Frankly put, Asian representation is scarce in the realm of Hollywood. With most movies and TV series being spearheaded by Westerners, seeing an Asian in the lead is a true novelty. The good news is that times have changed and artists who can’t get a seat at the “table” have gone and built their own table, and there are plenty of seats that we’d love to see filled.
Equal representation is essential. That means we’d like to see more diversity on the silver screen or when we log into Netflix. Luckily, Hollywood is now being graced by a number of phenomenal Asian celebrities who are bringing their A-game and blazing a trail on the international stage. (Hi, Crazy Rich Asians, Lara Jean Covey, and BTS!)
In support of #StopAsianHate, we’ve gathered 35 of the most talented and fierce Asian artists who are taking the entertainment industry by storm, whether in La La Land or from their respective countries. Let this be a reminder that whether you’re Asian, black, or white, there is only one race; the human race.
Get ready for the rundown of the biggest stars from South Korea, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, and more! Better put your sunglasses on, because their stars are shining brightly!
You already knew that this group of seven outrageously talented guys would be at the top of this list, right? The great thing about this South Korean boyband is that they have proved that language isn’t a factor when it comes to rising to stardom. Their talent and charisma have taken over the seven seas, disrupting the music industry as we know it. V, Jin, RM, Jungkook, Suga, J-Hope, and Jimin paved the way, showcasing that they don’t need anyone’s validation to express their style and their music.
Aside from having golden vocals and otherworldly dance moves, BTS owes their success to their brilliant beats and profound lyricism that touch on social and emotional concepts that resonate with fans. They even took their messages of hope to new heights by partnering with organizations like UNICEF to raise awareness about peace. Their “Love Yourself” campaign is an anti-violence movement that is put into motion all over the world.
From rising to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for several weeks in a row, raking in awards, filling up stadiums, and supporting charitable efforts, BTS is an ethereal breath of fresh air. We could use more positive and wholesome music in this world.
Their agency, Big Hit Entertainment, recently acquired several other labels, including Scooter Braun’s label, Ithaca Records, a move that was part of their master plan to expand into an even bigger entity, called HYBE.
When this pandemic is over, we’re sure that ARMY is ready to light up the stadiums with a sea of purple once again.
#2 Lana Condor
This charmer first stepped into the limelight when she took on the role of Lara Jean Covey in the Netflix adaptation of the best-selling novels by Jenny Han. While she may be most famous for her portrayal of the main character in the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” movie franchise, Lana appeared in a bunch of other record-breaking films and series, such as “X-Men: Apocalypse”, “Alita: Battle Angel”, “Summer Night”, and “Deadly Class”.
When totally get why viewers instantly fell in love with Lana during the release of the first “To All the Boys” movie. Just like Lara Jean, Lana is cute, funny, stylish, and 100% awesome.
Also, just like her iconic character, Lana Condor is one serious girl boss, which is totally the new definition of an “It Girl”. Peter Kavinsky is one lucky guy.
#3 Jackson Wang
Hailing from China, Jackson Wang first propelled to stardom as 1/7 of the popular South Korean boyband, GOT7. Managed by the Asian entertainment giant, JYP Entertainment, GOT7 skyrocketed to the top of the charts and into fans’ hearts with songs like, “Just Right”, “You Are”, “See The Light”, and “Not By The Moon”.
The group excelled as a unit, so it came as a huge shock when they disbanded a few months ago. With GOT7 delivering an emotional final performance at the 2021 Golden Disc Awards in January, their fans, Ahgase (baby bird), were surely taken aback.
After the news sank in, the guys all went their separate ways to pursue new dreams. Jackson Wang’s newest project is his solo single, “Leave Me Loving You”. The track quickly gained views and praise from fans and shows that he’ll do just fine as a soloist. It’s worth noting, though, that before he officially went solo, Jackson and the rest of GOT7 already launched a few solo tracks that were well-received by the public.
