Pictured: Portrait of ‘Duke’ Kahanamoku featured in AMERICAN MASTERS: “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha.” (Courtesy of PBS PressRoom)
PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS stations as well as the home for award-winning, original local content, announced as part of the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month programming the premiere of new AMERICAN MASTERS documentary “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha.” The film chronicles the life of five-time Olympic medalist and Hawaiian surfing icon Duke Kahanamoku or “The Duke.” Widely considered the “father of modern surfing,” his success elevated the sport into the cultural phenomenon it is today. Narrated by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones, Dune), the documentary explores his journey breaking racial barriers on the mainland and influence on surfing’s global spread as well as his life-saving achievements and the obstacles he conquered both within and outside the sporting world.
AMERICAN MASTERS: “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha” premieres on Tues., May 10 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Wed., May 11 at 10 p.m. on KCET timed to a slate of additional programming celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Dedicated to PBS SoCal and KCET’s commitment to amplifying diverse voices, this heritage month honors local and national stories of Asian American Pacific Islander communities from around the globe. The month-long curated lineup premiering throughout May features an additional AMERICAN MASTERS broadcast special highlighting artist “Tyrus Wong” who up until his death at the age of 106, was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation.
Additional titles in the lineup include documentaries that address historical accounts of hate including AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: “Plague at the Golden Gate” which explores a deadly outbreak of bubonic plague in turn-of-the 20th-century San Francisco’s Chinatown area and the onslaught of violent anti-Asian sentiments that transpired. While RISING AGAINST ASIAN HATE: ONE DAY IN MARCH follows a community that came together following a critical moment of racial reckoning in 2021, shedding light on the struggles, triumphs and achievements of AAPI communities.
Other highlights include the new INDEPENDENT LENS documentary “Try Harder!” introducing viewers to high-achieving students at a majority Asian American public high school as they face pressures balancing adolescence and academics. A new season of the anthology series PACIFIC HEARTBEAT returns intimate stories that give viewers an authentic glimpse into the Pacific Islander experience. Finally, PBS will encore the acclaimed five-part film series ASIAN AMERICANS chronicling the impact of Asian Americans on the country’s past, present and future.
KCET and PBS SoCal also create a variety of locally-produced programs dedicated to a richer and more inclusive California experience, helping residents understand and connect with diverse communities. Original programming has showcased regional Asian artists, chefs and influencers in documentary series that include BROKEN BREAD, THE MIGRANT KITCHEN and LOST LA. These original programs can be found on the free PBS Video App and are available to stream on the KCET and PBS SoCal websites where digital resources dedicated to informing and educating the community on topics of equity and anti-racist education can also be found.
Select content slated to air on PBS SoCal and KCET during the next month is listed as follows (*schedule subject to change):
PACIFIC HEARTBEAT: “High Tide, Don’t Hide” – Sun., May 1 at 4 p.m. on KCET
Determined to provoke real action, New Zealand teenagers join the global School Strike for Climate. But planning a movement and building momentum are the easy parts, as they face political indifference, their own white privilege and the ongoing struggle to be heard.
THE MIGRANT KITCHEN: “Omotenashi” – Sun., May 1 at 6 p.m. on KCET
Charles Namba and Courtney Kaplan, the couple behind Echo Park's Tsubaki, have always loved the culture of izakaya but found Los Angeles lacking in these Japanese taverns. Sonoko Sakai is a teacher with a passion for buckwheat and the near-sacred art of soba noodles and Seiichi Yokota knows how to prepare and preserve fresh fish with a traditional Japanese technique never seen before in Los Angeles. Each aims to introduce Angelenos to the unique spirit of Japanese hospitality and the culture's deep culinary customs.
THE MIGRANT KITCHEN: “Beyond Pho” – Sun., May 1 at 6:30 p.m. on KCET
Banh Mi. Spring rolls. Pho. The war and its subsequent refugees. These are things most commonly associated with the Vietnamese culture and its people. But a group of chefs in Los Angeles (including Cassia's Bryant Ng and Kim Luu-Ng, Diep Tran of Good Girl Dinette and Minh Phan of Porridge & Puffs) are hoping to demonstrate that there’s so much more than that.
INDEPENDENT LENS: “Try Harder!” – Mon., May 2, at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal
At Lowell High School, San Francisco’s academic pressure cooker, the kids are stressed out. With a majority Asian-American student body, high-achieving seniors share their dreams and anxieties about getting into a top university.
ASIAN AMERICANS: “Breaking Ground” – Mon., May 2 at 1 p.m. on KCET and Tues., May 3 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal
In an era of exclusion and U.S. empire, new immigrants arrive from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond. Barred by anti-Asian laws they become America’s first “undocumented immigrants,” yet they build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen and take their fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.
ASIAN AMERICANS: “A Question of Loyalty” – Mon., May 2 at 2 p.m. on KCET and Tues., May 10 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal
An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and their parents’ homelands.
PACIFIC HEARTBEAT: “James & Isey” – Sun., May 8 at 4 p.m. on KCET
New Zealand’s Isey and her son James invite viewers into their lives in the week leading up to Isey's 100th birthday. The episode captures a Northland celebration of life and aroha (love) like no other.
THE MIGRANT KITCHEN: “Mister Jiu’s Chinatown” – Sun., May 8 at 6 p.m. on KCET
In San Francisco’s Chinatown, Brandon Jew walks the line between his Chinese heritage and his American upbringing with his restaurant Mister Jiu’s. With the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood, the face of the country’s oldest Chinatown is changing while a younger generation holds on to the traditions and flavors of the past.
