That's because, for many, this was the first time they saw themselves (and their culture) represented on screen.
"Crazy Rich Asians" made major headlines for not only being the first Hollywood film in 25 years to star an all-Asian cast, but for breaking traditional stereotypes and bringing visibility to the Asian community. The movie was also a reminder to the world that Asian stories matter.
As American playwright David Henry Hwang put it:
Asians are finally having their moment in the spotlight, but it's been a long time coming.
Study after study has shown that Asians in the media are underrepresented and/or tokenized, which is problematic, according to Jenny J. Lee, a PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"As much as we may want to dismiss TV as simple entertainment, it undeniably contributes to our cultural landscape and our understanding of the world," Lee, who helped conduct a 2017 study on Asian representation on TV, said to Deadline. "What does it mean when AAPIs [a person of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage] are missing or tokenized in this landscape? It reinforces the idea that we don't belong."
The cover of Kore Asian Media's December issue, which celebrates "a truly transformative year for Asian-American entertainment."
The thirst for proper Asian representation in the media has been building for years, which is one of the reasons "Crazy Rich Asians" blew up in such a big way in 2018, and acted as a catalyst for so many other Asian wins this year.
While there is always more work to be done when it comes to diversity on screen, we're taking a moment to look back at the top Asian representation moments of 2018 that made us say, "Hell yeah!"
1. #AsianAugust celebrated the success of Asian-led films
"Crazy Rich Asians" became the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade after its release in August, but it wasn't the only Asian-led film to do well at the box office. "Searching," a thriller starring John Cho, was also a hit, and Netflix's "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" became one of the platform's "most viewed original films ever with strong repeat viewing," Variety reported.
With so much praise for these films, fans started using the hashtag #AsianAugust on social media. The movies later went on to inspire plenty of amazing Halloween costumes (finally, Asians had more outfit choices other than Lucy Liu and Bruce Lee!), and "To All the Boys I Loved Before" contributed to the sudden popularity of the Korean yogurt drink, Yakult.
2. Sandra Oh became the first Asian woman to be Emmy nominated for lead actress
And it's about damn time! Earlier this year, the Canadian actress wrote a heartfelt Instagram post about making her immigrant parents proud after finally landing the lead role in the TV series, "Killing Eve."
Three months later, Oh became the first Asian woman to receive an Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama series. (The Emmys have been airing for 69 years, so let that sink in.)
Although the 47-year-old didn't win, she's still ending her stellar year with a bang. She was named one of EW's Entertainers of the Year, and will go on to host the 2019 Golden Globes, alongside Andy Samberg, in January.
3. Lilly Singh, Rupi Kaur, and Priyanka Chopra empowered women for Cosmo India
Cosmopolitan India's 22nd anniversary issue focused on the theme of sisterhood and snagged three South Asian beauties to share the cover: Scarborough, Ont., YouTuber Lilly Singh; Brampton, Ont.-born Instagram poet Rupi Kaur; and Indian-American actress Priyanka Chopra.
The mag couldn't have picked better role models for their inspiring issue about supporting other women. "We need to chase our dreams not just to succeed and create a space for ourselves in the world, but also to build a community that helps our sisters around the world who really need the help," Singh wrote in her open letter for the mag.
4. Steve Aoki and BTS released the star-studded music video of our dreams
If you haven't watched Steve Aoki and BTS's music video for "Waste It On Me" yet, prepare yourself for one fabulous treat. In the clip, the hilarious Ken Jeong plays a waiter who's desperately in love with a celebrity (model Devon Aoki). Throughout the three-minute video, a ton of Asian stars can be seen, including Ross Butler, Jamie Chung, and Leonardo Nam.
It's been a particularly phenomenal year for BTS, who had the top fandom community on Instagram in 2018. Considering their outspokenness on topics like mental health and LGBTQ rights (as well as their catchy tunes), this comes as no surprise.
This year, the band also made history by becoming the first K-pop group to top the charts in the U.S., with their latest album "Love Yourself: Tear," which earned BTS their first Grammy nomination ever.
5. Henry Golding becomes first Asian cover star for GQ's Men of the Year issue
The leading man of "Crazy Rich Asians" is having a breakthrough year — literally. The 31-year-old made The Associated Press' annual Breakthrough Entertainers list for 2018, alongside his co-star Awkwafina.
