On July 29 at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, PBS and WETA announced “Asian Americans,” a new five-part documentary series currently in production and expected to broadcast in May 2020 on PBS.
The series examines what the 2010 U.S. Census identifies as the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States. Told through individual lives and personal histories, “Asian Americans” explores the impact of this group on the country’s past, present, and future.
Led by a team of Asian American filmmakers, including Academy Award-nominated series producer Renee Tajima-Peña (“Who Killed Vincent Chin?,” “No Más Bebés”), the series examines the significant role of Asian Americans in shaping American history and identity, from the first wave of Asian immigrants in the 1850s and identity politics during the social and cultural turmoil of the 20th century to modern refugee crises in a globally connected world.
“As America’s home for documentaries, PBS is committed to telling stories that illuminate and celebrate the rich diversity of our country,” said Paula Kerger, PBS president and CEO. “We are proud to share this important series with our audiences, and to deepen understanding about the extraordinary impact of Asian Americans on our national identity.”
“‘Asian Americans’ is a comprehensive multi-platform initiative that will embrace the question of what it means to be an American,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “Following our previous series, ‘The Jewish Americans,’ ‘The Italian Americans’ and ‘Latino Americans,’ WETA remains committed to revealing the significant stories of the entire American people.”
“We are proud to support the Center for Asian American Media for the important work they do bringing programs about the Asian American experience to public media and audiences across the country,” said Pat Harrison, CPB president and CEO. “CPB is committed to supporting diverse content for and about people of all backgrounds, and ‘Asian Americans’ is a powerful example of our mission.”
“We are proud to have WETA as a partner on this milestone series, which weaves the histories of many Asian American communities within the broad sweep of American history,” said Stephen Gong, executive director of the Center for Asian American Media in San Francisco. “These are American stories: stories of resilience in the face of racism, of overcoming challenges as refugees from war and strife, of making contributions in all sectors of society: business, technology, military service, and the arts.
“These Asian American experiences and voices provide a vital foundation for a future fast approaching, in which no single ethnic or racial group defines America, in which shared principles will define who we are as Americans.”
Accompanied by robust educational, engagement, and digital components, this groundbreaking initiative will bring a new perspective to the American experience. Partnering with Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles, the series will aim to expand audience reach and engage diverse perspectives through targeted community events, impactful education initiatives and integrated digital content.
“Asian Americans” is a production of WETA Washington, D.C. and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) for PBS, in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Flash Cuts and Tajima-Peña Productions. The series executive producers are Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan for WETA; Stephen Gong and Donald Young for CAAM; Sally Jo Fifer for ITVS; and Jean Tsien. The series producer is Renee Tajima-Peña. The producer for Flash Cuts is Eurie Chung. The episode producers are S. Leo Chiang, Geeta Gandbhir and Grace Lee. The consulting producer is Mark Jonathan Harris.
Major funding for “Asian Americans” is provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Freeman Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Kay Family Foundation, Long Family Foundation, Spring Wang and Cal Humanities.