Biden Mobilizes Support For Protecting Strikers At Inspiring White House Event

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This week, President Joe Biden supported striking Hollywood writers in a speech given while hosting the White House screening of the new series on Disney Plus called “American Born Chinese” with Ke Huy Quan in celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month.

The event featured Academy Award winner Ke Huy Quan, known for work including “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), “The Goonies” (1985), and recent Oscar-winning movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022). He reflected on his experiences as an eight-year-old refugee from Vietnam and his ensuing acting career before introducing “American Born Chinese” and handing off to President Biden.

Quan said: “It is with profound humility and gratitude that I stand before you tonight. I do not take this moment lightly because I know this building is a monument to a country that opened its arms to me once upon a time. And for that reason we are thrilled to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by bringing you our show “American Born Chinese.” Now, this is a show about that very crossroads between storybook fantasy and real-world struggle. It tells the tale of an immigrant family with an American son finding their way, forging their own path, and dealing with all the highs and lows of that difficult journey. It’s about the blending of cultures, influences, and values into a new American identity. And most of all it’s about family.”   

Quan, who was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) at the 2023 Oscars, brings a depth of passion, vulnerability, and joy to his words that is beautiful and inspiring to listen to.

Biden continued the event by highlighting the ways in which diversity and in particular the AANHPI community are absolutely essential and integral to the very fabric of what it means to be an American. He paid respects to government figures such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Judy Chu, and Congressman Al Green. He also highlighted initiatives such as the launching of the National Strategy to Advance Equity, Justice, and Opportunity, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and legislation for a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. The legislation targeting hate crimes is connected to concerns about racism towards and attacks on Asian Americans in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic, which some exploited.

In regards to the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, Biden said: “Nights like these are a reminder of the power of stories and the importance of treating storytellers with dignity, respect, and the value they deserve. I sincerely hope the writers’ strike in Hollywood gets resolved and the writers are given a fair deal they deserve as soon as possible. This is an iconic, meaningful, American industry and we need the writers and all the workers and everyone involved to tell the stories of our nation and the stories of all of us.”

One may wonder about the ethics of promoting and screening a Disney Plus series amidst the strike (Disney being one of the struck companies represented by the AMPTP), but as showrunner, writer, and executive producer Kelvin Yu said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter when directly asked about the promotion of “American Born Chinese” during what was at the time the looming possibility of a strike: “If we strike, we’re trying to grind the industry to a halt to flex our muscle, but I don’t think we’re trying to shoot our own shows in the foot. You want the show to be successful to demonstrate your value. But I understand both sides. A quiet ghost town is also very effective in letting the people in power know.” Read the Writers Guild of America’s full strike rules here.