It’s no secret that Jackson isn’t just a singer. He’s also a personable individual with a great sense of humor. If you want a preview of his fun personality, you should watch his interviews with James Corden and prepare yourself for some side-splitting laughter.
Hey, it’s our girl, Awkwafina! This actress has a knack for lighting up a room (or a screen) wherever she goes. She totally reeled us in with her quirky performances in “Crazy Rich Asians”, “Prom”, “Ocean’s 8”, “Storks”, “The Angry Birds Movie 2”, and “Jumanji: The Next Level”.
What we love most about Awkafina is that when she steps into a role, she steps into a role! Also, she’s the type of person whose duality shines like diamonds. She’s often boyish and eccentric on screen, but once she hits the red carpet, she looks like a fairytale princess.
If you want to know where you can watch Awkafina now, you can catch her as Sisu in Disney’s newest fantasy flick, “Raya and the Last Dragon”.
#5 Jenny Han
Circa 2018, Jenny Han’s name began trending all over the place alongside #ToAllTheBoysIveLovedBefore. As the genius mind behind the bestselling trilogy novels and movie franchise, we must applaud Jenny Han for her beautiful contribution to the world of YA novels.
“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” revolves around a teenage girl named Lara Jean Covey who writes love letters to her crushes. The catch is that she never actually sends these letters out. She just uses them as a venting method and keeps them tucked safely away in a pretty box. Little does she know that one day, her life would be turned upside down when her younger sister decides to take fate into her own hands and sends the letters to their respective recipients. Cue the romcom chaos!
Thank you so much for this amazing trilogy, Jenny Han! Saranghaeyo! If you haven’t read the books or watched the movies yet, you better get moving now! Go, buy the book! Go, watch Netflix!
It took less than 5 years for this quartet of life-sized Barbie dolls to become one of the biggest girl groups on the planet. Rose, Jisoo, Lisa, and Jennie rose to fame with tracks like “Kill This Love”, “Pretty Savage”, “Playing With Fire”, and “Lovesick Girls”.
When these girls appear on TV shows or concerts, you already know that you’re in for a visual surprise. It looks like South Korea is a maker of superstars.
#7 Youn Yuh Jung
Youn Yuh Jung is a South Korean actress with a career spanning over 5 decades. Having appeared in multiple K-Dramas and films, this seasoned artist has become a pillar in the entertainment industry.
Recently, she also made headlines when she starred in “Minari”, a movie about a Korean-American family that moves to a farm in Arkansas. In the midst of all the challenges brought about by their new life, they showcase raw resilience and find out what truly makes a house a home.
South Korea truly is an idol-producing machine. Joining the ranks of BTS and BLACKPINK, comes TWICE, a 9-piece girl group managed by JYP Entertainment.
Composed of Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Sana, Momo, Mina, Jihyo, Dahyun, Tzuyu, and Chaeyoung, these women are poised to inject their feminine fairy aesthetic into the world of music. If you’ve ever vibed to “I Can’t Stop Me” or “More and More”, you’ll understand why people just can’t seem to get enough of TWICE’s music.
In case you were wondering how they got their name, it’s because JYP Entertainment says you’ll do a double-take once you see them.
#9 Ross Butler
Many people look up to Ross Butler, and not because he’s probably 10 feet tall, but because he’s such an amazing actor. Most of us know him for his striking performances in “13 Reasons Why“, “To All the Boys: Always and forever”. and “Riverdale“. Playing the jock with a heart of gold is something that he can pull of with flying colors.
Fun fact: You can also watch him star opposite Ken Jeong and Devon Aoki in the music video, “Waste It On Me” by Steve Aoki and BTS. We’ve got to admit, he does a very convincing RM impression!
The best thing about the roles Ross Butler portrays? He’s the cool guy, but you can totally sit with him. Also, his shirt says “Phenomenally Asian”. Yes, Ross Butler, you tell ’em!
