This talented group represent my memories of actors of Asian descent on TV from the 70's to present day.
Although she projected the typical Japanese female stereotype of humbleness, delicacy and subservience in most of her prime film and stage roles, beguiling, tiny-framed Miyoshi Umeki was nevertheless an assertive scene-stealer. This docile and deceptive-looking talent with the cropped hair and heart-shaped face radiated charm and innocence so effortlessly...
Victor Sen Yung
Achieving both film and TV notice during his lengthy career, this diminutive Asian-American character was born Sen Yew Cheung on October 18, 1915 in San Francisco of humble Chinese émigrés. When his mother died during the flu epidemic of 1919, his father placed Victor and his sister in a children's shelter and returned to his homeland...
The Asian-American actor Kam Fong, best known for his co-starring role as Chin Ho in the original Hawaii Five-O
TV series, was born Kam Tong Chun on May 27, 1918 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (The name Fong was the result of a teacher incorrectly teaching him how to write his name. The name stuck and he later took it as his legal name.) After graduating from high school...
Gilbert Francis Lani Damian Kauhi was born on October 17, 1937 on the Big Island of Hawaii. He was better known by the nickname his classmates gave him in high school, "Zulu". His most famous role was that of "Detective Kono Kalakaua" on the hit TV series, Hawaii Five-O
. The show helped launch a successful nightclub career...
Keye Luke was born in Canton, China. He grew up in Seattle, Washington, and entered the film business as a commercial artist and a designer of movie posters. He was hired as a technical advisor on several Asian-themed films, and made his film debut in The Painted Veil
. It seemed that he appeared in almost every film that called for Chinese characters...
Born in America of Korean ancestry, Philip Ahn was just one member of the tiny fraternity of Oriental actors who livened the Hollywood screen during the 1930's and later. (Others of note were Keye Luke
, Victor Sen Yung
, Richard Loo
and Benson Fong
.) As often as not, Philip Ahn portrayed villainous Japanese or else "inscrutable, " proverb-spouting stereotypes.
Renowned actress Irene Tsu was born April 5, 1943, in Shanghai, China. Her father was a banker and her mother a painter. When the Communists took over China the family left for Taiwan, then Formosa. They later emigrated to New York City, where Irene attended Mamoroneck Elementary and studied ballet...
Born in Japan, Mako was living there with his grandparents while his parents studied art in the United States, when Japan and the U.S. went to war in 1941. His parents remained in the U.S., working for the Office of War Information, and, at the cessation of the conflict, were granted U.S. residency by Congress...
James Hong was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, but at some point along the way became interested in acting. He graduated from the University of Southern California and practiced for 1½ years as a road engineer with the County of Los Angeles...
Nia Peeples was born in Hollywood, California, on December 10, 1961. Her family moved to West Covina, California, where she and her two sisters, Paula and Cynthia, grew up. At eight years old she began performing with her family, giving concerts for community groups and conventions and doing dances of different cultures...
After escaping from Vietnam with his family on the day Saigon fell in 1975, Dustin Nguyen (pronounced "win") went on to establish himself as one of Hollywood's premiere Asian-American actors, having starred on such hit shows as 21 Jump Street
, SeaQuest 2032
, as well as feature films. Of noteworthy is Nguyen landing the much coveted starring role in the critically-acclaimed Little Fish
Tia Carrere was born Althea Rae Duhinio Janairo on January 2, 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii. While attending Sacred Hearts Academy, Tia was discovered in a Waikiki grocery store and landed the female lead in the indie movie Aloha Summer
. Although her passion has always been singing (grandmother Rae took Tia to her first singing lesson at age ten)...
On February 13th, 1968, a girl of Chinese, English, and Hawaiian ancestry was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father, Herbert, was a salesman and her mother, Juanita, worked many odd jobs to help support the family. She has one older brother, Glenn. She is a former Miss Teen USA, and modeled in Japan and Italy for several months before deciding to relocate to L.A...
Born into a family of doctors and educated in China at the Shanghai Film Academy and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages, Joan Chen was discovered by veteran Chinese director Jin Xie
while observing a filming with a school group. Her performance in Xiao hua
(A.K.A. "The Little Flower") won China's Best Actress award...
Lauren Tom is an Obie Award-winning actress, known for her roles as a dutiful daughter in the film The Joy Luck Club
, and a recurring role as Ross's girlfriend on NBC's Friends
. Lauren plays the role of "Mai Washington" on the new ABC series Men in Trees
. She recently appeared in a recurring role on the Showtime series Barbershop
Ming-Na ("enlightenment") was born on the island of Macau, forty miles from Hong Kong. Her mother, Lin Chan Wen, divorced her father when Ming-Na was only a toddler. She has an older brother named Jonathan. After the divorce, they moved to Hong Kong where her mother became a nurse. There her mother met Soo Lim Yee...
