At ASTRO Gaming, we stand against racism in all its forms. We applaud diversity and inclusion throughout all our initiatives and appreciate our multicultural team as well as the uniqueness of our entire community. That’s why for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (and the rest of the year, every year) we’re celebrating our team members with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage by handing the spotlight over to them.
This is a tribute to the AAPI voices in our organization and our community. Here are their thoughts, experiences, and reflections on their identity and culture, in their own words. Feel free to scroll through to get a feel for everyone’s unique voice, or use the menu below to jump to a specific person.
- ABX Vice
- Ahmed Riaz
- Andrew Thomas
- Dylan Park
- Heather Hearts
- Kuya Allen
- Matt Heafy
- Sarah Dope
- Tracy Chan
- UYU Anakin
- UYU Drew
- UYU Jinhee
- UYU Marine
- Will Yip
“I am grateful to be in the position that I am currently in because I was able to carve a path for myself in life outside of the Asian American cultural norm at the time. I hope to use my position in the entertainment industry to inspire and be a role model for the younger Asian Americans to pursue their dreams and to show them that there are many paths in life that can lead to fulfillment and happiness.”
@vice_cs | Andbox Valorant Pro
“One of the joys of being an immigrant is that I can now proudly say I am a hyphenated american. In particular being Pakistani-American means being able to draw from all the cultural threads that make me who I am. I honestly don’t feel like I am in a melting pot but instead a patchwork quilt of identity. We all get to wear our history and experiences as a badge of honor.
The Pakistani part in particular pulls from the color and chaos of inner city of Lahore, competitive kite flying festivals and symbolism of truck art. Growing up, I remember walking with friends in the computer markets looking for video games among tiny tube lit stores, bargaining and hunting for something I had read in a magazine. Today, those same friends of mine from all around the world try (and sometimes even succeed) in getting together for an international game night!”
@ahmedriaz | Head of Design, ASTRO Gaming
“It’s always tough to break into a competitive business like sports representation especially when you don’t see many people who look like you working in it. It can often make you question whether or not you belong. As an Asian American sports agent I think it’s extremely important to educate and create opportunities for the next wave of young AAPI professionals who have a passion for the sports business.”
Andrew Thomas | CAA, Sports
“I find myself proud to be an Asian American in the entertainment industry. When I started streaming, I never knew how to feel about the ‘What’s your ethnicity?’ question or when people wanted to guess it based on my appearance. But my answer was prompt: “Born and raised in Nepal”. I was and always will be proud of where I come from. Being stereotyped and profiled has only solidified that pride! It’s not something that came easy, however. There were days that I just ignored those type of questions. And that wasn’t fair to mine and so many other Asian American cultures. We all have unique backgrounds, cultures, and beautiful stories. I try every day to break out of the stereotype so when I say I AM fortunate, I mean I am thankful to be able to share my Asian American culture through my voice in the industry!
I am very happy to see so many Asian American friends succeeding in content creation and prove that we can triumph in an industry saturated with tokenism and adversity.”
“There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being an Asian-American in entertainment. Until very recently, we were pigeon-holed into stereotypical tropes. And great gigs that could’ve and/or should’ve gone to AAPI artists were completely whitewashed.
When I first entered the industry, there were hardly ever any other Asian writers or directors working on the same projects. But there’s been a sea change, and it’s been fantastic to see Asian-American creatives thriving in media. I’m proud to be a writer contributing to a new and diverse generation of storytelling. When given a chance, we’ve proven that we can deliver vibrant characters, stories, and worlds to audiences in every medium.”
“As an adopted Asian American, my identity has always been complicated. I often ask myself if I can speak on Asian-specific topics because I wasn’t raised in an Asian household with Asian customs and traditions.
As I grew older and became more self-aware of my identity, I realized that I experience life as an Asian American regardless of my upbringing and that the portrayal of Asians and inclusion of them in media representation was off.
As I ventured into my career in entertainment, there weren’t any close examples or mentors I could turn to. I’m glad that some of that is beginning to change these days, but I would still love to see more amplification of what the AAPI community has contributed and continue to contribute to the media whether as talent or behind the scenes. I hope that by existing in the role that I do, it inspires a younger generation to continue the work, and the current generation to uplift our AAPI brothers and sisters’ voices and stories.”
@eamon3 | VP, Product & E-Comm at EMPIRE
“I’m part Chinese, but look very white. I’ve had a complex relationship with my heritage as many peoples’ reaction is to doubt me rather than meet me with acceptance. Being Chinese was something I was very proud of growing up, and I was lucky enough to spend time with my Great Grandmother. She came to America from Taishan, China when she was only 20 years old. I was bullied during my school years once the word spread that I was Asian. I was so proud to share part of who I was, our culture, and what I’ve learned from my family – but it was met with harassment. One thing that was (and still is) incredibly painful was to have those around me mock Asians without realizing that I was Chinese. I’d do my best to address it in the moment, but it is an indescribable type of hurt to have those around you be so casually racist – especially people you considered friends.