THE MIGRANT KITCHEN: “Louis & Jazz” – Sun., May 8 at 6:30 p.m. on KCET
Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada Thai and Louis Tikaram of E.P. & L.P. transport the palate around the world with the complex flavors of Thai cuisine. These chefs work to bring balance to the complexity of flavors that reflect the mixed cultural influences of their own backgrounds and experiences.
ASIAN AMERICANS: “Good Americans” – Mon., May 9 at 1 p.m. on KCET and Tues., May 17 at 11:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal
During the Cold War years, Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a “Model Minority” and targeted as the perpetual foreigner. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire for the first time to national political office and a coming culture-quake simmers beneath the surface.
ASIAN AMERICANS: “Generation Rising” – Mon., May 9 at 2 p.m. on KCET and Tues., May 24 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal
During a time of war and social tumult, a young generation fights for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, and claim a new identity: Asian Americans. The war’s aftermath brings new immigrants and refugees who expand the population and the definition of Asian America.
AMERICAN MASTERS: “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha” – Tues., May 10 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Wed., May 11 at 10 p.m. on KCET
Jason Momoa narrates the inspiring story and considerable impact of five-time Olympic medalist and surfing icon Duke Kahanamoku. He shattered swimming records and globalized surfing while overcoming racism in a lifetime of personal challenges.
AMERICAN MASTERS “Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir” – Wed., May 11 at 8 p.m. on KCET
An intimate portrait of the groundbreaking author that interweaves archival imagery, including home movies and personal photographs, animation and original interviews to tell the inspiring story of Tan’s life and career.
Meet the statesman who served as cabinet secretary for President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.
PACIFIC HEARTBEAT: “Loimata, The Sweetest Tears” – Sun., May 15 at 4 p.m. on KCET
Featuring the redemptive tale of waka builder and captain Lilo Ema Siope’s final years, the episode follows journeys of migration, spirituality, voyaging, healing and coming home. Confronting intergenerational trauma head on, the Siope family returns to their homeland of Sâmoa.
THE MIGRANT KITCHEN: “Los Angeles: Taiwanese Food” – Sun., May 15 at 6 p.m. on KCET
Taiwanese food is poised for a renaissance in Los Angeles, where chef Jon Yao of Kato draws on his experience growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, fusing his heritage with produce from Southern California's cutting-edge farmers while educating diners on the nuances of this unique regional cuisine.
THE MIGRANT KITCHEN: “Brooklyn: Korean Food” – Sun., May 15 at 6:30 p.m. on KCET
In Brooklyn, a long tradition of female-driven food customs that began centuries ago in South Korea enters a new era in the hands of two powerful chefs, Jenny Kwak of Haenyeo and Sohui Kim of Insa.
ASIAN AMERICANS: “Breaking Through” – Mon., May 16 at 12:30 p.m. on KCET and Tues., May 31 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal
At the turn of the new millennium, the national conversation turns to immigration, race, and economic disparity. As the U.S becomes more diverse, yet more divided, a new generation of Asian Americans tackle how the nation moves forward together.
AMERICAN MASTERS: “Tyrus Wong” – Tues., May 17 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sat., May 21 at 10 p.m. on KCET
Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings had a pioneering impact on American art and popular culture.
PACIFIC HEARTBEAT: “The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu” – Sun., May 22 at 4 p.m. on KCET
On Honolulu's famous Waikiki Beach stand four large stones that represent a Hawaiian tradition of healing and gender diversity that is all but unknown to the millions of locals and tourists passing by. According to legend, the stones are a tribute to four mahu – people of dual male and female spirit – who brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and used their spiritual power to cure disease.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: “Plague at the Golden Gate” – Tues., May 24 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sat., May 28 at 10 p.m. on KCET
The bubonic plague outbreak in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1900 and the hunt to identify its source leads to a spate of violent anti-Asian sentiment.
UNSETTLED HISTORY: AMERICA, CHINA AND THE DOOLITTLE TOKYO RAID – Wed., May 25 at 2 p.m. on KCET and Thurs., May 26 at 10:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal
The film explores the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo from the perspectives of the children of the Doolittle Raiders and Chinese villagers who aided in their rescue.
Following the aftermath of the March 2021 mass shootings at three spas in Atlanta, this film chronicles how the Asian American community came together to fight back against hate and explores the struggles as well as triumphs of AAPI communities.
For a full schedule of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month programming, please visit kcet.org/AAPI | pbsocal.org/AAPI.
Join the conversation on social media using #AAPI
About PBS SoCal and KCET
PBS SoCal and KCET are both part of the donor-supported community institution, the Public Media Group of Southern California. PBS SoCal is the flagship PBS station for diverse people across California and delivers content and experiences that inspire, inform and educate. PBS SoCal offers the full slate of beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, FRONTLINE, and a broad library of documentary films with works from Ken Burns; as well as educational content including PBS KIDS programs like DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and CURIOUS GEORGE. KCET showcases the best of PBS and is a leading source for arts, culture, and news in Southern California. Through innovative storytelling, KCET explores and expresses our dynamic local communities helping residents understand and connect with the region's diverse communities and ideas. For additional information about both KCET and PBS SoCal productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org and pbssocal.org KCET Originals and PBS programming are available to stream on the FREE PBS App on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, and Chromecast. KCET is also available to watch live on YouTube TV.
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