2021 Anniversary Gala

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2021 Award Recipients

Claudia Lin
Community Outreach Award

Claudia Lin founded Legacy Maker LLC, after 24 years of working in the risk management, insurance, financial and legal industries. Lin recognized a need for a more holistic approach for businesses and entrepreneurs her founding of Legacy maker while concurrently serving as Senior Vice President at HUB International Insurance Services was a culmination of her vision and approach 

implementing holistic strategies and precise execution in global insurance programs, risk management, philanthropic giving, and financial planning throughout the world. Lin is deeply committed to helping others achieve their goals and leave behind a legacy full of purpose and impact. Claudia is a passionate supporter of Arts and Cultural organizations, such as Blue Ribbon at The Music Center in Los Angeles, Women Leadership Council, East Meets West Parent Education Club, and served as the president of Harvard-Westlake Chinese Cultural Club. Lin was also appointed to serve as a commissioner at Los Angeles County’s Arts Commission from 2015 to 2019. Lin most recently became one of the core members of Women Leadership in Philanthropy at Asian Pacific Community Fund, as well as the Asian Women Empowered program at the Asia Society Southern California.
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Crazy Woke Asians
Performance Arts Award

Crazy Woke Asians founded and produced by Kiki Yeung, (as seen on Asian Voices, Sweet and Sour Chicks, and upcoming Global Comedy Club on Apple TV), features the funniest Asian American comedians in Los Angeles. CWA had SOLD OUT SHOWS at The World Famous Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, The Ice House, Santa Monica Playhouse, sold out tour twice IN SEATTLE. 

Recently performed at Carolines on Broadway for The New York Comedy Festival. Coming soon: Crazy Woke Asians at Notoriety Live Las Vegas co-produced by Laugh After Dark Amazon Prime. The show has been featured in The Seattle Times, NW Asian Weekly, Broadway World, San Diego Union Tribune, Asian Journal, ASAM News and King 5 New Day Northwest and more. CWA partnered with NBC for the first ever All Asian Solo Performance Festival at the Santa Monica Playhouse. www.crazywokeasians.com
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Georgina Tolentino
Rising Star Filmmaker Award

Georgina Tolentino is an actress and writer based in Los Angeles working on various projects, including "Operation Blackbird" and a feature film called "Untitled Watsonville Project.” Born and raised in San Francisco, where she attended New Conservatory Theatre and later UC Santa Barbara. She worked for numerous production companies in Los Angeles.

before starting Urduja Films, which focuses on amplifying women’s perspectives and intersectional storytelling. Recently she filmed a short film called “No Dogs” co-written with Alex Fabros about the Watsonville riots that premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. “No Dogs” won the Audience Award and jury awarded the Petite Grand Prix at the Chelsea Film Festival.
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James Kyson
Film Media Arts Award

Born to South Korean Parents and growing up in New York City, James Kyson spent most of young years exploring biographies and fables from different cultures, and playing sports. After receiving education at Bronx H.S. of Science, Boston University and New England Institute of the Arts, his easy going attitude with an affinity for risk and adventure, set him off on a journey to LA with a single suitcase and an one-way ticket.

After honing his craft in theatre, music, and dance, his first television audition in 2003 landed him his first small-screen gig on CBS’s J.A.G. The following years, James, voted by TV Guide as “Hollywood’s 25 Hottest”, continued to work in television and film; Hawaii 5-0, NCIS: LA, HBO’s Animals, FX Justified, just to name a few. Other televisions credits include appearances on CSI, The West Wing, Heist, Threat Matrix, All About the Andersons and most notably playing super sidekick “Ando Masahashi” on NBC’s Emmy-Nominated ensemble series smash hit, Heroes.
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Kaanchan Farkiya
Community Service Award

Kaanchan S Farkiya is a social activist, beauty queen, former Indian television actress, Ms. Asian North America 2016, and now she is Miss WorldClass Ms. USA 2021. Currently, she serves communities as an educator, MMTC Board of Directors, Global Executive Committee IATB President California, yoga instructor, and Honorary International Brand Ambassador OXFORD EDUAERVE India 2021.

