Amy Tan Calls for More Voices Following Her New Documentary

Following author Amy Tan’s PBS American Masters documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir, she calls for more voices from the AAPI community.

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“The next generation has a built-in activism that will make inroads,” Amy Tan told InStyle during an interview following the air date of her PBS American Masters documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir. “They are not going to be passive.”

Tan had decided against being the subject of a documentary choosing a more private life. Except her late filmmaker friend James Redford believed a documentary about her would give others hope because of the pain, trauma, and resilience Tan has endured as a member of the Asian America Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Even though there are more Asian American Pacific Islanders in the United States than ever before, racist acts and violence dramatically elevates against the AAPI community, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tan is a member of the Asian Pacific Fund who asks San Francisco companies to give money in solidarity with Asian American Pacific Islanders. “We are intent on finding better ways to report hate crimes,” Tan said.

Tan writes in hopes that she can change the hearts of readers when it comes to race. “A story requires you to enter an imaginary world of a different person in different circumstances,” she told InStyle. “And if you can identify with someone else’s struggle, the behavior follows, then the action.”

Tan finds movies like To All the Boys, Crazy Rich Asians, and Minari to be encouraging because they are able to reach a younger audience while not always being centered on the race ideals. Although, she mentions that seeing these as big achievements means that there are enough voices in the industry.

“I want the day to come where we don’t even say an Asian American movie is nominated and we just call it a movie,” Tan said.

Amy Tan’s PBS documentary was first aired May 3 and is available on the PBS website.