By JIM DONNELLY
ABC News’ groundbreaking “Soul of a Nation” returns with a special presentation, “Together As One: Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage,” the network’s first-ever primetime program celebrating the diversity and recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of the vibrant Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community.
The primetime presentation, hosted by actor, New York Times bestselling author and social justice activist George Takei, underscores the strength, beauty and resilience of the AANHPI community against a backdrop of ongoing hate attacks and a history of exclusion, marginalization and invisibility.
“Together As One: Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage — A Soul of a Nation Presentation” airs Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m. on ABC. The one-hour program intentionally centers on AANHPI voices and stories to spread understanding and unity that is vitally needed at this moment and is packed with thoughtful discussion and inspiring stories, including the following:
Viewers will hear from AANHPI luminaries themselves, like pioneering stand-up comedian and actress Margaret Cho, who’ll share an original monologue; groundbreaking directors Daniel Kwan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”); and trailblazing actors such as the legendary James Hong and Gedde Watanabe (“Sixteen Candles,” “Mulan” films), Emmy-winning TV host Carrie Ann Inaba (“Dancing with the Stars,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember”), actress Tiya Sircar (“The Good Place”) and many more.
Featuring compelling reporting from Emmy Award-winning “Nightline” co-anchor Juju Chang, “Good Morning America Weekend” co-anchor and correspondent Eva Pilgrim, “Nightline” multiplatform reporter Ashan Singh, and KITV 4 anchor Lei U’i Kaholokula, the program explores wide-ranging themes, including conquering hate through education, history and activism; shattering dangerous stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood; amplifying the voices and concerns of AANHPI women; recognizing Native Hawaiians; and celebrating the power allyship has to unite us all.
RISING UP WITH HOPE AND ACTIVISM: Chang speaks with activists like 13-year-old Korean American Mina Fedor, founder of AAPI Youth Rising, who is advocating for Asian American history to be taught in schools; Karen Kwan, a descendant of a Chinese American transcontinental railroad worker and member of the Utah House of Representatives, who is fighting to preserve history and legacy; as well as third-generation Chinese American Jan Lee, a New York City activist, who is fighting alongside others to protect the city’s historic Chinatown.
SHATTERING STEREOTYPES: Pilgrim speaks with Hollywood directors Kwan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and trailblazing actors Hong, Watanabe, Inaba, Diane Mizota and Sircar about shattering the harmful stereotypes perpetuated in Hollywood and popular media as well as the new generation of AANHPI talent changing the landscape with more inclusive and authentic storytelling.
FINDING UNITY: Singh explores tensions both within the AANHPI community and between the AANHPI community and other racial groups. She will be examining how to better achieve allyship and solidarity with intersectional Filipino activist Kalaya’an Mendoza, a community organizer with Nonviolent Peaceforce.
FIGHTING HATE: Chang hosts a moving “Soul of a Nation: In the Kitchen” conversation with AANHPI women, discussing the alarming rise in violent anti-Asian attacks, how to fight back against hate, and ultimately how to embrace resilience and strength. The intimate and revealing conversation includes Noriko Nasu, a Japanese teacher and attack survivor now working to confront hate crimes; Min Jin Lee, the Korean American author of “Pachinko”; and Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit American activist.
SAFEGUARDING NATIVE HERITAGE: Kaholokula shines a light on the under-told history and culture of Native Hawai’i, taking us inside the story of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom with Paula Akana, executive director for the Friends of Iolani Palace. She will also explore how Native Hawaiians are reclaiming their power and rights today, speaking with cultural practitioner and Mauna Kea activist Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, Ph.D., and Kauanoe Kamanā, president of ʻAha Pūnana Leo, an international educational leader in indigenous language revitalization.
“Together As One: Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage — A Soul of a Nation Presentation” is produced by ABC News. Melia Patria and Poh Si Teng are executive producers. Marie Nelson is senior vice president of Integrated Content Strategy and “Soul of a Nation” series creator. Tine is director, and Stephanie Wash serves as senior editorial producer.