#10 Steve Aoki
Steven Hiroyuki Aoki, also known as Steve Aoki is a DJ, record producer, record executive, and music programmer. In 2012, he was hailed as the highest-grossing dance artist in North America, and honestly, we’re not even surprised! His musical style is so energetic and fresh that listening to his tracks transports you to a whole new world.
This amazing DJ has collaborated with some of the industry’s biggest stars who are just as talented as he is. This includes BTS, Louis Tomlinson, Afrojack, LMFAO, and Iggy Azalea.
Aside from being a genius musician, Steve Aoki also is a master at bringing his own signature flair to the Instagram game. Often posting things about Pokemon, Anime, and Hello Kitty, this guy’s duality is a fun rollercoaster ride.
#11 Devon Aoki
Talent and X-factor run in the family. Right, Devon Aoki? The younger sister of Steve Aoki played the showbiz game as an actress and fashion model. We know her as the fierce characters in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, “Sin City”, “Mutant Chronicles”, and “DOA”.
Her striking beauty made her the perfect model for every brand that she ever modeled on the runway, including Chanel, Moschino, Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Fendi. This charming woman also graced the covers of Vogue Japan and Vogue Russia. Don’t even get us started on her gorgeous campaigns for Versace, Kenzo, and H&M.
Fun fact: she stars alongside Ken Jeong, Ross Butler, Steve Aoki, and other Asian superstars in the music video for “Waste It On Me”. Now, she’s a proud momma to three kids that are also slaying the modeling game. Like we said: talent and X-factor run in the family.
#12 Olivia Rodrigo
You know the hit song, “Driver’s License”? Then you definitely know Olivia Rodrigo! The sentimental heartbreak anthem has resonated with all the heartbroken souls out there, and we’re sure that most of you know the lyrics by heart by now.
The Filipino-Americana actress rose to fame when she starred in the Disney Channel series, “Bizaardvark” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”. Walking in the footsteps of Vanessa Hudgens, she plays the role of a girl who is portraying the role of Gabriella Montes; which is the character played by Vanessa Hudgens in the original “High School Musical” movie franchise. Sounds complicated? Kind of… until you actually get to watch it, that is!
#13 Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik was almost literally catapulted into the global spotlight when he joined The X Factor UK in 2010. Originally auditioning as a soloist, who would’ve known that he’d soon end up in a boyband with fellow contestants, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne?
Who knew that that one magical decision by one of the show’s judges, Nicole Scherzinger, would launch one of the most popular boybands that the world has ever seen? No one saw it coming, but One Direction was a gift to the music industry.
Being of British and Pakistani descent, Zayn Malik added diversity to the multi-talented group, not to mention those crazy high notes. One Direction may have only lasted 5 years, but fans can still vibe to the solo songs of the guys who all embarked on solo careers.
Aside from working on solo projects, Zayn (like Louis and Liam) is a proud father to a baby girl with Gigi Hadid. Will that baby be a singer or a model one day? Only time will tell.
#14 Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas hails from the mystical land of India. She was first introduced to the global audience when she took home the crown during the Miss World 2000 beauty pageant. With a long list of accolades under her belt, this actress, singer, and film producer is a force to be reckoned with.
Moreover, her artistic side, Priyanka established The Priyanka Chopra Foundation, which focuses on health and education. She’s famous, talented, and she cares about people. You go, Priyanka!
#15 Naomi Scott
Being of Indian and English descent, Naomi Scott has a face that radiates international beauty. Maybe that’s why she was cast as Princess Jasmine in the live-action adaption of “Aladdin“? From her beautiful face to her interesting singing voice, we’re not surprised as to why she’s currently thriving in Hollywood.
If you’re wondering where you first saw her face, it was most likely when she appeared in the sci-fi drama series, “Terra Nova” and TV film, “Lemonade Mouth”. However, when we look at her, all we see is Princess Jasmine, a headstrong royal who loves tigers and campaigns for freedom! Oh, and sometimes, we also see her as her kick-ass Power Ranger character!
