By Erin Chew
Star studded attendees graced the gold carpet in celebrating Asian and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) Saturday in Hollywood. Entitled Gold Bridge, Gold House’s 2nd annual Gold Gala honored the 2023 A100–the 100 AAPIs who have most significantly impacted culture and society in the last year.
Held at Los Angeles’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a prestigious location where the Oscars were held in years past, AAPIs in attendance strutted their stuff in bling and creative attire, as well as Asian inspired cultural garb.
Honorees Ke Huy Quan (Academy Award-winning Actor), Sandra Oh (Actor, Producer), Iman Vellani (Award-winning Actor), Eva Longoria (Actor, Producer, Director), Neal Mohan (CEO, YouTube), Radhika Jones (Editor-in-Chief, Vanity Fair), Geena Rocero (Author, Producer, Director, Trans Rights Advocate), cast and creators of Everything Everywhere All at Once, cast and creators of The Joy Luck Club, Andrew and Peggy Cherng (Co-Founders and Co-CEOs, Panda Express), Lea Salonga (Tony Award winner, Disney Legend, Singing voice of Mulan) and Dominic Ng (Chairman and CEO, East West Bank) were present to receive special recognition for their transformative impact on culture.
Before the event started many of those present spoke with the media and shared their excitement, pride and love in being Asian at this moment.
Asian Canadian actress Sandra Oh, who was one of the Gold House honorees, expressed pure bliss in seeing how AAPIs have embraced their cultural identity and have created their own Gold Bridges and opportunities to change societal views, expectations and stereotypes of Asians.
“I am so honored to be among excellent Asian/Asian Americans who are being honored tonight,” Oh told AsAmNews. “However, we are just a small part, because Asians everywhere are now being seen and taking their own initiatives to make changes. We are achieving as a whole and standing against negative stereotypes by raising our voices and ensuring we are seen.”
Filmmaker, actor, and digital influencer Eugene Lee Yang definitely captured the wow factor with attire inspired by his Korean heritage and the idea of being in full bloom for spring’s golden glory.
“My start as a digital influencer with the Try Guys, has allowed me to amass millions of followers in the digital space, which has helped my career on TV to be able to confidently tell my story which is unapologetically queer. Who is lucky enough to say they can use their paid job to talk about LGBTQ activism, anti-Asian hate etc? Well I can say I do!”, Lee expressed.
Actress Sherry Cola, who will appear in Joy Ride, directed by Adele Lim, spoke about how she hopes her work and visibility can contribute to changing negative stereotypes about Asians and Asian women. Cola stars alongside Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu and Sabrina Wu in this comedy about friendship, love and the search for identity as they travel through Asia.
“I am all about breaking down walls and stereotypes! In Joy Ride, me, Ashley, Stephanie and Sabrina are the definition of stereotype breakers. For so long, Asians were expected to be silent and not speak up. Joy Ride contradicts all that and is unapologetic, R-rated and raunchy. All the racists and fetishists will hide in fear watching us!”, she discussed.
In a similar vein, Filipino Australian actress Martha Millan who is cast in one of the main roles in the Fox series The Cleaning Lady, talked about how this series has broken down negative stereotypes about Asian women and has also given Southeast Asian women who are normally invisible a huge platform and voice.
“Being on The Cleaning Lady, I have been able to live out and express my culture being Filipino and Southeast Asian. Our voices are usually not heard, and this show gives us this opportunity to showcase our strength, resilience and intelligence as Filipino and as Asian women”.
Actress Richa Moorjani, who is famous for her role in Netflix series Never Have I Ever, spoke specifically about pushing for more South Asian representation and to ensure South Asian stories in Hollywood are told authentically and not just be reduced to racial stereotypes.
“It is a proud moment when I hear South Asian names and stories which are told on a mainstream international level. But I want to advocate for more and I hope my presence can contribute to the change. I love Bollywood dance and I love showcasing my South Asian culture and traditions and I will make it my aim to continually do this.”
Actor Harry Shum Jr. who was part of the cast of Everything Everywhere All at Once, which was being honored at the gala, was emotional as he spoke about how he would never imagine such a layered and in many ways crazy film like EEAAO would be acknowledged across the board as the most awarded Asian American film of all time.
“I am literally lost for words. I am just so fortunate to have been a small part of a big film like Everything Everywhere, and this ride and journey ever since has been a bit of a dream. Who would have thought the entire cast and crew who are just about all Asian would stand in unity on the stage when receiving our Oscars, and tonight, wow – its just perfect”, Shum expressed.
Finally Neal Mohan, an honoree at the gala and the CEO of YouTube, briefly discussed how YouTube has opened infinite opportunities for AAPIs and Asians all over the world, to create a platform, make changes in society and be visible in front of millions of YouTube subscribers.
“I am hoping in my time as CEO of YouTube I am able to see more culturally diverse influencers use our platform to make a name and use it as an opportunity to change and contribute to society. YouTube doesn’t discriminate and we know that representation and visibility have made us a very successful platform, so we hope this continues”, he said.
The actual event itself was jam packed with the honorees being honored, performances, discussions and new initiatives being announced. The cast of Joy Ride (Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu) were honored along with the cast and creators of The Joy Luck Club (Janet Yang, Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, Rosalind Chao, Lisa Lu, Kieu Chinh) to celebrate their 30th anniversary, bringing everyone to tears.
Eva Longoria brought the house down with her commitment to join the Latino community to partner with the Asian community alongside a Who’s Who of Latino celebrities and leaders.
The interactive program of the gala also saw the return of Gold House’s signature Give/Get, where guests offered something to the community and asked for something they needed. Among other performances, talks and discussions, the historic evening included Netflix debuting a comprehensive 2023 slate of Asian Pacific content, including the trailer for the final season of Never Have I Ever. The awards ended with the presentation of the Gold Icon award to the cast and creators of Everything Everywhere All at Once, which include Ke Huy Quan, who had been honored with the Leading Man Award earlier in the evening.
An important evening for all who attended, spotlighting AAPIs and announcing initiatives which will help push for more representation, visibility, opportunities and platforms for AAPis to tell their stories and showcase their work in all different fields.
Happy AAPI Heritage Month to all!
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