2018 proved to be a historic year for Asian representation in several different industries. For years the minimal representation portrayed on film for Asian-Americans capitalized on racial stereotypes for entertainment. However, the actors, directors and musicians signified the representation that many Asian-Americans have not seen much of, broke down those stereotypes by showcasing different Asian identities and cultures.
Let’s look back on some of 2018’s most memorable moments for Asian representation in film, music and more.
“Killing Eve”- Sandra Oh
Sandra Oh, known by many as Cristina Yang on the ABC hit drama series, “Grey’s Anatomy,” became the first Asian woman to be Emmy nominated for, “Best Lead Actress.” Her performance in the BBC drama series, “Killing Eve” earned her that nomination, as she plays the role of a spy trying to track down a female assassin. Oh was also named as one of Entertainment Weekly's Entertainers of the Year, and has been booked to host the 2019 Golden Globes in January alongside Andy Samberg, during which she won an award for Best Actress in a television drama.
“Searching”- John Cho
Directed by Indian-American Aneesh Chaganty, John Cho took the lead role as David Kim in the thriller, “Searching.” The movie is about a father desperately trying to find his daughter by tracking her digital footprints. Cho was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for, “Best Male Lead” for his performance.
After “BALLADS1” released on Oct. 26, the album earned the number one spot on the Billboard category for the week of Nov. 10 according to Billboard. Joji then was announced as the first Asian-born artist to top billboard R&B/hip-hop album charts.
“To All the Boys I Loved Before”
The Netflix original film was dubbed one of the, "most viewed original films ever with strong repeat viewing," as reported by Variety magazine. Netflix also recently announced a sequel in the works, seemingly in accordance with the three books in Jenny Han’s series. The film stars Lana Condor, a Vietnamese actress, and will be taking part in the Sci-fi series, “Deadly Class,” in 2019, continuing Asian representation into the new year.
“Crazy Rich Asians”
The film inspired by a novel written by American-Singaporean novelist, Kevin Kwan’s book became the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade after its release in August. Fittingly, the film kicked off “Asian August,” a trending hashtag due to the release of, “Crazy Rich Asians,” “To All The Boys I Loved Before,” “Kim’s Convenience” all during August of 2018.
“#AsianAugust has me more excited than I’ve been in a while. These are the stories 10yo me needed but that 22yo me is so beyond happy to finally see,” said a Twitter user recognized by the Huffington Post.
The film also featured the first Hollywood film with an all Asian cast in 25 years and pulled $238 million at the global box office. The film was then awarded a Golden Globe nomination for, “Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.”
Hasan Minhaj- Patriot Act
At first Minhaj had a YouTube series called "The Truth with Hasan Minhaj," that reflected his thoughts and opinions on racism in pop culture. The 33-year-old comedian is now making history as the first Indian-American to host a weekly talk show.
“Saturday Night Live”- Awkwafina
18 years after Lucy Liu was the first Asian women to host “Saturday Night Live,” Nora Lum, or more popularly known as Awkwafina, followed suit as the second Asian woman to host the late-night television show.
“I remember how important that episode was for me, and how it totally it changed what I thought was possible for an Asian-American woman,” Awkwafina said on the SNL episode she hosted.
BTS, also known as, “Bangtan Boys” have had a whirlwind of success in the states. When specifically looking at the past year, the band was recognized as having the top fandom community on Instagram, and the first K-pop group to top the charts in the U.S. with their latest album, "Love Yourself: Tear." The album earned BTS their first Grammy nomination ever.
Goulding became the first Asian cover star for GQ’s, “Men of the Year” issue. The 31-year-old actor also made The Associated Press' annual Breakthrough Entertainers list for 2018, alongside his, “Crazy Rich Asians” co-star, Awkwafina.
Constance Wu's remarkable performance in, "Crazy Rich Asians" earned her a Golden Globe nomination for, “Best Lead Actress.” It has been 44 years since an Asian woman has received a nomination for a lead role at the awards show, with Yvonne Elliman being the last Asian woman to receive a Golden Globes nomination in 1974.
"I didn't [think this would happen] because I'd never seen it happen to an Asian American woman before," Wu said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
Miss Philippines Crowned Miss Universe in 2018
Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray, earned the 2018 Miss Universe crown, making her the fourth woman from the Philippines in Miss Universe in pageant history to earn the title, as reported by CNN. Pia Wurtzbach was the last Filipina winner, who won the crown in 2015.
2018 was a great year for Asian representation across a variety of art mediums, making the past year a tough one to beat in terms of historic moments. But series and movies are already being renewed and having sequels set to release in 2019, foreshadowing another promising year for Asian representation.
Macey Rose is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maceyrae9.