85 Stories That Inspire With AAPI And Asian Storytellers

What is a story that has inspired you either as a child or now?

By Goldie Chan

What is a story that has inspired you either as a child or now?

Many of us carry stories from our childhood or now that continue to make us think or create. These stories can be surprising, heartfelt, silly, dark or deeply truthful. This question was posed to 85 truly inspirational and diverse Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and Asian storytellers across a variety of industries and disciplines – from entertainment and technology to writing and gaming. Here are the stories and ideas that have inspired them to create and Twitter handles. What story would you choose?

1) “Like a lot of YA authors, I was heavily inspired by The Baby-Sitters Club, and the books about Claudia Kishi, specifically. She was the first Asian American character I came across in the dozens and probably, hundreds of books I read as a kid. And she was just so cool—an artist and popular and stylish—working against all the stereotypes that felt so oppressive at that time.” – Maurene Goo, Author (@maurenegoo)

2) “I was inspired by Mulan. Besides being the first time I’d ever seen an Asian female as a protagonist, her main story wasn’t about falling in love, but saving the world. The sense of strength, ambition, and “main character energy” really drove my storytelling from that point forward.” – Anna Akana, Actress and Writer (@AnnaAkana)


3) “My grandmother, who lived with me her entire life until I buried her almost ten years ago, used to tell me a simple story. She said go good deeds for the sake of doing them. Imagine releasing into a flowing stream of water, never expecting it to return, but realizing it’ll keep going forward. However, she warned me that breaking someone’s heart is like releasing a poison in the water that would inevitable return back to you.” – Wajahat Ali, Author of Go Back To Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations On How To Become American (@WajahatAli)

4) “I didn’t see a lot of Filipino Women in the directing seat outside of our home country and now I live in a world where we have women with film credits at big festivals, such as Berlinale and Sundance, films getting distributed by Sony and Array, and directing episodes on big tv networks. It gives me hope that we all have a chance to tell our stories, and it’s all the AAPI women before me who opened the door for me. – Andrea A. Walter, Writer, Director and Cinematographer (@andreaannwalter)

5) “ ‘The Magical Language of Others’ by E.J. Koh gave me the greatest gift any story can give you: recognition. Last year, I moved to Canada, a country where I knew no one — and Koh inspired me to ask my mother to write me letters, so now I hold her words close even when I can’t hold her. I’ve never thought more about all the journeys – personal and physical – the women in my family have made across the world since reading it.” – Ellie Vengala at Ubisoft (@tsellieot)

6) “There are so many stories that have inspired me and brought me to where I am today. But if I had to choose one, it would be the movie “The Raid.” Not only did this movie overcome so many odds, but it was born of passion, care, and persistence. As an Indonesian American, growing up with not feeling seen or connected to western media, this movie was a breath of fresh air. All of a sudden, people were curious about my home country, language, martial arts, and it made me feel that I could truly belong in this entertainment industry. It gave me the confidence to try, and the strength to not give up.” – Yoshi Sudarso, Actor (@yoshi_sudarso)

7) “I’m inspired by stories of people who show up in places where they’re “not supposed to be.” It could be in culture, like BTS performing on Saturday Night Live, it could be in the news, like Judge Jackson being confirmed to the Supreme Court, or anything in between — there’s something so contagious about seeing people claim their space that makes me want to help create that space for whoever’s next.” – Yohan Lee, Lead at Twitter Next Creative Lab (@yohanjlee)

8) “Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim. Granted, I’m biased because Derek is one of my best friends and I got a front-row seat watching him create this masterpiece from beginning to end, but I think he captured something quintessential about the 90s Asian American experience. The story won all three industry awards: the Eisner, the Harvey, and the Ignatz, so even people who aren’t as biased as me loved it.” – Gene Luen Yang, Author of American Born Chinese (@geneluenyang)

9) “Well, a story that inspires me today is a story that was told to me by my dad during bedtime, the Indian epic called Mahabharata. It was an epic saga about gods, heroes, family, betrayal, magic, war, and our place in the universe, and it really formed the types of stories I tell and themes I would like to bring into my various works!” – KP at KP11 Studios (@KP11Studios)

