By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray honored actor lawyer Jennifer Yen to celebrate Asia Pacific Heritage Month in the Big Apple. Yen, of Chinese descent, heads the Film Laboratory, a non-profit performing arts workshop in NYC.
De Blasio proclaimed before 300 guests who attended the celebration at the Gracie Mansion on Thursday evening, May 11, 2019, that every May 9 is Jennifer Betit Yen Day.
In his speech, de Blasio pinpointed that New York is the US’ and the world’s most culturally diverse urban center. “That is why we celebrate progress because of, not inspite of, our immigrants,” he said.
De Blasio’s administration is no stranger to Filipino leaders. Lawyer Carmelyn Malalis and Anne Castillo head the human rights and media entertainment commission, respectively.
In her acceptance speech, Yen enjoined the public to keep sharing their narratives as immigrants. “We still need our voices to be heard and have greater representation now that Asians have significantly increased in numbers,” she said.
In 2013, Yen launched the Film Lab’s production arm, AAFL TV. She created the “Immigrants: We Are Them. They Are Us” project in 2018, a constructive dialogue for people from all walks of life to share their immigration stories.
Yen also founded a company that promoted children’s literacy (MyJennyBook) and a company (A2Px) that assisted animal-based dairy and slaughter operations to transition towards solely plant-based farming.