BD Wong was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He made his Broadway debut in "M. Butterfly." He is the only actor to be honored with the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent
Award, and Theater World Award for the same performance. He starred in the television series All-American Girl
Margaret Cho was born Dec. 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. Her grandfather was a Methodist minister who ran an orphanage in Seoul during the Korean War. Ignoring the traditions of her patriarchal culture, her mother bravely resisted an arranged marriage in Korea and married Margaret's father who writes joke books - in Korean...
Russell Wong has earned a reputation as a sexy, charismatic leading man whose good looks are matched by his skills as an actor. The sixth of seven children, Russell Wong was born in Troy, New York; the son of restaurateur William Wong and Dutch-American artist Connie Van Yserloo. When Russell was seven years of age...
Chi Muoi Lo
Chi was born in Phan Rang, Vietnam, to Chinese parents. Three years after the Fall of Saigon, two-year-old Chi and his family escaped by boat to the United States. Upon their arrival, Chi and his family were placed in the Indian Town Gap Refugee Camp where they became sponsored by the Jewish League of America and moved to Philadelphia...
Born to immigrants in Queens, New York, Lucy Liu has always tried to balance an interest in her cultural heritage with a desire to move beyond a strictly Asian-American experience. Lucy's mother, Cecilia, a biochemist, is from Beijing, and her father, Tom Liu, a civil engineer, is from Shanghai. Once relegated to "ethnic" parts...
Sandra Oh was born to Korean parents in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, Ontario, Canada. Her father, Oh Junsu, a businessman, and her mother, Oh Young-nam, a biochemist, were married in Seoul, South Korea. They both attended graduate school at the University of Toronto. Sandra began her career as a ballet dancer and eventually studied drama at the National Theatre School in Montreal...
Shelley Malil is proud to be from the Indian state of Kerala and a Malayalee, a people known for their comedic take on life. He had dreams of becoming a comedic actor like his idol Bob Hope
, whom he first saw on a neighbor's TV set--the only one in the fishing village on the southern tip of India where he was raised...
Kal Penn was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey, to Asmita, a fragrance evaluator, and Suresh Modi, an engineer. His parents are Gujarati immigrants to America from India. He attended the Freehold Regional High School District's Performing Arts High School where he participated in the school's theater productions...
John Yohan Cho was born in Seoul, South Korea, but moved to Los Angeles, California as a child, where his father was a Christian minister. Cho was educated at Herbert Hoover High School at Glendale before moving on to the University of California at Berkeley where he studied English Literature. Upon graduation...
Naveen William Sidney Andrews was born on the 17th of January, 1969, in London, England. Naveen is the elder of two brothers, and has had an interest in acting since an early age. At the age of five, a teacher mentioned to Naveen's parents that he had expressed interest in being an actor. At the age of 16...
Aziz Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Fatima, a medical office worker, and Shoukath, a gastroenterologist. His family is from Tamil Nadu, India. He graduated from NYU as a business major in 2004. He studied at the South Carolina governors school of science and mathematics. He previously attended the Bennetsville Academy which was in his home town...
Sendhil Ramamurthy (born May 17, 1974) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as geneticist Mohinder Suresh in the NBC sci-fi drama Heroes and Jai Wilcox in the action spy series Covert Affairs. He appeared as Abhay in the Indian film Shor in the City. He played Gabriel Lowen in The CW sci-fi romance series Beauty & the Beast...
C.S. Lee got the acting bug his junior year of High School while playing football. Film became his passion. He attended Cornish College of the Arts on an acting scholarship and graduated with his BFA. He continued his acting training at the Yale School of Drama graduating with an MFA. He then spent eight years in NYC acting with various theater companies...
Kunal Nayyar is an Indian actor. He moved from India to the US in 1999. He first moved to Portland, Oregon, to study business. He started acting in plays as a way of making new friends. He took acting classes, but he went on to graduate from the University of Portland with a degree in business, as something to fall back on...
Born in 1983 and raised in Durban, South Africa, Adhir Kalyan moved to London to pursue an acting career. He appeared as a guest star on the BBC series Holby City
. Kalyan's first leading role was in the CW's comedy series Aliens in America
, in which he played Raja, a devout Pakistani Muslim exchange student in Medora...
