Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and More Share Their Favorite Traditions in Honor of AAPI Heritage Month

Asian, Pacific Islander and South Asian stars were honored at the first annual Gold Gala, where they shared how they take pride in their identity. See what celebs like Mindy Kaling and Chloe Kim said.

By Steven Vargas May 23, 2022 9:57 PMTags
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Keeping culture strong can be as big as a festival or as small as a meal.

During Gold House's first annual Gold Gala on May 21, Asian, Pacific Islander and South Asian (APISA) stars including Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Chloe Kim and Mindy Kaling were honored. They shared the favorite parts of their culture.

"I'm such a foodie," Chloe said. "My mom will always make me amazing Korean dishes and seaweed soup is a big Korean tradition on your birthday and I think on the new year, too.

The gold medal Olympic snowboarder added, "My mom always brings me seaweed soup for my birthday and she'll stress the day before. She was like, 'Oh my god, I have to make seaweed soup. It's your birthday tomorrow!' I love that." 

Meanwhile, Henry shared that his tribe in Malaysia, the Iban, has an annual harvest festival in the summer that brings everyone together.

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"That's when all the family and friends come over. They celebrate the year past and they refresh for the new year," he said. "It's just about sort of getting together."

Family is also at the center of Michelle's favorite tradition, specifically honoring one's elders. The Everything Everywhere All at Once star said, "I think the respect to your elders that is inherent, I think is the most beautiful thing."

And Emmy-winning TV host Jeannie Mae Jenkins said she takes pride in "celebrating every day that we are Vietnamese American." 

She added, "That means speaking in each other's languages whenever we can, taking the time to go celebrate our foods." 

Jeannie said she finally learned how to make Pho and wants to spread the pride in culture to her first-born daughter Monaco with her husband Jeezy, whose real name is Jay Wayne Jenkins.

Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

"I can't wait for Monaco to learn her Black side," Jeannie said, "and to learn what it means to be a Vietnamese Black daughter in America."

The night was full of celebration, but stars also got serious about discrimination in the industry. Henry said that he often struggles with not being "Asian enough" or "white enough." 

"It's grasping on to what I believe and what I love about who I am, and not really caring about others misconceptions," the Snake Eyes actor said. "And so for me, I'm proud to be Asian. I'm proud of my British heritage and I think that's all you can ask for in a person."

David Fisher/Shutterstock

Mindy, who received the A100 Legend award at the event, echoed the love for her culture and the nuances of being part of the APISA umbrella.

"Representation doesn't reside in just one show," she said. "Our experience is not a monolith. For so long there's been barriers in Hollywood for entry to keep out people of color."

Mindy continued, "But when Never Have I Ever had an open casting call, I got to witness firsthand how many talented young people are out there and they're just waiting and working up courage to take every chance to pounce on an opportunity. And I believe that the meaning of being a legend is creating new doors for the people who think that their dreams might be impossible."

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