New Organizing Project blogger
Yep, I’ve got a top __ list of 2010, too. I couldn’t resist! A lot happened in this past year for Asian Americans and so I present to you: Joyce’s top 9 list of the most memorable Asian Americans of 2010:
- Far East Movement
No Asian American top ten list of 2010 would be complete without the inclusion of musical group, Far East Movement (aka FM). Having been active since 2003 and gaining steam with popular singles like ‘Round Round‘ and ‘Girls on the Dance Floor,’ FM officially broke out last year with ‘Like a G6,’ a fun, club-thumping anthem that introduced phrases like ‘gettin’ slizzard’ and ‘fly like a g6’ into the American lexicon.
To date, FM is the only Asian American hip hop (although electro hop is probably more accurate) group to have a number one single on the Billboard Top 100 and their second single, ‘Rocketeer‘ continues to gain popularity. The album, ‘Free Wired,’ features collaborations with well-known artists such as Keri Hilton and Lil’ Jon and is the only FM album to appear on the Billboard charts.
It’s super refreshing to see an Asian American group inject some semblance of racial diversity into the hip hop and larger overall American music scene. Their music may not be terribly original but it’s catchy, perfect to play for a night on the town and they always seem to be enjoying themselves. It’ll be interesting to see where they go next.
- Bruno Mars
I have no doubt in my mind that you’ve heard music by Bruno Mars that either features him as a singer, writer or producer. Whether it’s Flo Rida’s ‘Right Round,’ Cee Lo’s ‘F— You!‘, B.o.B’s ‘Nothin’ on You‘ or Travis McCoy’s ‘Billionaire,’ Bruno Mars has been seemingly everywhere lately. (Mars provided vocals on ‘Nothin’ on You’ and ‘Billionaire’ and co-wrote all four of the above songs).
Mars was busted for cocaine possession last September, but appears to have many prospects ahead of him. He’s nominated for seven grammy’s this February as a performer, producer and writer and his album, ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’ has peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200.
- Harry Shum, Jr.
Now, I have to admit, I’ve never watched an episode of ‘Glee‘ before, but I’ve been hearing a great deal about Harry Shum, Jr and his abs. I remember first noticing him as Cable in ‘Step Up 2: The Streets‘ and while his part was small, you couldn’t deny his great dance skills. Fast forward two years and now he’s a series regular on the hit show, ‘Glee,’ though his role was originally only supposed to last a few episodes. And gasp! We have an on-screen relationship between two Asian Americans! Granted, I’ve heard that the relationship isn’t taken all that seriously but I’ll take what I can get.
I remember thinking that I had to include Shum in this list when my coworker said, ‘I was watching ‘Glee’ last night and ohmygosh, Harry Shum is so HOT!’ Now when’s the last time you heard someone say that about an Asian American guy?
- Apolo Anton Ohno
I have to admit, I don’t know a whole lot about speed skating. But what I do know comes from watching Apolo Anton Ohno, a Japanese American short track speed skater. I’ll be honest, if a sport that usually doesn’t have a lot of Asian Americans in it, has an Asian American in the forefront, I’ll watch. And that’s how I got sucked into watching speed skating. I happened to catch Ohno on television while he was competing in one of his events at the 2006 Olympics and thought, ‘hey, this kid’s pretty good.’ (Bit of an understatement, huh?). It was great to see an Asian American face, especially one of his calibur, on the world stage and he didn’ t disappoint, winning one gold and two bronze medals.
I made sure to watch him during the 2010 Olympics and while he didn’t win gold, he won a few silver and bronze medals, totaling his Olympic medal count to eight and making him the most decorated winter Olympic athlete of all time. Not too shabby of a title to carry, huh?
Additionally, in 2010, Team USA had the young, Korean American Simon Cho on board, helping the US speed skating team win a bronze medal.
- Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin is currently playing point guard for the NBA’s Development League, aka the D-League; sort of like the minor leagues of basketball. Lin went undrafted after he finished college but was eventually signed to a partially-guaranteed contract with his hometown team, the Golden State Warriors, making him the first person of Chinese/Taiwanese ethnicity to play in the NBA.
