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Asian Pacific American Heritage

Notable People

Authors and Artists

Amy TanAmy Tan

Amy Tan is a Chinese-American writer who rose to fame in the literary world with the publication of her 1989 novel, The Joy Luck Club. Her many other works include The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001), and The Valley of Amazement (2013). The 1993 film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club was the first major Hollywood film since Flower Drum Song (1961) to feature a majority Asian cast.
 

Carlos BulosanCarlos Bulosan

Carlos Sampayan Bulosan (1913-1956) was a Filipino-American poet, novelist, and labor organizer known for his semi-autobiographical novel America Is in the Heart (1946) and his 1943 essay "Freedom from Want," among other works. His writings were rediscovered in the 1970s and have earned a lasting place in Asian-American literary history.

 

Maya LinMaya Lin

Maya Lin is the sculptor and artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her work also includes the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Maya's parents emigrated to Ohio from China in the late 1940s.
 

 

 

Kevin KwanKevin Kwan

Singaporean-American. Internationally bestselling author of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy (2013 - 2017) and Sex and Vanity (2020). The 2018 film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians became the first major Hollywood film in 25 years to feature a majority Asian cast. 


 

Adele LimAdele Lim

Adele Lim is a Malaysian film and TV writer-producer based in Los Angeles. In 2000, she got her start writing for Xena: Warrior Princess and has been active in the industry ever since. In 2018, she was credited as one of two main screenwriters for Crazy Rich Asians, and most recently she has co-written the script for Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon (2021). She is also known for her activism in the AAPI community and on behalf of women.
 

Viet Thanh NguyenViet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American writer and professor at the University of Southern California. His novel The Sympathizer (2015) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. His others books include Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016) and The Refugees (2017). A sequel to The Sympathizer, titled The Committedwas released in March 2021.

Activists and Entertainers

George TakeiGeorge Takei

Famous for playing Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series (1966-1969), George Takei has become a prominent voice for human rights activism. His more recent projects include the award-winning Broadway musical Allegiance, which tells the story of the Japanese-American internment camps through events from Takei's own life. His books include To the Stars (1994), Oh Myyy! (2012), and the graphic novel They Called Us Enemy (2019).
 

Margaret ChoMargaret Cho

Margaret Cho starred in the 1994-95 TV series All-American Girl, the first primetime American sitcom to feature an Asian-American family as its primary protagonists. In addition to numerous other film and TV roles, Cho is famous for her stand-up comedy routines, her writings, her podcast, and her political and social activism.


 

Hasan MinhajHasan Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj was born in 1985 in Davis, California to Muslim parents who immigrated from India. He is especially well-known for his Netflix show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, which has garnered him multiple awards. He has also made numerous film and TV appearances and was the keynote speaker at the 2017 White House Correspondents' Dinner. He has been featured as one of TIME's "100 Most Influential People."

 

Tamlyn TomitaTamlyn Tomita

Tamlyn made her screen debut as "Kumiko" in The Karate Kid Part II (1986), released her album "Sweet Surprise" a year later, and has since gone on to star in numerous roles for TV and film, including Berlin Station (2016-2019), The Good Doctor (2017 - Present), and Star Trek: Picard (2020). She is also known for her political and social activism. Her film projects Only the Brave (2006) and Come See the Paradise (1990) depict the lives of Japanese-American soldiers and ordinary citizens during World War II.
 

Ming-Na WenMing-Na Wen

Born in Macau to a Malaysian Chinese father and a Chinese mother, Ming-Na Wen burst onto the American pop culture scene in 1998 as the voice of Fa Mulan in Disney's Mulan after appearing in films such as The Joy Luck Club (1993) and Street Fighter (1994). She has also held starring roles in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-2020) and The Mandalorian (2019-2020) and was officially named a "Disney Legend" in 2019. 
 

Jason MomoaJason Momoa

Hawaiian-born actor Jason Momoa's credits include starring roles in Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Aquaman (2018), Stargate: Atlantis (2004-2009), Baywatch (1989-2001), and the upcoming Dune (2021). Jason made headlines for performing the traditional Maori war dance called "haka" at the Aquaman premiere.

 

M. Night ShyamalanM. Night Shyamalan

Born in India but raised in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker known for popular films like The Sixth SenseUnbreakableSigns, Lady in the Water, and The Village that often feature twist endings. He is also the co-founder of the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, which according to its website, "supports the grassroots efforts of emerging leaders as they work to eliminate the barriers created by poverty and social injustice in their communities."


Constance WuConstance Wu

Award-winning actress Constance Wu has played several notable roles in film and TV, including Jessica Huang in TV's Fresh off the Boat (2015-2020), the first primetime American sitcom since All-American Girl (1994-95) to feature an Asian-American family. She was also the lead actress in Crazy Rich Asians (2018), which grossed over $238 million at the box office and became the first major Hollywood film since The Joy Luck Club (1993) to boast a majority Asian cast.

Steven YeunSteven Yeun

Born in Seoul to South Korean parents, Steven and his family moved to Canada and then to America in the late 1980s. He is best known for his breakthrough acting role as Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead (2010-2016). His starring role in the South Korean film Burning (2018) received widespread critical praise, and Minari (2020), set for a staggered wide release throughout 2021, portrays the life of a Korean-American family in the 1980s trying to assimilate themselves into American culture; the film has earned strong reviews at preview screenings and film festivals.

Lilly SinghLilly Singh

Lilly Singh has made a name for herself in several capacities, including comedy, acting, YouTube broadcasting, and talk shows. Singh is well-known by her former YouTube username, iiSuperwomanii. Though she spent most of her life in and around Toronto, she moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and continues to release work through her production company, Unicorn Island Productions. She is also the host of A Little Late with Lilly Singh on NBC.
 

AwkwafinaAwkwafina

Nora Lum, better known by her stage name "Awkwafina," has become one of the most successful young rising stars in Asian-American pop culture. Her career began taking off in 2012 when a rap song on her YouTube channel went viral. Instantly recognizable by her husky voice, Awkwafina has starred in several major films in recent years, including Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Ocean's 8 (2018), and the award-winning comedy-drama The Farewell (2019).

Famous Firsts (Cont.)

Wataru MisakaWataru Misaka

In 1947, Wataru Misaka became the first Asian-American and the first person of color to play in what would later become the National Basketball Association (NBA). A "nisei" or second-generation Japanese-American, Wataru was drafted during World War II and became a staff sergeant. He died in 2019 at the age of 95.

 

Marilyn StricklandMarilyn Strickland

Born in Seoul to a Korean mother and an African-American serviceman stationed in Korea, Rep. Strickland became the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress and chose to honor her mother's heritage by wearing a traditional Korean hanbok to her swearing-in at the 117th Congress in Washington, D.C. on January 3, 2021.