#16 Bong Joon Ho
Director Bong Joon Ho will go down in history for directing “Parasite”, one of the most thought-provoking, symbolic, and artistic cinematic masterpieces that the world has ever seen.
Sweeping the 2020 Academy Awards, the cast and crew of “Parasite” took home the award for Best Picture, Best Director, International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay.
“Parasite” is an unfiltered and fearless take on greed and class discrimination. If you’ve seen it, you’re probably craving “ramdom” by now. If you haven’t seen it yet, then it sucks to be you. Watch it now to prevent FOMO.
#17 Sandra Oh
Oh, Sandra Oh, how do we even begin to describe your awesomeness? Since words aren’t enough to express the power this woman holds. We’re just going to thank her for her spectacular performance as Cristina Yang in the medical drama series, “Grey’s Anatomy” and for her amazing portrayal of Eve Polastri in the spy thriller series, “Killing Eve“.
Most importantly, we want to thank her for becoming her first Asian woman in over 40 years to win a major TV award at the Golden Globes in 2019. TBH, she didn’t even need an award as validation, because her talent is pretty obvious, but we just love that she used this platform to thank her parents in her native Korean language. Represent!
#18 Janel Parrish
Janel Parrish is a Chinese-Caucasian actress and singer. She most famous for her role as Mona Vanderwaal in the mystery-drama franchise, “Pretty Little Liars“. Now, she’s become iconic once again for playing the role of the oldest Covey sister, Margot Covey, in the “To All the Boys” film series.
#19 Charles Melton
Charles Melton is a breakout star with Korean and English roots. Before we knew him as the tough guy from Riverdale, he landed his first acting role in the TV series, “Glee”, in 2014. One year later, he appeared in 2 episodes of “American Horror Story”, and now, he’s one of the world’s favorite Netflix boys.
#20 Brenda Song
This Thai-Caucasian stunner captured our hearts as the sassy, stylish, and quirky London Tipton in Dinsey Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”. As one of the most successful child actors that Disney ever produced, Brenda Song is a true standout. We just have one question for her: how do you get prettier with age?
After graduating from Dinsey, she also starred in hit movies, like “The Social Network”, “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior”, and “Secret Obsession”, and “Changeland”.
#21 Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld first broke out into the acting scene when she starred in “True Grit”. Her performance was so remarkable that it got her a BAFTA nomination. From starting out as a cute child actress, this Filipino-American charmer, has transformed into a pretty woman.
As a thriving millennial in the world of entertainment, her most recent films include “Pitch Perfect”, “Edge Of Seventeen”, and “Bumblebee”.
It’s also no secret that she releases one hit song after the other. From “Rock Bottom” and “Capital Letters” all the way to “Starving” and “Most Girls”, Hailee Steinfeld sure knows how to bring tracks that we can vibe to all day long.
Oh, and did we mention that her style is ON POINT? Girl, can we raid your closet?
#22 Constance Wu
Constance Wu gave us some serious Cinderella vibes when she starred as the leading lady in “Crazy Rich Asians”. She breathed life into the character of Rachel Chu like nobody else could, oh, and the way she rocked that delicate sky blue organza dress, we stan her for it!
She’s the heroine in “Crazy Rich Asians” that we all love, but her breakout role was her portrayal of Jessica Huang in the ABC television comedy, “Fresh Of The Boat”. Her exceptional performance got her 2 nominations at the TCA Awards and 4 Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
#23 Henry Golding
Of course, we can’t have Constance Wu on this list without her “Crazy Rich Asians” co-star, Henry Golding! The Malaysian-British model, television host, and actor has been flaunting his chiseled face and eloquence on BBC’s “The Travel Show” since 2014.
