Tinsel town’s been lit up with an array of pre-Oscars events in the past few days, but the biggest one on our radar was the South Asian Excellence party on Thursday night.
Hosted by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Anjula Acharia, the star-studded soiree at Paramount Studios in LA celebrated South Asian change-makers and creatives, and of course those of South Asian descent who’ve been nominated for an Academy Award in 2023.
Co-chairs Mindy Kaling, Malala Yousafzai, Kumail Nanjiani, Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, Bela Bajaria, Radhika Jones, Joseph Patel, Shruti Ganguly, and Anita Chatterjee also took on hosting duties on the night.
This is the second time the event has taken place after a tremendously positive response to last year’s party that created a safe space to celebrate brown talent.
“Last year’s event came from like-minded people coming together and saying, ‘You know, we should have something where the South Asian community can feel like it’s theirs,” Priyanka Chopra said on stage, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
“The event had such a great response from the community, executives and studios. We had Paramount wanting to host [this year’s event] for us and when you see something like that happen, it’s getting bigger and better every year.”
Other familiar faces in attendance included ‘Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley, ‘New Girl’ and ‘Not Dead Yet’ actor Hannah Simone, ‘Never Have I Ever’ star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, ‘Queer Eye’s Tan France and ‘RRR’ star N.T. Rama Rao Jr.
What’s really important about this event was that it was not only a celebration of South Asian success, but a celebration of representation that’s becoming more authentic as brown trailblazers have continuously fought against racial stereotypes and stigmas over the years.
According to Variety, this is a point that Priyanka highlighted at the event. She told the live audience that South Asian representation in Hollywood and at the Oscars was possible thanks to those who “fought the stereotypes to ensure that our stories were not just a cliche, those of us who fought for actors to have bigger leading roles. Those of you who fought for stories of South Asian descent to be a norm, to not be an exception, but to be normal.”
Telugu film ‘RRR’ is in the running for an Oscar this year, with its popular song ‘Naatu Naatu’ nominated for Best Original Song. The TikTok-favourite track, which was composed by M. M. Keeravaani and written by Chandrabose, will be performed by original singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava at the awards night. Earlier this yearit became the first Asian song to receive a Golden Globe, winning the category of ‘Best Original Song’. It was a huge moment for South Indians who barely get such global recognition.
Other Indian productions nominated include Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes for Best Documentary Feature Film and Guneet Monga’s The Elephant Whisperers for Best Documentary Short. Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone will also be presenting an award on the night.
Check out all of the stunning snaps below of our favourite South Asian stars celebrating together at Thursday’s event.