In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we asked folks across the industry who the first Asian actor you saw on television that they related to. Here’s what they had to say. 

Annie Balagot
VP, Content Distribution
NBCUniversal
“Growing up, I can’t recall seeing actors who looked like me on TV until college when Lucy Liu played Ling Woo on ‘Ally McBeal,’ as the only Asian American series regular on a primetime show. She was strong, fierce and brought Asian representation to TV. Although there is still progress to be made, I’m impressed by the strides my company, NBCUniversal, and the industry is taking—on and off screen.“

Mark Kang
SVP of Worldwide Distribution
INSP
“I remember watching ‘Enter the Dragon’ as a kid and being mesmerized by Bruce Lee. I admired this legendary hero, not only for his fighting skills but also for his fighting spirit, despite the pushback from Hollywood. Like him, I too, believe you need to fight for change. As an Asian-American kid growing up, I just wished there were more heroes on screen that looked like me to relate to.”

Pragash Pillai
EVP, Operations
Altice USA
“The first Asian actor that I related to was Irrfan Khan, who was born in India but has starred in many American films that highlighted Indian culture. Films like’ Life of Pi’ and ‘The Namesake’ both contained characters that moved from Asia to other countries. They show the hardship that comes with moving while trying to maintain your cultural heritage. The theme of growth as a person by embracing different parts of the world and the unknown still resonate with me today, and Khan was able to bring these situations and emotions to light through his incredible acting ability.“

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