inspires me to as an Vietnamese American. This Inspires me as an Asian American.
This is how I got here today.
Am I embarrassed to go to UWB.
No, I’m not, I’m thankful for all the people that made me the person I am today.
Was it worth the risk to change my field of study?
Yeah it was! I’m having the time of my life!
(Lichen; LEE-ChenYANG-Ah-brh-u), Dominican/Taiwanese-American
as Justice Mary Yu
(First Latina/First Asian-American/ First Gay Woman in the Washington State Supreme Court.)
She is my idol, and we share similar heritages as well as a shared queer identity. As someone who aspires to work in public office someday, I want to highlight a unique individual who has served our state's people and constitution admirably. In a similar vein, as someone who stresses the value of intersectionality. It is inspiring for me to see someone who thinks, looks, and loves as I do. She also has great taste in suits.
as Michelle Rhee
Coming to the States from Korea in 7th grade and attending public schools in Virginia, Hawaii, and Washington, I personally experienced the disparity in education quality. Slight variations in school curriculum was dismissible as long as my teachers were able to provide additional explanations as needed. But having teachers who did not fully fathom the concept or who failed to demonstrate their knowledge was what struck me. As a result, I realized the significance of evaluation of educators, as a method to reflect whether they’re equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skill.
I chose Michelle Rhee as my Asian-American role model- she set out as a charismatic individual with a zealous vision for American education reform. Even as a woman of color, Rhee is characterized as a courageous, decisive, and vigilant leader who served as the chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools. She meticulously reformed teacher evaluations and advocated for students’ achievements in school to maximize the quality of public education. As Rhee strived to achieve equity in education for students, she faced a host of criticisms and oppositions but Rhee’s tenacious effort for the reform reflects her resilience and dedication for her principles.
I admire Rhee's capacity to surpass the 'bamboo ceiling' and serve in a public office with such distinctive achievement. Rather than being subdued by the Asian values of deference to authority, I aspire to become an independent and driven leader.
as Arden Cho
Ever since I discovered Arden Cho on YouTube from her appearance on Ryan Higa's short film, "Agents of Secret Stuff" and her melodic song covers, I grew fond of her beauty and representation of the Asian culture in the media. There’s not a lot of Asian representation on the big screen but when Arden was casted in Teen Wolf, it gave hope in changing that stereotype. Following Arden on social media, I’ve come in awe every time I see her express her beauty and passion for the things she loves. Not only does she represent the Asian-American community but also women where we should learn to love ourselves and fight for what we want to do. She proved that the impossible becomes possible. To be an Asian-American, we should show pride in who we are and not let other’s hinder our culture. I’ve always been scared and embarrassed to represent my culture when I was young—thinking people would judge me for being me but I’ve come to love and embrace it. I was afraid to use my voice but it’s because I never tried. I stand where I am today because I took a step out of my shell to become a leader to lead others and bring change within the Asian-American community.
as Wesley Chan
Wesley Chan is an Asian-American filmmaker, and the co-founder of the YouTube channel: Wong Fu Productions. Wesley Chan is an amazing individual, and is someone that, I can truly say, has impacted my life. Everyone knows that Asian’s are laughably underrepresented in media. And Wes and his crew, through their films and stories, have not only broken stereotypes in social aspects, but also in their own field. Their influence has certainly affected me. Not only did they get me to appreciate YouTube as a creative platform, but also as a platform that I hope to one day produce content for, and to truly feel that I belong in the community. Now, there have been many people that have had a great impact on my life and made me the person that I am today, but I think one thing that Wes really shown me is that there are other pathways to success rather than just being locked into the stereotypes and roles that society and even our own culture we put ourselves in. He found success in medium that Asians are barely represented in, and not only did he not follow the established way of his industry, but literally created his own pathway and opportunity. Wes is an embodiment of what it means to break and challenge stereotypes, which is something I strive do in anything that I do.
Richiel Sta. Maria
as Bruno Mars
The inspirational person I chose is Peter Hernandez, but you probably know him better as the famous song artist, Bruno Mars. According to Colorlines, Bruno received racial suggestions saying he should create Latin and Spanish music simply because of his last name. Bruno then changed Hernandez to Mars, “to avoid being stereotyped by race” (Colorlines). Speaking of race, did you know Bruno Mars is Puerto Rican, Jewish and Filipino American?
