In 2018, AsianBossGirl founders Helen Wu, Melody Cheng and Janet Wang took a leap of faith to start a podcast. Today they’re running a multimedia company where Asian American women find, support, and share stories with one another.
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Linktree is spotlighting a triage of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women whose creativity, humor, and empathy are carving out a space for AAPI and raising awareness of anti-Asian hate. Read on and learn more about how the women behind the AsianBossGirl Podcast came together to create an online community for AAPI and join the ranks of creators using social media to make a social impact.
It’s no secret that Asians, among other minorities, lack representation in the media. Though waves of diversity and inclusivity have led to Asian-led movies such as Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell, the “bamboo ceiling” still remains tough to penetrate. Coupled with a rise in hate crimes on top of this already unfair treatment, AsianBossGirl came at just the right time.
It all started with an energy ––a “going out energy,” to be exact, as Janet Wang phrases it to Linktree. Though they have evolved to cover earnest topics affecting the AAPI community, the ladies of the ABG podcast were originally united through their party energy and corporate career ambitions.
“I met Mel on the set of a video shoot for our mutual friend, David Choi – she was incredibly sweet, friendly, and bubbly and introduced herself to me. I met Helen through her boyfriend at the time (now husband), Phil, whom I am friends with from college – we met at a mutual friend’s birthday club event – she was also super friendly,” Wang tells us as we discuss ABG’s origin story.
That was 2018.
Now the trio’s Instagram is 71,000 followers strong, and they are on ABG duty full-time with 167 podcast episodes.
The ABG podcast has a little bit of everything. The fun stories that initially united them, dating fails, professional advice, and –– most importantly –– meditations on what it means, in this era, to be Asian, American, and Asian American.
Below, Wang opens up about long-term plans for ABG and how non-AAPI can best support and uplift the community.
Your parents immigrated to the United States from China and Taiwan with no family or community. Did that inform your passion for advocacy and community building?
This most definitely has played a role. I think growing up in a mostly caucasian community –– I’ve experienced firsthand how it feels to be “othered” and watched each of my family members experience it as well. This builds a level of empathy and compassion to create the opposite of “othering,” which is community, for anyone else in a similar situation.
What podcast episode would you suggest to non-AAPI who want to learn more about how to raise awareness of anti-Asian hate?
Episode 104: #StopAsianHate with Tammy Cho & Michelle Hanabusa, Co-Founders of Hate is a Virus.
Before you moved to ABG full-time, you held many impressive corporate positions. What would you say your biggest obstacles were as an AAPI woman in business?
Finding an authentic persona. I am naturally a reserved and introverted person who prefers collaboration and flat organizations (vs. lots of hierarchy). I had to learn to be confident and firm, able to impress through preparation and helpful information and speak up when necessary to earn respect and status.
As a collective of boss*ss Asian American women –– what are you, Helen, and Melody trying to present to the world?
By sharing our personal stories and experiences, we hope to show how multi-faceted Asian American women are and create a community for other women (and men) who relate in order to connect with, inspire, and be inspired by others like them.
What are your short and long-term goals for the ABG podcast?
Short Term: Keep on going! We are excited about our lineup for the coming months and hope to continue recording engaging and personal episodes for our listeners. We are also bringing on a production intern and potentially planning a 2nd show!
Long Term: We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to write a children’s book that’s set to release this September. We’re also working with an agency to pitch a young adult novel. We hope that we’re able to continue carrying the ABG brand and mission beyond the podcast to other mediums.
It’s been just over a year since the #StopAsianHate GoFundMe was launched, and people are still actively donating. Are there any other organizations seeking donations that you would like to spotlight?
https://hateisavirus.org/. A non-profit organization that is upholding the movement to dismantle racism and hate.
Perhaps now more than ever, people are hungry for ideas to best uplift and empower AAPI. What suggestions do you have for non-AAPI to support their AAPI friends?
To educate yourself on the history and experiences, to offer support, to listen.
As an Asian woman activist and entrepreneur, what are some personal challenges you’ve encountered?
Honestly, accepting those titles! We started ABG for the sake of the content, and it sometimes feels like I blinked, and suddenly it went from a passion project to a community and business. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed for the opportunity to play the roles of activist and entrepreneur, but I often struggle with feeling that I deserve those titles.
Your AsianBossGirl Collective discord is super active! What social media channels have you found best for building community and raising awareness?
Instagram has been the most successful for us.
What advice can you offer the next generation of AAPI women looking to make a difference?
Have confidence in the value of your voice and perspective.