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  • Writer's pictureLauren

The APAHM Project 2024: A New Wave

Updated: May 9

Happy May!! May signifies many things here in the US: summer is quickly approaching, the end of school, an influx in Justin Timberlake related memes, and, of course, the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

For those unfamiliar, in 2020 I started a passion project called The APAHM Project. The goal was to show that maybe there were more movies that represented AAPI groups than we thought while simultaneously diversifying people's content to help combat Asian-related hate crimes that were increasing due to the COVID-19 virus.

Over the last four years, we have achieved so many things. We have connected people and their stories, raised money for various organizations, met new people, started conversations, and of course, watched a lot of movies.

55 movies watched

10 television series viewed

13 interviews recorded

Over $1,389.00 raised

As always, selecting this year's lineup was a difficult task. Throughout 2023, I kept a list on my phone of any and every movie or TV show that may qualify for the APAHM Project. However, only two of those titles made the final list. It is interesting to see that there were so many shows or movies out there that I had never heard of or realized had an AAPI attachment. I truly think you are going to love this year's lineup. The goal was to not only equally represent East Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, and immigrant stories, but also to emphasize the theme of defying expectations.

When designing this year's social media assets. I landed on the theme of water. This reminded me of the famous quote by Bruce Lee:

"Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

This part of the quote is what most people are probably used to hearing. But it wasn't until I was pulling resources for this post that I found the beginning of the quote, which I never heard before:

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves."

Lee's words are not just advice to literally go with the flow, but also a guide to survival. Adapting and assimilating is a way that Asian Americans are able to be accepted in America. By adopting more western traits, hobbies, accents, etc. we have an easier time belonging. However, there will always be people who do not see us as American. And in those moments, it is important to remember that we are both. We are Asian AND American. And that is what makes us special. We can become the teacup but we can't forget that we are also the tea. We honor our traditions and culture, and bring that with us into our American identity as well.

Additionally, the theme of water relates to the overall theme of this year's movie picks: defying expectations. Water is often seen as calm and gentle, healing and beautiful. But water takes many forms; monsoons, floods, crashing waves that erode the strongest mountain side. It is not always what you assume it to be. Just like the characters in these movies and shows. They are constantly being told what they are or are not. What they can or cannot do. The characters must choose to listen to what those around them are saying or to listen to that voice in their head. They are enough. Asian enough, American enough, woman enough, strong enough, smart enough. Our value is not defined by other people's opinions, but how we choose to represent ourselves.

Day 1: Elemental on Disney +

✨New Blog Post!✨

Day 2: The Brothers Sun, Episode 1 on Netflix

Day 3: The Brothers Sun, Episode 2 on Netflix

Day 4: The Brothers Sun, Episode 3 on Netflix

Day 5: The Brothers Sun, Episode 4 on Netflix

Day 6: The Brothers Sun, Episode 5 on Netflix

Day 7: The Brothers Sun, Episode 6 on Netflix

Day 8: The Brothers Sun, Episode 7 on Netflix

Day 9: The Brothers Sun, Episode 8 on Netflix

✨New Blog Post!✨

Day 10: Wedding Season on Netflix

✨New Blog Post!✨

*Day 11: We Are Lady Parts, Episodes 1, 2, & 3 on Peacock

*Day 12: We Are Lady Parts, Episodes 4, 5, & 6 on Peacock

✨New Blog Post!✨

*Day 13: Polite Society on Amazon Prime

✨New Blog Post!✨

*Day 14: Cousins on Netflix

✨New Blog Post!✨

*Day 15: The Night Agent, Episode 1 on Netflix

*Day 16: The Night Agent, Episode 2 on Netflix

*Day 17: The Night Agent, Episode 3 on Netflix

*Day 18: The Night Agent, Episode 4 on Netflix

*Day 19: The Night Agent, Episode 5 on Netflix

*Day 20: The Night Agent, Episode 6 on Netflix

*Day 21: The Night Agent, Episode 7 on Netflix

*Day 22: The Night Agent, Episode 8 on Netflix

*Day 23: The Night Agent, Episode 9 on Netflix

*Day 24: The Night Agent, Episode 10 on Netflix

✨New Blog Post!✨

Day 25: Minari on Netflix

✨New Blog Post!✨

Day 26: Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1 Episodes 1 & 2 on Hulu

Day 27: Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1 Episodes 3 & 4 on Hulu

Day 28: Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1 Episodes 5 & 6 on Hulu

Day 29: Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1 Episodes 7 & 8 on Hulu

Day 30: Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1 Episodes 9 & 10 on Hulu

Day 31: Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1 Episodes 11, 12, & 13 on Hulu

✨New Blog Post!✨

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 (*this title does not fit the criteria of actors being American)

  • 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

According to an article reported by NextShark, if Hollywood improves AAPI representation in movies, they could gain $2 billion to $4.4 billion in revenue. Per the article, Asian Americans spend less money than other racial groups on entertainment costs. However, 500 out of 1,000 people surveyed would spend money on shows or movies if they felt they were properly represented. Only 30% of those surveyed felt represented in American media. The article also cites that many AAPI stories are either action movies and animation. While we only have one animated film on the lineup, there were 2 others in consideration. However, 18 out of 31 of our days are filled with action shows.

Imagine a day where one day, it will be considered normal to have stories told about people who look like us. Talk like us, eat food like us. Imagine a day where we no longer have to have surveys such as this. A day where we no longer have to add the modifier "Asian American" to names or titles. Where being represented is no longer a novel idea.

The last 3 years, we have mentioned some cool AAPI-owned small businesses and raised money for worthy organizations who are either combating AAPI hate or uplifting AAPI voices. This year, for every Instagram like we receive over the 31 days, I will personally match in donations to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. 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 to the Lahaina Restoration 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!

I visited Maui for the first time in 2023 and one of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting the Wo Hing Temple Museum. There I met Dr. Busaba Yip, the director of the museum. She sold my family beautiful jade pieces, explaining what the different colors meant and allowed us to explore the temple upstairs, which she had decorated for the Year of the Rabbit. You could tell that Dr. Yip was passionate about her work at the museum and, as an extension, the rich history of Asians in Hawaii. When I learned of the Lahaina fires, I immediately thought of Dr. Yip and her temple. The artifacts, the printouts of her thesis, the jade pieces, and art prints of the Museum that her granddaughter painted. But I know that Dr. Yip will find a way to bring back the history for people to learn. Through her dedication, she will ensure that the history does not die with the burning of the museum. At least 101 people lost their lives in August of 2023. Many lost their homes and businesses, several were injured. I hope that we are able to raise many donations for the people of Lahaina through this year's project.

Cheers to another APAHM! I implore you to expand your world by reading books, watching movies and shows, asking your family to tell you their stories, eating new foods from other Asian cultures, and get involved with your local community's events! And remember, be water, my friends!

Hashtags to follow along: #TheAPAHMProject2024 #BeJeubilant

Support, Follow, Diversify Your Feed: Year of the Ox: Ways to Celebrate and Advocate 

Previous Years' Movie Lists: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020 

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