Lea Salonga dedicates TIME100 Impact Award to artists working despite pandemic

Lea Salonga TIME100 Impact Award
Lea Salonga received her TIME100 Award in Singapore. Screengrab of TIME video.

Filipina singer-actor Lea Salonga has dedicated her TIME100 Impact Award to the world’s entertainers who kept working and giving people reasons to smile despite the COVID-19 pandemic which restricted live in-person entertainment for nearly three years.

The Disney Legend and Broadway icon from the Philippines was named one of the four recipients of the first Asia Pacific edition of the TIME100 Impact Awards which recognize “leaders who have done extraordinary work to shape their fields and the world at large”.

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“These scientists, entertainers, storytellers, and changemakers are moving all of us forward, one extraordinary action at a time,” said TIME’s Chief People Officer Sue Suh.

The TIME100 citation hailed Lea Salonga as a role model for children of color with her accomplishments in theater and film for over four decades breaking down racial barriers.

Salonga recognized fellow entertainers during her acceptance speech for the TIME magazine awards ceremony held in front of about 400 people -including fellow recipients actor and producer Alia Bhatt, former James Webb Space Telescope Program Director Gregory L. Robinson, and computational geneticist Dr. Pardis Sabeti – in a gathering at the National Gallery in Singapore last October 2, 2022.

Salonga recalled her younger days when she merely wanted to entertain others and noted the impact of her craft especially when the public health emergency struck the world in 2020.

“I mean, I just wanted to make people smile, I just wanted to entertain. And doing that—creating smiles and entertaining—became so much more important to me over the last two and a half years,” shared Salonga.

She credited colleagues for leading the way through the pandemic times. “Those were dark times for many of us, myself included, but my talented colleagues and friends shone a constant light for me at the end of a very dark tunnel,” admitted Salonga who had joined online music events to raise awareness on stopping Asian American hate crimes, and gathered funds to support struggling artists and other frontline workers during the pandemic.

“And so, I want to share this award with my fellow entertainers—all of them, from everywhere all over the world—who, through a time of great uncertainty and darkness, continued to do what they were put on this earth to do. To take our minds off our woes and troubles, even for just a few minutes, through song or dance, or words.

“They brought us music virtually from their living rooms, made music and television shows via Zoom, played instruments and sang arias out the windows of their apartment buildings. They did so without acclaim or wealth, without being asked or being rewarded. They coaxed smiles from weary faces. They gave eyes and ears a rest from the constant barrage of sirens and bad news. They showed up. They were, in a word, impactful. And this is for them,” said Lea Salonga.

The star of the Filipino immigrant-themed critically-acclaimed Hollywood musical drama film, Yellow Rose, and hit American TV series Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin started performing in professional theater at 7 years old in the Filipino production of “The King and I”. She later originated the role of Kim in the now-iconic musical play, Miss Saigon, for which she won a Tony award.

Now at 51 years old, Lea Salonga continues to perform on Broadway, film, and television – inspiring Filipino and world entertainers with her success.

With additional reports by Angie Quadra-Balibay.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Lea Salonga and the world’s artists who gave us reasons to smile and be entertained despite the COVID-19 pandemic!

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