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 Edited by Alamin Yohannes

 “I think a lot of that great art hasn’t been made yet.”

Parvesh Cheena is looking forward to AAPI art of future

Tara Ziemba WireImage

Growing up in the 80s, Cheena says they were told to assimilate and be as “American as [they] can be.”

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Looking back at the art he returns to – it’s always American and often white.

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Parvesh Cheena

“There is not one Asian American, Indian American, South Asian American piece of art that I refer back to.”

Michael Tran FilmMagic

Cheena’s intersectionality meant looking for representation in a number of ways as a gay Indian American man difficult.

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He remembers Will & Grace premiering when he was in high school and thought of the show as a “link to freedom.”

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“And, I’m gay, so whenever it’s queer art, it tends to be Western and white,” says Cheena. “I am grateful that kids nowadays they’re coming out in elementary, middle school, they know their identity, gender identity, so it’s a different world.”

Mata Productions

While he notes the representation films like Joy Luck Club and Chutney Popcorn are important, Cheena is excited to see what’s next.

Disney Junior

He’s encouraged by what kids get to watch now, including Mira, Royal Detective, which has an all South Asian cast, including Cheena himself.

Disney Junior

—Parvesh Cheena

“We’ve always been kinda of not Indian enough, not American enough, but when I do look at the kids, I feel like they’re going to be making more art that is wholly Indian American, like solidly. I think a lot of that great art hasn’t been made yet.”


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