Sheila Lirio Marcelo

Sheila Lirio Marcelo

May 18, 2021
Online Originals

See Us Unite for Change: Five Questions with Executive Producer Sheila Lirio Marcelo

During Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, this Friday, May 21, comedian Ken Jeong will host a global television special, See Us Unite for Change to expand support for the AAPI community. The streaming event will be presented across MTV's Entertainment brands including MTV, Comedy Central and VH1, as well as BET, Nickelodeon and Facebook Watch, and will boast a star-studded roster of major influencers, creators and athletes, all coming together to amplify the message of solidarity against racism and violence.
The special is part of a broader cultural campaign, See Us Unite, launched by The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) in partnership with the Ford and MacArthur Foundations. "Not only are business leaders, activists and talent coming together to support this cause, but we have networks and media uniting and working together to support," says Founder, The Asian American Foundation board member and See Us Unite for Change Executive Producer Sheila Lirio Marcelo. "Historically networks haven't worked together on a simulcast like this, so it is truly incredible."

Marcelo spoke with us about the campaign mission, her first foray into television, and more of what viewers can expect this Friday. 

What is the mission for this unprecedented campaign?

See Us Unite is a multi-platform campaign with a goal of awareness as well as raising money for on-going education about the AAPI community, work that only receives about 0.5% annually in donations even though our community makes up 7% of the population. We felt it was important as business leaders behind The Asian American Foundation to really come together and launch this campaign to amplify the message of not only solidarity but education.
You are working with a talented group of executive producers, Kimmie Kim, Jesse Collins, and Carol Donovan. How has that collaboration process been?

If you think about the diversity amongst the group of producers that have come together and are working so rapidly on this event, it's just incredible. There's great teamwork and a high degree of trust. When there's a sense of purpose, I think a lot of barriers break down; that's the beauty of humanity. The incredible team behind this event has been working long nights and weekends for the past six weeks. We are doing this together and will represent a united front.
This is your first foray into producing for television. How has that experience been, and do you plan to do more television work?

As the founder of, it's been exciting to lend my consumer experience and passion for purpose-driven missions for my community. It's been a blessing to work on this project.
I plan to do more television as the team and I have a dream to make this an annual special. We know this event is the first of its kind. It's historic in many ways and there's a lot to learn, but we hope to make it happen annually.
What should Hollywood be doing to further support the AAPI community?

Hollywood carries such a huge responsibility and has a real opportunity to make meaningful change. There's so much power in seeing us represented [on-screen]. The more we promote diversity, the more that we are seen, the more others are inspired. Young people can see us and say "we can be that, we can use the power of our voice to speak out and represent the community."
What can viewers expect from the See Us Unite for Change special?

The special is inviting viewers to learn more about the AAPI journey. There will be pieces offering solutions of what you can do to be an ally. In addition, you will laugh, you will dance for joy, you will cry. You will feel the emotion that is heartfelt from the performers about the love for our community and our country. What we really want to do is welcome everyone. Gandhi once said you can change a culture and build a country when you are in the hearts and minds of the people. We want to not just enter the homes of viewers, but also their hearts and minds to drive change.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Watch See Us Unite for Change on Facebook Live on Friday, May 21 at 5:15 PM PDT / 8:15 PM EDT

For more information, visit The Asian American Foundation and See Us Unite.

More articles celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

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