For the month of May, we’ll be celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) in the United States. This is a time when we honor and celebrate the achievements, influences, and contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders.
Influential Thai Americans like Chrissy Teigan and Tiger Woods have had a significant impact on America through their successes, including Teigan’s cookbook Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat and Woods’ PGA Championship victories over the years.
The Thailand Insider team is commemorating AAPI month by highlighting some of the most influential Thai Americans today. From politicians and chefs to tv personalities and social media stars, these distinguished individuals have impacted the country through their contributions and exceptional accomplishments over the years.
In no particular order, we are proud to present these amazing Thai-Americans to you all:
Ladda Tammy Duckworth – U.S. Senator
Iraq War Veteran Tammy Duckworth is a U.S. Senator advocating for practical solutions, including rebuilding the U.S. infrastructure, protecting the citizens of Illinois from lead poisoning, supporting minority-owned small businesses and growing manufacturing jobs, investing in neglected communities, and making college affordable.
In her Senate position, Duckworth co-founded the first Environmental Justice Caucus. To this day, she continues her goal of supporting and protecting U.S. Veterans, standing with the troops the nation sends overseas.
Fawn Veerasunthorn – Disney Head of Story: Raya and the Last Dragon
As the Head of Story for Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, Fawn Veerasunthorn has revolutionized how Asian women are portrayed in an animated film. The position of Head of Story creates a visual representation of the narrative from the writer’s words and director’s vision. Raya and the Last Dragon focuses on the Southeast Asian fantasy world of Kumandra, where the main character Raya is presented as the lone Asian female descendant who uses her strength to persevere against all odds.
What makes this film stand out is the portrayal of different aspects of the Asian culture and its influence on the characters. Many women are responsible for the burden of the story rather than one woman carrying everything alone. According to Veerasunthorn, when faced with conflict the characters ultimately make their own decisions based on who they are and what they want for the world.
Bui Simon – Miss Universe and Founder of Angels Wings Foundation
Bui Simon is a Thai American beauty queen, crowned Miss Universe in 1988 and the president and founder of the Angels Wings Foundation. Simon received her crowning in Taipei, Taiwan, where she became the second Thai woman to win the title of Miss Universe.
Bui also founded the Angels Wings Foundation, which provides scholarships to young Thai Americans as well as education, orphanages, healthcare, and other impacts to support underprivileged children in Thailand.
Jet Tila – Chef
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Jet Tila is the chef of restaurants Pakpao Thai and The Charleston with many culinary accomplishments, including his appearance on Iron Chef America, Beat Bobby Flay, and Guy’s Grocery Games.
Tila was titled “culinary ambassador” for Thailand, appointed by the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles. In the World Records, Tila holds titles for the world’s largest stir fry, world’s largest seafood stew, world’s largest California roll, and world’s largest fruit salad.
Timothy Chantarangsu – Youtuber & Rapper
Known for his casting on the improv comedy show Wild’ N Out, Timothy Chantarangsu is a rapper, comedian, actor, and Internet personality. His YouTube channel has over 4 million subscribers with videos of original skits, parodies, and vlogs where he collaborates with other musical artists.
Throughout his musical career, Chantarangsu has produced and released five mixtapes and an album called Rush Hour released in 2009. Aside from his musical and comedy talents, Chantarangsu co-founded Goodie, a lifestyle brand with unique and affordable goods.
Ingrid Nilsen- Youtuber
On her YouTube channel of over 3 million subscribers, Ingrid Nilsen uses her channel to focus on the more important conversations behind beauty and intentional living. Her videos include makeup, skincare, style, LGBTQ+ issues, wellness, and more.
In 2016, Nilsen was awarded the Trevor Digital Innovator Award by The Trevor Project for using her platform to advocate for equality. Nilsen also partnered with a nonprofit, It Gets Better, where she led the #TheirStory campaign asking the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to share stories through a video about figures that inspired them.
Cherry Chevapravatdumrong – Producer & Story Editor on Family Guy
Aside from her role as executive producer on Family Guy, Cherry is also the only female writer on the hit series. Before her career on Family Guy, Cherry was a writer’s assistant on Listen Up, an American sitcom television series. She previously worked on the sci-fi series The Orville and television comedy Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens. Cherry is also the author of two young adult novels titled She’s So Money and DupliKate.
Mimi Tao – Transgender Model based in NYC
As the “it” girl in runway fashion, Mimi Tao owns the catwalk in the United States. Before her career in modeling, Tao grew up in Thailand as a young boy training to be a Buddhist Monk for six years. After leaving the temple, Tao eventually took up modeling, following in the footsteps of her idol Rojjana “Yui” Phtekanha, a famous international supermodel, who taught Tao everything she knew.
Tao is currently signed with Slay Model Management in Los Angeles, an all-trans agency. She has booked runway shows all around the world, including Singapore and New York City.
Briohny Kate Smyth – Yoga Teacher
What started as a childhood of music and fame in Thailand lead to a life as an international yoga star. Briohny Kate Smyth is a yoga teacher with over ten years of experience in training, festivals, retreats, and online content.
Smyth incorporates yoga throughout her day-to-day life, not just through the physical practice of yoga but also through the mind-body connection and how to integrate it into your daily routine. She offers training at alignedyoga.com and a training series with AloMoves.com, including videos from beginner power vinyasa to learning to do a headstand!
Chef Arnold Myint – Chef
Born in Nashville, Arnold Myint grew up roller-skating through the aisles of his parents’ restaurant, which was one of the first Asian food markets and restaurants in Nashville at that time. Following a career in figure skating, Myint pursued his love for cooking and became the chef, owner, and partner of three restaurants.
Myint has made stellar appearances in programs like Top Chef, Food Network Star, and BuzzFeed Tasty. His alter ego is Suzy Wong, a marketing character and female persona that loves to stir up a cocktail at social events or in the media as a “philanthropic domestic diva!”
Learn More About AAPI Month & Influential Thai Americans Today!
There are many more Thai Americans all over the country that have outstanding accomplishments! Take the month of May to learn all about their talents and contributions. To learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, take a look at the website here!