There are many of us who are scared to speak up or are unable to. When someone goes on a hate-fueled rant against marginalized communities, attacks us on the street or at our place of work, we can only hope that someone will have our back. ihollaback.org is a great nonprofit that is working to end harassment in all its forms, so if you are looking to do more to protect marginalized communities, this is a great place to start.”
“I am completely blessed to live this dream of being a Pro Gamer. I want to make a difference and be a role model for everyone and show that anyone can get where I am if they put the time and effort into their craft.
The only change I would like to see is more opportunities for the people who rarely get noticed. I would love to see more Asian American + Pacific Islanders given a chance when it comes to gaming in general. There are a lot of us with skills and I would love to see them get the recognition they deserve.”
“The purpose of diversity is to bring in new ideas and different perspectives while at the same time combating discrimination and racism.
But the entertainment industry has the tendency to use “diversity” to mask its tokenism. We have to call them out on it and hold them accountable. It’s not diversity, equality, and inclusivity until we welcome and normalize all cultures, races and genders.”
“Representation is incredibly lacking in the entertainment industry. Constantly feeling “alien” or “alone” in not just your struggles, but even your own looks and heritage, makes it wildly hard to be comfortable in your own body and confident in your own voice.
Being an AAPI in this industry means I can play a part in showing other AAPI that they are not alone, that they have a voice, that they are beautiful and valid, and deserve to feel like they belong.”
“It has always been my honor to be able to share aspects of my culture – using my art. With Trivium, we’ve used Japanese folklore and history as inspiration for lyrics; artistically we’ve been able to paint new worlds from my Japanese heritage. Nowadays, I believe it is my responsibility to display my cultural background to show people that we all – come from somewhere.”
“I’m proud to be Japanese American – I grew up in Japan with a Famicom instead of a NES and was hardcore PS2. Now, although I’m mostly Xbox, I really appreciate games like Ghost of Tsushima – a PlayStation exclusive – that showcase Japanese characters and culture.
We should be in a world where different cultures and experiences should be respected and highlighted, but unfortunately, we are in a world where certain groups are ostracized and targeted. What has been happening against the AAPI community has been extremely frightening and angering. It’s disheartening that someone’s race can trigger such vile attacks.
I’m really glad to see that a number of high-profile brands and companies have come forward to voice their stance against AAPI hate, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
@midnight917 | Head of Global E-Commerce, ASTRO Gaming
“We spend a lot of our lives resenting the world because of how our people have experienced suffering. It’s a terrible festering wound that we never truly learn how to mend.
But we learn how to carry that weight and we learn how to be shamelessly dissatisfied with how we’re treated for simply existing. Our beautiful and puissant cultures demand that we do not diminish ourselves to appease those who wish us ill, no matter the pain we’ve been dealt.
Being AAPI means that we are far more than hatred has ever told us to be and we owe it to our ancestors, our families, our children, our fellow marginalized communities, and ourselves to weaponize love, compassion, and cognizance to push back and speak up.
That’s what I’m about. That’s what Good Kraken! is about. I’m proud to fight this fight. I’m proud to be dissatisfied. I’m proud to be AAPI.”
“I’ve been working in various sections of entertainment for 22 years of my life now. Growing up, there weren’t many Asian peers or role models that I could connect with. While I’m thankful that these industries have improved a bit with representation in this time, we still have a long way to go.
What has been happening to AAPI communities throughout history, but especially in the past year, has been frustrating, angering, and disheartening. We need more people to realize that we aren’t their “model minority.” We aren’t objects to be fetishized. We are real human beings who also deserve seats at the table.
My heritage includes a very long line of rulers and fighters that I believe plays a large part in who I am and my drive and inspiration to continue pushing forward that I hope helps pave the way for other AAPIs in these spaces.”
Sarah Dope | Celebrity + Artist Relations, ASTRO Gaming
“Growing up in the U.S., I didn’t often see faces that looked like mine in media – movies, TV, magazine covers, you name it. It was as if stories like mine weren’t meant to be told, or people like me weren’t meant to be heroes, or faces like mine weren’t considered beautiful.
Coupled with the racism I faced growing up (and still do today), I subconsciously rejected my Chinese heritage every day that I went to school, because I was often made to feel ashamed of it. I didn’t think much of it until the tragedy in Atlanta this year unexpectedly sent me on an introspective journey of self-reflection and what it means to me to be Asian American.
