Gold House A100 list celebrates era of empowerment for Asian Americans

David Ono Image
Friday, May 31, 2019
Most influential Asian Americans unite for Gold House A100 celebration
From the tech - to entertainment - to Wall Street. The most influential Asian Americans came together for the Gold House A100 celebration.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- When Lucy Liu received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier this month, it was a celebration.

It happened on the first day of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, fitting as an Asian American actress gets her due.

But, while there are about 2,400 stars on the Walk of Fame, the number going to Asians including Liu is 12.

As Asian Americans celebrate achievements, many still feel invisible in the fields of entertainment, politics, sports and beyond. The Gold House's A100 list hopes to change perceptions, by honoring those whose work has had impact and influence.

All minority groups are underrepresented, but in the Entertainment industry, for example, Asians are the farthest behind with only one half of one percent of the stars on the Walk of Fame.

It's a sliver so small, it's almost invisible, as many would say Asian opportunities historically have been In Hollywood. It also explains a quiet, yet deep set anger within Hollywood's Asian community.

It's not about the lack of stars. It's about the lack of roles, plot lines and the honest portrayal of authentic Asian Americans.

Janet Yang is a legendary producer. She has had many hits. One of her biggest: 1993's "The Joy Luck Club".

"My goal in wanting to make that movie was simply that I just loved the book," Yang said.

Groundbreaking, because it portrayed Asian Americans authentically, and people loved it.

It is proof an Asian story can be mainstream, and make money.

But it was an aberration, not a renaissance. Hollywood didn't change, until the 2016 Oscars.

"That was the year .where the 'Oscars so white' became a meme, where there were jokes against Asians," Yang said.

It was a sad irony.

In an Oscar show focused on inclusion, the only representation Asians had was a gag featuring young Asian American children as accountants, a joke based on an offensive Asian stereotype.

"We all felt equally agitated and incensed and we decided we really need to do something about it," Yang said.

Meetings would follow. Yang found herself a seat on the governing board of the Oscars and a new attitude began to emerge.

Twenty-five years after "The Joy Luck Club," "Crazy Rich Asians" burst onto the scene, but this time more are coming.

"We are behind," said actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim. "That said, there's never been a better time to be Asian working in Hollywood."

Kim has fought this fight for years and says there's a deeper meaning in it all. It's a fight about acceptance, not just in Hollywood, but in "mainstream" America.

"We are part of the fabric of this country. It's important that we have stories like this to tell that show that we are not others. We are not foreigners. We are also part of this country and its history," he said.

Bing Chen is one of the founders of an organization called Gold House. He calls it a collective of high achieving Asians from all sectors of society, including Hollywood.

"We have to see something in order to believe that it's possible. In order for it to be possible," Chen said.

He says Gold House is made up of powerful Asians unifying to create change.

"In order to really thrive in society, you can't rely on others first. You have to rely on your own community to support each other and then grow from there," he said.

Influential Asian Americans talk to Eyewitness News during the Gold House A100 celebration.

We know that Asians are often painted as model employees, but not model leaders. That fallacy is why Asians make up only 3.7% of executive board seats at Fortune 500 companies.

"When you don't have a seat at the table, you often just build your own table," Chen said.

So, they're creating their own companies with great success.

"Pinterest, half Asian founder. Snapchat, one of the founders is Filipino. Twitch, the founders are Asian. Hulu, founder was Asian. YouTube, founder is Asian," Chen explained.

But what does all this have to do with Hollywood? Stereotypes: they are limiting and dishonest and unfair.

More visibility and authentic roles and stories in Hollywood help tear down stereotypes and lead to better understanding.

"I think it leaves a very, very deep subconscious impression on how you see the world," Yang said.

"We had an African American man on TV and film long before we did in the Oval Office," Chen said.

You can see the entire A100 list here.