Previously, he played with the Warriors and had moderate success. While it’s a little disappointing that he’s in the D-League right now, not all is lost. He’ll have more playing time than he would’ve gotten on the Warriors, and that means more time to work out the kinks in his game. NBA teams can recall players they’ve sent to the D-League (the Warriors already recalled Lin once, but sent him back a few days later) so here’s to hoping they’ll recall Lin soon and for good because I can’t wait to see what this kid’s got.
- Yao Ming
Okay so Yao Ming isn’t Asian American, per se. But there’s no doubt that his presence in the NBA has been influential in the lives of Asian American sports enthusiasts. Yao was selected first overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA Draft, has made seven all-star appearances and at 7″6′, is the tallest player in the league. However, his career has been plagued with injuries, causing him to miss quite a few games and forcing him to sit out all of last season. So when he was cleared to play this season and finally made his way back on court, things started looking up. But a recent ankle fracture has caused him to undergo surgery and sit out the rest of the season once again.
I remember hearing the news and my basketball-loving heart sank. Here is a tremendously talented basketball player, a symbol of hope for Asian and Asian American youth with NBA aspirations, whose body is turning against him and there’s nothing he can do about it. Yao says that he does not plan on retiring just yet but one wonders at how much more his body can take and if anyone would be even willing to sign him given his injury history. Regardless, he is still one of the most recognizeable players in the league and his impact as being one of the first ‘big Asian names’ in the NBA will always be remembered.
- Erik Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra, the first Filipino American head coach (not to mention the youngest head coach) in NBA history, has led the Miami Heat to 90 wins and two playoff runs in his first two years as Head Coach. And ever since Lebron James uttered those famous words, ‘I’m taking my talents to South Beach,’ last July during one of the biggest free agent classes ever, Spoelstra, whether he likes it or not, has been pushed into the spotlight.
James, along with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, now compose the ‘Big Three’ and, because of the amount of talent now on one team, are expected to make multiple runs at an NBA Championship. But along with all the attention they’ve received, there’s also been an intense amount of scrutiny, a fair amount targeted at Spoelstra: the players don’t respect him, he’s too young to know how to manage all these egos, his offensive schemes are too simple, etc. After a 9-8 start to the season, it seemed like the critics were right. But since then, the Miami Heat have won 21 games, putting their current record at 30-9. That’s right. They’ve only lost one game since then. Despite the fact that he coaches a team I despise, it’s been interesting to see an Asian American receive so much attention in the sports world.
- The Cast of ‘K-Town’
While this reality show has not yet debuted, the concept of a ‘Jersey Shore’ with Asian Americans, created a good amount of buzz within the internets last year. ‘Jersey Shore’ is an uber popular MTV reality show centered around Italian Americans (or as they’ve affectionately deemed themselves: ‘guidos and guidettes’) that showcases their hot mess escapades and drunken debauchery. So just imagine all of that, except with Tyrese Gibson producing and Asian Americans as the ones doing the drinking, fighting and hair pulling. Check out the NSFW cast reel here and you’ll get a good idea as to what to expect.
To be honest, I’ll probably end up watching K-Town because 1) I have an inexplicable love for reality television and 2) it’s a chance to see Asian Americans mess up for once. Not to say that this one show will completely dispel any and all stereotypes of Asian Americans being docile, nerdy and repressed but it’s something. It’ll be a chance to show American audiences that Asian Americans are not perfect. Far from it.
- Asian Americans Taking Over the Fashion World
Last June at the American fashion awards center in New York, three Asian American men were announced as designers of the year, a first for the Council of Fashion Designers of America: Richard Chai (Men’s Wear), Jason Wu (Women’s Wear) and Alexander Wang (Accessories). Later that evening, three scholarships were given to student designers and the recipients were all Asian.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the reason as to why Asian/Asian American designers are becoming so prominent within the realm of fashion. The New York Times alludes to it just being a matter of time before Asians started making a name for themselves in the fashion industry. RaceWire sees the knowledge of business and amassing wealth as the deciding factor. Whatever the reason may be, I love that Asians/Asian Americans are making names for themselves in an industry where you don’t see many big name people of color.
Now I know this list is not comprehensive by any means but, at least to me, these were some of the most memorable Asian Americans of 2010. Who’s on your list?
Photo credits in order of appearance: islavistaink.com, billboard.com, ladyobama.com, playingfieldpromotions.com, gocrimson.com, beat.bodog.com, zimbio.com, angryasianman.com, nytimes.com