10) “I love stories about women overcoming obstacles to discover their passions, and I especially love stories about when that discovery comes later in life. These days, so much emphasis is placed on youth, but our lives are long, and complicated, and we contain multitudes. It’s always so inspiring to be reminded that as long as you keep yourself open to new experiences, it’s never too late, and the best may be yet to come.” – Peng Shepard, nationally bestselling author of The Cartographers and The Book Of M. (@pengshepherd)

11) “There’s a Korean folktale called The Magpie and the Bell. My family told me the story often as a child, and to this day I think about it often!” – Jeeyon Shim, Founder and Creative Director at Jeeyon Shim Games (@jeeyonshim)

12) “I’ve always loved fairytales and mythologies. I grew up on them as a child in Bali. When I went to high school in Australia, I was struggling to fit in and I turned to fantasy books. One series in particular, by author David Eddings, really spoke to me. It’s a huge world, with magic, mystery, love, loss and I found myself devouring them. I wanted to see them on screen and I wanted, and still want, to be the one to do that. To this day, my dream is to create and direct the Mallorean series and in a way, the books are what inspired me to direct genre films.” – Soma Helmi, Director (@somahelmi)

13) “As someone who was led to believe that her Asian identity made her undesirable and unworthy of affection throughout high school, reading and watching the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy was exactly what adult-me needed to heal all the trauma that teenage-me endured. Beyond empowerment, the film is something I constantly go back to whenever I, as an actor, need a reminder that the work I’m doing has the power to inspire others who may question if there’s a place for them in this industry; the answer – yes, there is!” – Abby Espiritu, On-Camera and Voice Actor (@missabbyespirit)

14) “I recently watched director Jon M. Chu’s episode in Ava DuVernay’s “One Perfect Shot” HBO series, and his journey making a short film as a USC film student really struck a chord with me. He described his experiences being labeled both “too Asian” by non-Asian folks and “not Asian enough” by Asian folks, something a lot of Asian Americans including myself go through, and are constantly navigating as we move through life and career.” – Holly Hua, Communications Manager and Asian & Pacific Islander ERG Global Lead at Ubisoft (@thehollybible)

15) “im often reminded of this story that was shared on reddit about spreading kindness to strangers known as “Today you, Tomorrow me,’ which is about someone who ran into car troubles on the road and was helped by an immigrant family who refused payment and instead encouraged OP to pay it forward. it’s stuck with me to lend a helping hand when i can because you never really know what people are dealing with and what your small (or big) gesture of kindness can do for others.” – tiny, creator at tinymakesthings (@tinymakesthings)

16) “Big Trouble in Little China had a significant impact on me when I first saw it. There were so many Asian characters and they were both heroes and villains. They were funny, cruel, brave, intelligent, it was the first time I’d seen such diversity in a western film.” – Lee Shorten, Actor in Swan Song, Ghost of Tsushima, and Man in the High Castle (@lcshorten)

17) “One of the most influential books of my childhood was A ROYAL PAIN by Ellen Conford, which might sound weird coming from a male AAPI sci-fi author. That was the first book where I saw how a strong voice can convey character, wit, and emotion, and it’s something I carry with me in my work now.” – Mike Chen, author of Star Wars: Brotherhood and Light Years From Home (@mikechenwriter)

18) “There is a story in Japanese mythology about the sun goddess Amaterasu leaving the world in darkness after her brother kills one of the hand maidens. Most people talk about the story that comes after, but I was told by a person who studies regional folklore in Japan that some placed traditionally believed the handmaiden was Amaterasu’s lover. It’s really made me think about the history of queer stories, forgotten, remembered, reborn, and how to keep telling them.” – Yoshi Yoshitani, creator of The Tarot of the Divine (@yoshisquared)

