By Kanika Lal
It was an evening to celebrate, and to contemplate.
The nation’s first Asian American theater organization – East West Players – held their 51st Anniversary Visionary Awards and Silent Auction at the Hilton Universal in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 24.
The pioneers of Hollywood’s multicultural scene came out to support each other’s achievements as well as reflect on the progress the industry is making towards diversity.
An honoree of the evening and star of Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD Chloe Bennet believes there is still ways to go.
“We have so much work to do in terms of our representation in media – until people are getting cast in parts because they’re right for it and not because of what they look like, I think that’s the most important thing,” the 25-year-old actress told AsAmNews.
Fresh Off The Boat star Randall Park – who was also honored and who has been a longtime supporter of the theater – had a similar opinion.
“I think we have a long way to go still,’ telling AsAm. “This is a unique time…now more than ever there is a rise in consciousness, and people are more aware it’s a problem. It’s an exciting time.”
Dr. Ken’s Ken Jeong, the third honoree of the night, expressed his excitement to be with his fellow cast mates and friends – whom he first met at East West Players in 2003.
“I remember the first time I saw a play at East West…I thought ‘this is magical,’” he told AsAm. “Ironically, at the after party, I met and hung out with Randall. Now to be here in this context and have the cast of Dr. Ken and Fresh Off The Boat, it’s so surreal and sublime.”
And the doctor-turned-actor, who is known for his memorable appearance in The Hangover, is taking the reigns as not only star of his own ABC show, but also as executive producer.
“I never had a say, so this is a learning curve and responsibility that has changed my professional life. I look at everything now with a different lens. This little humble, multi-camera job has been the most fulfilling last two years of my professional life.”
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Vincent Rodriguez III hosted the event along with co-star Tess Paras and Outsourced actor Parvesh Cheena.
Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Suzy Nakamura, Krista Marie Yu, Reggie Lee, Melvin Mar and Julianne Aurora were also among the star-studded guests.
Take a look at AsAm News’coverage of East West Players Visionary Awards Red Carpet.