Kaanchan has been serving the community as a Judge for pageants, guest of honor for events.  She appeared on the cover of many international magazines and was honored as a RISING STAR from the Star Central Magazine from Australia 2021. Kaanchan is a part of a mentorship program established to help individuals focus on personal and professional growth with an emphasis on guidance, encouragement, and awareness. She has received many international awards and recognitions such as VIP Guest of Honor in a Community Hero’s Parade 2021, and Guest of Honor at IDYM International Award of Excellence 2021.
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Makani Kai
Cultural Arts Award
Makani Kai was founded in 1993 by a group of professional Polynesian dancers.  This group performed regularly at Sea World and throughout San Diego during the 90's. Later Makani Kai became a thriving Polynesian entertainment troupe completed with live drumming and a live band "Moku Kani". These days we are still blessed wtih a school that provides opportunity to learn cultural dance, and music.
Our members consider our connection to one another as a halau (dance group) to be more ohana (family).Instructors at Makani Kai are always learning from the best and striving to perpetuate the Polynesian culture with honor and respect. Haumana for life.  Always a student seeking knowledge. This is our path for continued growth. The love of dance, music and culture is our uniting bond. The foundation of aloha is shared.
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Marilyn Chin
Literary Media Award

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is the author of five collections of poetry, including most recently A Portrait of the Self As Nation: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2018) and Hard Love Province (W.W. Norton, 2014), which won the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. 

In addition to writing poetry, she has translated poems by the modern Chinese poet Ai Qing and co-translated poems by the Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu. She is also the author of a novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (W. W. Norton, 2009). She has received numerous honors for her poetry including the 2020 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, five Pushcart Prizes, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at Bellagio, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the SeaChange fellowship from the Gaea Foundation, the Stegner Fellowship, and the United Artist Foundation Fellowship, as well as residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Lannan Foundation, and the Djerassi Foundation.
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Nancy Kwan
Lifetime Career Achievement Award

Nancy Kwan is a Chinese-American actress, philanthropist, and former dancer who played a pivotal role in the acceptance of actors of Asian ancestry in major Hollywood film roles. At just 18, Nancy Kwan was studying dance with England's Royal Ballet School, when she was spotted by producer Ray Stark, who gave her the starring role alongside William Holden.

She followed it the next year with the hit musical, Flower Drum Song(1961), and became one of Hollywood's most visible Asian actresses. Born in China to a Chinese father and British mother, Kwan spent the 1960s commuting between film roles in America and Europe (including the pilot for Hawaii Five-O (1968)), but faded from view in the West, when she returned to her native Hong Kong in 1972 to be with her critically ill father. Divorced from her second husband, screenwriter David Giler, and with a young son from her first marriage to Austrian hotelier Peter Pock, Kwan intended to stay a year, but wound up staying a decade.
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Ova Saopeng
Cultural Awareness Award

Ova Saopeng is an actor, teaching artist, co-artistic director and producer with TeAda Productions. Born in Savannakhet, Laos, and raised in Hawaii he received a B.A. in Theater from the University of Southern California. He and his partner, Leilani Chan, are co-creators of community based theatrical works Masters of the Currents, a play about the Micronesian community, Refugee Nation 

a play about the Lao-American experience, and Global Taxi Driver, about immigrant taxi drivers. These critically acclaimed stage plays have toured the continent from Hawaii to Massachusetts. Previous works with TeAda Productions include:Kalo Projects, Native Immigrant, TeAdaWorks, Delicious Reality, Refugee State, all work that focus on highlighting the refugee and immigrant experience. He performed in the world premiere of Global Taxi Driver at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis and the west coast premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles.  He is an experienced teaching artist, facilitating workshops and creating performances with youth and adults from all over the world. Ova was one of six playwrights selected to write for Our American Voice a part of the Smithsonian Institutes’ exhibit I Want the Wide American Earth at the Japanese American National Museum exploring Asian American immigration. Film credits include Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean:World’s End, Love is Good, Burmese Refugee, Seeds of Hope, Go to Sleep: A Lao Ghost Story, Naikhoo:Teacher and WarSol. For more information please visit ww.teada.org or IG:og_ova
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Rasha Goel
New Media Arts Award