19) “A story that has long inspired me is Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club.” It was the first time I felt seen as an Asian-American woman, and it led me to produce a sci-fi film called “The Deal,” which is inspired by my own mom and our relationship. I don’t think anything like it has ever been made before and I’m excited for people to see it.” – Sumalee Montano, Filipina-Thai Actress and Producer at LinLay Productions (@sumaleedotcom)

20) “For me it wasn’t a story but a magazine. Growing up as a child in the mid-90s, I loved American Girl magazine because it featured stories about real girls from different cultures and different parts of America. It had a paper doll of an Indian American girl’s traditional clothing, or a feature about a New Mexican girl and her family as they celebrated the Luminarias festival. They were early lessons for me as a storyteller: that my own personal story could be compelling and interesting — and that my experience as a girl living in America was just as valid as anyone else’s.” – Malaka Gharib, NPR journalist, a cartoonist and the author of the graphic memoirs I Was Their American Dream and It Won’t Always Be Like This (@MalakaGharib)

21) “I saw West Side Story (1961) in high school and it transformed the way I saw movies. I hadn’t seen music and song used in such a dark and dramatic way that made me fall in love with the power of cinema. It definitely inspired me to be a filmmaker.” – Gary King, writer and director (@grking)

22) “In the late 1970s, David Chuenyan Lai, a Chinese Canadian professor who spent decades of his life working to preserve Chinatowns and Chinese Canadian history, discovered some poetry left by detained Chinese immigrants on the walls of the soon-to-be-demolished Dominion Immigration Building in Victoria, Canada. When a construction foreman warned him to leave before the building collapsed, he stayed long enough to cut and salvage several chunks of the wall that held fragments of carved poems; he kept the pieces under his bed for decades hoping for a Chinese Canadian history museum to open, but eventually donated them to the Royal BC Museum in summer 2020, when he saw refugees in Canada once again protesting poor conditions in detention centers.” – Yilin Wang, writer (@yilinwriter)

23) “Growing up in Hong Kong, I’ve always been a fan of scary stories (especially ones with a comedic or campy twist). One of my favorites is probably Ann Hui’s The Spooky Bunch—a movie that follows a Cantonese opera group that’s being terrorized by an angry ghost.” – Banana Chan, Game Designer and Publisher at Game and a Curry (@bananachangames)

24) “Code Geass is the most formative piece of media I have ever experienced, because it’s shamelessly indulgent about drama instead of being caught up in trying to justify itself.” – Sisi Jiang, independent Game Developer and Kotaku staff writer (@six6jiang)

25) “I moved to the US from Sri Lanka when I was 8. The first time I really saw myself represented in media wasn’t until I was 40 watching Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King. The way Hasan described generational immigrant trauma and how he dealt with it contrasting how his parents dealt with it hit me hard. That inspired me to start a game studio to focus on telling stories about underrepresented culture and themes.” – Chandana Ekanayake at Outerloop Games (@Ekanaut)

26) “Growing up, my Thai mother delighted me with stories from the Ramakien—it’s our national epic that can go toe-to-toe with Western stories like The Odyssey. Knowing that my own culture has such a rich literary canon inspires my own storytelling work today.” – Malika Lim Eubank, CEO at HyperRPG (@hello_malika)

27) “When I was little, I was always told about my grandma’s good nature and how she talked to everyone- whether they had anything to offer her or not. She didn’t grow up with much but she always had a good community with her- which was more than enough.” – Angela Li (@hiangelali)

28) “Akiyuki Nosaka’s harrowing short story, “Grave of the Fireflies”, based on his childhood experiences living through the 1945 fire bombing of Kobe has always been an inspirational lynchpin in my formative storytelling. The emotional narrative encompasses dealing with survivor’s guilt and personal trauma regarding the loss of his younger sisters during World War II. The story also inspired the classic anime that has brought anyone who has watched it to tears.” – Steve Nguyen at Studio APA (@Steve_Nguyen)

29) “As convoluted as it was, the eccentric, jumbled and unapologetic Legend of Mana really affected me early on. Every aspect of it unfolded some form or honest truth about love, and even now, two decades after my first attempt at playing it, I go back to it.” – HTTPaladin (@HTTPaladin)