However, it wasn’t until his dazzling performance in the hit film, “Crazy Rich Asians”, that the world actually swooned over him. Even James Corden wasn’t immune to his charm. If you want to see how James and Henry reacted to some of the most iconic scenes from the film, Youtube is there for you.
#24 Harry Shum Jr.
Remember Mike Chang from Glee? Of course, you do! “Glee” was the biggest thing on TV for 6 years straight. Shining the spotlight on talented underdogs while tackling harsh realities and social issues, “Glee” was everyone’s favorite show.
Harry Shum Jr. portrayed the role of Mike Chang, “the other Asian” (according to Sue Sylvester) who could nearly outdance Michael Jackson. After his massive success on the musical series, he became popular for his portrayal of Magnus Bane on the Freeform TV series, “Shadowhunters”.
#25 Jenna Ushkowitz
Where there is Mike Chang, there is also Tina Cohen-Chang! The Koren American actress, podcast host, and producer, played the role of spunky Tina on the hit series, “Glee”. With a charismatic voice and edgy grunge aesthetic, this girl was one of the Glee Club’s biggest assets. (Sorry, Rachel Berry, but you’ve gotta share that spotlight.)
While Tina Cohen-Chang may be one of her most popular and loved characters, Jenna Ushkowitz also brought the soul on the Broadway stage. She starred in musicals, such as “The King and I” and “Waitress”.
#26 Manny Jacinto
If you’re a fan of “The Good Place”, then the odds are that you’re also a fan of Manny Jacinto. He plays the quirky and outlandish role of Jason Mendoza, a shady individual who gets mistaken as a monk when he reaches “The Good Place”. Well, he wasn’t actually “mistaken” for a monk, it’s just that some evil mastermind planned it that way to torture everyone. Anyway, you have to watch this hilarious series to understand what we mean.
Manny Jacinto has comedy running through his veins. There’s a reason why his role in “The Good Place” catapulted him to fame, and it’s because he does such a stellar job at it. You can also catch this Filipino-American actor in “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Paper Angels”, and “The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story”.
#27 Ali Wong
Ali Wong is a Chinese American actress, comedian, and writer. Her most notable endeavors are her Netflix stand-up specials, “Hard Knock Wife” and “Baby Cobra”. Both of these laugh-inducing shows received critical acclaim, solidifying her status as one of the funniest women on the planet.
Don’t be fooled by her knack for making us laugh, though, because Ali Wong also knows how to lead a romcom to make you smile, cry, and pick up the phone to tell that guy/girl you love them. Her lovely performance in “Always Be My Maybe” alongside Randall Park, Keanu Reeves, and Daniel Dae Park was so awe-inspiring that we can’t wait to watch her star in a romantic comedy again!
#28 Daniel Dae Kim
Hailing from Busan, South Korea, Daniel Dae Kim made his mark in the entertainment industry as n actor, voice actor, and producer. Avid binge-watchers may know him from “The Good Doctor”, “Lost”, and “Hawaii Five-0”. It’s worth noting that fans were super excited to see him take on a guest role as Dr. Han in “The Good Doctor”. His performance showed that he isn’t just a professional executive producer of the show, but also a strikingly talented actor in front of the camera.
#29 Ki Hong Lee
“The Maze Runner” novel series sold like hotcakes, and for good reason too; it’s the epitome of a page-turner! When the series got picked up to be transformed into a live-action film, the crowd went wild. We’re so glad that they chose the cast for this movie franchise with caution. With Dylan O’ Brien as the lead, how could you go wrong?
And of course, a movie is more than just the main character; it’s a team effort. Each character was a strong individual that simply captivated us all. Ki Hong Lee, who portrayed the role of Min Ho, one of the inhabitants of the Glade. It was his abduction that prompted the entire team to plan a master rescue plan. His heroic portrayal was nothing short of marvelous. He may have gotten abducted at some point, but that doesn’t diminish his badass monster-fighting skills.
