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Remembering Angela Chao (AB '94 MBA '01)

March 1, 2024

Remembering Angela Chao (AB '94 MBA '01)

Harvardwood is so deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of Angela Chao, an inspiring visionary in both business and social impact undertakings, and a dedicated patron of the arts. Throughout her lifetime full of notable accomplishments, commitments, and philanthropy, she shone her light on many worthy endeavors— and we were humbled to be grateful recipients of her generosity through her ongoing support for Harvardwood artists.  Below, we've collected statements from recipients in her honor.

The loss of such an inspiring, generous soul is one felt by the entire world. I am grateful to have had the honor of meeting Angela and to have been a recipient of her kindness. Just last year, Ava Salzman, Joseph Lee, and I were awarded the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Harvardwood AAPI Artist Fellowship, to pursue projects such as graphic novels, films, TV series, and books. All our pieces are in some way transgenerational, connecting us to our AAPI backgrounds. Through the stories we tell, we hope to recognize the legacy of the loved ones who  came before us.  

Legacy is something that was of great importance to Angela, as she dedicated the fellowship to  her mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao. Like her mother, Angela was a generous philanthropist and  advocate for the arts and the AAPI community.  Through the Chao fellowship, Angela honored the memory of her mother. As her fellows, we hope to honor Angela by committing ourselves to the opportunities granted to us by her  generosity. Like Angela Chao, we aspire to champion the AAPI community and create work that facilitates understanding between different cultures.

Samantha Mari Woolf, Chao Fellow, 2023

It is an extremely rare and special thing to find a person who dedicates themselves completely and wholeheartedly into helping others become who they are. A person whose love for the world and the complexity, beauty, and stories within it is so great that it pours out of them, lifts others up around them and carries them forward. Angela Chao was one of those people. I was extremely fortunate and grateful to be one of the recipients of Angela’s inaugural AAPI Artist Fellowship, which she founded in honor of her mother Ruth, and it has been perhaps the most important support system that I’ve had this past year to help me become the artist I want to be. I owe this to Angela - not only her spirit of generosity and support in creating the fellowship, but her direct encouragement and care itself.

I am so thankful get to witness her radiant heart straight from the source. I can't fathom that she is no longer with us, and am utterly devastated by her loss, but she lives on in all the people she loved and encouraged into being. In all the people into which she poured her trust and belief. She has helped me, and many others, get back on track to be the artist that I want to be, and I will be forever indebted to her. The world would be a better place if we all could carry on her memory by continuing that legacy. Thank you so much, Angela.

— Ava Salzman, Chao Fellow, 2023

As a filmmaker, I was blessed and honored to be supported by Angela Chao through the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao AAPI fellowship she created. In the past year, her generosity enabled me to write screenplays, travel to research North Korean defectors, and complete another short film about the Asian American experience. But her impact did not stop there.

She encouraged me to look at my family as sources of inspiration, to champion diversity and new experiences, and to embrace the stories of my ancestors. She shared with me how important Asian cinema was to her while growing up, and how she wanted future generations to embrace their cultural heritage with pride and confidence. With those wishes in mind, I hope to continue making films that honor her desire for more heartfelt stories. I am humbled to express my sincere gratitude for her support and guidance. Angela inspired many, and it was my privilege to be just one affected by her legacy. 

Joseph Lee, Chao Fellow, 2023

As the beneficiary of the Angela Chao AAPI Artist Grant, I was able to enroll in the Harvardwood TV Writers Program at no cost, which allowed me the opportunity to receive peer and professional critique on my half-hour comedy sample. My workshop leader, Sam, was an invaluable resource who set aside personal time to help offer advice, not only on writing but also on working professionally as a writer and getting your foot in the door as support staff. The program also gave me the opportunity to practice pitching to real industry professionals and hear their experiences via panels, which is direct access that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get on my own. I am so appreciative of Angela Chao for her generosity and support of Asian-American writers.

Caroline Tsai, awardee, Chao Stipend 2021-2022

Receiving the Harvardwood AAPI Artist Grant from Mrs. Chao helped springboard my career into the entertainment industry. Thanks to Mrs. Chao’s generous grant, I served as a Creative Development Intern for the production company Eleventh Northwest during the summer of 2022. During this internship, I helped create pitch decks, performed script coverage, and shadowed writers in the creation of a scripted series. This experience helped me secure my first postgraduate job as an executive assistant to a world-renowned choreographer. Mrs. Chao’s patronage for the arts touched so many of my fellow AAPI classmates and her contributions and support will surely give rise to the next generation of AAPI storytellers.

Callia Chuang, awardee, Chao Stipend 2021-2022

As an Asian-American female writer, receiving the Angela Chao Harvardwood Writers Program grant has provided deep and meaningful support for me. As an AAPI writer who does not fit the Hollywood mold, this grant acknowledges my strong feminist and social justice screenwriting work, writing that is inextricably linked to my experiences as an Asian-American woman who grew up on three continents in six countries. I am so grateful for this generous grant, as it has given me a profound sense of validation, belonging, and excitement about the opportunity to contribute to the diversification of storytelling in entertainment.

Ashia Solei, awardee, Chao Stipend 2021-2022

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