Congratulations to ACMA’s 2021 Award Recipients!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
2020 Award Recipients
Dr. Marissa Pei
Radio Broadcast Media Award
Dr. Marissa’s newest book “8 Ways to Happiness from Wherever You Are” has hit 8 Bestseller Lists including #4 Denver Post and #1 Amazon and 4 Book Award Medals, becoming the foundation to her Happy88 Mission, helping 8 million more people be 88% happy in the next 8 years.
Dr. Marissa, introduced to Oprah as the “Asian Oprah” shares her passion and knowledge as an organizational psychologist on radio, TV, online media and corporate stages worldwide.
Literary Media Arts Award
In her beloved New York Times bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the strong bonds between women. These books have been celebrated for their authentic, deeply researched, lyrical stories about Chinese characters and cultures.
Podcast Media Award
Hula Ramos is a former On-Air Radio Personality and Producer in his hometown of San Diego. He has worked over 19 years on various radio stations in San Diego including Channel 933, Star 94.1, Energy 103.7, KSON KyXy 96.5, and Sunny 98.1. Hula has become a widely known Filipino-American radio personality-becoming a beacon to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Community Outreach Award
Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice - LA serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice - LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.
Japanese Friendship Garden
Cultural Awareness Award
The Japanese Friendship Garden (JFG) is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama. It illustrates two cultures and creates an immersive experience into Japanese culture. JFG’s design is based on centuries-old Japanese techniques adapted to San Diego’s climate and florae and seeks to foster a relationship between humans and nature, providing a respite attuned to Japanese simplicity, serenity, and aestheticism.
Rising Star Filmmaker Award
Shaina is a graduate of the University of Southern California's Master of Fine Arts program in Film and Television production. She jokes that she is a triple threat (disabled, Punjabi, and a woman), and is a fierce activist for people with disabilities. At USC Shaina has developed her style as a director - bold, unrelenting, and quirky - and is focused on making comedies that promote diversity and inclusion.
Broadcast Journalism Award
From San Diego, CA, Sasha Foo had her very first broadcasting role in the 1980s and has since spent decades in the news and broadcast journalism space all over the United States. Sasha Foo was CNN's very first Asian-American news anchor–a breakthrough for representation on mainstream media. She most recently left KUSI after 17 years of unique and personable reporting and storytelling.
Film Media Arts Award
Based in Los Angeles, CA, Quyen Tran is a cinematographer and storyteller. Most widely known for her work on Pali Road (2015) and Palm Springs (2020). When creating any piece, documentary, or narrative feature, Quyen Tran makes the aspect of telling a story a priority above all else. For her ability to create such an impact through film media, ACMA has awarded her the Film Media Arts Award.
Past Award Recipients
Lifetime Achievement Award
Honoring an individual who has performed an outstanding service and accomplishment spanning a lifetime career in Television and Film.
Clyde has appeared in hundreds of roles calling for a variety of indeterminate ethnic origins spanning over 40 years including Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu, MASH, Magnum PI and Midway and Star Trek Next Generation.
Clyde was the first Asian American to be elected as the President of SAG/AFTRA, local Los Angeles Chapter and was elected the first National Vice President Los Angeles, an office he currently holds having been re-elected in 2015.
Excellence in Media Awards
Honoring API individuals namely Writers, Directors, Producers, Actors, Authors and Show Hosts for their notable accomplishments in Television, Film, Print and Online Media as well as creating a positive impact on the API community through original content.
John is a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist. He is the Executive Producer of the movie, THINK: The Legacy of Think and Grow Rich and author of Think and Grow Rich! An Asian Choice.
John is the Founder and CEO of AXIANTA Financial Partners, LLC. (AFP) and commands a sales force of nearly 6,800 agents, practices in 26 states, with all 42 offices throughout the United States. Additionally, John is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called “ALL FOR ONE” which provides child prosperity centers for children around the world.
