Growing up as a teen, I really enjoyed watching American television series such as Bones, The Mentalist and Teen Wolf. I especially loved when I saw Asian women taking on bad-ass roles, like when Arden Cho played the powerful Kitsune in Teen Wolf.
While we have seen more Asian-American women taking the screen in both American film and television in recent years, few have had the opportunity to take on leading roles. Those who have managed to earn their place as the lead character have undoubtedly become influential individuals on social media as they have become icons of diversity in Hollywood.
In this article, I hope to share with you four Asian-American women who are not only influential individuals on social media but inspiring individuals in real-life dedicated to making a change in our society today.
1) Lana Condor [7.0M followers]
Lana Condor plays the lead character, Lara Jean Covey, in one of my favourite romantic-comedy films – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (TATBILB).
The 22-year-old young woman is a Vietnamese-American actress who rose to fame after her lead role in the well-loved Netflix film TATBILB. However, before her role in this film, she acted in a number of Hollywood films like X-Men: Apocalypse and Alita: Battle Angel.
The growth in her follower numbers on Instagram is a testament to her popularity post-TATBILB.
Just look at that massive peak in her follower numbers in August 2018, which happens to be the period that TATBILB was released on Netflix.
Before TATBILB was aired, her follower numbers were below 100k. However, within two months, her follower numbers skyrocketed to 3.4M in August 2018 and 5.5M in September 2018.
Since then, her follower numbers have been growing steadily by the thousands.
Lana Condor also sees an incredibly high average engagement rate of 9.82%, which is much higher than the average of 3.61% for influencers with over 1M followers.
Outside of the social media realm, Lana Condor is also an influential individual who is dedicated to empowering other women. This year, she is being recognised by the Asia Foundation for her contribution towards empowering young women and girls in Vietnam. Her contributions towards the Asia Foundation Scholarship has given young women in Vietnam access to education and a chance at a better life. She has also partnered with Old Navy in commemoration of International Women’s Day to deliver encouraging messages to women all over America.
2) Mindy Kaling [4.2M followers]
Mindy Kaling is an Indian-American who has made her mark on both film and television as a voice actor, writer and comedian. This impressive woman has won multiple awards and ‘The Office’, a comedy series she starred in, was nominated for 5 years consecutively in the prestigious Primetime Emmy Awards.
Mindy Kaling’s growing prominence in film and television has been reflected on her Instagram.
Within just half a year, she has grown by almost half a million followers.
Outside of social media, Mindy is the face that represents powerful women and inclusivity.
Apart from her award wins and nominations, she is the first woman of minority ethnicity in America to write, produce and star in her own sitcom. She is also the author of one of New York Times bestselling books, making her an inspiration to many women out there.
Through her newest comedy film, ‘Late Night’, Mindy Kaling highlights her efforts to create and raise awareness for inclusivity and diversity in America. The film tells a story of both gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace and the challenges faced. She then makes sure her vision becomes a reality, bit by bit, through her choice of a film director for ‘Late Night’ – Nisha Ganatra, a woman of minority ethnicity.
3) Constance Wu [853.5k followers]
I would like to think that at least a good half of us who recognise this woman know her as the actress who played Rachel Chu in the hit Hollywood film Crazy Rich Asians.
The other half of us who do recognise her would then know her as a regular cast from the popular American sit-com Fresh Off The Boat. The show centres around the life of a Taiwanese-American family living in the United States, and coincidentally, or not, Constance Wu is a Taiwanese-American.
Based on the data I got off Popular Chips, this woman is definitely an Instagram influencer.
Despite having only 853.5k followers on Instagram, the actress has a high average engagement rate of 9.20% – an impressive feat as compared to her influencer counterparts (with 300k to 1M followers) who have an average engagement rate of 3.9%.
Constance Wu has also shown her ability to win the hearts of Americans with her acting roles despite being an Asian-American as more than 50% of her followers come from the United States.
Constance Wu has also been actively involved in efforts to change society.
In 2017, she was placed on TIME’s Top 100 Most Influential People list for not being afraid to speak her mind. Being part of the minority ethnicity in America, Constance Wu has spoken up multiple times about the lack of Asian-American visibility and diversity in Hollywood. She has also touched on the controversial topic of sexism in Hollywood – a subject which many are afraid to talk about for fear of their careers.
She also speaks up about topics outside of Hollywood, such as equal pay for Latinas.
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Today is #LatinaEqualPay Day, Latina workers on average only get 53 cents for every $1 a man is paid. The gap has widened since last year, and for some, it’s even worse. This is an injustice, and there’s still so much work to do for Latinas to be treated equally. Me and my sisters at @timesupnow support Latina equal pay! #phenomenallylatina @phenomenal.ly t-shirt proceeds benefit the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. www.phenomenalwoman.us
4) Lucy Liu [723.6k followers]
Lucy Liu is a Chinese-American who played one of the main casts in an all-time classic movie – Charlie’s Angels. She has since transitioned from an actress into a successful Director and Producer.
On Instagram, her reach is growing rapidly. Her follower numbers have grown by over 100k within this year alone.
Her audience engagement is also 1.6 times higher than the average influencer (according to Popular Chips).
Furthermore, she has followers from across America, the United Kingdom and Italy.
Aside from her Hollywood projects, Lucy Liu supports numerous social and environmental causes. She has been an ambassador for UNICEF since 2004, advocating for children’s health and protection. She has a page on her blog dedicated solely to sharing about her journey as a UNICEF ambassador and the link to her blog can be found on her Instagram bio @lucyliu.
These four Asian-American ladies are just some of my favourite examples of women who are influential both on social media and in reality, making a change to society with what power they have.