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Founded in 1965 during the Civil Rights era, East West Players (EWP) in Los Angeles has worked to bring to life theatrical works that illuminate the Asian American experience. EWP is the nation’s longest running theatre of color and was named one of 20 “America’s Cultural Treasures” by the Ford Foundation.

Daniel Mayeda has worked with the group since 1994, serving on its Board of Directors, and as president, pro bono legal counsel, and head of advocacy efforts with Hollywood studios and networks. 

“Theater is a powerful medium for expression, but it’s a platform not easily accessed by underrepresented groups,” Mr. Mayeda said. “East West Players has created its own arena to showcase Asian American stories and to increase the pipeline for Asian American creative talent.”

Progress toward increasing the representation of Asian American professionals in entertainment is slow, but certain. David Henry Hwang, who won a Tony award for M. Butterfly, interned with EWP when he was in college, and about “70 percent of anyone that you see on TV or film who’s an Asian American actor has probably come through or worked with East West Players in some capacity,” Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai told US-China Today.

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