If you think you’ve seen him somewhere else too, that’s because he starred as Dong Nguyen in the Netflix sitcom, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. We’re so looking forward to more from this Korean American star!
#30 Claudia Kim
You might mistake her for a beauty queen, but this South Korean stunner is actually an actress and model. She made her limelight debut when she starred in the TV drama, “Queen of the Game”.
Kim Soo Hyun, also known by her professional name, Claudia Kim, landed roles in some of the most epic films, such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes Of Grindelwald”, and “Equals”.
#31 Ken Jeong
We’re just going to say it: Ken Jeong is the funniest man on the planet. No, wait…Ken Jeong is the funniest man in the universe. After making us laugh ’till our sides ached in “Dr. Ken”, he began flaunting his sharp judge skills on “The Masked Singer”, “I Can See Your Voice”, “The Masked Dancer”, and “America’s Got Talent”.
He may be a licensed doctor in real life, but he’s also a highly talented actor and comedian. We’re so glad that he chose to focus on acting right now, because that humor needs to be seen and heard by everyone. Ken Jeong can do both, and that’s a goliath-sized flex.
#32 Liu Yifei
Don’t be fooled by her ethereal beauty, because Liu Yifei can easily go into Mulan-mode and fight you with her samurai sword.
This Chinese American actress made waves in the seven seas when she took on the legendary role of Mulan, Disney’s pioneer warrior princess. However, did you know that before she propelled to fame as the iconic Disney princess, Liu Yifei was already kicking some bad guy butt in movies like, “The Forbidden Kingdom” alongside Jet Li and Jackie Chan?
Girl, let’s be friends. Teach us your ways!
#33 Justin Min
Justin Min is a Korean American actor who kickstarted his acting career by appearing in multiple Wong Fu productions. Gradually making his way to the top, he landed the role of Ben Hargreeves in the Netflix original series, “The Umbrella Academy”.
If you’ve already watched seasons 1 and 2 of “The Umbrella Academy“, then you’ll know the exact moment when we bawled our eyes out for Ben Hargreeves. We just really wanted to give him a big hug!
If you haven’t watched this superior series yet, then you’re not using Netflix properly. Allow us to teach you; head over to Netflix, and watch “The Umbrella Academy”!
#34 Shay Mitchell
Turning heads and earning double-takes ever since the era of “Pretty Little Liars”, Shay Mitchell’s presence simply demands attention. Seriously, you can’t just not look at her. Maybe it’s her style or her striking facial features, but this Filipina European beauty never fails to stun.
From being a pretty little liar to portraying the role of a pretty obsessed best friend in “You”, Shay Mithcell has got that signature socialite mean girl vibe, but at the same time, she’s got range! She always shows us a different kind of mean girl that we just love to hate.
Whether she’s Emmy Fields or Peach Salinger, or a gorgeous momma in real life, we just love every version of Shay Mitchell. How about You guys?
#35 Bruno Mars
With Filipino and Latino roots, Bruno Mars is a cultural mosaic and one heck of a talented human being. Known for his retro showmanship and soulful vocals, this artist doesn’t just stick to one genre. If you’re a fan (and of course, you’re a fan!), then you know that he’s mastered the art of pop, R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, rock, and reggae.
#36 Vanessa Hudgens
Is it just us, or does Vanessa Hudgens just never go out of style? From her cutesy beginnings in Disney’s “High School Musical” movie franchise all the way to her “Beastly”, “Suckerpunch”, “Journey to The Mysterious Island”, “The Knight Before Christmas”, and “The Princess Switch” era, her style and roles simply evolve with the times.
Also, she’s both a woman of fashion and a woman of heart. She’s known for contributing to global charities, such as Habitat For Humanity. She also advocates for UNICEF, PETA, and Save The Children. To recognize her efforts to make a positive change for people in the world, Nickelodeon’s Teen Choice Awards gifted her with the See Her Award.
They see her, we see her. Vanessa Hudgens has a vision for change, and it’s clear as day.