5 celebrities explain why Asian representation is important

PHOTO: Priyanka Chopra, Jon M. Chu and Constance Wu.PlayGetty Images
WATCH 5 celebrities explain why Asian representation is important

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), which celebrates the community of Americans from the entire Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

"Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is when we hope to highlight the rich history of our community, and how we have played an important role in shaping America's past, present and future," Gregg Orton, the national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, told "Good Morning America."

Orton said he feels there is much work to be done in bringing visibility to this broad community.

"The presumption that we are a 'model minority' is misguided and painfully personal for nearly all of us," he said. "Our successes shouldn't be viewed as monolithic. Our community faces real challenges, including being viewed as perpetual foreigners."

Orton explained that the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is trying to break down negative stereotypes by celebrating successes within the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, but also by bringing awareness to the discrimination they face.

Notable Asian-American and Pacific Islander celebrities have been vocal about the lack of representation of the AAPI community in American popular culture.

Here are five Asian stars who've spoken out about the importance of inclusivity in the past.

Constance Wu

PHOTO: Constance Wu attends CinemaCon 2018 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas. Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
Constance Wu attends CinemaCon 2018 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Wu has not only made headlines for starring in hit projects like ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” or the upcoming movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” but also for her work in breaking down the stigma against Asian-American actors in Hollywood. The actress encouraged others to embrace what makes them different at a recent press conference.

"I think stories should celebrate [the thing that makes you different]," she told Emily's List in February. "Center that experience, rather than having us be like the side characters who support a white person's story."

Priyanka Chopra

PHOTO: Priyanka Chopra, as Alex Parrish, in a scene from Quantico. Viola Damiani/ABC
Priyanka Chopra, as Alex Parrish, in a scene from "Quantico."

The “Quantico” star, who has gained a loyal following from fans in India and America, stressed how important it is for her to take on roles that embody more than a person’s ethnicity. “Black, brown, white, yellow -- why are we always talking about colors?” she told Gulf News in October 2015. “I believe in a global community.”

Mirai Nagasu

PHOTO: Mirai Nagasu of the United States competes in the ladies short program on day one of the World Figure Skating Championships at the Mediolanum Forum, March 21, 2018, in Milan, Italy. Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images
Mirai Nagasu of the United States competes in the ladies short program on day one of the World Figure Skating Championships at the Mediolanum Forum, March 21, 2018, in Milan, Italy.

Nagasu made headlines earlier this year when she became the first American figure skater to land a triple axel at the Olympics. Her success on the ice meant much more than winning an Olympic medal. She shared with Bleacher Report in February that as someone who grew up seeing Caucasian people playing Asian characters on TV “to see us represented and to see us become athletes on Team USA, this is what America is about.”

Jon M. Chu

PHOTO: Jon M. Chu arrives to the 2017 Princess Grace Awards gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Oct. 25, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Jon M. Chu arrives to the 2017 Princess Grace Awards gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Oct. 25, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Chu directed the film adaptation of “Crazy Rich Asians,” which is expected to break ground in Hollywood when it premieres in August. He told EW in November 2016 that aside from making this a great movie, he also wants to “make this the example of what a movie like this can really be so that others can follow, and we can open up a gate for other Asian stories.”

Sandra Oh

PHOTO: Sandra Oh attends Killing Eve and When Heroes Fly screening during the 1st Cannes International Series Festival at Palais des Festivals, April 8, 2018, in Cannes, France. Dominique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images
Sandra Oh attends "Killing Eve" and "When Heroes Fly" screening during the 1st Cannes International Series Festival at Palais des Festivals, April 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.

From the spitfire Dr. Christina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy” to the starring role in BBC’s action-packed drama “Killing Eve,” Oh has nailed one successful role after the next. She shared with Vulture in April how she fought through racism in the industry.

"It’s changing the mindset that being an actor of color, people of color, that you’re at a disadvantage in the creative life,” she said. “That you don’t have opportunity. It’s all how you see the opportunity.”