Jujubee, Jamie Chung, and more stars on AAPI art they want to see, from Asian pop stars to villain roles
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, EW asked Jamie Chung, Jujubee, Vincent Rodriguez III, Mary H.K. Choi, and other artists about what they want to see next in AAPI storytelling.
"More" was the overwhelming response.
"The answer is just literally everything," Titans star Chella Man said. "Every single individual has a story of their own."
The performers also got specific about what narratives and characters they hope to find on screen.
Since CRA, "people are more interested to hear about our stories and our experiences," the Lovecraft Country actress said. In particular, she's excited for "more romantic comedies featuring APA actors. And not just APA actors, but I really want it to be like a true reflection of our society, but have Asian leads."
Having seen Minari, which centered on a Korean American clan, Rodriguez said he's searching for Filipino families on the small screen. He also learned a lot from his experience working on the CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which discussed mental health, and he recognizes the need for Asian communities to confront the topic.
"That would be really important, one for the world to see," he said, "and two for the Filipino community, for the Asian community to see themselves on screen dealing with these issues that we often don't talk about at home or are not raised to have discussions about."
Connecting's Parvesh Cheena emphasized that he's eager "to see everything," from buddy comedies to short operas to "weird" performance art pieces featuring AAPIs. Similarly, Special's Punam Patel said, "I want to see us as agitators, I want to see us as villains, I want to see us as heroes."
And what about Asian American pop stars? That's what Drag Race fan favorite Jujubee wants for America (and herself).
"I'm like literally right here. I'm not saying I should be a pop star, but I'm saying that… maybe I should be a pop star," the entertainer said, laughing.
And while AAPI people can be computer scientists, doctors, and cab drivers, "We are so much more than that," Tiya Sirca (The Good Place) said.
"I would just love to see less tokenism and fuller broader depictions of AAPIs living complex dynamic lives as we do, and the fact that they are Asian American is just one facet to their lives," she added.
Or in other words, "stuff that white audiences have been able to enjoy for literally centuries," author David Yoon (Frankly in Love) said.
Choi, who wrote Permanent Record, looks to the film Shoplifters as an example of "multigenerational humanizing stories" that don't feel they need to "prove something."
"Never at any point in that movie did you feel, 'Oh I see Asians are Asianing, eating food and doing Asian activities and shoplifting in an Asian way,'" she said. "I would love to see stories that are almost incidental in their Asianness."
She added, "I want Asian stories to thrive. Honestly, I just want them to be referred to as stories, I don't want that burden to prove our own humanity so much. Because at a certain point, the onus of empathy and relating and identification is on the beholder. Some of that labor I think should be shared, if not picked up, by viewers just settling into beautiful, beautiful captivating stories."
Watch the video above for more.
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