From Ang Lee, the first person of Asian descent to win the Best Director award for Oscars, to Jeremy Lin, the first Asian American basketball player in the NBA, Asian Americans continue to break barriers and achieve new heights in all fields and industries.
Martell Icons of Inspiration hopes to celebrate the achievements of leading Asian American professionals in art, entertainment and business, while providing a platform for aspiring Asian American professionals to discover their talents, grow in their careers, and pursue their passions.
This year, we have chosen two individuals to be our Icons of Inspirations. As dedicated members in the community, they have shown immense passion in what they do and their stories have inspired achievements.
Icon in Entertainment
Chris Tashima, an Academy award winner, is a Japanese American actor and director. He is co-founder of the entertainment company Cedar Grove Productions and Artistic Director of its Asian American theatre company, Cedar Grove OnStage. Tashima stars as the romantic lead opposite Joan Chen in Eric Byler's Americanese, an unreleased feature from IFC First Take. The film won two awards after its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, including a Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Cast. Tashima, as a director, also won an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film with producer Chris Donahue, for Visas and Virtue, which he directed, co-wrote, and starred in.
Icon in Entrepreneurship
Stephen Liu is an American internet entrepreneur, media executive and philanthropist. Liu is the CEO and “Chief Social Capitalist” for Privy.net, an exclusive private social network and online/mobile platform that targets a select group of transpacific executives and influential figures in the US and Asia. Prior to Privy, Liu founded and was president of Reelplay, a Forbes Top 200 B2B Company. It was one of the early streaming video-enabled B2B digital marketplaces catering to the global film and television distribution industry.
Liu founded the Asian Professional Exchange (APEX) in 1993 in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He served as the organization's founding president from 1993 to 1997, and led the organization from conception to one of the largest Asian Pacific American organizations in United States, with over 10,000 members. Liu remains active in the organization and serves as chairman of the board. His varied accomplishments earned Liu the honor of being named “Local Hero” by KCET and UnionBank in 2009 and an “Emerging Leader” by the Asian Pacific Community Fund (APCF) in 2008. He was also recognized by the Boy Scouts of America as a “Distinguished Citizen”.