The mission? To “champion diversity by educating, connecting, and empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander artists and leaders in entertainment and media.”
The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, otherwise known simply as “CAPE,” saw its humble beginnings in the form of a group of three friends, television producer and executive Wenda Fong, publicist Fritz Friedman, and film producer and executive Chris Lee, meeting in the back of a Chinese restaurant in 1991. What these three wanted to create was a network of support for API (Asian Pacific Islanders) in the entertainment industry, and they did just that. Now, 22 years later, CAPE has become the largest and most influential gathering place for API. And, for May 2014, CAPE has launched a new project: the #IAm Campaign. The #IAm Campaign centers on AAPI Youtubers and entertainers in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The mini-episodes feature a series of success stories told by people like Wong Fu, Michelle Phan, and Steven Yeun, that illustrate their struggles as AAPI trying to make it in the entertainment field with so many racial stereotypes and expectations placed on them, not only by society, but by their families as well. Michelle Phan stated that her mother wished for her to become a doctor while her passion was for the arts, and Ryan Higa (Youtuber NigaHiga) explained that he chose to major in nuclear medicine simply because he’s Asian and it seemed like a fitting career.
Many AAPI are pigeonholing themselves into careers that others expect them to have rather than focusing on what they are truly passionate about. The #IAm Campaign aims to change this mindset in the AAPI youth and encourage them to pursue what they are interested in, not what they feel obliged to do. Which begs the question, what would you do?
For more information about CAPE and the #IAm Campaign, please visit http://capeusa.org/.