By Jana Monji, AsAmNews Arts & Culture Reporter
Saturday night at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, an array of award winners and stars accepted their induction into the Asian Hall of Fame.
The night included appearances and performances by Grammy Award-winning artists and 2022 inductees Hiroshima, Daniel Ho and Tia Carrere. Awardees included comedian Margaret Cho, Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Chloe Kim and actress Deepika Padukone, all of whom did not attend the ceremony. The attending awardees were unified in the need to respond against the recent escalation of anti-Asian hate.
“I started the Asian Hall of Fame 18 years ago in Seattle to uplift the Asian community,” said Karen Wong, one of the inductees. Yet the idea started in 1895, when her ancestors came to the US to help build the railroad. “They came to build a better future for our family and to contribute to our country.” It was her father, Robert and her mother Ruth Chinn who opened the first Asian American bank because Asian Americans could not get mortgage loans.
“Today, society accepts Asians because they need Asians, but the anti-Asian movement continues to escalate,” she added. “The Asian Hall of Fame is now more important than ever, because we need to show that our contributions are worthy and that Asian contributions come to life through our inductees.”
The mission of the Asian Hall of Fame is to educate the public about the contributions of Asians and Asian Americans to the United States and the world as well as to promote Asian artistic excellence and advance early career development and cross-cultural narratives.
KTLA Morning News anchor Frank Buckley served as the master of ceremonies at the Asian Hall of Fame’s first Los Angeles induction ceremony.
Other Los Angeles 2022 awardees included Panda Express founders Andrew and Peggy Cherng, culinary icons Diana, Helene, Elizabeth and Catherine An, comedian Haoying Summers, authors Joseph Bae and Janice Lee, animator and Tuzki creator Momo Wang, real estate developers Omar and Christine Lee, Purple Heart recipient Tammy Duckworth, NYX founder Toni Ko, and Artist Ambassador Ed Roth.
The inductee recognition was expanded to recognize international and indigenous leaders. The Artist Ambassador program is meant to accelerate collaborations by integrating non-Asian American superstars.
Andrew Cherng noted that they started with one store and now have about 2500. “Over the years, our recipe for success has never changed. First, do good. Take care of yourself. Help others to take care of themselves. Pay it forward.”
Peggy Cherng added, “We can all achieve if we stand together. it is more important now that we stand up against hate and continue to make a difference where we can.”
Monster CEO and founder Noel Lee, presented the award to Hiroshima. Dan Kuramoto said that “organizations like this can inspire us to move forward and make the changes we need in this country to make it the large and diverse country it was intended to be.”
Hawaiian-born musician Daniel Ho said, “I am truly humbled to be recognized alongside so many accomplished and talented trailblazers. I remember as a kid, growing up in Hawaii, I would surf almost every day. I would sit on my surfboard and stare at the spectacular Waikiki sunset and dream of one day becoming a musician. What I should have been doing was practicing my piano. When I was 14, I met Tia Carrere and we started making music together.”
After asking the audience to show appreciation for Carrere, Ho continued saying, “I believe that collaborations are a perfect way to uplift each other.” He asked the audience to think of ways of merging creative and ambitious endeavors to elevate communities.
Carrere reflected that her achievements stood on the shoulders of her great-grandparents who journeyed to Hawaii and worked in the fields of the plantations. “I’m so grateful that they taught me the work ethic as I’m sure all of your parents taught you. We wouldn’t be here today without them.” She thanked everyone who came before.
Hiroshima (June Kuramoto, Land Richards, Kimo Cornwell, Dean Cortez and Dan Kuramoto) performed in what will like be one of their last concerts after a duet by Carrere and Ho, performing from their 2008 Grammy Award-winning album “Ikena.” Carrere also won a Grammy for her 2010 album “Huana Ke Aloha.” Following Hiroshima was a performance by keyboardist Roth with Robby Krieger.
The Asian Hall of Fame was originally established in 2004 by the Robert Chinn Foundation in the Seattle area. In 2000, it became a nonprofit organization. Chinn founded the first Asian American bank in 1960 which helped to overcome the redlining of Asian Americans.
Wong, who is from the Seattle area and founding member of the Asian Bar Association of Washington, also noted in her acceptance speech that the Asian Hall of Fame will inspire the next generation of leaders and is proud that this is part of her legacy.
There will be a separate ceremony in Seattle for fusion reggae musician Daniel Pak, Soundgarden founding bassist Hiro Yamamoto, Asian Hall of Fame founder Karen Wong, the first Asian American athletic director of a Power 5 school Pat Chun, Robert and Ruth Chinn (in memoriam), Artist Ambassador Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, Artist Ambassador Danny Seraphine and first indigenous Inductee Virginia Cross at the Sky View Observatory. Mimi Jung of KING 5 is Master of Ceremonies.
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