Asian actors in Hollywood are often marginalized—appearing on screen as the nerdy sidekick, the straight lace academic, or the unappealing best friend. When they are casted as leads, they are commonly playing goofy-ball characters (Ken Jeong) or action heroes (Jackie Chan) and rarely do we see them in the foreground.
Ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a legitimate Asian male actor appearing on a poster or a billboard, promoting their film? Almost never. Because such a case almost never happens. While the Ryan Goslings and the Joseph Gordon-Levitts out there winning the hearts of North America, Asian actors are left holding the scripts in slight disappointment. It’s clear that even in 2014, there is a glass ceiling for such talented performers.
Well, all that is changing now… at least for the moment, thanks to John Cho.
South Korean actor, Cho—famous for his works in the cult-stoner flick Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and its subsequent sequels and, of course, the rebooted Star Trek movie—is paving the way for young aspiring Asian actors. As more and more casting directors are leaning toward colour-blind casting, Asian actors may never have to do demeaning accents ever again.
“I would call this revolutionary. It’s certainly a personal revolution for me,” said John Cho. “Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They’re the cop, or the waitress, or whatever it is. You see them in the background. So to be in this position . . . is a bit of a landmark.”
Cho, who began his career in 1996 as a member of LA’s Asian American Theatre organization East West Players, will be co-staring in a new television series entitled Selfie on ABC. The 42-year-old actor will play the romantic lead, Henry, alongside Karen Gillan from Doctor Who.
What do you think about Cho’s new gig? Will the floodgate of work open up for other Asian actors? Or is Cho a token in a discriminating industry?
Will you watch his new show Selfie this fall?