30) “In my research for DREAM, ANNIE, DREAM, I came across a number of immigration stories from my own and my friends’ parents. When I was younger, the extent of their sacrifices to start a new life in this country never really sank in—as a parent myself now, I’m truly in awe of what they were able to accomplish.” – Waka T. Brown, author at Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins (@W_T_Brown)

31) “As for a story, one of my favorite games as a kid was “Tales of the Abyss.” It’s about a journey of self-discovery and finding your place in the world. It has one of the best character casts and backstories I’ve experienced in a Japanese RPG game! While the game isn’t directly related to AAPI, it’s one of the reasons why I love video games and what I do today!” – George Yang, a freelance games writer (@Yinyangfooey)

32) “I recently heard a story about a successful writer, who at the time, was hustling and moonlit as an Uber driver. A suicidal passenger boarded and she helped him through it by teaching him how to drive a stick shift. Years later when she found success he messaged her how well he’s doing and how thrilled he was for her success.” – JB Tadena, Actor at Kung Fu (@JayBeeTadena)

33) “The Legend of Chang’e from Chinese folklore, and by extension, the moon itself, has always meant a lot to me as an adopted person because it’s one of the stories I grew up with, and it has helped me feel more connected to my birth country. Even now, when I look at the moon, it reminds me of where I’m from.” – Nala J. Wu, sci-fi and fantasy illustrator (@NalaWu)

34) “A story that deeply inspired me as a child was Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander. Thematically, the book explores identity, and how where you came from defines you less than the choices and the actions you take in the present.” – Andrea Stewart (@AndreaGStewart)

35) “A story that inspired me when I was younger and to this day features my mother, who was raised in the province by her Lola, then later immigrated to the U.S. A lot of her culture was lost as she attempted to fit in with life here, but she introduced me to a lot of our Filipino culture again by way of heirloom recipes, food that she remembered from her Lola. Not only did we gain an appreciation for her upbringing together, but as mother and daughter we had the chance to redefine what it meant to us to be Filipino and pass down traditions in a way that felt more authentic to us.” – Lucia Versprille, Seersword (@seersword)

36) “My grandmother made rice balls for herself and my 8-year-old mother in preparation to search for the remains of my grandfather in Ground Zero of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. The strength of my grandmother has inspired me to keep writing stories of my family and larger community.” – Naomi Hirahara, author of Clark and Division and the Mas Arai mystery series (@gasagasagirl)

37) “I think the immigrant story, my parents included, is so inspirational. They left everything they knew behind to start a new life, in a new country to give their children a better life.” – Manny Shih (@MannyShih)

38) “Young-ha Kim’s TEDxSeoul talk “Be an artist, right now!” really resonated with me when I first heard it, and I think about it often as a reminder of my passion for art and creating. Growing up in an Asian household where communication wasn’t a big thing, art was often times my only outlet and the only way I could express myself. Fave quote: “The magic question is, “What for?” But art is not for anything. Art is the ultimate goal. It saves our souls and makes us live happily. It helps us express ourselves and be happy without the help of alcohol or drugs.” – Lizzie Killian, Founder at FIFTYcc (@lizziekillian)

39) “A story that inspired me as a child: Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak. Re: Sometimes you have to look closer at things because what can look scary, isn’t and in the end, we all want a place to come home to where we feel loved and appreciated.” – Shelly Nathan at Shelly Saves the Day (@shellysavesthe)

40) “A story that inspired me growing up is that of Hsieh Kun-Shan, a man who overcame an electrical accident that led to the amputation of both his arms, a leg, and losing sight in one eye, to then become a great mouth painter that also starred in a TV show about his own life.” – James Tang, Actor and content creator (@jamesthetang)

41) “A story that still constantly inspires me is Poison by Chris Wooding, I always go back to it when I need to remember the “why” of anything I make.” – Kailey Bray at Pixel Circus (@HapaBarbarian)

