By Eugene Hung
This post is part of a series that will introduce 8Asians readers to some of this year’s V3 Digital Media Conference (V3con) honorees, speakers, panelists, and performers. The V3con Opening Awards Reception will be held on Friday, June 20, 2014 and the V3 Digital Media Conference will be held on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles.
It seems strange to suggest that any of us should need an introduction to Ann Curry, the recipient of this year’s V3con Vision Award.
She’s been one of the lead faces of NBC’s news division for more than two decades, anchoring and reporting from all corners of the globe for its most prominent programs, including Dateline NBC, Today, and NBC Nightly News. These high-profile gigs, and a ton of hard work and determination, have helped Ann become one of the most recognizable newswomen in America. Consider merely her Twitter followers: at 1.44 million, the number of Ann’s followers exceeds that of the legendary Barbara Walters (1.3 million), Katie Couric (1.08 million), Diane Sawyer (356,000), and Meredith Vieira (88,000).
But there’s a side to Ann that many of us may not know.
The daughter of a Japanese mother and a White American father who met and married in postwar Japan, she struggled as a child with a sense of her ethnic identity. She told MORE Magazine in 2006, “Growing up, I never knew what I was. People used to say, ‘Ann, what are you, anyway?’ I’d say, well, I’m a girl.”
She found the question to be quite painful and isolating. She struggled particularly to see herself as beautiful. In 2011, she told the Ladies Home Journal, “I wanted to be blonde and blue-eyed, because that’s what Cinderella was, you know? Back then it was rare to see someone who was multiracial.” She continued, “I was called Blubber Lips,” referring to an insult she received for her mixed-race appearance. It probably didn’t help when, in her teen years, her military family finally settled in a predominantly White town, population 13,000 or so, in southern Oregon.
Ann was named by People Magazine in 1998 as one of its annual fifty beautiful people of note. And crucially, she herself has come to embrace her own beauty. Again to MODE, she said, “I know exactly what I am: I am everything,” explaining with pride, “I’m French, Dutch, Irish, South American Indian, Japanese.” She also has the vision to see a vital role for multiracial Americans, including herself, in the big picture. In the foreword to Blended Nation, she wrote, “In America’s children of mixed race are evidence that love is overcoming even racism, which once seemed insurmountable.” She added, “We are the new face of America and its noble ideas of equality and freedom.”
So not only has she embraced her own beauty, but through sharing the highs and lows of her courageous journey, she has also been helping other multiracial Americans to celebrate their beauty as well. She is showing them, and perhaps especially those among them with Asian ancestry, that they are not alone. Like hers, their beauty is second to none. And as much as anyone else, if not more, they tangibly remind all of us that America is making progress, however slow, in its long struggle with racism. This, along with her distinguished body of work, make her a very worthy V3con Vision Award honoree.
And it’s still not too late to register for the conference! Visit V3con.com/registration, where you can use the promo code “Partner-8Asians” (case sensitive) to receive access to the Pre-Registration: Partner Rate ($5 off General Admission) or the Full Registration: Partner Rate ($10 off General Admission, when available). But get on it; online registration closes Sunday, June 15, 2014!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A feminist dad, Eugene Hung is the new SoCal organizer for the Man Up Campaign, which advocates globally for gender equality and against gender-based violence. He writes for Asiance Magazine, which also hosts his blog, Raising Asian American Daughters.