Rasha Goel is an Emmy nominated Television Host/Producer and International Correspondent. She has worked for networks such as CNN, ESPN, REELZ Channel, HBO Asia, as well as Facebook, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Disney. She has been an invited speaker at the renowned World Communication Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Rasha is a returning co-host for Dick Clark Productions 

Live Red Carpet Show for the Golden Globes and a co-host on the Shorts TV Podcast: Awards Season. In addition, she is the Anchor/Producer of “Star Talk” on TV ASIA - leading the way in providing content that highlights the South Asian diaspora.  She is one of the few South Asian American women who has worked both for the US market and internationally. Through her work, she aims to be an advocate for the representation of diverse perspectives. Recently, Rasha launched her talk show “RAW with Rasha” creating a space to talk about taboo topics openly. She believes in the power of healing and connectivity through conversation. She has now made it her mission to give a voice to those who may feel alone and isolated due to cultural stigmas. 
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Gala Emcee & Performers

Ariana Cohen

 A three-time Emmy award-winning journalist, Ariana Cohen is currently a reporter and journalist for KFMB-TV in San Diego. She started her news career in Topeka, Kansas as an Anchor/Reporter, then later in Spokane, Washington where she created her own entertainment segment called “The A-List.” In Tennessee, she won the Best Local TV News Anchor award from 2017-2020. 


Barry Cohen
Live Performer

Award-winning professional singer, musician, bandleader, & disc jockey/emcee entertainer, Barry Cohen has shared the stage as opening act for nationally known recording artists as Bonnie Raitt, Oleta Adams, Fattburger, Jonathan Butler, Max Groove, Joyce Cooling, Mindi Abair, Slim Man, Matt Dusk and Michael Buble. Barry offers ‘live’ classical guitar (ceremony), 'live' latin guitar/smooth jazz guitar (cocktail hour), ‘live’ pop/jazz vocals (dinner) and DJ dance music (dancing). 

Life Performer

Christine Lee, aka, ESAE is a self-taught producer, singer, and artist based in Los Angeles and Orange County. ESAE (pronounced ee-say) is derived from the first two syllables of her Korean name and means second generation, which is an integral part of her identity. As a second generation Korean-American, she grew up experiencing first-hand pressures and expectations that millions of immigrants and Asian-Americans in particular face, while secretly nurturing a genuine love of music and a unique artistry born from that conflict.

Makani Kai
Cultural Performance Group
Makani Kai was founded in 1993 by a group of professional Polynesian dancers.  This group performed regularly at Sea World and throughout San Diego during the 90's. Later Makani Kai became a thriving Polynesian entertainment troupe completed with live drumming and a live band "Moku Kani". These days we are still blessed wtih a school that provides opportunity to learn cultural dance, and music.

Crazy Woke Asians

Danny Plom

Danny Plom is an actor and comedian from Seattle WA. His parents divorced at a young age leaving him to be raised by his grandmother. His childhood was filled with comedy albums ranging from Eddie Murphy to Kevin James which inspired his passion for comedy. Upon graduating high school he moved to Los Angeles to pursue stand up comedy and has now performed in thousands of shows. Danny made his TV stand up debut on Amazon Prime and recently filmed his first Co star role on the hit drama Station 19 on ABC and Hulu.

Hank Chen

Hank Chen is an American actor and comedian best known for Life-Size 2, and Robin Williams's final theatrical release, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. In 2018, Chen co-starred in Freeform's Life-Size 2 opposite Tyra Banks and Francia Raisa. His casting concluded Bank's months long search for a "hot Asian male" to star in the film. He is an original co-founder and board member of advocacy group, OneWheaton supporting LGBT students and alumni from his alma mater.

Willie Macc

With has over 15million views of his standup comedy on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, Willie Macc, has become one of the few Reality TV stars to make it as a working actor and comedian in Hollywood. Willie has acted and can be seen  in projects like ABCs The Goldbergs, FX Snowfall, Meet the Spartans with Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Sorbo and more. Willie Macc now travels as a stand-up comic and you can see him frequently at the Comedy Store and Laugh Factory in Hollywood.