Unforgettable Gala Hits 20-Year Milestone: The nation’s largest and longest-running Asian Pacific Islander awards show will make its annual return to the Beverly Hilton this December, marking 20 years of celebrating API excellence and representation in the arts, culture and entertainment. Themed “Illuminate,” the 20th Annual Unforgettable Gala, presented by Lexus and produced by Character Media, will take place on Saturday, December 17.
Founded in 2002, the black-tie affair fondly known as UNFO (or the biggest API party of the year) was created by James Ryu, founder and publisher of award-winning magazines KoreAm Journal, Audrey Magazine, Kore Asian Media and Character Media, all of which have highlighted API changemakers making their mark. Last year’s UNFO honorees included John Cho, Simu Liu and Sandra Oh, amongst many others.
“The Unforgettable Gala began shining a light on the API community 20 years ago, at a time when there was relatively little awareness and less opportunity,” says Daniel Dae Kim, who serves as chair of the 2022 UNFO Selection Committee. “Today, we’re fortunate enough to celebrate how far we’ve come as we honor both the API icons who helped pave the way, as well as the next generation of talent proudly taking us into the future.”
Kim returns in his role as selection committee chair, overseeing nominations and voting by a select group of committee members who represent Hollywood executives and entertainers as well as past UNFO award winners and other API community leaders. For the first time, an UNFO co-chair is announced this year, with journalist and host Lisa Ling sharing in the selection committee duties with Kim.
“In the over 30 years that I’ve worked in the media, I have seen the number of APIs grow quite exponentially,” notes Ling. “Being represented on screens, on stage, in sports, and in business in greater numbers has been a long time coming. Especially during a time when many in our community have felt under attack, seeing APIs in all aspects of popular culture enshrines our sense of belonging.”
This year’s UNFO will feature a performance by world-renowned hip hop icon Apl.de.Ap of Black Eyed Peas. “I’m honored to perform at the 20th anniversary of the gala, and especially excited to highlight Filipino culture,” says Apl.de.Ap. “It’s very cool to have this announcement made during Filipino American History Month, too. And I’ll be bringing on some special friends to mark this momentous occasion.”
This year’s event is made possible thanks to the generosity of presenting sponsor Lexus. Additional sponsors include Panda Restaurant Group, J&K Gouw Foundation, Pechanga Resort Casino and Le Mieux Skincare.
Highlights from last year’s UNFO celebration can be found at https://youtu.be/66Lq2U7VznE. Follow Character Media and tag #UNFO on Facebook (@CharacterMediaCom), Twitter (@Character_Media), Instagram (@Character.Media) and TikTok (@charactermedia).
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