Lane is a Sansei (third generation) Japanese American actor, filmmaker, playwright, and performance artist. His work often deals with Asian American history and identity issues. He is widely known for a series of one-man shows, including Life in the Fast Lane, I’m on a Mission From Buddha, Mifune and Me and others.
He directed and starred in the independent feature film, Only the Brave and has written and directed two short films about World War II veterans, Forgotten Valor and When We Were Warriors. Lane’s latest film products include two documentary short films called Never Forget and Our Lost Years.
Eric has been in the forefront of promoting Korean culture, music, and entertainment through Television Media in the US for over a decade. He is the founder and CEO of Television Korea 24, Inc, the first 24 Hour Korean network available nationwide as a digital cable service, currently reaching over 30 million households.
tvK, tvK2, and tvK-Pop are distributed by International Media Distribution (‘IMD”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast NBCUniversal, a leading provider of single language and multi-ethnic television programming. tvK is available throughout the US on Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox, and many other video service providers.
Bai is an award winning Chinese-American actress originally from Chengdu, Shichuan in China. Bai’s first major American film role was in The Crow (1994). In 1997, she played the lead female role, opposite Richard Gere, in the American film Red Corner.
Bai was named one of People’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1998 and has starred in dozens of films including Crank: High Voltage, Wild Wild West, Anna and the King and Southland Tales including TV shows Entourage and Lost.
Rising Star Media Award
Presented to an individual (age 29 and below) who have achieved incredible accomplishments and exemplary leadership in Media, while still early in their career.
A Filipino-American director, producer, and editor, Alexandra was recently named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women In the World by the Filipina Women’s Network. MSN ranks her feature directorial debut, ULAM: Main Dish as one of the “Top 5 Food Documentaries to Watch” now and more.
As a content producer and editor, Alexandra’s videos for BuzzFeed have achieved over 150 million views and over 1 million shares on Facebook. Previously, she has worked on films, television and digital content for HBO, ABC, NBC, Netflix, Hulu, Sony/Columbia Pictures, Participant Media, Walt Disney Imagineering and more.
Excellence in Broadcast Journalism Award
Recognizing inspiring API individuals in the news media industry who have made a positive impact in our community by addressing challenging social justice, diversity and civil rights challenges that our API community face.
Liberty is a 2x Emmy-winning Reporter, Weather Anchor & fill-in News Anchor for NBC 7 San Diego. Previously, she worked as a multimedia journalist for KCOY/KKFX, the CBS/FOX affiliate covering California’s Central Coast and has conducted several high-profile interviews including presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ron Paul & Newt Gingrich, world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, comic creator Stan Lee and media mogul Oprah.
Liberty is a dedicated member of Asian American Journalists Association or AAJA where she served as a board director for the Los Angeles chapter and currently serves the San Diego chapter as president. She was also awarded AAJA National 2017 “Chapter President of the Year”.
Excellence in Cultural Awareness Award
Honoring API individuals and organizations that have contributed to promoting the API community and culture through media programs and services
Peter is an award-winning fashion designer known for his colorful, flamboyant designs and originality reflecting the dual influences of his American fashion training at Otis-Parson with his experience as a customer in Hong Kong for television and Chinese Opera.
For over 3 decades, Peter avidly collected Japanese antiques and Japonaiserie to populate his retirement dream of creating a whimsical “Japanese Cultural Village” in an expansive 5,000 sq. ft. museum, boutique and event space designed to exhibit his collection and promote Japanese art and culture.
Eddy is a Thai American immigrant who was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. He has been in the US for almost 20 years. Eddy received his bachelors from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in International Management and he received his MBA from the University of Wisconsin, with an emphasis in finance. He is currently attending law school. Eddy has been in banking and investment for over 10 years and is currently working for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch as a Financial Advisor. He devoted over 10 years of his life serving his Thai community in San Diego and Southern California promoting Thai Culture. He was a principal of Thai Language and Cultural School in Escondido, board member for Toys for Thailand and BYU Management Society of San Diego. He was a co-founder for Thai American and Asian Alliance of San Diego and served as the president for 4 years.
