Skip to main content
About PBS
PBS Spotlights AAPI Voices in Honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Email share
Duke Kahanamoku’s stardom extended beyond the water and into Hollywood, where he pursued an acting career. Waterman examines Duke’s experience in 1920s Hollywood and the racial discrimination he faced. Duke was only cast in bit roles – most of them racist stereotypes, and many of which went uncredited.
The Paragon Agency

Premieres include INDEPENDENT LENS “Try Harder!”,  AMERICAN MASTERS “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha,” narrated by Jason Momoa, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Plague at the Golden Gate” 

 

Arlington, VA; May 3, 2022 — PBS celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with three new broadcast programs and a collection of streaming and short-form titles that spotlight the work and stories of AAPI voices from around the country and throughout our nation’s history. 

INDEPENDENT LENS "Try Harder!"from filmmaker Debbie Lum premieres on Monday, May 2, from 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app. At San Francisco’s Lowell High School, the kids are stressed out. With a majority Asian American student body, high-achieving seniors share their dreams and anxieties about getting into a top university. But is college worth the grind? 

AMERICAN MASTERS “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha" from filmmaker Isaac Halasima premieres on Tuesday, May 10, from 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app. Five-time Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamokushattered records as a swimmer and brought surfing to the world while overcoming rampant racism in a lifetime of personal challenges. Yet few living outside of Hawaii are aware of his considerable impact. Narrated by Jason Momoa, this new documentary brings to light Kahanamoku’s inspiring story, featuring original interviews with musician Jack Johnson, surfer Kelly Slater, surfer Carissa Moore and others inspired by the Hawaiian athlete.   

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Plague at the Golden Gate” from filmmaker Li-Shin Yu premieres on Tuesday, May 24, from 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and PBS Video App. This film takes us back to early 20th-century San Francisco, when a deadly outbreak of bubonic plague in the city’s Chinatown and the hunt to identify its source led to an all-too-familiar spate of violent anti-Asian sentiment. 

PBS will also premiere a digital-first, seven-part series called Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond, which is a Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) co-production with WORLD Channel, every Tuesday starting May 3. While Asian Americans have faced a double pandemic of COVID-19 and anti-Asian racism, the rise of solidarity efforts within Asian American and other BIPOC communities gives us moments of joy, resilience, and hope as we rebuild our lives. The series of seven documentary shorts move beyond the pandemic and reflect the complexities of Asian American experiences in this critical moment. 

In addition to the new broadcasts and digital series, viewers can also stream a collection of programs on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can also view many programs via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).  
 

Streaming programs that showcase the rich history and modern-day experiences of Asian Americans in the U.S. include: 

  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Mr. Tornado”: This film showcases pioneering meteorologist Ted Fujita, who transformed our understanding of tornados and whose technological advancements saved lives and helped Americans prepare for and respond to dangerous weather phenomena.
  • AMERICAN MASTERS “Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir”: This film provides an intimate portrait of the groundbreaking author, interweaving archival imagery, including home movies and personal photographs, animation and original interviews to tell the inspiring story of Tan’s life and career. 
  • AMERICAN MASTERS “Tyrus”: This film tells the story of Tyrus Wong, who, until his death at the age of 106, was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. 
  • ASIAN AMERICANS: This five-part film series casts a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.
  • FINDING YOUR ROOTS “Reporting on the Reporters”: This episode uncovers the family histories of journalists Christiane Amanpour, Ann Curry and Lisa Ling, and the stories within their own family trees are every bit as compelling as the news stories they have been covering for the world.
  • NORMAN MINETA AND HIS LEGACY: AN AMERICAN STORY: This film chronicles the life of Norman Mineta, who was imprisoned by the U.S. during World War II for his Japanese ancestry, and later rose to become the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
  • PACIFIC HEARTBEAT “The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu”: This film tells the story of four large stones on Honolulu's famous Waikiki Beach that represent a Hawaiian tradition of healing and gender diversity that is all but unknown to the millions of locals and tourists passing by.
  • POV “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs”: This film is about a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be.
  • THE REGISTRY: This film breaks open the hidden history of the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II.
  • THE STORY OF CHINA: This series explores the history of the world’s oldest continuous state and the landscapes, peoples and stories that made today’s China.

 

PBS curated a collection on PBS.org that celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage with titles premiering this month, specially featured encores and digital-first content. 
 

PBS Digital Studios also offers a variety of Asian American and Pacific Islander-focused programs, including: 

 

About PBS Digital Studios  
PBS Digital Studios produces original, digital programming for YouTube and Facebook Watch, designed to engage, enlighten and entertain online audiences. The PBS Digital Studios network has more than 29 million subscribers, generating an average of 50 million views a month, and has acquired more than 3 billion lifetime views. Currently, the Studio has 18 original series streaming online, including eight series from PBS member stations. Series include the Webby Award-winning It’s Okay to Be Smart, Physics Girl and Crash Course, as well as popular series such as BrainCraft and PBS Space Time .  

 

About PBS 
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter

 

-PBS- 

 

  

CONTACT: 

PJ Feinstein, pjfeinstein@pbs.org  

Meredith Wohl, mawohl@pbs.org