Velina Hasu Houston is a Japanese American playwright; her works draw on her experiences in a multicultural immigrant family and often focus on shifting gender, racial, and ethnic identities. She began her writing career as a teenager (poetry), at age 22, her play Morning Has Broken won two national awards. Her most well known play Tea is performed around the globe. Ms. Houston has received countless awards and fellowships; she is currently professor of theatre and associate dean of faculty at USC.
Velina Hasu Jouston is multicultural with Japanes, African, and Native American heritage. Here is an interview.
Tammy Duckworth (whose mother is Thai and Chinese) is the current Democratic candidate for Illinois 8th District (US House) and an Iraq war veteran. She joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps while a grad student at GWU and chose to fly helicopters because it was among the few combat jobs open to women. Ms. Duckworth lost both legs in combat (Iraq 2004). She has since worked in public service and was appointed Director of the IL Dept of Veterans Affairs in 2006.
Tammy Duckworth spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Tsuru Aoki (1892-1961) was a Japanese American stage and silent film actress. Ms. Aoki appeared in nearly 40 films in the 1910s; her frequent leading roles marked her as the first Asian actress to gain top billing in American movies. Her best known role was in the 1919 film The Dragon Painter. Ms. Aoki married a fellow Japanese actor and in the 1920s, retired (mostly) from acting to raise the couple’s adopted children. Her first appearance (with her husband) in a “talkie” film was in the 1960 film Hell to Eternity.
An image from The Dragon Painter.
Sheryl WuDunn is a Chinese American journalist and businesswoman. In 1989, she was hired as the first Asian American reporter at the New York Times; soon thereafter she became the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize (shared with husband Nicholas Kristof) for reporting on the Tiananmen Square protests. Ms. WuDunn has co-authored 3 books with her husband including the 2009 bestseller Half the Sky which posits the worldwide oppression of women is the “paramount moral challenge” of the current era.
Definitely worth a read.
LeLy Hayslip is a Vietnamese American humanitarian and founder of both the East Meets West Foundation & the Global Village Foundation. Ms. Hayslp moved to the US in the her early 20s after experiencing 10 years of conflict and suffering in Vietnam. She started East Meets West Foundation in 1988 to help heal the pains of the Vietnman war by providing clean water, medical treatment, and education. It is now the largest NGO in Vietnam. Global Village was founded in 1999 and has similar golas. Ms. Hayslip has published two memoirs and is the subject of the 1993 film Heaven & Earth.
Her first memoir When Heaven & Earth Change Places is a decent read.