Keep An Eye On These Asian Artists This Summer
Asian Heritage Month is coming to a close in a couple of days, however, that does not mean we should stop celebrating Asian achievement. From cinema, comedy, fashion to music – there’s so much talent that it would be impossible to highlight Asian creatives only in the month of May. Here’s a list of Asian artists to keep an eye out for this summer.
Alexandra “Ali” Wong is an American stand-up comedian noted for her two Netflix stand-up specials, “Baby Cobra” (2016) and “Hard Knock Wife” (2018). Wong has also executive produced the Netflix animation, “Tuca and Bertie” alongside Tiffany Haddish and is writing her debut book “Dear Girls”, which will be released in the fall. Wong’s comedic content largely deals with the ups and downs of motherhood (as a mother of two) and comments on topics from the perspective of an Asian female.
Ali Wong and Randall Park co-wrote and star in “Always Be My Maybe” which will be available for streaming on Netflix on May 31st. The romantic comedy is not only written by Asian creatives, but also stars two Asian-American leads in a rom-com. “When you have genres that have been around for a long time, like romantic comedy or horror, the thing that feels exciting and fresh is when you see people who haven’t normally been centered”. Along with Wong and Park, Keanu Reeves and Daniel Dae Kim also star in the film. We can’t wait to watch this film over and over again!
Prabal Gurung is a Nepali-American designer who has become well known for his red carpet designs as well for his activism. He uses fashion as a platform to promote and support movements, including #MeToo and #TimesUp. Author Janet Mock, a transgender rights activist developing a TV series on LBBT culture in Eighties New York, describes Gurung as “using his platform in a way that broadcasts messages of hope and resistance in [a] political climate”. Gurung is known for creating fashion statements that celebrate strong women and female solidarity. Earlier last year on the Vogue runway, he claimed that his line represents the “#pgworld” in colours of his home in the east while also presenting a vision for a future that is #StrongerInColour. For his Spring/Summer 2019 collection, Gurung is going back to his roots and partnering up with artisans in a Nepalese tribe to hand-embroider his designs. Futhermore, his cast of models were from nearly three-dozen different countries. Be sure to check out his designs this summer.
Yuna is a Malaysia-born Muslim singer-songwriter who has quickly made her name in the pop and R&B world. She’s worked with the likes of Pharrell and Usher and often speaks out about being a Muslim woman and staying true to her faith in the music industry. “I really like the idea of modesty. By the time I got into music, I was already wearing the scarf all the time… So I decided to keep it and find a way to work around it. I don’t see it as a restriction or limitation – I can still be me and get into music and be an entertainer”. Yuna consistently makes an effort to not conform to the normal women-in-music-selling-sex-appeal, but rather, uses her platform to talk about the biased beauty standards in Asia and wants to make modest clothes more fashionable. Check Yuna out and listen to her sing live on tour this July and August.
Charles Melton is a young Korean-American actor who has just starred in his first feature film, “The Sun Is Also A Star”, based on the teen romance novel by Nicola Yoon. He plays the male lead, Daniel Bae, who convinces Natasha (played by Yara Shahidi) that two strangers can fall in love within 24 hours as he learns that Natasha and her family will be deported to Jamaica. With the lack of Asian representation in Hollywood cinema (let alone Hollywood romance films), Melton believes that his role in this film is a step towards the right direction with representation. “I think the best thing I can do as an actor is to do my best work in every project I do and the next thing… Maybe what I can do will open doors for people like with what Bruce Lee did, what Jackie Chan did, what Jet Li did.” Make sure to catch Melton in action on the big screen this summer – we’re pretty sure you’ll fall in love with him too.