For years, the media has failed to cover Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and yet Bruno Mars has performed on national television and is currently on a world tour. He is an inspiration to minorities like me because he has broke the stereotype of Asian Pacific Islanders being unfit for the spotlight. As the founder and President of the Filipino American Student Association sa University of Washington Bothell, I also aspire to overcome this stereotype myself. Fun fact: I love to play Bruno Mars whenever my officers and I host events.
as Reshma Saujani
I chose to be portrayed as Reshma Saujani. She is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit dedicated to closing the gender gap in tech fields by equipping young women with computing skills allowing them to pursue careers in technology.
Saujani is also the first Indian-American woman to run for U.S. Congress. Reshma began her career as an attorney and activist. During her campaign in 2010, Reshma visited local schools and saw firsthand the gender gap in computer science classes, which led her to start Girls Who Code. She has also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City and has authored the book Women Who Don't Wait In Line, in which she advocates a new model of female leadership that focuses on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship, and charting your own course. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School and has been named one of Fortune's 40 under 40.
Reshma is one of my role models. Not only has her Girls Who Code movement reached nearly 40,000 young women, but she has also paved her own path as one of the few Indian-American and South-Asian women in politics. I am an Indian American woman pursuing a career in tech, and Reshma's determination and success in politics as well has her advocacy for closing the gender gap makes me also want to work on addressing the issue of educational equity in my career moving forward.
as Joseph Glenn Herbert
Being from Filipino background to me, means many things: food, family, and definitely laughter. Some of my earliest memories as a kid involve barbecues or other gatherings with members from my extended family. Ringing out loud from the various conversations at these events was the shrill laughter of either my mother or my aunties when one of them would make a joke or reminisce about an old memory. Stronger than its sound was its infectious nature, as the laughing of one group more often than not spread to my cousins and other relatives as well.
Increasingly I have learned that being Asian-American comes with a lot of stress and expectation. The desire to perform well academically and take part in extracurriculars, the desire to make your parents proud, the desire to take advantage of opportunities that weren't available to ones that came before us. Often, this can lead to a considerable amount of self-imposed pressure and forgetting the importance of laughing every once in a while.
I chose Joseph Glenn Herbert, or Jo Koy, as my Asian-American leader because he captures so many aspects of Filipino American culture so effectively due to his ability to make people laugh. Whether it's imitating his mother's strong Filipino accent, or recounting his son's adolescent gibberish, Jo Koy is a powerful example of what it looks like to not take life, or yourself, too seriously.
as Charlotte Cho
Charlotte Cho is a Korean-American entrepreneur with an expertise in almost all things related to Korean skincare. Cho’s great love for Korean culture and appreciation for the skin encouraged her to start her own Korean skincare blog and eventually business with her husband David Cho.
The Korean-American's business, Soko Glam, is slowly gaining more popularity because of its advice and accessibility for all ethnicities to work towards the skin they feel beautiful and comfortable in. Although I am not Korean-American, Charlotte and I are both California-born Asian-American's with a knack for skincare, and the ambition to support other people in feeling comfortable with how their appearance.
As an Asian-American growing up in an extremely diverse community, being Asian-American is simply being someone who represents balance. To elaborate, it seems that if you look at the past, American's were always set against one race over another. Asian-Americans were peaceful but seemed to get caught in the middle of a long history of racial discrimination. With this perspective, I view being Asian-American as being the one that is not one or the other, but a balance of many different things. Being Asian-American is not being for or against anything or anyone, but being someone who encourages acceptance and a balance within a community. Charlotte Cho's embodies this with her ambition to bring awareness of her culture to the states and making our society a more inclusive one.
While I never faced any racial or gender discrimination, I have many Asian American friends who have felt the weight of discrimination, especially as it becomes more prominent and controversial in today’s culture. It spreads fear and a nation-wide anxiety about being an immigrant or being part of a family that is. The backlash of simply being diverse because of a man’s powerful control over people’s beliefs is what makes me fearful for my future, as well as my friends, my family, and other diverse individuals who face discrimination. However, I am an American nonetheless, an empowered woman and if Charlotte was not the same, then she would not have been able to start her business, write her book, or be anywhere close to where she is now.
as Larry Itliong
LARRY ITLIONG - My own family became a part of this country when my grandfather (my mom's father) joined the US Navy. But, the first wave of Filipino immigrants, including Larry Itliong, were the Manong/Manang generation that came to the US in the 1920s & 30s as underpaid workers across the West Coast. [Actually, Filipinos (""Luzones Indios"") were the first API people to arrive in the continental United States at modern-day California in 1587 during Spanish colonization.]
