Asian American and Pacific Islanders Share Their Inspirations and How They Rise

Wonder what and who motivates AAPI entertainers?

Ahead of the 2021 Unforgettable Gala, we sat down with some of your favorite Asian American filmmakers, actors, musicians and more. We got to learn about their influences, as well as a time when they rose up to succeed in a situation. Dianne Doan, Simu Liu, Sydney Park and Destin Daniel Cretton were among those who weighed in, sharing their stories of how they’ve reached their current positions in their fields and who they’ve looked up to over the years.

“It’s a whole collection of strong, Asian women,” said 88rising artist NIKI, speaking on the people who inspire her within the entertainment industry. “The first time I saw Ali Wong’s [stand-up comedy] special, that was the first time I was confronted with an Asian American woman just killing it in her craft. Seeing that was just so encouraging and empowering in many, many ways.”

Screenwriter Adele Lim, meanwhile, spoke about her experiences in overcoming obstacles. “Every single one of us in our community has had to rise up in various points of our career,” she said. “There were so many elements keeping us down and telling us that there wasn’t space for us, that there wasn’t room for our voices or room for our presence, and that we would have to keep breaking through and fighting every step of the way. And the reason we’re all here today, doing what we’re doing, is because we rose up on every single one of those challenges.”

Watch the full video above to find out more about these creatives’ inspirations, and watch the video below to hear how they’ve risen during their careers.