A couturier and fashion influencer, Rohini is the most acclaimed name in promoting high-end couture out of India in America. An Indophile who spent the last two decades in the US, Rohini’s journey began in the mid-eighties in New Delhi where she mastered the myriad techniques of hand embroidery and rich embellishments.
Rohini’s career graph is indeed chequered and dotted with many accomplishments. She has behind her over two dozen befitting charities, myriad promotional tours and a host of Indian designer shows showcasing Indian haute couture.
San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute
Founded by Korean American couple Hojin and Hyosoon Park in 2009, San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute (SDKPI) is a largely self-funded, volunteer-based non-profit organization to create awareness of Korean traditional music culture in the US.
The institute focuses on teaching second-generation Korean-Americans to experience a variety of traditional Korean musical culture and often perform in various events to share Korean culture with other communities. Pungmul School performs in various cultural events and festivals in Southern California throughout the year namely Rose Bowl Parade, Hollywood Parade, Disneyland Parade, and many others.
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
Founded in 1996, the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum is a nonprofit organization that has since expanded to encompass three state-of-the-art facilities. It is funded by local and international patrons as well as the City and County of San Diego. The museum is dedicated to both Chinese and Chinese American history, which puts us in the ideal position to facilitate cross-cultural communication and understanding.
Excellence in Community Outreach Award
Honoring companies or individuals who have contributed to creating greater awareness and understanding about the API community and/or culture through community service and various outreach programs
Dr. Emily Letran
Dr. Letran is a High-Performance Coach, Author, Dentist, Philanthropist, Mentor, and International Speaker.
She is the author of several books. “From Refugee to Renaissance Woman” she shares her story coming to the US as a refugee at 13 years old, and her newest book, “Commit to Embracing Your Big Life” offers insights and strategies to building a strong business.
Dr. Letran is actively involved in community services, sponsoring multiple local schools and charity events. She created the Emily Letran Foundation dedicated to providing basic dental care to veterans and families of the disadvantaged background, including the monthly Free Dentistry Day, where she and her dental teamwork to provide free dentistry for the less fortunate in area communities.
Dr. Morgamhom Nalanchang
Dr. Nalanchang aka Dr. Gamberry is a certified Master Herbalist and is on the board of the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board. She currently holds title as MH, NC, HHP, NMD, and 5 Ph.Ds.
For the past 12 years, Dr. Gamberry has provided training on herbal studies and natural medicine to over 20,000 registered members in the USA and over 10,000 in Thailand. She was awarded ANMA/USA American Naturopathic Medical Association for three consecutive years 2016 – 2018.
In 2010, Dr. Gamberry founded Cancer Hope village, a non-profit organization committed to offering alternative treatments and inspiring hope for disadvantaged terminal ill cancer patients to get support and care during the last stage of life through an integrated, holistic approach with nature’s herbal treatment.
Founder of Silkroad Productions, Dennis Michael is the recipient of numerous awards, commendations, and recognition for his community involvement and outreach efforts. For the past decade, he has hosted and produced many cultural events and festivals in San Diego namely the Asian Cultural Festival of San Diego, the San Diego Ramen Festival, the AMP Music Festival and many other large community events.
Additionally, Dennis-Michael is known for his humanitarian efforts around the globe. He volunteered at an orphanage in Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand, helping to build a classroom; volunteered at an educational center in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, teaching English; distributed water filters where there is limited to no access to clean drinking water in slums and villages in Senegal, Kenya, and Tanzania as well as teaching supplies and school equipment to a poor school district in the eastern part Nepal.
Wells Fargo has been supporting nonprofit organizations that work to strengthen and empower communities. Using financial and human capital to keep the communities strong, diverse, and vibrant, Wells Fargo’s culture of giving back through volunteer efforts connects enthusiastic team members in the communities in which they live and work.