Larry Itliong led workers across the West Coast since the 1930s, as Filipinos in California led labor unionization among farmworkers in the '30s and '40s. Ultimately, Itliong led the Delano grape strike in 1965, demanding a wage equal to the federal minimum wage. This strike ultimately led to the formation of the United Farm Workers, a merging of Filipino and Mexican labor organizations. Cesar Chavez is the name popularly associated with the UFW, which unfortunately undermines the multicultural nature of the US labor movement, especially at the expense of major Filipino contributions (including those by Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, Pete Velasco, Ben Gines, and others).
Overall, being Filipino-American is constantly questioning your place in Asian-American & Pacific Islander spaces, narratives, and culture. Filipino-Americans represent the second-largest API population in the US, but why do our stories remain unknown? Of course, there's progress being made in American Ethnic Studies to include Filipino-Americans' contributions to US History in college and high school curricula, but Fil-Am erasure is a bigger issue connected to the oppression of countless marginalized communities in our country. To me, being an API person in the US means being confused. It means existing and surviving in hopes of positively representing my community alongside my kasamas for the past & future generations of Filipino-Americans. It means celebrating whenever you discover that someone famous (e.g. Prince, Bruno Mars, Shay Mitchell, Tia Karrere, Kehlani, Hailee Steinfeld, Snapchat co-founder Bobby Murphy, Doug Baldwin, etc.) or any dope person in your community is Filipino. Our society's lack of awareness of Larry Itliong's contributions to the US labor movement inspires me to act in ways that support, recognize, and give credit to the Filipino-American community where it's due. The legacies of leaders like Larry Itliong remind me to continue learning & growing within my Filipino identity in the US, while still looking to those at the intersections of oppression in order to advance genuine progress.
(김주성; Kim Ju-Sung), Korean-American
as Phil Yu
I think… growing up as an Asian-American student affected me a lot as a kid. I was born in the states but grew up in Korea. Yet, my American passport did not make America feel like my home, and neither did Korea after I left. It was this idea of diaspora that I had intuitively understood, but never had fully grasped intellectually. Growing up as an Asian-American, felt like I was an adopted child in a house I did not belong in.
People saw me differently, and truthfully, there weren’t any problems with that until I got into middle school and high school. As you grow up, you become aware of these differences and start comparing yourself to others. There were many infamous “lunch-box” moments and many more moments where my peers would point out my characteristics that distinguished myself from them. We laughed it off, but my insecurities began to grow.
I tried to hide from the roots of my heredity. Strayed away, until eventually, I was left so distant from my own culture. It was more important for me to fit in, rather than staying true to my own identity. It wasn’t until I entered college, I began to embrace more of who I am. The breaking point was that I was just tired, having to ignore such a huge part of my self-brand that was so important to me. I began caring less about fitting in and more interested, in finding myself.
Phil Yu is not as angry as people think despite the name of his brand, “Angry Asian Man.” The definition of term anger is most closely related to passion than any other word. Yu is very passionate about his blog, where he serves to inform, entertain, and to activate. The push for social equality is extremely crucial in this nation where millions of diverse individuals interact and build the future. Yu works to advocate for the AAPI community that are often misjudged by the stigmas that were only once true. His work is not only inspiring but meaningful to the people in his community. And to following the legacy of a social change, is something that we must all take part of.
(Trân Gia Linh) Vietnamese-American
as Constance Wu
Constance Wu is a kick-ass Asian-American woman in Hollywood. She is the leader in her industry, not only because she is in “Fresh Off the Boat”, a rare, Asian family dominated series on television, but because her ability to speak out against injustices. I never fully watch "Fresh Off the Boat" (my bad!) but I’ve watched enough to know her great comedic timing as an actress and read enough about her to recognize the activism work she’s trying to forge in Hollywood as a woman of color.
