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3 Iconic Asian Actresses That Embody AAPI Month

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

The month of May celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While this month celebrates all Asian and Pacific Islanders alike, the initial occasion that sparked this celebratory event was when the first Japanese immigrants that arrived in the United States. The month also encourages the process of learning the historical importance of AAPI existence in the United States. To contribute to this month-long event, I wanted to shed light on the Asian actresses who encourage me to live my authentic self as an Asian American woman. 

Sandra Oh

I began following Sandra Oh through her role of Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy, watching every episode and bawling my eyes out when she left the show. Oh was actually one of the first Asian actresses that I followed, and her influence really prompted me to learn more about her life and what she was dedicated to doing behind the camera. Although not much is known about Sandra Oh as she keeps her life private, she has a history of activism, speaking at a Stop Asian Hate rally and encouraging people to reach out to each other. In addition, she has been vocal in her decision to stay childfree by choice, citing that she related heavily to her starkly childfree character, Dr. Cristina Yang. Not only does she reject the cisgender, heteropatriarchal status quo, but she is vocal about making crucial connections in dire times. 

Gemma Chan

Gemma Chan was someone that I had briefly heard of in the past few years, particularly through her iconic role as Astrid from Crazy Rich Asians. Once I heard of her activism through UNICEF and response to AAPI hate, though, I felt inclined to read more up on her and respect how she utilizes her platform as an actress. In addition to her work with UNICEF, I found that Chan has also advocated for victims of domestic violence. She even launched a campaign known as #StopESEAHate in response to East and Southeast Asian discrimination in the past year. Suffice to say, Gemma Chan is a busy icon, who continues to advocate for Asian and ____ communities alike. 

Michelle Yeoh

Similarly to Chan, I started paying attention to Michelle Yeoh through her role as Eleanor in Crazy Rich Asians. Once I started getting getting into shows and films that included her, I started adoring how dynamic she was as an actress, diligently taking on so many different roles that really challenged her skills. Yeoh has done so much throughout her career in activism that it could be a whole other article, but some significant moments to mention are that she is an ambassador for UNDP, she provided disaster relief as a Goodwill ambassador, and she openly assists in wildlife conversation through different organizations. 

There are so many different Asian and Pacific Islanders that should be highlighted through this month, and I intend to cover as many people as I can until the end of May. For the time being, though, it is important to recognize those who have and currently pave the way for the endless support, love, and compassion that each influential figure brings to the community. 

Kayla Batchelor

UC Riverside '23

I'm an English major that is dedicated to writing about mental health, entertainment, relationships, politics, LGBTQIA+ issues, and literature.