The APAHM Project 2023: A New Chapter
Updated: May 16
*This post has been updated to change Days 12 - 16*
Hi friends! The end of April is here, which means that Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is just around the corner!
For those who are unfamiliar with what The APAHM Project is you can read about it in depth here. I can't believe I started this passion project of mine 4 years ago in my uncle's bonus room while I was staying with him during the national stay at home orders. Since then, we have watched 50 movies and 4 television series that either were created, directed, produced, written by, or starred an Asian or Pacific Islander American. If you asked me 4 years ago if I could even name 50 movies with that criteria, I would freeze and probably blurt out Mulan and Crazy Rich Asians. Never in my dreams would I have imagined we would have so many titles that I actually have an overflow list that could probably cover The APAHM Project for the next 3 years. And that's only if nothing new came out between now and then.
Thankfully, it seems like the momentum isn't slowing down any time soon. Hollywood has shown so much growth since 2018 when Crazy Rich Asians was released (of course, still having its occasional controversies *cough* HFPA and Minari *cough*). Not only have we seen more AAPI faces on our screens, but we have seen significantly less stereotypical and/or discriminatory AAPI characters as well. As a future filmmaker who has dedicated her career to the betterment of AAPI representation in front of and behind the camera, I am filled with so much emotion and pride. Every time an AAPI-led film or show gets critical praise and recognition, I am more and more motivated in my career. I am more encouraged to be part of the solution. A win for one is a win for all of us. We celebrate the success as a community, as a whole.
I have been working in film and TV since 2017. I hate to admit that I have faced microaggressions and harassment on most of the projects I have been a part of. It is no surprise that I am usually one of less than 5 Asian crew members on each project (keep in mind, most projects have 100 - 300 crew members). I can't help but be hyper-aware of my identity in these situations - the fact that I'm Asian, I'm a woman, I'm young. All of these things usually do not work in my favor. It can be extremely lonely and it can feel like no one can relate to how I feel in the industry. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting a battle for representation alone. Up until this past year, I have never worked on a project that amplified AAPI voices. But seeing this growth on other projects, I know I am not alone. Someone out there overcame all the insecurities I am feeling and they are out there doing the work so that one day I can walk on the path they helped forge.
Additionally, to my friends and community, I am somewhat known for advocating for AAPI representation and equality. I am outspoken about #StopAsianHate, I promote stories of AAPI success stories or injustices. I run this blog and this project. I have enough AAPI pride shirts to last me a week.
All this to say, it can feel very overwhelming at times to uphold this reputation that I am somewhat of a "go-to" person for all things Asian American. Growing up in Memphis, in a city where the population is 60% Black, I am often one of the only Asians people know. And there's a lot of pressure to be the sole representative of an entire ethnic group to these people. The things I do or say is how some people will think all Asians are like.
It is often difficult for Asian Americans to find a sense of identity in a country that once banned an entire ethnic group from entering its borders. Sometimes, it's even harder to find your own voice within your own AAPI community. Stereotypes restrict us. Traditions can create distance between people. Older generations vs. younger, American born vs. immigrant, the female AAPI experience vs. the male one are just some examples that I personally have struggled with in recent years.
That is why this year's APAHM Project lineup focuses on the AAPI identity. But even more, it focuses on personal identity. How does a girl who is so sure of her identity find approval in her mother? What about an aspiring Indian actor who wants to play non-stereotyped roles? A half-Korean American-born girl wanting to connect with her culture by going to school abroad? Or even learning the true origin stories of one of Hollywood's biggest stars?
I am so excited for this year's lineup! It was simultaneously easy and a challenge to decide what would make the list. This year, I am including two new television series that are premiering in May. I also feel this year's list is very balanced, featuring both a male and female perspective as well as representing East Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander voices. This year was a huge year for the AAPI community with the success of Everything, Everywhere All At Once alone. And I am so excited to see how it will kick-start a new wave of AAPI-centric stories in the future. But for now, may I present to you the official 2023 APAHM Project!