42) “A story that inspires me is “You are mine” by Max Lucado. This is the story of remembering who you are and who made you. It’s one of my favorite childhood stories. This story inspired me to write childrens’ stories.” – Jessi Hersey at Onenesslove publishing LLC (@Jessistories)

43) “A story that has inspired me from childhood (and continues to today) is Kiki’s Delivery Service! I will always think of this film and story because it showcases how you can create a real story without the hard edges of extreme, war-like conflict, and that matters of the heart are just as compelling.” – Yssa Badiola, Director at Rooster Teeth Animation (@dearbassy)

44) “When I was very young my father would read through a picture book he was gifted from his sister in Korea and would translate the stories as we looked through the drawings. He’d ask me questions like “Do you see how these people have a darker skin color” or “these people speak a different language than us”, but we’re all the same. Those early messages of equality and acceptance of those who are different gave me the foundation to teach those same ideas to my kids and hopefully they will share with their kids.” – Mike Park at Asian Man Records (@mikeparkmusic)

45) “Filipinos have always been chameleons in media growing up. From being a pizza delivery guy or to being a prince, it made me think I could do absolutely anything.” – Jan Ochoa at Giant Bomb Dot Com (@_janjerome)

46) “As a child I was inspired by the legendary Korean White Tiger. The tiger that earned its white fur by overcoming adversity and used its powers to serve others.” – Mike Moh (@mikemoh)

47) “As a teen I attended the Hawai’i premiere of “The Debut” which was inspiring to me because it was the first time that I saw the Filipino American teen experience on the big screen. It was incredible to see the film’s ambassadors (also Filipino) talk about the movie with such passion. It felt like a movement.” – Candice Dayoan, VP of Creative at 50+1 Strategies (@candicecd)

48) “I have a memory of watching a little toddler girl playing at my apartment complex, when all of a sudden, she squatted down, picked a yellow dandelion flower, brought it to her nose, took a big sniff, and exhaled with a deep “mmmmm.” I don’t even know if dandelion flowers have a scent, but to me it was a master class on being fully present to the moment and letting yourself enjoy what you love.” Hana Wu, Actor at Monogram Management Group (@heyhanawu)

49) “When I was very young, a substitute teacher said “hey, we don’t say those things here” when another kid was calling me racist names. No one else had tried to stop the bullying before then, and that one simple action not only showed me there was hope, it taught me that you can be a hero by doing the smallest things within your reach and change – even save – someone’s life.” – Clara Sia, Influencer Strategy at Devolver Digital (@seriouslyclara)

50) “So, as a young Australian Singaporean, there weren’t a lot of artistic sources for me to look up to. But we did have a family friend, an uncle, Tan Swie Hian who was a multidisciplinary artist; painting, poems, and he climbed a thousand steps a day. That’s the breadth of life that I aspire to now.” – Desmond Chiam, Actor at The Falcon and Winter Soldier (@deschiam)

51) “The story that inspired me the most growing up, was Naruto, the anime haha. It sounds strange, but the narrative helped me to understand and navigate my own situation of being an outsider in a foreign landscape/a different country (I’m an immigrant, born in Indonesia). His story of growing as an outsider, yet always striving for community really inspired me to be a possible light in my own communities, though I myself am an outsider. Also, the cool animations helped to keep my attention. “ – Peter Adrian Sudarso, Actor at Abrams Artists Agency (@PeterSAdrian)

52) “Teen Titans’ Raven stood out to me with her arc about standing up to her evil dad because many of my AAPI friends were made to feel like they owed their parents their souls. I might have been a brat, but at least I knew early on that I get to choose who I want to be. Also, I’m actually on good terms with both my parents now, so I guess it worked out.” – Jess Reyes, part-time writer at Inverse (@jpreyes__)

53) “ ‘It makes me proud to see female tech bloggers out there, so few of us Asian,’ a woman wrote me in an email once. From then on my content creator journey wasn’t just about creating tech content catered to women and the less techie, it was also about representation and being visible to those who want to do the same.” Isa Rodriguez, lifestyle and technology content creator (@isadoes_)