Shetty is a graduate of the famed Opera department at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Immediately following graduation, she nabbed the lead role of Priya in A.R. Rahman's / Andrew Lloyd Webber's First National tour of "Bombay Dreams". Shetty opened to rave reviews in her Off-Broadway debut at The New Group...
Sacha Dhawan was born in Bramhall, Stockport to Hindu parents though he actually attended a Roman Catholic secondary school, Thomas Aquinas College, in nearby Stockport, where one of the authors whom he studied for his final exams was Alan Bennett, with whom he was very impressed. He began as a child actor at the age of 12 and attended the Laine-Johnson School of Acting in Manchester...
Nagarajan's parents are immigrants from India. Her mother, Geetha Nagarajan, is a former developmental specialist at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic. Her father, Nandu Nagarajan, is a professor and academic at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. She has one brother, Arjun...
Azita, a political refugee, came to Hollywood with an incredible story of cultural backlash. As a baby, she and her family fled to the United States and gained asylum in an effort to escape war-time conflicts . Being raised in a conservative multicultural home, she was forbidden to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress until she finished her studies...
Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Iqbal Theba came to the US as a college Freshman at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. While in college in Oklahoma, Iqbal studied Civil Engineering and eventually obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Engineering Management. After realizing his true passion was acting...
Marshall Manesh was born in Iran. He lost his father at an early age and was raised by his beloved mother, whom he feels he got his strength from to make it in show biz. He came to America in the mid "70s" and joined the Persian Theater Group and traveled extensively through out The United States, Canada and Europe for 8 years...
Dilshad Vadsaria was born in Karachi, Pakistan, of Portuguese and Indian descent. She moved with her family to the US at the age of six and spent her childhood in various parts of the country, including Chicago, Richmond (Virginia) and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She eventually moved to New York to study acting...
Margaret Denise Quigley was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a father of Polish and Irish descent (originally based in New York) and a Vietnamese mother. Her parents met during the Vietnam War. Maggie has two older half-siblings from her mother's previous marriage, and two older sisters. The family moved to Hawaii and settled in Mililani...
Christina Chang was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, by her Chinese-Filipino father and American mother. At 17 she moved to the United States to study Theatre & Film in her mother's home state of Kansas and later studied acting in Seattle, USA. Chang went on to gain a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Washington in Seattle...
Brenda Song was born in Carmichael, California. Her father is Hmong and her mother is Thai-American. Brenda, her parents, and her younger brothers Timmy and Nathan now live in a suburb of Los Angeles. Brenda was named an All-American Scholar in ninth grade and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She stars as London Tipton...
Michael Gregory Gong
MICHAEL GREGORY GONG : actor / writer / producer In addition to his study in various styles of martial arts (i.e. Tibetan White Crane, Choi Lei Fut, Hung Gar, Eagle Claw, and Wu Shu), Michael has worked as a performer on world tours, music videos, and live shows with Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Prince, Chayanne, and many others...
Daniel Dae Kim
Through the diversity of his roles on stage and screen, Daniel Dae Kim continues to expand our perceptions of the Asian-American man. In characters ranging from the King of Siam, a Shakespearean hero, a social worker for the Chicago needy, to a counter-terrorist agent, his work has consistently proven to transcend the historical barriers of race and stereotype...
Grace Park (born March 14, 1974) is an American-Canadian actress. She gained recognition as Sharon "Boomer" Valerii and Sharon "Athena" Agathon on Battlestar Galactica, as well as Shannon Ng in the Canadian television series teen soap Edgemont. Park stars as Officer Kono Kalakaua in the CBS television series Hawaii Five-0...
A genial, laid back, slumber-eyed character player especially adept at the relaxed wisecrack or dry comment, Japanese-American actor Jack Soo was born in Oakland, California, in 1917, his real name being Goro Suzuki. In the post-WWII years, he entertained as a stand-up performer in nightclubs and had...
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa got his first big break as an actor when he was cast in Bernardo Bertolucci
's The Last Emperor
. A US Army brat, he was born in Tokyo and lived in various cities while growing up. His father was in the army, stationed at Ft. Bragg (NC), Ft. Polk (LA) and Ft. Hood (TX). His mother was an actress from Tokyo...
Although primarily known for playing Hikaru Sulu in the television series Star Trek
and the first six features, George Takei has had a varied career acting in television, feature films, live theater and radio. He also is a successful writer and community activist. George Takei was born Hosato Takei on April 20...
Film audiences & television viewers know Brian Tochi as a star of several hit films, a collection of six television series, theater, and a multitude of guest-starring and co-starring roles in episodic television. Brian has starred or co-starred in over 25 motion pictures and their sequels, among them Revenge of the Nerds
and Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation