UPDATE: Check out UNCVR’s recap of the special screening event in NYC here

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month and HBO is celebrating the occasion with a new installment of its “East of Main Street” documentary series. Initially premiered back in 2011, “East of Main Street” explores the Asian American experience through interviews with individuals who are making a mark within their respective fields. The latest installment, titled “Taking the Lead”, focuses on those within the entertainment industry. Directed and produced by Jonathan Yi, the documentary showcases the personal journeys of a talented group of performers including Lucy Liu, Daniel Dae Kim, BD Wong, Aasif Mandvi, and Russell Wong, giving viewers inside access into their lives and art, from their daily struggles to their greatest achievements.

As an Asian American, I feel that we don’t get fair representation on the screen, little or big. Outside of the martial arts hero, Asian Americans tend to be depicted as non threatening, brainy, and typically weaker than the rest of the characters. We’re the butt the jokes, we never get the girl. Even behind the scenes, there isn’t a strong presence of Asian Americans leading entertainment companies. I saw this firsthand whenever I went to industry events and parties back in LA, as I was usually the only Asian person there, and it was honestly disappointing. However, I think the blame falls mostly on us, for not taking the initiative to kick down doors and make our presences known. That’s why I really appreciate Eddie Huang for doing what he does, breaking the stereotypes with his endeavors like “Fresh Off the Boat“. Huang is the type of Asian American individual I grew up with; he’s the person I can relate to. As a culture, sometimes we’re divided because of our relatively short history in the US, and I think we’re still trying to build our identity.

“East of Main Street: Taking the Lead” will be available on HBO On Demand, HBO GO, and HBO NOW beginning May 1st and throughout the entire month. The special will also be offered on HBO’s YouTube platform for a limited time on May 4-6th for non-HBO subscribers to enjoy. Check out the trailer below and the full length feature (if you’re reading this before May 7th).



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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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