54) “Growing up, I loved the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” I was inspired by Michelle Yeoh’s character, a strong Asian female lead who was every bit as capable as her male counterparts. Michelle continues to inspire me by telling stories of strong Asian female role models.” – Victoria Grace, Actress (@vgraceactress)

55) “Kogonada’s Columbus might be the first time I truly felt seen in a film. And that came out in 2017. To see a flawed, empathetic, evolving Korean American on-screen like that continues to sit with me as I move forward in my own writing.” – William Yu, Screenwriter (@its_willyu)

56) “Growing up, I only knew my grandmother as a homemaker. But, in getting to learn more about her as an adult, she told me all these stories of being a travel agent, a designer, a model, a treasury secretary of an organization, charity work, and more, all things she did while showing up unconditionally for her family. Even today, she continues to push the boundaries of her imagination with art, tattoos, with writing poetry. Her story reminds me that we are all more than just one thing; it drives how I show up in my professional and personal life – curious and empathetic. And every day, it reminds me that I can be anything and everything I want to be, whenever I want to be it.” – Jiya Jaisingh, Social Impact Digital Strategy (@JaisinghJiya)

57) “Although fictional, the story of working through feeling both “too Indian” and “not Indian enough” in the show Never Have I Ever is something that has hit really deep for me, especially as a mixed girl growing up battling Indian stereotypes while looking more Indian than I truly felt. It’s inspiring to see these stories finally represented on screen as I learn to embrace my gorgeous and colorful culture as an adult the way I always should have, free of shame and embarrassment.” – Sonali Shukla, Sales and marketing professional (@CapnSonali)

58) “I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie as a child, which was such a distant homesteading fantasy to a child growing up in Malaysia, so many miles away from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s American Midwest. It was life-changing for me to discover(much later in life) that people that looked like me absolutely existed in these stories too, and in American history, and it continues to shape my storytelling and research paths.” – Shing Yin Khor, author of The Legend of Auntie Po and The American Dream? (@sawdustbear)

59) “A few years ago I learned about Frederick Lee, one of the first known Chinese Canadians to serve and die on the front lines of the First World War. His story was one of many: a member of a marginalized community who overcame discrimination and systemic racism in Canada to fight for peace. It still resonates with me today.” – Daniel Kwan at Asians Represent Podcast (@danielhkwan)

60) “When I was growing up in Australia during the 1990s, the British dub of Monkey was broadcast every Saturday morning during an alternative music show, framed like some underground cult thing, Wu-Tang style. There wasn’t a heap of Asian representation on TV back then, so I latched onto those boisterous heroes pretty hard. The English dub is hilariously problematic today, but I can’t deny how that show railroaded my interests into screen media, retro aesthetics, and encouraged my bullheaded personality.” – Edmond Tran, Managing Editor at GamesHub (@EdmondTran)

61) “The first comic I ever read was a photocopied version of the German series “Father and Son” by E.O. Plauen my mother hand-bound for me when I was 5. Since it was told without words, I scribbled in my own dialogue and pretended I was the author.” – Laura Gao, comic artist and author of Indie Bestseller, Messy Roots (@heylauragao)

62) “Of all the possible answers I could give to this question, the one piece of media I can definitively say inspired me and changed my car

eer trajectory is the movie Megamind. There was something so compelling about seeing pure earnestness in embracing the qualities people saw as laughable, to instead lean into those things 500%, that to this day has been the core of what drives me as a creator.” – Hannako Lambert at Innersloth (@thisishannako)

63) “Hayao Miyazaki’s classic film My Neighbor Totoro encouraged me to embrace my imagination, curiosity, and creativity, and showed me an ideal world free of conflict and full of kindness and love. I was also inspired by the movie’s wonderful depiction of supportive adults who listen intently with open minds, offer advice, and encourage children to discover their own path.” – Chastity Vicencio, producer and host (@chastity_v)

