Asian Women in Games: Holly Hua

In this Asian Women in Games series, we interview women who are currently in the gaming industry to learn more about them, their journeys, and their culture. We want to showcase the amazing women who are already driving change and representation in the industry by being themselves!

This week we have a feature on Holly Hua, Communications Manager at Ubisoft. Hailing from games such as Assassin’s Creed and Brawlhalla, she’s spent a good amount of time growing herself but also those around her via mentoring. She’s got some insights on what it takes to run an employee resource group and she shares what she’s observed in the advocacy and representation space in gaming.

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Holly Hua, and I’m a Communications Manager at Ubisoft, based out of the San Francisco office. I’ve been at Ubisoft for around 7 years now working on many games over the years. Most recently I’ve been working on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Brawlhalla. I’m also a global lead for the Asian & Pacific Islander employee resource group. Outside of work I love karaoke-ing, reading, and finding the next new restaurant to try!

What’s one of the most rewarding things you’ve been able to do in the gaming industry?

I’ve been able to give back as a mentor, both through managing interns but also volunteering as a mentor for groups like Project AWR, NetNetSynergy, and Cal Women in Gaming. It was crucial for me when I first started out in the industry to have peers and mentors that came from a similar background or had similar experiences, and it’s important to continue uplifting marginalized voices in a space where we typically have not had representation.

You took up the mantle to run Ubisoft San Francisco’s AAPI ERG—which is a lot of responsibility! For those who are looking to run ERGs in their companies, what should they be aware of? 

The two things I would share is that you should only do what you can do, but also know that the more, the merrier.

“Do what you can do” means setting boundaries for yourself, and not being afraid to stick to them. We all have our day jobs, and avoiding burnout is key to making sure you can have a marathon, not a sprint.

“The more the merrier” is the idea that it just takes one person to jumpstart a movement (and maybe that’s you!), but you don’t need to continue on your own. Don’t think of an ERG as the end-goal, but as part of the process. Maybe you’re the one to start an informal chat with a group of like-minded individuals and/or folks from the community first, and just talk together about what you want to do or what you wish existed. You’ll find that the ideas and the next steps flow easier once you’re not stuck in your own head.

Being very involved in the space for improving diversity, what are some of the things you’re most proud to see in the gaming space for Asian women in recent times?

I’m happy to see more and more Asian women both find their voice, and use it. I know that personally, I naturally hold myself to a higher standard than I need to, and that means my imposter syndrome looms large. It has kept me from voluntarily putting myself in the spotlight, even though talking publicly about your personal achievements is how anyone would know what you’re doing, especially in a role like mine where so much of it is behind-the-scenes. By pushing one another and seeing more and more representation in public spaces, it’s empowering more Asian women to step out of the shadows (like me doing this interview). I also love the positive reinforcement of what companies do right when it comes to Asian representation.

What are some of your recommended resources to stay on top of AAPI/diversity news?

There are two API thought leaders that come to mind: Gold House, a nonprofit API collective, and Asian Leaders Alliance, a collective group of API employee resource groups based in the San Francisco Bay Area that I’m a member of. The Asian Leaders Alliance is how I got connected to other API ERGs at gaming companies, and it’s been fantastic to bond, share, and grow together.

A few others include: NBC Asian America, Twitter Asians, and NetflixGolden.

What is something from the Chinese culture that you wish to share with everyone?

One thing I like to share is that I speak Hokkien, which is not a Chinese language most people are familiar with. Most people learn I’m Chinese and ask whether I speak Mandarin or Cantonese, and I don’t speak either one. The only people I’ve ever known in real life who speak Hokkien are my family. Other than a YouTube video we found where someone dubbed over one of the classic Star Wars scenes with Hokkien, the first time I’ve heard it in mainstream media was in Crazy Rich Asians. Only a few lines were spoken, but it was totally surreal – and amazing – to hear that sitting in a movie theatre.

What’s a female video game character/story that you love?

I loved Alex Chen in Life Is Strange: True Colors, because I saw so much of myself in the character. Not only are we starting to see more Asian representation in mainstream media, but we’re also seeing the depth to these characters—not characters defined solely by their Asian background, but who are multi-faceted and are interesting for so many more reasons. Personally, Alex Chen from Life is Strange: True Colors, Namaari from Raya and the Last Dragon, and a real-life chef named Kristen Kish were the reasons I finally felt comfortable to shave my head into my current hairstyle. Before them, I hadn’t seen women who looked like me with that haircut, and the euphoria I felt when I finally looked at myself in the mirror after that haircut was all thanks to them.

Where can people continue to follow you and your journey?

I can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn – feel free to reach out!

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