Asians In The Limelight: The Year In Entertainment

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Asians are finally enjoying the spotlight, and we've only just begun.

Asians are enjoying their time in the centre stage, and it's about time. The global entertainment scene has been dominated by Western (read: Caucasian) faces for decades, but in recent years, we've seen more Asian representation in Hollywood, and Asian music being enjoyed all over the globe.

Last year we saw some major milestones in the international entertainment industry that we've just got to celebrate. Here are some of the biggest moments Asians in entertainment enjoyed in 2018.

1. Crazy Rich Asians raked in US$238 million

Hollywood hasn't produced a movie with an all-Asian cast in 25 years (since The Joy Luck Club), and some producers thought Crazy Rich Asians was such a risk that they asked if they could cast a white woman to play Rachel Chu (Constance Wu's character). But director Jon M. Chu was adamant that he'd do this right, and it paid off.

“We just really wanted to open up the process, because we know how hard it is to get in the door,” Chu said in the announcement for the casting call, “especially for Asian characters of different shapes, sizes and talents.”

2. To All The Boys I've Loved Before became a runaway hit

The Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han's young adult novel became an instant favourite as soon as it started streaming. And though producers wanted to cast a white actress to play protagonist Lara Jean Covey, Han wouldn't let it happen. And the significance of this role wasn't lost on Lana Condor, who landed the lead role.

“I hoped that I would be a lead in my career, of course that was a hope of mine. But I never thought I would be so lucky to be the lead of a romcom,” Lana told The Guardian. “Simply because I don’t get those opportunities, for probably many reasons, but one of would likely be because I’m Asian. So when I got the audition and it said they were looking for an Asian American girl to play the lead love interest in a romcom, I was shocked. Truly. I just had never gotten that before.”

3. Sandra Oh made Emmy history

Though she didn't win an Emmy for her work on Killing Eve, Sandra Oh's nomination made history. She's the first Asian to ever be nominated for best lead actress in a drama series.

"We've got to start somewhere. And I'm happy to get that ball rolling, because what I hope happens is that next year and the next year and the next year, we will have presence," she told the New York Times. "And the presence will grow not only to Asian-Americans, you know, from yellow to brown, but to all our other sisters and brothers. Our First Nations sisters and brothers. Our sisters and brothers of different sizes and different shapes."

4. Red Velvet performed for Kim Jong Un

Last year, we saw relations between North Korea and South Korea finally thawing, with leaders from both countries using entertainment and sport to mend connections. On April, K-pop stars, including the hit girl band Red Velvet, flew to Pyongyang to perform in front of 1,500 North Koreans, including Kim Jong Un.

"[Kim Jong Un] was deeply moved to see our people sincerely acclaiming the performance, deepening the understanding of the popular art of the South side,” the North Korean Central News Agency said.

5. BTS addressed the United Nations

BTS has been dominating worldwide charts for quite a few years now, and this year, their influence on the youth was acknowledged by none other than the United Nations, who invited the K-pop boy band to speak at the launch for UNICEF's "Generation Unlimited".

Kim Nam-joon (a.k.a. RM) spoke for the group, sharing his struggles and how he grew from them and found strength in music. He urged the youth to find the courage to make themselves heard and be true to themselves. "I want to hear your voice," he said. "I want to hear your conviction. No matter where you’re from, skin colour, gender identity, just speak yourself."

6. GOT7 made it to Billboard Boxscore's top 10 Hot Tours list in the US

Billboard's Hot Tours list is their official roundup of the best-selling concerts in the US, and GOT7's Eyes on Me tour placed ninth on the August 17 edition of the list — their first appearance on Hot Tours.

"While this marks the boy band’s first appearance on Hot Tours, they have been making inroads on the Billboard charts in the past few years," Billboard remarked. "Since 2014, they have amassed 4 No. 1 titles on the World Albums Chart and have logged 51 weeks on the Social 50 so far, having peaked at No. 2 in April 2016.

7. Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas made things official, got engaged, then married — all within this year

Though rumours of Priyanka and Nick's relationship have been flying around ever since the two appeared at the Met Gala 2017 together, they only confirmed their relationship this year, posting heart-eyed emojis on Instagram in June 2018. A month later, the two were engaged, with Nick reportedly closing down an entire Tiffany store to buy a ring.

And as of this writing, the two are in the middle of their three-day wedding festivities.

Though we've still got our work cut out for us when it comes to Asian representation in global media, we can't deny that we've made significant progress in the last year.

Which have been your favourite Asian entertainment highlights of 2018?