To mark the start of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month as well as the 50th anniversary of the first recognized usage of the term “Asian American,” nonprofit collective Gold House has launched the A100, a to-be-annual list of the most influential Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from the past year.
The inaugural list features plenty of increasingly recognizable faces, including artists Bruno Mars and Kehlani, Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu and Awkwafina, as well as comedians Hasan Minhaj and Ali Wong. Jon M. Chu, director of Warner Bros.’ highly-anticipated Crazy Rich Asians (the first Hollywood studio film with a predominantly Asian-American cast in a quarter-century), is also on the list, as are Master of None co-creator Alan Yang and Forest Whitaker’s producing partner Nina Yang Bongiovi (Fruitvale Station, Dope, upcoming Sorry to Bother You).
Also making the shortlist is CAA Music agent Caroline Yim; and Robert Lopez, the American songwriter of musicals, best-known for co-creating The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q and for composing the songs featured in the Disney-animated films Frozen and Coco.
Asian Americans currently represent about 6 percent of the U.S. population but are the country’s fastest-growing segment, according to a 2017 Nielsen report, and as AAPIs expand their presence in culture, making a list like the A100 has become more than a mere headcount of semi-famous Asians. An emphasis was placed on those who “significantly impacted or disrupted society and culture over the past year,” which resulted in a forward-looking final selection. Thus, recently promoted executives like DC Entertainment president Walter Hamada and Amazon Studios co-head of television Albert Cheng made the cut, alongside Lisa Nishimura, vp of Netflix’s burgeoning original comedy and documentary division.
The selection process began with open nominations from 36 major AAPI community leaders as well as Gold House’s hundreds of Asian-American creative and business leader members. Ultimately the honorees were winnowed down by a multicultural committee that included Whitaker, Pharrell Williams, Michelle Kwan and Janice Min, media consultant at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and THR parent company Valence Media.
The A100 also features individuals who are proudly claimed by the community but who others may be surprised to discover are of Asian descent, including double EGOT winner Robert Lopez (part-Filipino), Comcast chief diversity officer Craig Robinson (part-Chinese) and model/Twitter master Chrissy Teigen (part-Thai).
“All too often, the impact of Asians in the worlds of media, fashion, the arts, activism and sometimes even technology is unseen or understated,” selection committee member Khai Meng Tham, co-chair and chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather, said in a statement. “The A100 uniquely cuts across genders, pan-Asian ethnicities, beliefs, industries and generations. I’m so proud of them and of Gold House for this incredible initiative.”
The full inaugural A100 list can be found at Gold House’s website. The 2018 class will be feted at an event this summer in Los Angeles.