He’s known as a filmmaker, artist and storyteller at the intersection of art, politics and culture. This week, Los Angeles-based Frank Chi added another honor – Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Social Equality Awardee.
Just six people nationwide who play a key role in advancing social equality and economic opportunity were selected for this prestigious award, based on their extraordinary contributions to breaking barriers and creating opportunities.
Frank’s work helps lead national narratives around belonging and inclusion in American public life. His social impact-focused films like the HBO original 38 at the Garden – which retold Jeremy Lin’s “Linsanity” run as a story about how an Asian-American defied the odds and overcame stereotypes that hurt Asian Americans, most recently won a Sports Emmy and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. His other film collaborations with the Smithsonian Institution on topics such as Islamophobia and America’s immigrant history have been widely seen and celebrated.
“When you’re an Asian American storyteller, America tells you two things and they’re in direct conflict with each other. The first is that the personal is the most powerful – so tell your personal story. The second is that you’re Asian in America, your story doesn’t matter – you’re invisible in this country. This contradiction stalks the work and choices of every Asian American storyteller I’ve ever met, and feels so impossible to so many. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve been so lucky to have the opportunity to tell the stories I’m passionate about on such a big scale. It means so much to me that BofA recognizes these challenges. That’s why I am directing the bank’s sizable Social Equality grant to the Center for Asian American Media – so that we pay it forward to the next generation of Asian American storytellers such that this work feels just a little bit less impossible. Because at the end of the day, what forms and strengthens community are stories, making us feel less alone and sustaining us to imagine something bigger.”
“We want to recognize, celebrate and empower the leaders and nonprofits driving progress for the diverse communities where we all live and serve,” says Ebony Thomas, president, Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “We are inspired by the work these individuals and organizations do to break barriers and create opportunities on behalf of others in sustainable and innovative ways.”
As part of the Social Equality Award, honorees select a nonprofit for Bank of America to direct a $200,000 grant – Frank has chosen CAAM. Thanks to Frank’s generosity and shared vision, we plan to use the funds to strengthen our core programs and leadership capacities in our ongoing work to develop emerging filmmakers.