Michelle Yeoh was honored with the SeeHer Award during Gold House’s inaugural gala on Saturday night. In a night that celebrated AAPI excellence and heritage, Yeoh said, “All women’s stories need to be told and seen.”
“I arrived here and saw the sea of amazing Asian beautiful faces and realized I’m not in Hong Kong, I’m not in Malaysia, I’m in freaking in Los Angeles, and we are celebrating each other,” Yeoh said as she accepted the award from directors Jon M. Chu and Destin Daniel Cretton, and producer Jonathan Wang.
She talked about the importance of women and representation. “Science tells us women outlive men. But even with extra time, we have to get a lot more done. If you try to have a baby after the age of 35, science tells us that is a geriatric pregnancy. While men are just starting their lives. God forbid you are a woman over 50 building something of your own.”
Yeoh’s words were met with rapturous applause in a room that included the cast of “Bling Empire,” Harry Shum Jr., Olympian Chloe Kim, ClassPass CEO Payal Kadakia, activist and politician Michelle Wu, and DoorDash CEO Tony Xu. Yeoh continued, “I work to ensure that the women I play are not just relegated to auntie stereotypes or the traditional grandmothers, and that includes Evelyn Wang.”
Yeoh called her “Everything Everywhere All at Once” character a superhero. She implored that many more voices like hers needed to be heard and shared. “We all have superpowers: kindness, compassion, empathy, strength and ambition. Women must have their own agency over their lives, careers and dreams.” She went on to say that women need to be encouraged to pursue success in all aspects of their lives.
Mindy Kaling was also honored with the A100 Legend award, which was presented by “Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.
“I like to write about complex women and some people label complex women as ‘unlikable’ because it doesn’t align with their expectations of how a character on TV should be,” she said. “Audiences have gotten used to tired Asian stereotypes, and with that it can be disorienting.”
Kaling, who wrote the film “Late Night” and TV series “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” talked about how her characters challenge stereotypes. “You want the people to be presented with a young Indian female protagonist who is funny, unapologetic, ambitious and yes, sometimes angry.”
She said she works to shatter the “exotic beauty” stereotype so often seen in Asian female representation by creating female characters who “get to be sexual on their own terms.” Kaling said, “I know that there are people within our own community who are sometimes disappointed that they don’t see themselves in my work. And I commiserate with them because I know firsthand the same feeling of exclusion, but the only way that changes is by continuing to create more and more, so that the onus of representation doesn’t fall on one show. Our experience is not a monolith.”
Kaling, who vowed to improve representation, added, “If I can be a leader of some of that change, that will be the honor of a lifetime. I’m still learning. I make mistakes, but once I know better, I do better.”
The Gala, held at Downtown L.A.’s Vibiana, celebrated 2022’s A100 List, which recognizes the 100 APIs who have most significantly impacted American culture and society in the last year. The evening was hosted in collaboration with Meta, to further a long-standing partnership with Gold House that honors and supports the API community through innovative programming — such as Meta Gold Talks — and brings together distinguished API voices in conversation, as well as trains API-led startups.
Throughout the evening, Gold House unveiled a suite of new initiatives to further its focus on uniting, promoting, and investing in API creatives and companies, including the Unity March. In partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, APIAVote and a dozen other major nationwide organizations, Gold House announced a historic slate of policies and an event in Washington, D.C., on June 25.
The company also announced Gold Storybook: Gold House, the definitive guide and resource hub on authentic API portrayals in media, based on years of consultation with every major studio, streamer and network.
SeeHer and Gold House also announced a major partnership to develop a guide called #WriteHerRight, focused on increasing accurate portrayals of AAPI women and girls in advertising and entertainment. And Gold House revealed Venture Network, a new vehicle for executives, cultural leaders, and founders to invest in sought-after venture deals, and procure prominent board director and advisor positions.