As Jessica Huang, Wu’s character on "Fresh Off the Boat", she reclaims the immigrant struggles through the accent she boldly speaks. As Constance Wu, the actress, she isn’t afraid to call out racism and sexism, even though she is in an industry that’s rife with systematic discrimination against woman of color. She has spoke out about the white narrative in the movies, and the double standards for woman in Hollywood (p.s. She doesn’t want to be your “It” Girl, okay?!). She dismisses the model minority stereotype of Asian American by reminds people about our history and struggle.
Constance is developing a project about the Chinese Exclusion Act (#graspintears). It’s really admirable to see someone like her on the screen making her own marks in society. She recognizes her privilege as an actress and uses it to lift her communities up. As an Asian-American woman, oftentimes, I was told to keep my head down, work hard and take the safe route because it’s easier that way. I don’t know where I’ll be in the future because I’m still trying to figure out who I am. It’s a lifelong journey that has no foresight destination. For right now, I want to continue using my voice to stand up and speak up against injustices. To continue my journey with love and empathy. To provide spaces for others that need it. To tell my story and live my most authentic self as an first generation Vietnamese-American woman immigrant . It will be difficult as I’m sure there will be many obstacles along the way but like Constance Wu said, “do what you want to do so they can't take anything away from you.”
as Olivia Munn
I chose Olivia Munn because we both are half-caucasian and half-Asian. While she is of Vietnamese heritage and I am Filipina, the rarity of half-Asians alone allows me to relate to her at a more specific level. Being biracial puts me into a small subcategory. I do not fully relate to those who are full Asian, and I do not fully relate to those who are completely caucasian. Both Olivia Munn and I have first generation Asian mothers and caucasian fathers, so we both grew up with influences from two very different cultures. It makes it hard to figure out which culture you identify with the most, and which one you want people to associate you with. Caucasians see me as Asian, Asians see me as Caucasian. In addition to being a rare sight, half-Asians, or rather Asians in general, are given an "exotic" reputation with a sex-driven undertone. Olivia Munn herself is seen as a sex symbol, and in a strange, uncomfortable way, I relate to this. I cannot count how many times guys, or more specifically, white guys, have said something along the lines of, "you know, you're the first Asian girl I've ever found attractive!" Though I typically brush it off, when I really think about what they are saying and how they are saying it, I realize that they are saying it in a way that implies that their approval is a sort of accomplishment. Wow, a white guy attracted to an Asian girl? Amazing. Must be a fetish or something.
I picked Olivia Munn because she is headstrong. She is not a fetish. She demonstrates poise and confidence in a society and community that disregards Asians when it come to stereotypical beauty. In fact, she rarely talks about her ethnicity, demonstrating that her race does not define or restrict who she is or the capacity for her success, just as my race does not define or restrict my identity or success.
as Michelle Kwan
“I didn't lose the gold. I won the silver.” – Michelle Kwan
I chose to be portrayed as Michelle Kwan because growing up, she was one of the very few figures that I looked up to that similarly resembled me and was the individual that introduced me to competitive sports. I remember how excited my parents would get every time they watched her skate, every time she took home a medal, and every time they heard her story. The daughter of two Hong Kong immigrants, Kwan rose to become a reigning 5 time world champion, 2 time Olympic medalist, and now an AAPI advocate working with Hillary Clinton, despite her adversities. Her perseverance to compete, despite the media constantly labeling her as an ‘other’ and in some instances as a ‘failure’ for being short of an Olympic gold in her career, inspires me to never give up in my own pursuits and to cut out negative influences. It is this inspiration that got me to where I am today as I learned to distance myself from those that negatively impacted me mentally and began to focus on who I wanted to be and how to get there. And it was through this introspective process that I realized that to me, being an Asian-American means embracing your culture and heritage and viewing it as an opportunity for unique and untapped perspectives rather than being the ‘model minority’ or an academic benchmark.
Jenny Nayoung Chung
(정나영; Na Young CHung) Korean-American
as Susan Ahn Cuddy
“Be a good American citizen, but don’t forget your heritage.”
These were some of the last words given to Susan Ahn Cuddy by his father, Dosan Ahn Chang Ho, a famous, admired, and brave independence fighter of Korea under the time of Japanese colonialism. Susan carried out her father’s words as she worked in independence organizations in Los Angeles for the freedom of Korea. And even after liberation of the country, Susan continued to advocate for the Korean-American community. Not only did she devote herself to the Korean community, she also served as the first woman US Navy Gunnery Officer and the first Asian Woman in Naval Intelligence. Her dedication to the United States is truly admirable. Susan’s contributions inspires me to be a well-balanced leader in the communities that I belong to— to wholeheartedly love this country, the United States, through which have given me so many opportunities while remembering my roots and history of my home—Korea.
