Asian Americans as Storytellers in the Media

cover image that reads asian americans as storytellers in the media

During the month of May we take the time to reflect and celebrate the rich history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. While this observance serves as a great way to amplify this community, these stories are often overlooked and underrepresented.  

The power of storytelling creates a combined collective of narratives that so many can relate to. After frustrations with the lack of representation in the media, Katerina Jeng and Krystie Mak co-founded Slant’d Media, which works to empower AAPI creative endeavors, publish stories, and build community and space for one another.  

Their Ted Talk, “Redefining Asian American Narratives through Storytelling,” is a compelling piece on how their own personal stories of being marginalized for their race made an impact on their lives today.  Since 2017, they’ve hosted countless community gatherings, workshops, classes, and worked with over 1000+ AAPI creatives across the United States. 

However, the perception and identity of the diaspora has shifted due to the rise in hate crimes and violence against the Asian American community that surged during the pandemic. 

According to a study led by the Stop AAPI Hate Center in 2021, nearly “1900 hate crimes against Asian Americans were reported by victims, and around 69% of cases were related to verbal harassment.” 

That same year, Vietnamese American filmmaker, Lucia Tran shared her neighbor’s story on Instagram and was able to help raise enough money for groceries and rent after learning his hours at work were cut & that he did not qualify for benefits as an undocumented immigrant. Tran said in the Washington Post “That’s the power of storytelling and social media, to shine light on stories that are so often ignored, even if it’s in front of our faces...”  

Tran went on to collaborate with director Natasha Lee to create the short film, “In the Visible” featuring prominent Asian American and Pacific Islander voices. Her vision for the film was to “embolden the AAPI community to speak out.”  

While storytellers take many forms, how are brands and companies working towards inclusion? 

According to Getty, “three in five Asian Americans currently do not see themselves represented in media and advertising, and 35% of media representations of Asian American communities includes at least one stereotype.” Getty recently launched a new initiative to continue improving their visual representations of Asian Americans by providing an accessible toolkit featuring curated boards of Asian Americans in creative and archival imagery.  

Furthermore, Medium released "Asian American Women in the Media” featuring five trailblazing women of our time. Acclaimed journalist, Lisa Ling, best known for her role in CNN’s “This is Life with Lisa Ling” discusses her experience growing up as a Taiwanese and Chinese American, immersed herself in projects that “American subcultures and communities frequently disregarded by the mainstream media, offering stories that changed perspectives and enriched public comprehension.” 

What is my personal story for AAPI Heritage month? 

As a first generation Filipino-American, I feel seen by these AAPI creatives and storytellers who are continuously doing the work to ensure that these stories are told. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg on how this community needs to be uplifted. My parents immigrated to the U.S. during the 1980s and were overlooked for many opportunities specifically in the job market because of their race. They chose to leave the Philippines when the country was under martial law to provide a better life for themselves and my family. However, despite having the right experience and college degrees from prestigious schools, their career paths took longer than expected. 

Representation is so important and representation matters. 

My choice in career and industry is an ode to my parents. They both had a background in mass communications in the Philippines, and yet were unable to continue that path after immigrating here. During their 40 years of living in the U.S., they have nurtured and cultivated other passions and worked to provide us with every opportunity that they did not receive. My career is one of my many ways of honoring them and showing my gratitude for their sacrifices. Working for Sensis, whose expertise is to foster meaningful connections across cultures and being founded by multicultural employees, continues to be the perfect avenue to tell stories through diverse marketing. 

The Asian American experience is well aligned with the “American Dream”. While the work to promote representation and inclusion in all forms is still on-going, these stories are deeply rooted in tradition, honor, resilience, and culture and deserve to be told not just during May, but all year round. 



Slant’d Media 

TedxTalks, “Redfining Asian American Narratives through the Media” 

National Library of Medicine, “Anti-Asian American Hate Crimes Spike During the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic” 

Washington Post, ‘Please listen’: Here’s what AAPI storytellers want you to know 

In the Visible 

Medium, “Asian American Women in the Media” 

Getty, “Expanding Visual Narratives of Asian Americans” 

The White House Briefing Room, “A Proclamation on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, 2024” 

Center for Scholars & Storytellers, “The Push for Authentic Asian American Representation in the Media” 

Google Arts & Culture, “Asian American Storytellers” 

Reappropriate, “Finding Asian American Identity in The Difficult Conversations” 

Nielsen, “After Oscars triumph, Asian American viewers look to advertisers and media companies for more representation”