The restaurant unveiled a video for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, highlighting the achievements of trailblazers like Connie Chung, Michael Chang and cofounders Andrew and Peggy Cherng.

Maria Yagoda
May 01, 2018

While you may not associate Panda Express with social impact, the chain restaurant is hoping their new initiative may start some conversations. On May 1, to commemorate the beginning of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Panda Express dropped a short video called "Trailblazers," highlighting a handful of successful Asian-American figures, including Connie Chung, Michael Chang and Andrew and Peggy Cherng, to showcase how they transformed their fields—no thanks to the prejudices they faced along the way.

Panda Express even launched a spiffy new landing page devoted entirely to the month (and how their restaurants fit into it, of course. This is still a brand promotion!)

The anecdotes in the feature are striking. Chung recounts the relentless harassment she faced upon getting hired at CBS News—her first big break.

"There were no skirts walking around. It was all men," she said. "CBS News had a heavy push to hire women. Once I got into the job, they really wanted to put the women through a hazing period. ‘You’re stupid. You don’t know what you’re doing. This is yellow journalism. You slant the news.’ It just went on and on."

Michael Chang, the youngest man to ever win a Grand Slam, remembers that "there were very few Asians" when he began playing tennis. Once he started to make it big in the industry, his sense of being an outsider intensified.

"I got a lot of opposition from people within the tennis industry. “You’re too small,'” he says. "You don’t have a big enough serve. You’re going to go on the pro-tour and get blown off the court.”

Of course, the video also highlights the history of Panda Express, which they refer to as "the largest Asian restaurant concept" in the world, and how the business has grown since it first opened in 1973. "What did I have? Nothing," recalls cofounder Andrew Cherng.

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