The rise in representation of women and people of color in leadership is a passion of mine which reflects through Gifts to Give Benefit Concerts, an initiative I began that is so dear to my heart. Through this I’ve created a platform for growth catered to the youth of color, and it has been truly rewarding. I’m realizing more and more that it’s time for us to explicitly encourage our Asian-American youths to reach out for opportunities to grow as leaders and become engaged global citizens. Just as Susan worked until the day before she passed away to inspire Korean-American leaders through many programs, I aspire to be an influential leader who leads our Asian American youths to become leaders for this nation and beyond. Knowing our roots and knowing our nation is truly essential to becoming a well-balanced and open-minded citizen and leader. I envision to empower the next generation of leaders through our experiences, advocacy, and passion.
as Amy Tan
The leader I am portrayed as is Amy Tan, a Chinese-American novelist who wrote some amazing works such as Joy Luck Club and A Mother's Tongue.
I chose this individual because she writes primarily about the struggles of being an Asian-American and how resilience and determination play huge roles in staying afloat.
Often, as an Asian-American, it can be easy to feel discouraged when somebody belittles you due to your ethnicity. Tan was born to two immigrants, who were able to escape from communist China to the US. Likewise, my grandparents escaped from China to Taiwan during Mao's reign many years ago, leaving behind many of their family members in China.
I recently wrote a paper titled The Invisible Struggle. In this paper, I refer to the invisible struggle as the struggle of immigrants. Those who are privileged enough to grow up in an area that they have always been familiar with will never be able to see this struggle, which is why it is nearly "invisible" to them. However, Tan does an amazing job of explaining all of the small complexities that an Asian immigrant must face when coming to the US that most people do not understand. For instance, we often refer to someone's english as "broken," if they have some sort of accent. Why must be call their way of communication broken if it does not reach some sort of standard? I will never think somebody’s english is “broken.” Just because someone does not speak the “normal” way does not mean one’s opinions are less valuable than a typical American who does speak perfect english. With time, I hope that society becomes more and more accepting so that one day, these struggles can be seen and racism can be eliminated. Only when we start to understand each other, people can just be seen for the quality of their souls, rather than the quality of their English.
Growing up, I've unfortunately witnessed my parents get denied certain rights or treated differently due to their ethnicity, which I think is bogus. Like Amy Tan, I also have seen instances in which certain people have treated my mother poorly of her race. She told me that when she was young, people would spit on her hair and call her names because she was “different” than them. She would sit alone at lunch because nobody else spoke her language and not understand anything anybody was telling her. Her cousins (the people she stayed with) treated her poorly and told everyone at school she was a refugee rather than their cousin because they were ashamed of her. For an entire year, my mom sat in classes not understanding a single word, since she spoke no English. However, with hard work, a strong heart and powerful determination, my mom went from the lowest level of English class to Honors English class by the end of one year. Eventually, my mother graduated from college, got into dental school, and now is the proud owner of an office. My mom inspires me, Amy Tan inspires me, and I hope that one day, I can inspire people too.
I want be sure I am one who advocates for justice when injustice is present and never be shameful of who I am. Amy Tan inspires me to be proud of my heritage as a Chinese/Taiwanese American and to never stop trying. My goal in life is to live as passionately as I can. Why? So I can get the most out of it. Determination will take me far, and resilience will take me even further. So thank you, Amy Tan, for being an inspiration to me and many others.
as Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki.. I love sports, always have, and always will. I grew up playing basketball and baseball but to put it simply, there weren't many Asian ballers or base-ballers. In Seattle, Ichiro was arguably one of the best Mariners to play in SafeCo Field. Seeing someone like me—Japanese, made my 3rd grade self believe that I could play pro too. I remember wanting to bat left handed because he was left handed. I played right field because he played right field. And I threw hard because he threw hard. I wanted to be just like him. I knew all the other players, but it was Ichiro I wanted to be like. Trying to play like him got me pretty far in sports. I had to quit baseball/softball for a while but I made varsity softball every year in high school. I guess I had to overcome stereotypes of Asians not playing sports and only being good at math. Fun fact, I'm not actually that good at math, I'm a whole lot better at sports (and English, if we want to get crazy). Seeing someone like me, Japanese, playing sport that I love, inspired me to be better, run faster (Ichiro is quick, too), and to throw harder.
