AAPI Representation: How Do We Get Where We Want to Be?

A SeeHer Series

Jeannine Shao Collins-ANA_Cynopsis That BIg TV ConferenceThe Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is a diverse, complex, and multidimensional market of 25 million in the U.S. that commands well over $1 trillion in spending. Yet, AAPI economic power is often ignored. As we approach the end of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, SeeHer has launched several powerful initiatives to support accurate representation of AAPI women and girls.

In this week’s blog, SeeHer President Jeannine Shao Collins describes the efforts and their objectives and offers some personal perspectives on where we came from and how to get where we want to be.

Have you seen Procter & Gamble’s new commercial, “The Name”?

In this beautiful work, a young mother offers love and counsel to her daughter, Yeong Joo, as the girl prepares to start at a new school.

“Your name will make you feel different,” Yeong Joo’s mom says, “like they don’t want to get to know you.”

I can relate. My entire life, people have mispronounced my surname, calling me “Chow” instead of the correct pronunciation, “Shào.” In school, when we lined up in alphabetical order, I always was made to stand in the wrong line.

People refer to us as America’s model minority, but very few speak to us—the fastest growing racial group in the country–directly. AAPI women, in particular, have been historically underrepresented or stereotyped.

In response, SeeHer has announced new tools and programs to increase accurate representation of AAPI women in the media.  On May 22, we kicked off a partnership with Gold House. the leading AAPI changemaker community, at the first-ever Gold Gala, a historic gathering of 500 AAPI leaders and allies. The Gala celebrated 2022’s A100 List, which recognizes the 100 AAPIs who have most significantly impacted American culture and society in the last year. At the Gala, SeeHer presented A100 legend, actress Michelle Yeoh, with the first SeeHer award  for defying gender stereotypes throughout her career.

Both SeeHer co-chairs, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, and Goldman Sachs Chief Marketing Officer Fiona Carter, threw the weight of their organizations behind the drive, with P&G one of the partner sponsors of the Gala.

I am also pleased and proud to tell you that we will develop an AAPI #WriteHerRight guide, which will be a resource for marketers, creators, and entertainment executives to encourage authentic portrayals of AAPI women and girls. Our network partners AMC and Paramount are leaning in to provide support on this project, the fourth SeeHer guide in a series that also includes a #WriteHerRight guide for Latina-focused storytelling (in partnership with NBCUniversal and Telemundo), a storytelling guide focused on Black female characters (in partnership with OWN) and a general-market guide for writing female characters.

We also are creating a curated AAPI imagery content guide with Shutterstock. The SeeHer collection will show the full complexity of the lives of AAPIU women from all walks of life and professions. Finally, we have created a series of ongoing PSAs supporting the AAPI community. Our most recent, starring Gold Medal Olympic gymnast Suni Lee, is currently airing on Paramount.

Through these programs, we hope to help bride a gap in AAPI representation. People assume they can reach us through general media because we are assimilated and we flow to the top demographically, but there is no AAPI-focused, centralized media resource around which to coalesce. There is no AAPI version of OWN or Univision.  That makes it even more imperative for SeeHer to help marketers and creators learn how to speak to AAPI consumers specifically.

When I was a kid growing up outside of Washington, D.C., I wanted to be Connie Chung. So, I was living “If you can see her, you can be her” years before I came to SeeHer. And I can’t wait to see what we will become.

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