Celebrating the achievements of the global Asian community
As 2016 comes to a close, we take a retrospective look at the achievements of the global Asian community to crown Resonate’s Asian Of The Year 2016.
To say that 2016 was an eventful year would be the understatement of the year. Countless celebrities were stolen from us, Britain left the EU, a billionaire television star was elected as the President of the United States and most tragically, Aston Villa FC was relegated from the Premier League for the first time ever.
David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Robert Vaughn, Arnold Palmer, Gene Wilder, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Leonard Cohen and most recently George Michael and Carrie Fisher were all sadly taken from us this year, making 2016 the darkest year for celebrity mortality. As celebrities continue to age, this morbid pattern of celebrity deaths may be a sign of things to come next year.
2017 will also reap the repercussions of this year’s political decisions. Uncertainty will further plague European politics as Britain prepares for Brexit, whilst the rest of the world will anxiously watch the new POTUS implement his controversial policies.
And Aston Villa doesn’t seem to be scraping its way back into the Premiership any time soon.
Already, 2017 looks bleak thanks to the dire events of 2016. Nonetheless, for the global Asian community, 2016 was quite encouraging. Fresh Off The Boat’s Constance Wu brought Asian representation to the forefront of discussion, putting the spotlight on lack of diversity in Hollywood. Jackie Chan won his first Oscar after 56 years, Olympic swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first gold medal and competitive eater Matt Stonie broke 5 world records in eating gargantuan amounts of food.
To celebrate the diverse achievements accomplished by Asians around the world, the team at Resonate have nominated a range of candidates for Resonate’s Asian Of The Year 2016.
To be eligible for nomination, the candidate must be of East Asian heritage and must have achieved something commendable, notable or historic in 2016.
Although Constance Wu has already been starring in ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat for three years, the American Taiwanese star has made an even bigger name for herself within the global Asian community. In March, Wu publically slammed Chris Rock’s joke at the Oscars involving Asian children and a leading accountancy firm. She then continued to voice her concerns and views on the importance of diversity on screen with regards to the Asian community. “I wouldn’t say that just visibility is important,” she said. “I would say visibility as the stars of a show is important. That says that our stories matter. We’re not here to do the taxes of the white person, or to be the chipper best friend to the white person. It’s important to see Asians in those leading roles because it changes what I’m calling the anglo-heteronormative status of TV.”
Wu was incredibly vocal over 2016, becoming the go-to A-list celebrity for diversity concerns. Therefore when the trailer to Zhang Yimou’s 2017 blockbuster The Great Wall dropped in July, the community turned to Wu once it became apparent that the House Of Flying Daggers director had cast Matt Damon as the star of his Ancient Chinese film.
Wu released the following statement, giving the Asian community the voice it was sorely missing.
Can we all at least agree that hero-bias & “but it’s really hard to finance” are no longer excuses for racism? TRY pic.twitter.com/mvNet5PrtH
— Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) July 29, 2016
Until 2016, Donnie Yen was perhaps best known for his role as Bruce Lee’s master, Ip Man. 2016 showed the Hong Kong actor in a new light, thanks to his role in the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise – Rogue One. Whilst diversity in Hollywood is being questioned and critiqued, Yen emerged as a hero not only in his films but as an emblem of representation for the global Asian community. Yen proved that diversity can exist in Hollywood, giving Asian actors and the wider community hope and reassurance.
To cement Yen’s place in Hollywood as a formidable actor, the star was honored with a Hollywood handprint and footprint ceremony, forever leaving his mark next to movie star legends, veterans and heroes.
Undeniably the most famous Asian in the world, Jackie Chan was finally honored with an Oscar in 2016. After 56 years in the industry, with a filmography that extends beyond 200 films, the kung fu legend was finally awarded the prestigious acting merit in November. Although long overdue, Chan’s award symbolises the (albeit slow) progress in diversifying the Oscars. It’s a pushes out a positive message for Asian representation in an otherwise linear industry.
2016 saw the saw the release of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, which has led many to consider the director as ‘the next Hayao Miyazaki’. The 2011 Japanese earthquake inspired film has been praised for its emotional impact and its beautiful animation. Commercially, the film is the fourth highest-grossing film of all time in Japan and has recently become the second highest-grossing anime film in history, grossing over US$288 million.
Shinkai makes our list for his outstanding contributions to Japanese cinema and anime history.
If there’s one Asian film that deserves all the attention it received this year, it was Yeon Sang-ho’s Train To Busan. The South Korean zombie thriller set a record as the first Korean film of 2016 to draw in 10 million viewers, earning $34.3 million in five days. Resonate writer Anson Ling awarded the film 9/10 describing it as “so much more than a zombie film“. Whilst the film’s success cannot be entirely attributed to director Yeon Sang-Ho, his contributions to the film are unquestionably considerable. Yeon’s sharp and emotive directing undoubtedly enahnced film’s magnetism that captured a worldwide audience.
Many people will have heard of Aziz Ansari and his hit Netflix show, Master Of None. However, few would have heard of Ansari’s partner in crime Alan Yang who co-created and co-wrote the series. Yang proved himself to be irreplacable to the creative force behind the hit show and was awarded an Emmy for his creativity. Master Of None tackles diversity directly and Yang’s contributions to the series’ success are not only crucial to the show but also to the wider community that yearns for diversity on television. Few Asians are seen on screen and even fewer are behind the screen. Yang’s achievement is a gleaming example of the creative power of the Asian community.
