Approximately 15 million people identify themselves as Asian Pacific American and they are as diverse as the dozens of countries from which their families came. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee hears from Asian Pacific American kids and actors discussing their lives and misconceptions in the half-hour special, “Who Am I? Asian Pacific American, and Proud!” premiering Sunday, May 27, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.
“The program intentionally coincides with the annual celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, which gives us another chance to be proud of all of us,” says Linda Ellerbee, “It’s good to be reminded that these kids are just as American as any other Americans, and have a lot to teach the rest of us.”
“There are tons of different types of Asians,” says Riki, a 14-year-old Japanese-American girl from San Francisco, Calif.
“We’re different and unique,” says Malysa, a 15-year-old Laotian American girl.
The kids discuss the various stereotypes associated with being Asian Pacific American like the assumption they are good at math and bad at sports.
“When people think of professional athletes, they don’t really think of somebody that looks like me,” says 11-year-old San Jose, Calif. native Mattie whose parents came from China and Japan. “People assume that if you’re Asian-American, you’re not going to be good at a certain sport. I’m pretty athletic and I’m pretty competitive.”
“People automatically think we’re cannibals or savages,” says Andrew, whose family came from Sri Lanka and Samoa.
Actors George Takei, Aziz Ansari and Ashley Argota discuss the discrimination they have faced.
“When I started out, there were very few opportunities for Asian actors,” says Japanese American Takei.
“Initially, the roles I got offered were very stereotypical,” says Indian American actor Ansari. “You know, guy at the gas station, cab driver…all that stuff.
“Being Asian, it is harder to get roles in Hollywood,” says Filipino actress Argota. “I think they should branch out and give other people some chances.”
“I think [Asian-American Heritage Month] is really cool because there are lots of Asians here now,” says 13-year-old Mahima whose parents came to the United Sates from India.
“Being American to me is accepting that we all came from somewhere else,” says Riki, whose Japanese American grandparents were sent to American internment camps during World War II. “And we all deserve equal opportunity.”
Nick News, produced by Lucky Duck Productions, is now in its 21st year and is the longest-running kids’ news show in television history. It has built its reputation on the respectful and direct way it speaks to kids about the important issues of the day. Over the years, Nick News has received more than 21 Emmy nominations and recently won its ninth Emmy Award for Under the Influence: Kids of Alcoholics in the category of Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction Program. Additional Emmy wins for outstanding children’s programming include: The Face of Courage: Kids Living with Cancer(2010); Coming Home: When Parents Return from War (2009); The Untouchable Kids of India (2008); Private Worlds: Kids and Autism (2007); Never Again: From the Holocaust to the Sudan(2005); Faces of Hope: The Kids of Afghanistan (2002) and What Are You Staring At? (1998). In addition, in 1995, the entire series won the Emmy. In 2009, Nick News was honored with the Edward R. Murrow Award for best Network News Documentary for Coming Home: When Parents Return from War — the first-ever kids’ television program to receive this prestigious award. Nick News has also received three Peabody Awards, including a personal award given to Ellerbee for explaining the impeachment of President Clinton to kids, as well as a Columbia duPont Award and more than a dozen Parents’ Choice Awards.