We all know the few who have managed to edge a foot in the door of the mainstream media: Margaret Cho, John Cho, Lucy Liu; they’ve done an amazing job of proving that Asian Americans deserve a place in this industry. But despite their hard work and success, there is still a very limited place for Asian Americans in entertainment. Of course we should still keep fighting for inclusion in mainstream media platforms, but it is also our responsibility to make opportunities for ourselves. We have to tell our own stories and make our faces seen, our voices heard.
That is exactly what creators like Anna Akana have been doing. She has been a leader in using emerging platforms like YouTube to get her own content out there, and it often shows the world her perspective as an Asian American woman. She breaks down stereotypes just by being herself in front of hundreds of thousands of followers. Though she explicitly discusses her experience and the unique challenges she has had to face as a woman of color, often, she just reveals herself as a relatable human being. She suffers from depression, she’s funny, she has a bunch of cats, and surprise: non-Asians watch, like and relate to her work.
Her experiences of having to fight just for a chance in this industry reveal how much work still needs to be done, but her success in getting her own content out there proves that our stories deserve to be told, and that we should fight to get them out there. Hopefully her rising recognition shows mainstream media outlets that they can and should take a chance on Asian American creators and actors, and validates young Asians in their experiences.