Golding can thank his luck and pure talent for his success, as he had no prior acting experience before landing the role of Nick Young. Now, the actor making waves in the media. In August, he helped the film "Searching" have a gold open by buying out a Los Angeles theatre, and in November, he became the first Asian cover star for GQ's Men of the Year issue. The latter carries particular significance, as Asian men are not often portrayed as charming, sexy, leading men, and GQ and Golding are helping to change that.
6. Indian celebrity weddings were a big deal
Sure, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle threw the royal wedding of the year, but there was just as much hype surrounding Priyanka Chopra's nuptials to Nick Jonas in December. The celebrity couple had several traditional pre-wedding events before tying the knot in two separate ceremonies — one Hindu and one Christian. Naturally, the photos and videos are stunning.
But Chopra and Jonas weren't the only high-profile couple to throw a lavish Indian wedding. The daughter of the richest man in India, Isha Ambani, wed Anand Piramal on Dec. 12, and their multi-million dollar wedding included a private concert by Beyonce.
7. Awkwafina became the second Asian woman to host "Saturday Night Live"
Lucy Liu was the first back in 2000, and the significance was not lost on Awkwafina. While hosting the show in October, the 29-year-old actress took a moment to pay tribute to her "idol."
"I remember how important that episode [with Liu] was for me, and how it totally it changed what I thought was possible for an Asian-American woman," Awkwafina said in her speech.
Fans went wild when the actress got the gig, as many had previously tweeted that she should host. The actress's "Crazy Rich Asians" co-stars were so excited, too, that they even had their own "Awkwafina party" when the show finally aired.
8. "Asian Bachelorette 2" broke stereotypes in hilarious fashion
Wong Fu Productions blessed us with a second season of "Asian Bachelorette" this year. The spoof on ABC's "The Bachelorette" tackled plenty of stereotypes — such as "yellow fever" and the idea that all Filipinos are amazing singers — using humour and plenty of hunky Asian men.
Here's hoping there's a Season 3 in store for 2019.
9. Hasan Minhaj became the first Indian-American to have a weekly comedy show
Netflix's "Patriot Act" is a described by Vox as a "TV news-meets-comedy show" and is hosted by Hasan Minhaj. This is a big deal, not only because the platform ordered 32 episodes before the show made its debut in October, but because the 33-year-old comedian is making history as the first Indian-American to host a weekly talk show.
Minhaj has always been a champion of diversity and representation. Before he was a correspondent on "The Daily Show" and released a Netflix special called "Homecoming King," he had a YouTube series called "The Truth with Hasan Minhaj" that called out racism in pop culture, CBC reported.
10. Constance Wu gets historic Golden Globes nomination
Constance Wu's outstanding performance in "Crazy Rich Asians" earned her a Golden Globes nomination for best lead actress. It's been 44 years since an Asian woman has received a lead role nomination at the awards show, making this feat so significant. Yvonne Elliman was the last Asian woman to receive a Golden Globes nom in 1974 for her starring role in "Jesus Christ Superstar," according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
"I didn't [think this would happen] because I'd never seen it happen to an Asian American woman before," Wu told Entertainment Tonight in response to the nomination.
11. Miss Philippines was crowned Miss Universe 2018
Catriona Gray, a.k.a. Miss Philippines, beat 93 women and snagged the 2018 Miss Universe crown, making her the fourth Filipina Miss Universe in pageant history, CNN reported. The last Filipina winner was Pia Wurtzbach, who earned the crown in 2015.
12. Claudia Kishi, from The Baby-Sitters Club, is getting a documentary
For some, Claudia Kishi from The Baby-Sitters Club was the first time they saw an Asian character free of stereotypes. In fact, she defied them. She wasn't good at math, she was boy-crazy and she loved art.
Now, a new documentary called "The Claudia Kishi Club" will explore the legacy this Japanese-American character has left, and the impact she had on Asians growing up in North America.
"Claudia was definitely one of the first times I saw myself in a story ― especially centred in a story," author Sarah Kuhn said in the trailer.
Bonus: We launched a new podcast called "Born & Raised: Food" to explore how food shapes second-gen Canadian identities
"Born & Raised: Food," tells stories of food and family from second-gen Canadians. Episode 3, Lost in Translation, particularly focuses on Asians stories and the connection between food and language. It tackles the correct way to pronounce "pho" (the popular noodle soup) and why stinky tofu deserves a more positive description.
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