Arts and Entertainment

The Years in #AsianExcellence—A Timeline

A reminder of all the times Asians slayed in the arts and entertainment world.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Israt Islam

A reminder of all the times Asians slayed in the arts and entertainment world:


Connie Chung became the first woman to co-anchor CBS Evening News and the first Asian to anchor one of America’s major network weekday broadcasts. Chung worked as a correspondent for CBS in the early 1970s before becoming an anchor for NBC’s morning program. In 1997, after leaving CBS, Chung co-hosted ABC News’ “20/20” program with Charles Gibson with various guest-hosting stints on “Good Morning America.” Chung briefly hosted her own show, “Connie Chung Tonight,” on CNN, but it was unsuccessful. After a hiatus that lasted several years, she returned with her program “Weekends with Maury and Connie,” co-hosted by her husband, Maury Povich.

Besides Chung’s extensive work as a reporter and news anchor, she has also been both widely praised and criticized for her rapid-fire, no-nonsense interviews. After Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were fired from their news networks due to allegations of sexual harassment, Chung also opened up about her experience with being sexually harassed every day when she first started out as a local television host.


MC Jin, a Hong Kong-American rapper, rose to the spotlight with his seven-battle winning streak and induction into the Hall of Fame on BET’s rap and hip-hop show “106 and Park.” On the same day of his induction, Jin announced that he signed with the Ruff Ryders label, becoming the first Asian American to sign on with a major U.S. record label. Since Jin’s early days as a rapper, he has released popular albums like “Homecoming,” “Hypocrite,” and “XIV:LIX” while retaining his story-telling style of music. Even then, his individual songs vary, with singles like “Busta Rhymes” evoking Young MC and others coming close to a rap version of Twenty One Pilots.


Three-time runner-up of the tennis Grand Slam tournaments and winner of 34 top-level singles titles, Michael Chang, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. His professional tennis career started at the age of 15 when he became the youngest male player. At 17, he became the only Asian male to win a major championship, the 1989 French Open title. With over 80 games under his belt, Chang was extremely successful as an Asian athlete and led a new generation of tennis players like Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg, and Andre Agassi.


Nora “Awkwafina” Lum gained over two million views on her music video, “My Vag.” Lum has established herself as an enthusiastic rapper, television host, and actress. She has appeared in the film “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and has upcoming roles in the all-female spinoff film, “Ocean’s 8” and in “Crazy Rich Asians” alongside actress Constance Wu.

February 4, 2015

“Fresh Off the Boat” aired on ABC and became the second show on American network primetime to star an Asian American family since Margaret Cho’s single 1994 season of “All-American Girl.” The show’s first season focuses on a young Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) as he navigates being Asian in his new white-dominated neighborhood. His story makes for a hilarious sitcom that is all too true, with a strict mother trying to stay with her Taiwanese roots and a dad who enthusiastically embraces all things American. Like Eddie’s father, Randall, we too have always wanted to open up a Western steakhouse restaurant in Orlando named Cattleman’s Ranch. The show greatly appeals to Asian American audiences with its take on cultural appropriation that doesn’t fail to point out that we’re just as “American” as everybody else living in the U.S.

May 2015

Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei raised headlines with the extravagant gold gown she made for Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala. Guo graduated with a degree in fashion design in 1986 and from there found work in one of China’s first privately-owned manufacturing companies, Tianma. After leaving the company in 1997 and forming her own brand, Guo gained more success as she completed commissions for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, debuted her “One Thousand and Two Nights” collection at 2009’s China Fashion Week, and was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award as the costume designer for the 2014 movie “The Monkey King.”

Guo’s dresses feature elaborate designs with heavy, trailing trains or complex skirts that often incorporate the color gold and draw from Chinese culture. They vary from dark, form-fitting, and geometrically-styled to loud pieces following themes like l’heure bleue and most recently, forestry and roots for her Spring/Summer Haute Couture show.

May 2016

William Yu, a 25-year-old fed up with the fact that only one percent of leading roles go to Asian actors, started the #StarringJohnCho movement. The project featured John Cho, a Korean-American actor, who Yu meticulously photoshopped onto the cover art of several blockbuster films like “Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.”

Following Yu’s lead, Bonnie Tang, a New York City high school junior, started the #StarringConstanceWu hashtag and Twitter account, photoshopping the Chinese-American actress and “Crazy Rich Asians” star into movie promotional posters like “The Hunger Games” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.”

Despite film moguls’ claims that there aren’t enough Asian American actors to front major film releases, several Hollywood diversity reports show that the case is quite the opposite and thanks to Yu, Tang, and the Asian community, the topic of Asian exclusion from Hollywood has remained a persistent conversation since.

August 2018

“Crazy Rich Asians,” based on Kevin Kwan’s book of the same name, will be released this August. The film, directed by Jon Chu, is the first American movie to have an all-Asian cast and appeals to audiences with its references to “rich people problems” and the familiarity of Asian family culture. In the film, Rachel (Constance Wu) accompanies her boyfriend back to his home in Singapore but realizes that he is the son of an extremely wealthy family with crazy family dynamics and a very disapproving mother who doesn’t want her son marrying a “regular girl” like Rachel.