A celebration of the achievements of South Asian women was held Saturday in downtown Los Angeles, galvanizing a community to move forward in entertainment and create “space for mainstream wins.”

Sponsored by the Product of Culture and South Asian Women in Entertainment, the luncheon aimed to raise awareness and provide networking opportunities. The South Asian community has particular struggles, including defying religious and societal norms and traditions, transphobia, and sometimes government interference in their native countries.

South Asian women comprise only 0.3% of screen time for television and film, according to event organizers. 

“It’s important to build these spaces and celebrate the wins of the largest global diaspora,” said Archana Misra Jain, CEO, Product of Culture.. “What we’re cultivating today is influencing pop culture, empowering a critical mass, and creating the space for mainstream wins. Product of Culture’s cornerstone is to merge content, commerce and culture, while representing over a quarter of the world population.”

Bhavani G. Rao, the founder of South Asian Women in Entertainment (SAWIE) and a writer/producer, echoed that sentiment. “The importance of these events is that they provide an opportunity to bring all sections of our South Asian community together. When we know each other, we can work together and establish a bigger network to make an impact and continue the path forward.”

“I’m working on a film right now that finally moves past stereotypes, and embraces South Asians as they really are around us,” added Lena Khan, a 2023 Oscar nominee for Strangers at the Gate. “We aren’t looking to pander for a mass audience, but we are honing our talent, supporting each other, and creating our own opportunities, roles, and portrayals with our allies in the industry. We’re having fun together, honestly, and not fighting over the same scraps. We’re baking the cookies!”

Among the honorees at the luncheon:

The Elephant Whisperers– Oscar Best Documentary Short (2023) Nominee, Kartiki GonsalvesAliza KhanGuneet Mong

Stranger at the Gate – Oscar Best Documentary Short (2023) Nominee, Lena Khan

Joyland – Oscar Best International Feature Film Category (2023) Shortlist, Alina Khan, Cannes Film Festival Queer Palm (2022) Winner

Apoorva Charan – Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Jury Prize (2022) Winner, Film Independent Spirit Awards Best International Film (2023) Nominee

Definition Please – NAACP Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special (2023) Nominee, Sujata Day


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