Asia Society Southern California 2022 Annual Gala Honors the "Pachinko" Cast and Crew, Eileen Gu, Stella Li and More
The 2022 Asia Society Southern California Annual Gala marked the event's return to an in-person gathering after two years of virtual galas. The celebration was an evening under the stars at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, as guests enjoyed performances, honoree presentations, and a chance to reconnect with old friends.
The evening began with the presentation of the "Sports Visionary" honor to two-time Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim. Actor Olivia Cheng of HBO's Warrior delivered a heartfelt recollection of witnessing Kim excel in winter sports, an area in which she never saw Asian faces represented while growing up in Canada. Cheng praised Kim’s advocacy, as well, for mental health issues and the AAPI community.
Kim's recognition was followed by a surprise honor for actor Kara Wang, the returning emcee of the Gala. Everything Everywhere All At Once actor Stephanie Hsu presented Wang with the first-ever "ASSC MVP" award. In her improvised speech, Wang reflected on the honor of working with ASSC at its biannual gatherings of “game changers.”
To present Olympian Eileen Gu with the "Global Ambassador" award, member of the LA28 board of directors Gene T. Sykes spoke to how Gu embodies the Olympic values. In her acceptance speech, Gu contemplated the meaning of being a “Global Ambassador” as well as her gratitude at being able to utilize freeskiing as a platform to unite cultures and use her voice.
Award-winning actor Awkwafina then introduced the cast and crew of Pachinko as the night’s “Cultural Visionaries,” continuing in ASSC’s tradition of recognizing Asian-led film and television productions. In her acceptance speech, showrunner Soo Hugh spoke about the remarkable journey Pachinko has made from the page to the screen—in light of its epic scale and scope— as well as the privilege of working with the series’ cast and the honor of being recognized by ASSC.
After dinner, up-and-coming comedian Jiaoying Summers performed a stand-up set, and 2021 ASSC "Philanthropy Visionary" Charles Zhang introduced a tribute to the 50th anniversary of President Richard M. Nixon’s historic trip to China. Zhang, a member of the Nixon Foundation’s board of directors, recalled the impact that this moment in history has made on his life and the lives of countless others in the room.
Later, founding chair of the U.S.-Japan Council Thomas Iino introduced “Business Visionary” honoree and Suntory Holdings CEO Takeshi Niinami, speaking to Niinami’s peerless leadership of the Japanese business community. In his acceptance speech, Niinami expressed his gratitude for the honor and his pride in Suntory’s commitment to environment in Japan and worldwide.
The Gala closed with a performance by 11-year-old actor and singer Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja and the evening's final honor: the "Asian Women Empowered Visionary" award to Stella Li. Li, the President of BYD Motors LLC, sat down with journalist Lisa Ling for a fireside chat. Li and Ling discussed the impact that Stella and BYD have made on the community of Lancaster California, Li’s desire to push the electric vehicle industry forward, and how BYD’s full name, “Build Your Dreams,” inspires their approach to business and their workplaces.