(신리아; SHIN LEE-AH), Korean-American
as Yuri Kochiyama
For the longest time I felt like I was unable to dream. It was not because I was incapable of dreaming but I was afraid to. Growing up as an Asian-American female, I was surrounded by the stereotypical “Asian” standard of dreamers… parents who dreamed that I would attend a prestigious university, friends who dreamed of becoming successful doctors, teachers who dreamed for us to ace every exam, and society that dreamed for their own success. Their dreams are what I felt pressured into dreaming.
So I continued doing things in an “Asian way”— laughed alongside those who ridiculed my “small eyes”, struggled through my math classes quietly, shrugged off those questioning my intentions on wanting to grow as a leader, and let my inner frustrations be told it’s not worth it. It’s not worth to speak up, take a stand, and put myself out there; just be silent.
Yet, it is legends and badass Asian-American women like Yuri Kochiyama who have shattered generalizations that has been set for us, first paving the way in the 60’s.
She became our voice; one of the first Asian-American civil rights activist participating in the Harlem Freedom Schools, and later, the African-American (alongside Malcolm X), Asian-American, and Third World movements for civil and human rights.
She became our inspiration; taking over the Statue of Liberty in 1977 in a protest to draw attention to the fight for Puerto Rican independence. Fighting for justice, serving others, and being brave were her specialties.
She became our hope; she shouts, “So, transform yourself first… because you are young and have dreams and want to do something meaningful that in itself, makes you our future and our hope. Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind, and cross borders.”
For that reason, no matter where life takes me I will do whatever it takes to make impactful change with my voice and action, like Yuri Kochiyama (I hope to do her proud). If that may be through my passion of business and technology, my love for finding solutions to real world challenges or by establishing my own social movement. My dream is for us to take a single step forward together into a world filled with boundless amount of confident dreamers— for us to dream our own dream.
as Ruby Chow
There are many things to be said of the legendary Ruby Chow, but what resonates most with me is how far reaching her passion has come. To this day, I feel the force of her fight to protect, empower, and identify women and minorities in Seattle which began in the 1940's. There was no one before her to inspire or prepare for what was needed to be done in a town that had yet to grow into the diverse and culturally rich area that we know today. They called her a trailblazer. She forged the path towards politics, equality, and progress in spite of her immigrant roots displaced by the Great Depression. Her siblings begged for dinner leftovers in the same Chinatown alleys that Chow later fiercely reinvigorated with foundations driving cultural prosperity of Chinatown district. She single-handedly bridged the divide between prominent business folks, journalists, politicians, and Seattle's underrepresented citizens in the Chinese restaurant venture outside of the International District. She was not defined by the limits of poverty, nor her status Chinese immigrant, or the fact that she was a woman, but by "her heart, compassion and conviction" (Gary Locke). She worked for every shred of respect that she received in her career and paved a higher standard of living for the generations of us. Had it not been for Ruby Chow’s amazing efforts, we would have struggled to break the glass and bamboo ceiling.
The memory of her is nostalgic, a po po (grandma) to all of us, fighting the good fight with all the love for our heritage that can be imagined. Plus, she harbored the man, the legend, Bruce Lee at one point! So, I thank you Ruby Chow, for changing the game. For making my aspirations possible in 2017, and for passing on the Cantonese spirit of relentless hard work for the things that matter. I hope to continue your mission, to end opportunity gaps for our community with my work in data science. Thank you for your service to all of us.
(Kim Tiên) Vietnamese-American
as Megan Batoon
I chose to be portrayed as Megan Batoon because she is a modern-day Renaissance woman. She is well-versed and influential in many different areas and that is a lifestyle that I pride myself in trying to lead, as well.
Batoon is a famous choreographer/dancer as well as an online personality and influencer in comedy, fashion, beauty, acting, and even cooking. As many others in the YouTube community, Batoon is bringing Asian-American representation into the mainstream media and through showcasing her hard-working drive throughout all areas of her life, it motivates other Asian-Americans to step into the light and be known for the things that they are talented in. Everything that Batoon puts out (whether it be a new piece of choreography, a skit, or fashion-related) her underlying theme that brings them all together is all about self-love. She is always pushing positive messages about challenging stereotypes, expectations, and self-criticism to unleash your own personal potential.
