"You will be seen." by Richard Pang

Today we bring a close to an ESEA heritage month where we’ve been reflecting on identity, representation, and dove into the nuance of the question ‘Where are you REALLY from?’

Richard Pang is the former VP of Creative at HUGO BOSS. As a rarely seen senior Asian creative, the letter we asked him to write to his younger self speaks truths and encouragements we all deserve to hear.

It gets us even more excited for where we’re going. Until next year...

Virtue

Hello.

OK - so here we are....

Growing up in our humble council house in a predominately white Essex town, you’ll never believe some of things that you’ll end up experiencing, and how those moments will shape and change your perspective of the world.

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90s Essex was a challenging location for a (gay and) Asian boy, you’ll feel somewhat alienated and invisible, but let it be known, that you will be seen. Even if you might feel like an outcast because you are different or eat home cooked Chinese food for lunch.

But at 19, you will be scouted to work for a London fashion store, and this will open up a new world of opportunities in fashion and publishing, even if you’ll feel like you never fit the mould - you'll feel like this for a while.

As you get older and start carving out your career - you’ll realise that the people at the top won’t look like you - or sound like you either. You might wonder if you need elocution lessons or try to make your self appear “less Asian” to fit in. But amongst the people who are unsure about you, you will also find allies and trust the right people to help you lead the way.

You might find that some geographical locations and companies are more welcoming to your heritage than others, so make sure you choose wisely.

Eventually, however, you will draw strength from these experiences, in fact, you’ll strive to mentor and inspire your own teams; regardless of race or background and be in the position to offer help to those in the same situation growing up.

In your early years, you might struggle to find somewhere where you truly fit in, but you’ll gravitate to people and companies where you feel most comfortable to create with the support of your network.  

Even though the industry is changing; you’ll need to remain strong willed and resilient - with a clear creative vision, as not everyone will be on your page. But wherever you go, like when you were younger. You will be seen.

You’ll work on global projects and cast talent that represent the real world…. You’ll even have models twerking on the runway! And by doing so, you will set a new precedent for fashion shows moving forward.

Because of your experiences with race and perception, not only will you want your creative voice to be heard, but as a senior Asian creative, it will be part of your responsibility to challenge the diversity standards in everything that you create and because of this you will have to keep striving to make bigger steps forward in diversity and inclusion within the industry.

You'll be part of a movement that pushes boundaries for representation of your culture in front and behind the camera. You’ll promote equality and hire those often overlooked because of race or background. Artists such as Ren Hang will embrace Asian features, features you’ve tried to hide for so many years.

As you progress, your goals will switch from not only creating captivating content, but for it to represent the real world we all live. A rich tapestry of races and cultures combined.

With no social media or digital platforms growing up - as an adult, you’ll be inspired by the plethora of asian faces in western media and you’ll look back and you will celebrate your Asian-ness and see that after all….  you have belonged all along.

richardpang.com/

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