George TakeiIcon Award
Those who say there are no second acts in American life don’t know George Takei. For the young boy who spent his childhood in an American concentration camp for persons of Japanese ancestry, life has offered not just a second act, but a third, fourth and fifth — with many, one hopes, still to come. His unique journey through pop culture and politics has made him not just a witness, but a prime mover during some of the most critical moments in our history.
Takei’s acting career has spanned nearly six decades, with more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest-starring roles to his credit. Takei is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television and film series Star Trek. Among current projects, Takei is set to play the role of Reciter in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures directed by John Doyle and opening at the off-Broadway Classic Stage Company in April 2017. He’s an actor, social justice activist, social media mega-power, star of the Broadway musical Allegiance, and subject of To Be Takei, a documentary on his life and career.
Jennifer Yuh NelsonDirector of the Year Award
Jennifer Yuh Nelson recently directed DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3. Nelson made her feature film directorial debut with Kung Fu Panda 2, which earned more than $665 million at the worldwide box office. Nelson has lent her talents to a variety of DreamWorks Animation’s motion pictures including: 2008’s Kung Fu Panda (as head of story), 2005’s Madagascar (as story artist), 2003’s Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (as head of story) and 2002’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (also as story artist).
Prior to joining DreamWorks Animation, Nelson worked at HBO Animation, developing various projects and short series. She has worn many hats, serving as director, story artist and character designer for HBO’s animated series Spawn, which won an Emmy Award in 1999 for Outstanding Animated Program. Her career in animation has spanned several countries, including Korea and Japan, where she oversaw animation for HBO. Nelson attended California State University, Long Beach, where she received a BFA in illustration. She has also published several independent comic books.
Ken JeongActor of the Year Award
Actor, producer and writer Ken Jeong, known for his scene-stealing abilities, has established himself as one of today’s top comedic stars. Jeong began performing regularly at the Improv and Laugh Factory, and was seen on a number of television shows including The Office, Entourage, and MADtv. It wasn’t until he caught Judd Apatow’s eye, who cast him as “Dr. Kuni” in Knocked Up, that Jeong solidified himself as a feature film actor. In May of 2009, Jeong appeared as the Asian-mobster “Mr. Chow” in the sleeper-hit comedy The Hangover franchise, also starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, which earned him 3 Teen Choice Nominations and an MTV Movie Award.
In television, Jeong can be seen starring on ABC’s Dr. Ken, which he also created, writes and is an Executive Producer. He also was a series regular on the critically acclaimed NBC show Community from 2009-2015. The cast won a TV Guide Award for Favorite Ensemble in 2012. Jeong spends a lot of his off time volunteering with Stand Up 2 Cancer, which is a cause very dear to his heart. Jeong currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and twin daughters.
Steve AokiMusic Vanguard Award
STEVE AOKI is a Grammy-nominated international producer/DJ, electronic dance music entrepreneur, and founder of the trendsetting record label, events/lifestyle company and apparel line Dim Mak. Since launching in 1996, Dim Mak has broken bands such as Bloc Party, The Bloody Beetroots, Klaxons, and The Gossip through deftly marketed single and full-length releases and now has nearly 500 releases to date. As a solo artist, AOKI has become a force of nature averaging over 250 tour dates per year. AOKI's second artist album NEON FUTURE I, was released September 30, 2014 via Dim Mak/Ultra Music and features his Gold certified single "Delirious (Boneless)" with Chris Lake and Tujamo featuring Kid Ink, "Born To Get Wild" featuring will.i.am and "Rage The Night Away" featuring Waka Flocka Flame. The second part of his Neon Future album, NEON FUTURE II, was released on May 12, 2015 and features collaborations with Linkin Park, Matthew Koma, Snoop Lion, Rivers Cuomo and NERVO, plus a very special appearance by creative genius J.J. Abrams who voices the outro to close the album.
AOKI's other current tracks include "How Else" featuring Rich The Kid and iLoveMakonnen, "Back 2 U" with Boehm featuring WALK THE MOON--which is smashing on the streaming front with over a million Spotify plays per week since its release in May and has been added to many Top 40 radio stations including Y100 in Miami-plus "Can't Go Home" with Felix Jaehn featuring Adam Lambert. Steve Aoki is also the featured subject of the Netflix Originals documentary I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, out now.
Brian TeeBMW's Ultimate Drive Award
Brian Tee can currently be seen as a series regular on NBC’s new hit show “Chicago Med”, as the chief resident “Dr. Ethan Choi.” Tee can also be seen in the highly anticipated Paramount Pictures’ and Michael Bay’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows,” as the iconic super villain “Shredder." As a leading man Tee is no stranger to tentpole movies; with Tee’s memorable starring performance as the lead villain “DK, the Drift King,” in Universal Pictures' blockbuster franchise “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” Last summer Tee, played “Hamada,” in Universal Pictures’ and Amblin Entertainment’s, record breaking movie, “Jurassic World,” after coming off his lead role in FOX's 2013, Summer Blockbuster “The Wolverine,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by James Mangold.
An international Actor, Tee is a multi talent in both genres, as he starred in the Korean American romantic comedy feature “Wedding Palace,” which hit selected theaters worldwide. He also broke through internationally in the highly anticipated Korean movie “No Tears for the Dead.” Tee plays the lead antagonist opposite, Jang, Dong-Gun and Kim, Min-Hee directed by the acclaimed Lee, Jeong-Beom (“The Man from Nowhere.”)
A Los Angeles native and mixture of multiple Asian descents, Tee is proficient in both Japanese and Korean, and holds a bachelor's degree in Dramatic Arts - Acting from the University of California, Berkeley.
Wong Fu ProductionsDigital Influencer Award
Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, and Ted Fu founded Wong Fu Productions, a digital production company, in 2003 before YouTube was even invented. Since then they've amassed over 2.5 million subscribers around the world with over 400 million views of their dramatic short films and comedy sketches. Their creative work has been recognized for its striking quality and emotional depth as well as its authentic representation of Asian Americans, earning honors and praise from organizations like CNN, NPR, and even the White House. As pioneers and leaders in the ever-growing space, Wong Fu Productions continues to expand on and off their channel, most recently with their film "Everything Before Us" being released on Netflix and with the release their original series "Single by 30" on YouTube's premium service, YouTube Red.