Last month, I had the opportunity to interview five prominent Asian Americans for Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Read excerpted highlights from each below, or click through to read the full Q&A’s:
I’m very proud of who I am and my heritage so I have no issues answering questions about it. Early on it was frustrating when I felt like no one cared about my basketball play and only about my ethnicity, but as I get older I appreciate the fact that I have a unique voice and perspective. I hope to eventually be a strong voice to the world on behalf of Asian Americans.
We’re still trying to break down walls. We’re still trying to break down images — whether they’re created by someone else or created by ourselves — of who should do this, or who shouldn’t. And that’s something I hope will continue to disappear. People used to say girls shouldn’t play hockey. Well, that’s starting to disappear. It’s the same thing with cultures or ethnicities and who should be doing what sport. Well, let people pursue what they’re passionate about — that’s how it should be.
That was a big honor, to be a part of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on AAPI’s. The main message I wanted to share in my role there was that even though I am a mixed blooded Korean-African-American, I do care about my Korean heritage and do want to see how we can improve relations between the government and the Korean people living in the U.S. It was a great experience and a true honor to serve my country and my Korean community in this role.
At first, I just wanted to act in things. I didn’t really think about being or not being Asian American. I loved acting, it gave me something I needed, and I wanted to keep doing it and get better at it … I used to think, if you play it honestly, it will burn through everything else. People will see a person if you play a person. I still feel this, but over time I see some of the invisible obstacles, too.
[Glee] dealt with Asian American issues in an interesting way. In the episode “Asian F,” Mike Chang’s parents were against him pursuing the arts in hopes he’d take a more common and stable career as a doctor or lawyer. After the episode aired, there was an outpouring of stories that fans shared on Twitter with similar experiences. I think we are all familiar with this story but it was never a subject that was focused on on national television.