May 1: Young Rock, Season 1, Episodes 1-3 on Peacock or Freevee
May 2: Young Rock, Season 1, Episodes 4-6 on Peacock or Freevee
May 3: Young Rock, Season 1, Episodes 7-9 on Peacock or Freevee
May 4: Young Rock, Season 1, Episodes 10 & 11 on Peacock or Freevee
✨New Blog Post!✨
May 5: Whale Rider on Freevee
✨New Blog Post!✨
May 6: Crazy Rich Asians on HBOMax or Tubi (Free)
✨New Blog Post with Dr. SunAh M. Laybourn✨
May 7: Master of None, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2 on Netflix
May 8: Master of None, Season 1, Episodes 3 & 4 on Netflix
May 9: Master of None, Season 1, Episodes 5 & 6 on Netflix
May 10: Master of None, Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8 on Netflix
May 11: Master of None, Season 1, Episodes 9 & 10 on Netflix
✨New Blog Post with Nirali Patel Zalawadia ✨
May 12: Paper Girls, Episodes 1 & 2 on Amazon Prime
May 13: Paper Girls, Episodes 3 & 4 on Amazon Prime
May 14: Paper Girls, Episodes 5 & 6 on Amazon Prime
May 15: Paper Girls, Episodes 7 & 8 on Amazon Prime
✨New Blog Post with Jenny Lam✨
May 16: Skater Girl on Netflix
✨New Blog Post!✨
May 17: To All The Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix
✨New Blog Post!✨
May 18: XO, Kitty, Episodes 1 & 2 on Netflix
May 19: XO, Kitty, Episodes 3 & 4 on Netflix
May 20: XO, Kitty, Episodes 5 & 6 on Netflix
May 21: XO, Kitty, Episodes 7 & 8 on Netflix
May 22: XO, Kitty, Episodes 9 & 10 on Netflix
✨New Blog Post!✨
May 23: Everything, Everywhere All At Once on Paramount +
✨New Blog Post with Matt Groove ✨
May 24: American Born Chinese, Episodes 1 & 2 on Disney +
May 25: American Born Chinese, Episodes 3 & 4 on Disney +
May 26: American Born Chinese, Episodes 5 & 6 on Disney +
May 27: American Born Chinese, Episodes 7 & 8 on Disney +
✨New Blog Post with Adam Buczyna ✨
May 28: Chang Can Dunk on Disney +
✨New Blog Post!✨
May 29: Ms. Marvel, Episodes 1 & 2 on Disney +
May 30: Ms. Marvel, Episodes 3 & 4 on Disney +
May 31: Ms. Marvel, Episodes 5 & 6 on Disney +
✨New Blog Post with Dr. Kelly Jeu, MD ✨
These films and TV shows were picked based on the following criteria:
Written/Directed/Produced by an East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian or Pacific Islander American or
Has an East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, or Pacific Islander American in a Leading Role or
Was chosen by a guest!
Additionally, films preferably need to be accessible through popular streaming sites for easy viewing.
This list does not include:
Foreign films or shows
Sequels, unless it had a great significance
Yes, I also updated The APAHM Project logo! It needed to be simplified, but mostly because I lost the original logo's files :')
Out of all these titles, I have seen 5 of them so I am so excited for us to discover new shows and stories together! Last year, I admit I was not 100% satisfied with The APAHM Project. I didn't have time to properly write the posts with the amount of details and analysis as I would have liked. But this year, I fully plan to give this project the time and effort it deserves. We will be joined with special guests throughout the month in written or video form! And I would like to give those people a special shout out in advance. This project is very time consuming for one person to coordinate, design, promote, and write. Not to mention actually taking the time to watch everything! Their participation really helps to relieve me of some of these tasks.
In 2021, I introduced the idea of donating money to AAPI non-profits and/or charities and relief funds. In 2021, we raised over $250 for various victims of Asian hate crimes. In 2022, we donated $124 to CAPE. This year, donations will be split between PEAK - Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti and the Asian Pacific Fund.
Donating is super easy! All you have to do is Like each APAHM Project Instagram post. At the end of the month, I will tally up all the likes and donate half that number to PEAK and half to Asian Pacific Fund. So be sure to spread the word and share the posts! Each blog post will also have a spotlight for an AAPI owned business!
Happy APAHM everyone! Growing up, we never acknowledged this celebratory time at schools or in my family. So every May I am so excited to do this project and connect with people in my community and hear about their Asian American experience. Remember that your story is worthy of telling and no one else can tell it for you. This month and every month, we are proud to be Asian American.
Hashtags to follow along: #TheAPAHMProject2023 #BeJeubilant
Support, Follow, Diversify Your Feed: Year of the Ox: Ways to Celebrate and Advocate
Previous Years' Movie Lists: 2022, 2021, 2020
The History of APAHM: The APAHM Project: The 30th Anniversary