This is something that I've always needed to work on, especially with all the pressures of growing up as an Asian-American in a primarily Caucasian community. Challenging unfair stereotypes and expectations that were glued to me because of my ethnicity has always taken a toll on me throughout my childhood. I lived in fear of not living up to certain expectations and always trying to push myself to please those around me. There was even a time in my life when I went through a phase of trying to ""fit in"" with my Caucasian friends by rejecting my own culture and background. The things I was doing at the time became less fulfilling to me, even though I still enjoyed them, because I was doing them for all the wrong reasons. Being busy 24/7 is taxing especially when none of what you're doing is for yourself. I have since then accepted myself as who I am, and love my culture and background. My roots helped shape me into the person I am today, and I am proud to be a Vietnamese American.
Batoon inspires me to keep up with all of my interests despite what others expect of me. I have begun challenging those standards that I'm constantly held to, and everything has become much more personally fulfilling. Being busy 24/7 becomes worth it when you are doing the things that you want and need to do rather than doing things just for external gratification. For me, that is spending all of my time doing things that are meaningful, impact society in a positive way, and inspire others to do the same all while staying true to the things that are important to me.
I hope to inspire people the way that Batoon has, and continues to do.
as Philip (Phil) Wang
Philip Wang is one of the founders of Wong Fu Productions. Their films always cast Asian-Americans and tackle everything from the emotions of relationships to silly comedy sketches. Their work sheds light on the human side of Asian-Americans which are severely underrepresented in American media and have created a community for Asian-American millennials. I'm a fan. #wongfuforlife
as Sutapa Basu
I chose her because she has been a massive force in the women’s rights movement in Seattle as well as her fight for justice in Human Trafficking. From a very young age she surrounded me with social justice by bringing me to her speeches, marches, and other events.
She has shown me that being a woman of color is a powerful identity. She overcame so much on her own and became a major leader in the AAPI community. Her work is the reason I am involved in social justice today. She has shown me that it is my responsibility to use the privilege that I have to actively resist systems of oppression and work to uplift the most marginalized.
Being an AAPI means you embody duality. You are of two places and the way you move around the world is dictated by that duality. It is challenging and rewarding at the same time. We have rich culture that runs through our blood but we also feel the distance of being born in the diaspora. It means never fully feeling at home here while also never fully feeling at home in our ancestral lands. It means that we are given privilege being regarded as a “model minority”, but that we need to actively resist that notion. Our proximity to whiteness allows us further access to resources while stepping on the backs of other people of color. It means that we have anti-blackness embedded within us and is something we must actively work to undo within ourselves and within our communities.
How I got where I am today is by following my heart. As cheesy as that sounds, I do the work that I do because I have a very deep love for people and I care that they are given a real chance at living a good life. I have had a rocky path to where I am today. My dad passed away when I was young and I had a difficult relationship with my mom. I have struggled with mental health issues since I was 14 which have come and gone over the years.
For a long time, I couldn’t decide on a leader to rave about. There’s only limited selection of famous Asian-Americans to begin with, but to find a woman I could really relate to? It seemed hopeless. Even after several days, I couldn’t seem to find anyone who resonated with me. This process of choosing a leader was becoming unnecessarily long and discouraging.
There is such little representation of our race in the media, and even when we Asians ARE portrayed, we are either exotic and objectified or nerdy and unattractive. I know that I’m not the only one who is frustrated by this lack of diversity and these stereotypes, so it is extremely refreshing to learn that there are people who are trying to break this mold.
I came across a rapper who goes by Awkwafina and I was fascinated by her boldness and transparency. Her songs are unconventional, raw, and touch topics that are considered to be taboo in today’s society. Although I am not as open about the particular issues she brings up, I see a lot of myself in her because I too am becoming increasingly confident in my own skin and care-free of how others may think of me.
I admire Awkwafina because rather than letting her race confine her, she embraces it completely and shows that there is much more to us than what the media makes us out to be. I’m thankful for this project, because it affirmed me in my own identity and helped me realize that I don’t have to be apologetic for who I am. It's simply a true testimony of how strong, beautiful, and worthy we are.
as Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan became known in “kung-fu comedy" as his acting career developed. Chan believes success comes from hard work and being unique. The details in his films set him apart from others because all of his stunts are performed by himself and he uses different camera angles to make the movie immersive for the audience. He inspires me to work hard, to accomplish my goals as he did to rise to success. Off screen, he prioritizes others before himself which is similar to the way I was raised. He will donate half of his assets when he passes away.
