The honor will be presented each year to a creative who is using their platform to tell interesting stories and inspire others. This year’s award will be presented May 26 in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of New York’s Reel Works, the organization that matches teens one-on-one with professional filmmaker mentors to tell their stories and have their voices heard.
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“It was a really big surprise; I’m honored,” Huang said. “It means a lot to be recognized by peers and people who appreciate. I’m just a dude and, while I’ve done a lot of work, I’ve always felt outside of the town. I came at it from a weird way. I grew up in Orlando, Fla. I kind of became known for selling sandwiches. And then I got kicked off my first big show. It was the moment when it felt like people in L.A. just didn’t want to work with me, so it means a lot that they understand me more now. At least Variety gets me and thinks I’m cool, like that’s pretty dope.”
Huang, whose memoirs were adapted into the ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” wrote and directed the basketball drama “Boogie.” It was released earlier this year via Focus Features. The New York-set film centers around a Chinese American with hoop dreams. Huang is also a restaurateur with the Taiwanese bun shop Baohaus.
Steven Gaydos, VP and executive editor at Variety, said: “Eddie Huang is an inspirational leader because he’s achieved that miraculous feat of combining essential truths with engaging storytelling. From ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ to ‘Boogie,’ Huang is deepening our understanding of the Asian American experience by turning the often-thorny elements of his own journey as a person of color in America into relatable, universally appealing entertainment.”
Stephanie Walter and John Williams, co-founders of Reel Works, added, “We are thrilled to partner with Variety on this inaugural award for our 20th anniversary gala. Eddie Huang represents the highest aspirations for the young filmmakers we mentor and train every day.”
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