Story at a glance

  • "Asian Americans" is a five-hour film series that will chronicle the contributions and challenges of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing ethnic group in America.
  • The series premieres Monday, May 11 on PBS.
  • Timing for the release couldn't be more crucial — May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, and Asian Americans across the country have been reporting an increase in racism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Premiering Monday on PBS, “Asian Americans,” a five-part special, is considered to be the most ambitious documentary project ever to chronicle the history of the Asian-American community. Its debut also couldn’t be more timely, considering that the month of May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. 

The five hour-long documentary series is narrated by actor Daniel Dae Kim of “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0,” an Asian American actor who also made headlines this year when he posted a video on Instagram in March revealing that he had tested positive for COVID-19. The release of  “Asian Americans” also comes amidst a surge of racism and xenophobia toward Asian Americans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Led by a team of Asian-American filmmakers, including Academy Award-nominated series producer Renee Tajima-Peña of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and “No Más Bebés,” the groundbreaking television series chronicles the fastest growing ethnic group's history in the United States, and also examines the often overlooked role Asian Americans have played in shaping America. 

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Beginning in the 1850s and continuing into the present, the series covers a wide range of personal stories and historical events from Asian-Americans over the years — from the Angel Island Immigration Station to the impact of the Filipino-American labor movement.

“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.”


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Published on May 11, 2020