I always felt stuck between two worlds, neither of which I was accepted in: not quite “Chinese enough” but always othered by fellow Americans.
Recently, I’ve come to learn that Asian American culture exists, full of its own history of struggles and accomplishments, injustices and victories. Progress still needs to be made, but I’m proud to be even a small part of the fight for that. I’m proud to be Asian American.”
“Well a lot of people that I have noticed in the past, and not as bad now, but still a big issue is that they only seem to look at you from the color of your skin. Mine being brown the industry tends to stereotype what you like, what you want, and what you are a fit for. But the real beautiful moments come when companies ask about you, converse with you to see what is underneath. I always say I am a crayon box of entertainment. My mom Being Japanese and my Father being Native American/Black, they made this unique soul you see today who is full of optimistic, positive, go-getter energy. It’s been fun seeing people’s mouths drop open when they hear me greet in Japanese on stream. People seem to be a lot more interested when I prove to them that there is so much more underneath than meets the eye.”
“The entertainment industry hasn’t made much room for the AAPI community, despite successful AAPI led projects and artists like Crazy Rich Asians, Fresh off the Boat, BTS, and Blackpink. Seeing people who look like you, in front of the camera and behind the scenes, helps our community feel seen, builds hope, and challenges harmful stereotypes. The AAPI community can’t do it alone; along with our allies, let’s continue to uplift, highlight and celebrate those trailblazing AAPI role models, during AAPI Heritage month and beyond.”
@tracypchan | Twitch’s Head of Music
“I was adopted from China and grew up in America. My family always treated me like I was just like everyone else, but once I reached school-age, I learned/realized that not everyone felt or treated me the same way. I grew up in a very undiverse small town, so growing up people assumed that I was just like the few AAPI that they had seen on the TV, which was way more often than not the stereotype knockoff of my heritage. No one deserves to feel ashamed of who they are or where they come from, or limited to such. Especially after becoming a parent, I never want my baby to endure the racial microaggressions or racism that I faced growing up. It is important to represent the AAPI community in as many diverse and unique ways as we can.”
“Growing up in a very diverse part of Atlanta I was able to see firsthand how much different cultures/ethnicities help shape and grow our communities. Now that I’m older it’s very important to help contribute & continue that growth. Very excited to get together with the Astro family and celebrate AAPI Heritage Month!”
@tk_anakin | UYU Tekken Pro & RedBull Athlete
“Being a Korean American in the esports industry, and previously the music industry is not something I take lightly. I believe that representation matters, and through pushing towards my dreams I have always been mindful of the influence it could have on AAPI youth who may follow in my path. Just as I have been inspired by those who have come before me, I want to make an impact as both a representative of my Korean heritage but also as an Asian American – someone born in this country who is making my own mark on the tapestry of American culture.”
@UYUDrew | UYU President
“AAPI History Month is a time for us to share our stories and uplift the diverse voices in our communities. It is a time to educate ourselves and others on our history in the US and to celebrate the enormous contributions AAPI’s have made to the growth and fabric of our country. It is a time to be inspired by the personal stories of AAPI’s finding their voices and using their platform to shine light on important issues for the AAPI communities. It is a time to reflect on what it means to be an AAPI in these challenging times and how one can be a positive influence both within and beyond our community.”
@UYUJinhee | UYU CEO
“As an Asian American woman who grew up playing video games, I never knew I’d get to a point in life where I play them professionally. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to share my passion with others who love video games as much as I do. I want to keep that passion alive and maintain a positive and growing space within the community. Because of this, I will continue to do my best in what I love, to share my story in hopes I can motivate others to be kind to one another, and play video games with everyone!”
@baitelephone | UYU, SFV Pro Player
“In an industry where there’s such a huge lack of Asian representation, being AAPI working in music means everything to me. I’m proud. Proud of all Asians who continue to work in the music industry every day because I know how difficult it is to work in a business where no one else looks like you. Growing up, I felt like I had to work twice as hard as the next guy to be accepted or taken seriously. Hopefully, the amazing AAPI community who have jumped over countless hurdles can pave the way for the next generation where the barrier of entry is way less thick and we see more Asian people doing what they love to do. I can’t imagine how many of my Asian friends as a kid would be thriving in the music industry if society made them feel like it was okay to, or an actual reality that could be obtained.
My Asian heritage represents who I am. It’s the biggest part of my story, spanning from my parents fighting for their freedom to come to the States in the 70s to give their children a better life, to me trying to make it in an industry underrepresented by Asian people. My heritage and its history is what makes me who I am and is what inspires me daily.”