The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) presented the 2019 Legacy Awards Gala at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City on November 13.
Cindy Cheung, stage / TV / film actress and her award-winning novelist husband, Ed Lin co-emceed the evening. Highlights included performances by The P.S. 124 Yung Wing School Theatre Club of 4th and 5th grade students and excerpts from Jason Ma’s Gold Mountain: The Musical, sung by Ali Ewoldt and Jonny Lee, Jr., accompanied by Kristen Lee Rosenfeld on the keys.
Jason Ma’s Gold Mountain, a new original musical, is a love story set against the backdrop of a pivotal event in America’s history: the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. It is a heartfelt, universal tale that celebrates the striving immigrant spirit, the redemptive power of love, and the ultimate nobility of self-sacrifice among a team of Chinese railroad workers. www.goldmountainthemusical.com.
The 2019 Generational Legacy Award was presented to the Tsai Family from Long Island, New York, whose family members Erh-Ping Tsai, Cynthia Chuang, and Sue Tsai are acclaimed for their excellence in the arts.
2019 Legacy Awards were presented to Tzi Ma, beloved Hong Kong American actor and director; The Honorable Mae Yih, Oregon State Senator, pioneering public servant and the first Chinese American to ever be elected to a U.S. state legislature; and Michelle Koo Hayashi and Jess Ting, M.D. for championing the transgender community through their documentary film Born to Be which tells the story of Dr. Ting’s pioneering gender confirmation surgical practice and the courageous transition of his patients.
Erh-Ping Tsai and Cynthia Chuang are life-long jewelry and ceramic artists dedicated to communicating and expressing their love of nature through art. Their creative practices cross the boundaries between ceramics, metalworking, painting, sculpture, and horticulture. In 1993, Erh-Ping Tsai was named American Outstanding Craft Artist. They also founded Jewelry10, where they leverage their artistic and technical skills to create nature-inspired masterpieces.
Tracing the roots of her inspiration to her family’s values, Sue Tsai, daughter of Erh-Ping and Cynthia, is an artist and designer born and raised in New York. Her striking creations of vibrant acrylic on canvas and mixed media sculptures reflect an impressive crossover of fine art, fashion, and pop culture. Her pop surrealism style has infiltrated into the music industry, creating major collaborations with stars such as Rihanna, TI, and Wale.
Sue Tsai’s creative talents and on-going entrepreneurial ventures have brought her partnerships with global brands in product design and curated events. In her recent debut collection of PUMA x SUE TSAI, she used her signature style to tell a story of flowers gone wild, rising up to take the planet back from humanity.
Erh-Ping Tsai and Cynthia Chuang met at the National Academy of Arts in Taiwan before emigrating to the U.S. to study at the Parsons School of Design. Their home in Long Island represents the significance of their everyday life and is fundamental to their artistic creation: an elaborate, curated and constantly evolving expression of appreciation and love for nature.
A native New Yorker, Jess Ting, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at Mount Sinai, where he completed the hospital’s first gender reassignment surgery in 2016 and advanced his clinical specialty to the surgical care of the transgender and gender non-binary community. Following Dr. Ting’s groundbreaking practice, Mount Sinai established the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery (CTMS). Dr. Ting’s team has performed more than 400 operations to date, making CTMS as one of the first programs in the United States to offer multi-specialty transgender care in one location. After receiving his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Juilliard School of Music, Dr. Ting attended medical school at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Documenting Dr. Ting’s journey, philanthropist and entrepreneur Michelle Koo Hayashi has aided in the public understanding towards the transgender community as producer of her heart-warming film Born to Be. Directed by Tania Cypriano, this documentary chronicles the evolution of an uncharted medical process, alongside the emotional and physical metamorphoses of some extraordinary patients. The world premiere will be held at the 57th New York Film Festival 2019. Ms. Koo Hayashi was born in Taiwan, raised in Japan, and emigrated to the U.S. in 2011. She was the CEO of a Tokyo-based real estate investment firm, and founder of an online wedding planning company in Taiwan. She has been a board member of nonprofits in Taiwan and Japan, and since relocating to the U.S., has been a board member of the Museum of Chinese in America and the China Institute.
The Honorable Mae Yih is an internationally esteemed and admired legislator who made history 43 years ago when she won a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives as the first Chinese American elected to a state legislature anywhere in the United States. As a revered public official, Ms. Yih served 26 years in the legislature after she had served on the board of two local schools for 13 years, a total of 39 years of outstanding public services. Ms. Yih’s many accomplishments in the State of Oregon include introducing and helping to pass legislation that created a sister-state relationship between Oregon and Fujian province in China. She has made a significant impact in the development of U.S.-China relations for more than three decades. Her book, titled East Meets West: A Bridge to Understanding, Friendship, Trust, Peace, and Prosperity Between My Mother and Adopted Countries, shares her experiences and powerful lessons that she learned from life in China, America, and public services.
Tzi Ma is a beloved Hong Kong American actor and director. Having started his career in New York City in 1973, Mr. Ma has an impressive number of theatre and film credits and has worked with many renowned directors and playwrights, including fellow MOCA Legacy Award recipient David Henry Hwang in his 1979 Obie Award-winning FOB and 2001 Broadway revival of Flower Drum Song. Mr. Ma’s most recent films include appearances in Arrival, Meditation Park (Best Actor Nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television), Pali Road (Jury Award, Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in Film), The Farewell, Netflix’s first martial arts original series “Wu Assassins,” and Disney’s forthcoming live-action Mulan.
The benefit gala raised over $1.1 million in gifts and pledges.
MOCA tells the untold stories of a dynamic community whose members are now at the fore-front of all sectors of America’s economic and cultural life. The Gala recognizes the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of individuals and families whose unconditional service as pioneers, role models, and leaders have paved the way for generations. www.mocanyc.org
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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