Character Media (formerly known as Kore Asian Media) hosted the 18th annual Unforgettable Gala on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles to honor and recognize Asian American icons and changmakers in the entertainment industry, who are representing the API community through their creativity and excellence. Among the top winners of the evening was Lulu Wang’s awards season contender The Farewell starring Awkwafina.
Hosted by star of Kim’s Convenience actor and of Marvel Studios’ forthcoming Shang Chi and the Ten Rings Simu Liu, the evening was essentially the Golden Globes for the talented members of Asian American Hollywood and beyond. Liu kept the show going with quips and jokes throughout the evening including a bit where he, Blues Clues host Joshua Dela Cruz and Grey’s Anatomy actor Alex Landi shared shirtless “inspirational” social media pics of themselves while online personality Eugene Lee Yang came in to slay the game with a super-fabulous pic of himself. Liu also took a playful jab at Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wu that referenced her much-talked about reaction to the ABC sitcom being renewed — the joke received a lot of raised eyebrows and “oooooohs” from the audience.
The Good Doctor’s Daniel Dae Kim gave a keynote speech for the evening while other presenters and guests included The Good Place star Manny Jacinto, Supernatural alum and newly minted Arrowverse member Osric Chau, Masked Singer judge and Crazy Rich Asians star Ken Jeong, The Mandalorian and Joy Luck Club legend Ming-Na Wen, Yellow Rose director Diane Paragas, Searching filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty, director of the forthcoming The Fabulous Filipino Brothers and Hook icon Dante Basco; star of the upcoming Birds of Prey Ella Jay Basco and others. The evening also included stirring and entertaining performances by America’s Got Talent season 14 winner Kodi Lee, The Voice alum and 20 Feet From Stardom star Judith Hill, Amber Liu, MILCK and MIYAVI.
The Farewell was honored with the Vanguard Award and star Awkwafina won for Actor/Actress on Film while Wang received Best Director. This adds fuel to the awards season tank of the A24 drama which earned Awkwafina a Gotham Award and a Golden Globe nomination. The film was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Globes — which caused some rumblings among Hollywood. The film is mostly in Mandarin but is clearly an Asian American narrative. Liu skewered the HFPA’s choice to put it in the foreign category.
“Awkwafina is also having a really good year,” said Liu in his opening monologue. “She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell or as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association calls it, ‘That movie with all the foreign people that speak Asian’.”
Unforgettable also honored the cast and crew of Fresh Off The Boat with the Lexus Legacy Award. Now entering its sixth and final season at ABC, stars Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen, Chelsey Crisp and Lucille Soong were all on hand to accept the award from Ken Jeong and Ming-Na Wen. Yang ended the speech by doing a surprise performance of “I Punched Keanu Reeves” from Park’s Netflix film Always Be My Maybe.
Read the complete list of Unforgettable winners below.
Actor/Actress in TV
Nico Santos – Superstore
Actor/Actress on Film
Awkwafina – The Farewell
Breakout Actor/Actress on Television
Maya Erskine – Pen15
Breakout Actor/Actress on Film
Charles Melton – The Sun is Also a Star
Ali Wong – Always Be My Maybe
Lulu Wang – The Farewell
The cast and crew of The Farewell
Lexus Legacy Award
The cast and crew of Fresh Off The Boat
Pechanga Athlete on Another Level