64) “The first book that came to mind is Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, about a girl who wakes up in the afterlife after a hit-and-run. It’s very unique, human, and speculative—qualities I try to put into my work.” – Deb JJ Lee, writer and illustrator of In Limbo: a Graphic Memoir (out March 2023) (@jdebbiel)

65) “As a nerdy Asian kid growing up in the 80s who rarely saw people that looked like him in key roles, no other character resonated with me quite like Data from The Goonies, as portrayed by Ke Huy Quan. I was 13 when I was first witnessed Data unleash the “Bully Blinders” and “Slick Shoes” on the big screen and I was 48 when I was tasked with writing the dialogue and designing the puzzles for my childhood hero in the game The Goonies: Escape With One-Eyed Willy’s Rich Stuff. Even after all of these years, Data remains the one Hollywood character that I truly identify with.” – Sen-Foong Lim, Game Designer (@SenFoongLim)

66) “It’s super silly thinking about it now but when the Disney movie “Mulan” came out, it really changed my life. I saw someone that was funny, determined, and not afraid to help the people around her. I dressed up as warrior Mulan like 3 Halloweens in a row because it was a tomboy-princess outfit in one!” – Amy Liu, Lead Artist (@aemuuu)

67) “So a story that inspired me in an oddly bad time of my life was 10 Things I Hate About You, the movie with Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. It came at a time in my life where I was feeling like I was being used by people I thought were my friends and when I watched the movie for the first time I realized it’s okay to be soft with people who care about you/you care about but also to be firm and tough and set boundaries for what you need. It’s my favorite movie for that reason, for making me realize I can be a strong independent woman while also being soft at the right times.” – Stella Chung at IGN (@ParallaxStella)

68) “Revolution throughout Philippine history, even when there isn’t always a good ending, particularly the story of Gabriela Silang and Filipino resistance to Spanish rule. Learning and understanding the history of my people shaped the lens in which I see the world and digest stories of rebellion found in media — and while there isn’t always perfect parallel, stories of uprising have often been the most empowering and influential when done in earnest.” – Michael Higham, Editor at Fanbyte Media (@michaelphigham)

69) “Rebelwing by Andrea Tang was one of the first stories I read featuring a young Asian American character existing comfortably within her own identity. It’s a science fiction novel about a prep school student turned reluctant mecha dragon rider, and taught me that our stories can be fun and escapist while also deeply thoughtful in examining identity, politics, and belonging.” – Grace D. Li, New York Times bestselling author of Portrait of a Thief (@gracedli)

70) “My mom often shared her love for the book The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with me as a kid. She attended Mount Saint Mary’s as a 19-year-old Vietnamese refugee back in 1975 and checked it out from the library so often they ended up gifting it to her. At first, I loved it because it was fantasy. Later, I loved it because it was art. And now I love it for the truth it still speaks about what is truly essential in my life.” – Grace Lê, Head of Development and Talent at G4

71) “The story I was and always will be inspired by is one that only I really know: story of my mom. I would need an entire novel to express why but I’ll just say that my mom is the greatest superhero story never told.” – Jon Lee Brody, Filmmaker and mental health advocate (@JonLeeBrody)

72) “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk’s development story has been such an inspiration to me as a fellow filmmaker. Trust the vision of your stories and it’s time will fall into place.” – Alyssa Brayboy, Actor and Producer

73) “Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a book that I reread at least once a year. It is a coming-of-age story, but it can resonate with anyone at any stage of their life. The main character of Stargirl reminds us in a world that is unkind, what we choose to be is ultimately what will make us happy. Her mindset results in a personality that is kind, brave, and nonconforming. This type of decision will always lead to a ripple effect, leaving behind a lasting and profound impact.” – Jessica Tseang, Pop Culture Speaker

74) “Steven Universe has changed my life for the better. It taught me the importance of communication, understanding, and love in healthy relationships and I strive to embody that every single day.” – Belinda Garcia, Narrative Designer at Sledgehammer Games (@bbcgarcia)

75) “Mulan is a story that has inspired me! I have always identified with a woman living in a “man’s world” being in tech and with Mulan disguising herself as a man to serve in the army, I find it a very powerful message to send to our children.” – Tracy Lee, CEO of This Dot Labs (@ladyleet)