"Life will knock us down, but we can choose to get back up.” -Jackie Chan
as Bruno Mars
I chose Bruno Mars (Peter Hernandez) because he and his family didn't have much and the path he traveled was rough but he persevered through it. Hernandez grew up in a large family and they didn't have much money. They lived in a house that wasn't a suitable for a life, especially for his family size. In an interview with “60 minutes”, he said that they had everything they needed because they had each other and how he never felt that he was deprived of anything. Bruno Mars continues and talks about how his family endeavored through rough times or the time they didn't have electricity and he relates those experiences towards music, that even though there are rough patches in life, he will figure it out and get through it. This taught me more about how it's not where you get to, but that it’s about how you get there. It also taught me about the fulfillment family brings to one's life no matter the circumstance.
Growing up as a Pacific-Islander, I was always taught “family first.” I never understood why they wouldn't let me go out with friends all the time until I became older and realized family will always fulfill you and they will always be there to support you. I felt a connection from the morals of Bruno Mars with the same morals I grew up to appreciate. I feel that Asian-American or Pacific-Islander families have huge faith in the future generations and do so much to allow them to pursue what they want. Being Pacific Islander taught me how to be prideful, strong and perseverant in everything I pursue. Bruno Mars was persistent with his talent. And for me to be a part of the AAPI community, it means portraying my family and our morals to the world, and to bring everything good to entirety of diversity and strengthen the whole with all the different qualities I have.
To get to where I am today I've had to work multiple jobs while attending school so that I can support my family, and get quality education, to pursue myself into the field of choice in order to start building the foundation of my future. I've worked since I was 14 years old and I was always expected to get a job. Although it was tough balancing out my schedule, I constantly reminded myself how fortunate I was to have a job and a supporting family.
Bruno Mars also had a supporting family and a blossoming career because of his talent. He's an inspiration to me because in the end, he was doing what he loved to do with the support and guidance of his family. My family expected so much from me and being the oldest of siblings, they relied on me. It's not easy balancing multiple jobs and school but I always try my best in every situation. I remind myself about hard work, how nothing comes easy and that I’m very fortunate to have a job opportunity and quality education, as well as my family.
Some of his inspirational song lyrics are “You can count on me like one two three I'll be there and I know when I need it I can count on you like four three two You'll be there 'Cause that's what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah” (Count on Me). This quote contains lyrics that shows his support for others— positivity. One of my favorite chorus is “When I see your face There's not a thing that I would change 'Cause you're amazing Just the way you are And when you smile The whole world stops and stares for a while 'Cause girl, you're amazing Just the way you are” This is from the song “Just the Way you Are” and he just talks about how she's perfect the way she is. I feel often that I have to change in order for people to like me or that this is what I should look like but these lyrics show that everyone is amazing the way they are.
Bruno mars is such an inspirational musician with strong morals. He went through hardships and struggles during his journey but never gave up. His path made him the talented artist he is today and I hope that someday, I find my peek where all the things I've done for others and finally pays off. He taught me about beauty, pain, love and how to make it through while still holding onto family and good morals.
Rheina Agosa, Sara Bak, Aretha Basu, Jack Cannon, Vu Cao, Malea Capuno, Aria Cha, Christian Cho, Jeffrey Choe, Jenny Nayoung Chung, Matthew Farmer, Sanjana Galgalikar, Abby Huang, Cedric ItH, Eunice Jung, John Kim, Lan Kim, Enoch Kim-Shinn, Tanya Kumar, Sam Huynh Le, Karl Le, Madeleine Le, Jodi Locke, Christine Ly, Kavya Magham, Richiel Sta. Maria, Allison Masangkay, Loralyn Narvaez, Jenny Nguyen, Jessica Nguyen, Sai Nimmagadda, Corey Pham, Megan Nicole Sampang, Leah Shin, Sarah Smiley, Sheldon Spring, Torey Tokita, Linh Tran, Susan Xiong, Tai Yang-Abreu, Jackie Yeh.