George Takei, Kelly Hu and George Huang -- three incredible industry pioneering talents -- donated their valuable time and led a phenomenal crew in creating an AAPI-targeted get-out-the-vote public service announcement for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment, or CAUSE. The PSA launched last night with Kelly and the cast and crew at a release party at J Lounge in LA.
is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan organization advancing the political empowerment of the Asian Pacific American community through voter registration and education, community outreach and leadership development.
The PSA, "Embrace Your Power," encourages Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to vote in the November 4 election and is just the latest example of George Takei's, Kelly Hu's and George Huang's ongoing commitment and dedication to our community and to the importance of AAPI involvement in the political process.
The result of hundreds of hours of work and the reshuffling of the cast's and crew's busy schedules, the 30-second PSA was created for the benefit of the AAPI community to improve the visibility of AAPIs in this critical election. This is the first AAPI GOTV public service announcement of the general election season.
This is Kelly Hu
's second PSA for CAUSE. In 2004, she starred in the PSA "The Least Likely," (http://www.leastlikely.com/
) targeting APAs between the ages of 18 to 25 who are the least likely to vote, urging them to change the negative image by registering and voting. "The Least Likely" aired on MTV that year as a part of their Choose or Lose campaign as well as on many local stations across the country.
"The Least Likely" won nine Telly Awards and the National Beacon Award for PSA in the broadcast category.
Kelly has been one of Barack Obama's top surrogates and a frequent headliner at political events. She campaigned for Sen. Obama throughout the country, including in Nevada and in her home state, Hawai'i
, and headlined our first big AAPI for Obama event in Northern California
as well as back-to-back AAPI for Obama events in Los Angeles in February before Super Tuesday.
I was fortunate to have been able to tag along with Kelly and Maya Soetoro-Ng during their campaigning for Sen. Obama in Hawai'i. I got to see firsthand how much an impact Kelly makes, especially in Honolulu, our home city. People love Kelly because she's down to earth and a genuinely friendly person. I can't tell you how many photos she's taken with people on these trips.
The crowds were there to support Sen. Obama, but Kelly's presence was definitely a draw in all the events that included the African American community, students, Japanese American World War II veterans, Filipino American veterans, LGBT -- she reached out to everyone. The University of Hawai'i crowd
, for example, drew more than a hundred students, faculty and staff on a Friday late afternoon, the slowest time of the week on the campus. Kelly and Maya were also guests on Hawai'i's number one radio station
Kelly was featured in will.i.am's phenomenal "Yes We Can" video
, which was honored with the first-ever Emmy Award for Best New Approaches in Daytime Entertainment.
She has also this year headlined the APA for Progress (APAP) Asian American Civic Project kick-off event and emceed the Asian American Action Fund's Celebration of APIA Political Empowerment gala in D.C. She also headlined last year's APAP presidential candidate forum.
Kelly's volunteer efforts started way before Sen. Obama's candidacy. She appeared in a grassroots PSA
I produced for Kamehameha Schools (you can tell an amateur like me produced them) as the Native Hawaiian school, Kelly's alma mater, defended itself against a racist lawsuit that sought to erode the schools' legacy of educating Native Hawaiian children. She was also a spokeswoman and fundraiser for Reef Check Hawai'i, running the Honolulu Marathon and putting on a celebrity event to benefit the organization, which saves reefs through research, education and conservation.
She visited our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of USO's "Ambassadors of Hollywood" tour (her brother Glenn is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel), and turns her passion for poker into raising funds for charities, most recently with the World Poker Tour's Celebrity Charity event.
I briefly met director George Huang
at a shoot for this PSA earlier this year on the set of one of his combat scene shoots. His film debut as a director was the 1994 critically acclaimed Swimming with the Sharks.
I have to also mention Charles Woo
, chair of the CAUSE board and the CEO of Megatoys. Charlie serves as a member of the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs and has been active in the AAPI community on so many levels. Charlie provided or enabled many of the resources needed to create this PSA and it's also to his credit that we have this for our community.
is his classic self in this PSA. The entertainment icon, known to the world first as Mr. Sulu in the Star Trek franchise, and more recently as Kaito Nakamura in the TV show Heroes, spent his only day off shooting his scenes and approached his part with the same diligence and intensity that he brings to his other roles.
In playing Mr. Sulu, Takei was a pioneer, able to show audiences that Asian Americans do not have to play stereotyped roles and can do mainstream parts outside of Asian genres.
I've never met George Takei, but I'm equally astounded by his work and contributions in the AAPI community. He served as chair of the council of governors of East West Players, the leading Asian Pacific American theater in the country, chairman emeritus of the board of trustees of the Japanese American National Museum and a past member of the advisory committee of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.
We've seen Takei play a visible role in the struggle for marriage equality during and leading up the historic victory handed down by the California Supreme Court that affirms the right for LGBT couples to marry. As a member of the Human Rights Campaign, he was a spokesman for HRC's Coming Out Project, which helps LGBT and straight-supportive people live openly and talk about their support for equality at home, at work and in their communities each and every day.
Help us honor the labor and love invested by Kelly Hu, George Takei, George Huang and Charlie Woo by visiting the YouTube video page
, adding a supportive comment, adding it to your favorites, giving it five stars and forwarding it to your friends.
Let's show the country that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders matter in this election and will use our voices to bring the change we can believe in.
- Keith Kamisugi (cross-posted at Asian Americans for Obama)