Our next year-end list comes from Kollab Blog Associate Editor, Lily Rugo. Lily is a 2nd year journalism student at Emerson College and a member of the Kollaboration Boston Team. As one of our youngest editors, she offers unique perspectives to the blog team. In addition to Kollaboration, she’s also been published in USA Today and the multiple Emerson publications.
In 2015, I felt that Asian Americans finally started to enter mainstream media, change the game, and take names. Fresh Off the Boat started this wave earlier this year, and I’m happy to see it spread out to new media, streaming video, books, TV and movies. This year more and more Asian American figures became everyday names and played roles that went beyond old stereotypes. Here are my top 5 rising Asian American names who helped Asian Americans break through in 2015.
5) Eugene Yang & Ashley Perez, BuzzFeed
As BuzzFeed begins to create more original videos and content, Yang and Perez have become some of the most recognizable faces for trendy videos, social causes, and more BuzzFeed content. Perez and Yang are silly, honest, and relatable and made waves in new media during 2015.
4) Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me? and The Mindy Project
Releasing her second book and bringing The Mindy Project to streaming service Hulu, Kaling had a pretty great 2015. As a fan, I usually think Kaling goes unrecognized for the work she does in the entertainment industry, but in 2015 that changed. Releasing Why Not Me? played a big part in that and it’s nice to see Kaling’s rise and talent getting noticed.
3) Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Mention Master of None, and the first question is “Have you watched it?”. One of the most popular shows of the year, Master of None made news with its cast, story lines, and how it resonated with millennials. I heard so many stories about how after the second episode, “Parents,” my friends were emotional and called home. Ansari made headlines for creating a show that was much needed, and shouldn’t have taken so long to get.
2) Steven Yeun, The Walking Dead
I don’t even watch The Walking Dead, yet I knew that something huge had gone down when fans thought Yeun’s Glenn Rhee died. From AngryAsianMan to the New York Times, the show’s plot twist made headlines and spoke to how important Yeun’s character was to the show and its audience.
1) Constance Wu & Randall Park, Fresh Off the Boat
Fresh Off the Boat’s debut earlier year created a lot of buzz and kicked off 2015 as the year for breakout Asian American talent. Despite some controversy and tweaks in the first season, I think the show’s second season really established its presence on TV. The kids of Fresh Off the Boat— Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, and Ian Chen— all do great work on the show, but for me it’s Wu and Park who complete it. Now Park and Wu are up for Critics’ Choice Awards, working the late night circuit, and on the cover of magazines. Only on the up and up from here, I hope Fresh Off the Boat is around to stay.
2015 was a big year for Asian Americans, entering the mainstream online, on TV, in movies, and more. Hopefully this momentum won’t stop and only grows until names like these become part of the norm.