‘The Sympathizer’ Star Hoa Xuande Says Accurate Representation ‘Doesn’t Happen Overnight’

“The Sympathizer” star Hoa Xuande had never heard of the nonprofit Gold House before he started working on projects in the U.S. Growing up in Australia, he told Variety, he never thought there could be a group of people so passionate and dedicated to uplifting Asian and Pacific Islander communities as the nonprofit does.

“It’s stepping stones. It doesn’t happen overnight, and I think the industry is going the right way,” Xuande said of accurate representation for Asian and Pacific Islander communities in television and film. “We’ve still got a ways to go. You keep telling these stories, but you can’t expect them to be a hit in one go. It takes time. And the more that people see these sorts of stories, the more that people will become accustomed. So we have to keep championing them.”

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Xuande plays a spy for North Vietnam in the thriller, and was also recognized as the A1 New Gold honoree by Gold House.

The star studded golden carpet at the Gold Gala at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles May 11 included Steven Yeun, Michelle Yeoh, Saweetie, Manny Jacinto, Cynthia Erivo, Lucy Liu, Hello Kitty, Avantika Vandanapu, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, John Cho, Kristi Yamaguchi and many more.

The Gold Gala is hosted by the nonprofit Gold House, which has championed and empowered Asian Pacific creatives, companies and communities through different initiatives.

Dallas Liu, who most recently portrayed Zuko in Netflix’s live-action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series, said his on-screen counterpart was his favorite character when he was growing up watching the animated series.

This was the second Gold Gala Liu has attended, an event which he says “represents a community and striving for greatness. I think we do. I think the biggest thing we see at the Gold Gala is the support of Asians, not just entertainment. I’m just happy to be a part of it more than anything.”

Poorna Jagannathan, starring in the upcoming Hulu comedy series “Deli Boys” alongside Saagar Shaikh and Asif Ali, said she felt grateful to be surrounded by her peers: “Being able to meet and tell someone how their very culturally specific show also spoke to you is a totally different feeling. Here is where people get validated. Outside of this, that may not always happen. But this, community understands what it takes to get a show up and running.”

Padma Lakshmi, former host of “Top Chef” for 17 years, designed the menu for the night alongside Chef Vijay Kumar of the Michelin star New York restaurant Semma and creative director Prabal Gurung.

She told Variety the goal of the courses was to showcase and highlight South Indian food.

“I think the more that Asians come into creative power as directors as casting directors, as writers, producers and not only talent,” Lakshmi said. “I think that will be a big step forward for our community. There are so many interesting stories being told and I’m excited that we get to tell them ourselves finally. That’s how you break stereotypes: get people whose stories it is to tell it themselves, with nuance and complexity and in their point of view.”

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