We’re sharing motivational quotes in celebration of all that amazing Asian-American and Pacific Islander women like Sen. Tammy Duckworth (seen here) have achieved and contributed to the world. (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr)

Each May, we mark Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by spotlighting the impressive achievements of people of Asian descent.

Asian women, especially, have made significant and lasting contributions to the worlds of politics, music, film, sports, media and more. So, in recognition of the month – and of the myriad accomplishments of those who exist within this community – we’re spotlighting motivational quotes offered by 12 trailblazing, internationally celebrated Asian women. 

Their words of wisdom can, and should, inspire us all to reassess how we navigate and interact with the world around us, and the people in it.


Activist, model, author and TV personality Padma Lakshmi. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Padma Lakshmi

“Just because a point is well made, doesn’t mean it’s right.” – These words come from the Indian-American Renaissance woman’s book, “Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir.” With them, she urges us to be discerning about what we hear, and what we choose to believe – a critical message in an age where media literacy is waning.


Fashion designer Vera Wang. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Vera Wang

“Don’t be afraid to take time to learn.” – While discussing her time spent learning from fellow fashion icon Ralph Lauren, the legendary Chinese-American fashion designer imparted some wisdom about the importance of slowing down in service of better honing our skills.


Actress Maya Erskine. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Maya Erskine

“I’m not going to be perfect, and that’s OK.” – Erskine, an actress who is half Japanese actress, said this in an interview on the TV reboot of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” originally a film that featured Angelina Jolie in the role Erskine now plays. Rather than worry about comparisons to Jolie’s storied beauty, Erskine chooses to embrace herself.


Vice President Kamala Harris. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Kamala Harris

“You think you just fell out of a coconut tree? You exist in the context of all in which you live, and what came before you.” – This quote, from a 2023 press conference, achieved “meme” status, due in part to Harris’ amused delivery. But these words from our first Asian-American and first Black vice president ring true: None of what we do occurs independent of our environment, or without influence from our ancestors.


Journalist Ann Curry. (Credit: Web Summit, Flickr)

Ann Curry

“Journalism is an act of faith in the future.” – In a 2010 post she herself penned, the Japanese-American journalist explained the root of her passion for her work – that it can, and does, have direct and tangible implications for those living now, as well as for the generations that will follow us.


Filmmaker Chloe Zhao. (Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

Chloe Zhao

“How we treat our elders says a lot about who we are as a society – and we need to do better.” – A sort of inverse of Curry’s point, the history-making Chinese-born filmmaker made this statement while accepting a BAFTA award. With this quote, Zhao invites us to think about how we regard and respect those who came before us – or, the ways in which we fail to do so.


MLB manager Kim Ng. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Kim Ng

“You know what you can do. You know what you’re capable of. Don’t let anybody get into your head.” – She’s the first woman to manage a Major League Baseball team, and she didn’t get there by listening to naysayers. While talking to a group of girls during a 2022 Trailblazer Series event designed to encourage them to participate in baseball, Ng – who is of Cantonese, Taiwanese and Chinese descent – told them to push away those unfair negative comments.


Singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Olivia Rodrigo

“You can be super talented, but if you don’t show up, what’s the point?” – The Filipino-American singer-songwriter had a point to make during this 2023 interview: That ability is nothing if you can’t combine it with hard work and intention. You must have all three components working together in order to create success, she asserts. Hear, hear.


Actress Sandra Oh. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Sandra Oh

“I think it’s just as important what you say no to, as what you say yes to.” – While talking with Vanity Fair, the Canadian-American actress of Korean heritage made a salient point about appreciating the meaning and reasoning behind the choices we make – as well as the choices we opt not to make.


Sen. Tammy Duckworth. (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr)

Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue.” – The Thailand-born U.S. senator from Illinois, also retired Army lieutenant colonel, reminded the world – while talking with the Associated Press ahead of giving birth – that raising children is a responsibility shared by all (and not just by women.)


Activist Cecilia Chung. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Cecilia Chung

“The only way that we can really create change is not just changing peoples’ minds. We also need to find ways to change peoples’ hearts.” – A proud trans woman and activist for the LGBTQ community, this Hong-Kong born shared her story with the world in the ABC miniseries “When We Rise.” During a related 2021 interview with ABC, Chung offered these words on how to sway people to embrace equality – and each other.