76) “The stories of how my parents escaped Vietnam after the Vietnam War is something I always carry with me. They’ve seen some of the worst things in the world, but continue to encourage me to approach life with love, growth, and patience. It’s always worth it.” – Victoria Tran, Community Director at Innersloth (@TheVTran)

77) “I grew up obsessed with Dragon Ball Z and literally commissioned a small art piece recently related to it! Not only was it the only show where the characters had some resemblance to me, but it was also embodied so many lessons around the balance of pride, hard work, learning, and determination that I carry with me to this day.” – Sydney Liu, Co-founder of Commaful (@Sydney_Liu_sl)

78) “One of the most inspiring stories that inspired me as a child and now is the perseverance of my mother, Chuong, who survived the Khmer Rouge. As a part of her survival story, there was a point when her family ran out of supplies, so she left her family by foot to find a way to work for the rice from a local village woman who showed compassion to her and gave her enough rice to last the rest of her journey. My mom’s fearlessness in the face of uncertainty still inspires me to this day. You can read more about her complete journey in a memoir I wrote about her life in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: An American Dream, with Sprinkles: The Legacy Story of the Donut Queen and Donut Princess.” – Mayly Tao, Mayly Tao, Donut Princess LA (@maylytao)

79) “Having lived in the Philippines even for small portion of my childhood, I admired how multi-generational families are so close knit. I used to live in a neighborhood that had all my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents all in one neighborhood. You never really leave your family – there’s no expectation to – it just gets bigger and you have a support system for life!” – Cyrene Quiamco, Augmented Reality Artist (@CyreneQ)

80) “My freshman year of college, I read Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and it shifted something inside me. I had never before read something by an Asian American woman that included such diverse perspectives, interweaving cultural folklore with firsthand experiences as a first generation AA. It inspires me to tell my story while simultaneously feeling like a big hug.” – Angie Hilem, Marketing Consultant (@angiehilem)

81) “What inspires me the most is the richness of Asian cultures as a collective. There’s a spirit of connectivity and resilience between Asians of all ethnicities. And as a Filipino, one of the things I’ve seen our culture do so wonderfully is how we’re able to pull from our experiences, look to the future with hope, & use that same feeling create something beautiful.” – Anna Melissa, Copywriter (@annamelissa)

82) “The true story about a tiny, kind and courageous Chinese woman with bound feet who walked thousands of miles during a war that almost killed her, how she managed to keep seven of her eight children alive living in a shack built on top of a graveyard in a foreign land, and how she spoiled every single one of her grandchildren with sweets, money, and unconditional love, myself included.” – Martin Hsu, Artist (@martinhsu)

83) “Despite growing up in Texas, my mom always made sure that I was immersed and inspired by my Chinese heritage. Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, from the epic, “Journey to the West” became my comfort character that inspired my shy self due to his resolve, wit, and of course, mischief and the ambition of a true leader!” – Alyssa Liu, Sr. Social Media Manager, Devsisters USA (@texastrashtoast)

84) “A story that has always inspired me is my incredible grandmother’s life. She lived through WW2, raised 5 children, immigrated to the U.S. knowing no one, raised 7 grand kids, saved numerous lives as a nurse, and spoke Taiwanese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Hakkanese fluently. She was cut from a different cloth because they don’t make them like this anymore!” – Monica Lin, Director of Brand Partnerships at Culture Kings (@thundercupLA)

85) “The Old Man and the Starfish is a story about a man who spends hours tossing starfish that have washed ashore, one by one, back into the water, because they would die if left in the morning sun. When asked by a young kid who passes by why he even bothers throwing them back in because there are millions of starfish on thousands of beaches and it won’t even make a difference, the old man tosses a starfish into the sea and replies, ‘It made a difference to that one.’” – Rosie Nguyen, Founder at Fanhouse (@jasminericegirl)


Voices & Bridges publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive discussion and debate on important issues. Views represented in the articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the V&B.