Competitive eater Matt Stonie continues to stun the world with his bottomless appetite. Food and drink are essential components of Asian culture, and watching an Asian take the lead as the world’s biggest eater makes for an oddly proud moment for the community. Having already set a number of world records in competitive eating, in 2016 Stonie added even more record-breaking feats to his menu. This year alone, Stonie broke five world records for devouring the following:
- 41 cheeseburgers in 10 minutes,
- 113 pancakes in 8 minutes
- 10lbs of pasta in 8 minutes
- 200 peeps in one sitting
- 103 tacos in 8 minutes.
Kazuhito Kosaka (Pikotaro)
When Japanese comedian Daimaou Kosaka AKA Kazuhito Kosaka AKA Pikotaro recorded ‘PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)’, he couldn’t have predicted that his sub-one-minute ear worm would take the internet by storm. To date, the 51-second video has been viewed over 180 million times and became the shortest single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number 1 in Japan.
Following a similar pattern to PSY’s 2012 ‘Gangnam Style’, Pikatoro rapidly launched to fame and success, becoming an internet sensation and household name. For this incredible achievement, we are proud to nominate the Japanese comedian to be Resonate’s Asian Of The Year.
Prior to 2016, Malaysian-born Ronny Chieng was a well-respected comedian, providing entertaining stand up and light humour to accompany Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. However, in October, Chieng rose from comedian to community hero to Asians across the world; particularly Asian Americans. Fox News reporter Jesse Watters had just released ‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition’ that humiliated elderly Asians in New York Chinatown as well as inexcusably mocking Asian culture.
Asian Americans were outraged and demanded an apology from the network. The network responded by brushing off the incident, calling it “tongue in cheek”. Asian Americans and Asians around the world were dismayed at the entire incident and the network’s lacklustre response. As usual, complaints failed to attract a great deal of attention. Fortunately, Ronny Chieng stepped up to the mark and used his role on The Daily Show to slam Watters and Fox News in the most epic way possible.
Chieng tore the Fox News segment apart bit by bit, addressing Watters as an “ignorant sack of shit”, saying “hey asshole, they [elderly Asian people mocked in Watters’ segment] don’t speak English, that’s why they’re silent”. The cherry on the icing came in the form of Chieng conducting his own Chinatown segment, showcasing the versatility of the Chinese community.
Chieng’s rebuttal was the perfect dose of satisfaction for the Asian community, relieving their anger towards the Fox New segment by publically voicing their fury on national television.
They often say not to meet your childhood heroes. Not only did Singaporean Olympic swimmer Joseph Schooling meet his childhood hero, Michael Phelps, but he actually managed to beat the American swimmer in the 100m butterfly at the 2016 Olympics, clinching the first gold medal for his country. With a winning time of 50.39 seconds, Schooling has become a hero not only for Singapore and Asians but for the wider international swimming world.
Despite not being China’s best swimmer, Fu Yunahui became the most talked about Chinese swimmer of the Olympics 2016. Her sweet nature, carefree attitude in speaking her mind and general bonhomie earned her worldwide attention and brought happiness and frivolity to a world that was too engrossed in the competitive nature of the Olympics. Her priceless reaction after winning a bronze medal without knowing will go down as a highlight in Olympics history and will never fail to cheer us up!
Chan Hong Ming
Street food is loved by all Asians, period. Whilst the hygiene and sanitation of street food are often questionable at best, hawker stall chefs unquestionably serve some of the best food in the world.
Usually, Michelin stars are reserved for fine-dining, commending the restaurants the pristine presentation of their food and unmatched food quality. However, 2016 saw the first Michelin star awarded to a street food hawker stall. The chef of said stall is Singaporean Chan Hong Ming, who only charges SGD $2 for his special soya sauce chicken rice – making his dish the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world.
For any chef, the prestigious Michelin star is a career highlight and it’s about time Asian street food was properly commended for its quality. Well done Chan!
Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn became Thailand’s first to win the British open. Speaking of the historic moment, Jutanugarn said, “it feels great. My goal was to win a major so I am really proud of myself. I think this is very important for me and for Thai golf. I hope it inspires other Thai golfers. Now I have two weeks to rest and practice. I am really excited for Rio and to play really well.”
All of the Asians featured on our list have achieved commendable feats in their own fields this year and are truly inspirational for the global Asian community. As we fight for more diversity in the media, it’s fantastic to see those nominated excelling in their fields and positively representing the community.
After much deliberation, we are proud to announce that Resonate’s Asian Of The Year 2016 is Constance Wu. Wu’s approach in using her celebrity status to vocalise the community’s concerns about representation is not only commendable, but is also invaluable to a global community that is otherwise considered ‘silent’. As Wu bravely fights for diversity on screen on behalf of her fellow Asian actors, she reassures the community as well as actors who deem the movie industry as discriminatory.
The fight for diversity an ongoing battle and Wu has proven to be our warrior of 2016 who undoubtedly will continue to achieve great things for the global Asian community in 2017.