8 Asian-American actors who deserve WAY more onscreen love…

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BRIT + CO (by Dene Chen):

The popularity of Star Trek Beyond has basically guaranteed mainstream fandom for a franchise that was once considered geeky and alternative — now, we can even wear our trekkie status on our nails! What’s also great is that the stars have used their larger platform to speak up about issues that are important to them, like Zoe Saldana’s struggle with an autoimmune disease.

For John Cho, who portrays Sulu, a universally beloved character, this has been a time to talk about diversity — or the lack thereof — in Hollywood. “I just didn’t see anyone on TV who looked like me, and then I saw George Takei being cool and piloting the spaceship on television,” Cho recently said on The View. “And I thought that, wow, there’s a beacon for me.”

While things are a little bit better now on TV concerning diversity (though if the bar was so low before, how can you go anywhere but up?), there are still many in Hollywood who tooootally should be getting more work. Lucy Liu and John Cho are well-known names now — here’s hoping that Hollywood gives the following Asian actors more face-time onscreen.

1. Constance Wu:

Entertainment Weekly & People Upfronts Party 2016 - Arrivals

She is hilarious on Fresh Off the Boat and has been very vocal about the white-washing that happens in Hollywood. Wu is talented and beautiful — this should be a no-brainer.

 

2. Steven Yuen:

AMC At Comic-Con 2016 - Day 2

Yuen is notable not only for playing a main character for The Walking Dead, but for being one of the few onscreen love interests in Hollywood played by an Asian male. This may sound ridiculous, but since Asian men are often desexualized in mainstream American media, Yuen’s portrayal of Glenn as a total badass who is considered hot AF is actually groundbreaking. It shouldn’t be though. But first, we need to see him in more stuff.

3. Jake Choi:

2016 Tribeca Film Festival After Party For Wolves At No.8 - 4/15/16

This Queens native has a versatility that is showcased on his IMDB page — a stint on Broad City, an arc on Younger and a role in Wolves, the basketball drama starring Carla Gugino and Michael Shannon which opened earlier this year. Fingers crossed we see more of him.

4. Rahul Kohli:

Comic-Con International 2016 - "iZombie" Press Line

Are we including South Asians on this list? Yes we are, because representation is important. Also, because Rahul Kohli from iZombie is a handsome human being who needs to be on TV more.

5. Anna Akana:

AOL Build Speaker Series - Anna Akana, "Miss 2059"

You might recognize her by her brief appearance at the end of Ant-Man, but many are more likely to know her from her YouTube fame. Akana is a real self-made star, and her witty and sometimes poignant videos have reached more than 1.5 million subscribers.

6. Priyanka Chopra:

2016 ABC Upfront

This woman is goals when it comes to her red carpet style and her classic updos. But Chopra was already a huge star in India before Quantico gave her fame stateside.

7. Daniel Henney:

Hamilton Watch And LA Confidential Present The 2014 Hamilton Behind The Camera Awards - Inside

Another actor who is more appreciated outside the US, Henney will hopefully get more recognition now that he is a series regular of a Criminal Minds spin-off, Beyond Borders.

8. Sendhil Ramamurthy:

"Covert Affairs" Panel - Comic-Con 2011

Luckily for us, this Heroes alum has been working steadily since the series ended in 2010, chalking up arcs in Covert Affairs and Beauty and the Beast.

 

George Takei reacts to gay Sulu news: “I think it’s really unfortunate…”

George Takei on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: “He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” recalls Takei, now 79. “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.” 

The Hollwyood Reporter (by Seth Abramovitch):

Star Trek has lived long and prospered for studio home Paramount, spawning six TV series and 13 feature films. True to its title, the latest big-screen outing, Star Trek Beyond, has gone where none have gone before: Star John Cho — who assumes the Sulu mantle for the third time in the reboots — has told Australia’s Herald Sun that the character is revealed to be gay.

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Takei explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

Proving that is not so simple a matter, however. Sulu never had an onscreen love interest duringStar Trek‘s initial three-season run. He did mention a daughter, Demora, who appeared in 1994’s Star Trek Generations, the seventh film in the series (she was played by Jacqueline Kim).

But the only reference to how Demora was conceived appears in a secondary canonical source: the 1995 Star Trek novel The Captain’s Daughter. “It was, to put it crudely, a one-night stand with a glamazon,” Takei explains. “A very athletic, powerful and stunningly gorgeous woman. That’s Demora’s mother.”

Takei first learned of Sulu’s recent same-sex leanings last year, when Cho called him to reveal the big news. Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. “I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’” (Takei had enough negative experiences inside the Hollywood closet, he says, and strongly feels a character who came of age in the 23rd century would never find his way inside one.)

His timeline logic, however, is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later.

Not long after Cho’s bombshell call came another, this one from Lin, again informing him that Sulu was indeed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond. Takei remained steadfastly opposed to the decision.

I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen,” Takei says.

After that, all was quiet from Beyond until a few months ago, when Takei received an email from Pegg “praising me for my advocacy for the LGBT movement and for my pride in Star Trek,” he says. “And I thought to myself, ‘How wonderful! It’s a fan letter from Simon Pegg. Justin had talked to him!’” Takei was certain the creative team had rethought their decision to make Sulu gay.

That is until one month ago, when he received an email from Cho informing him that the actor was about to embark on an international media tour for Beyond. Cho said it was bound to come out that his character was gay, and “what should he do?” A disappointed Takei told Cho to go about his promotional duties, but that he was “not going to change” his mind on the matter.

I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” Takei says. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”

Takei for his part is hoping to take Sulu in new directions as well, potentially on CBS’ upcomingStar Trek series, slated to premiere in January and co-run by Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, who is openly gay.

 

George Takei to star in Broadway musical about interned Japanese-Americans

NY Times: 

Allegiance,” a musical about Japanese-Americans in United States internment camps during World War II, will begin performances on Broadway in October at a Shubert Theater to be announced later, the show’s producers said Thursday. The musical, which will cost a relatively hefty $13 million to mount, will star George Takei, who is best known as Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” television series, and whose personal experiences in internment camps in Arkansas and California inspired “Allegiance.”

Mr. Takei, in a telephone interview, described the show as “very, very personal” and a tribute to his parents as well as the tens of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry – the majority of whom were American citizens – who were forcibly relocated to camps from 1942 to 1946 under an order by President Roosevelt. Mr. Takei said that he had invested a “substantial” amount of his own money in the musical, and that it features characters drawn from his family and life, including a grandfather character that Mr. Takei will portray in his Broadway debut.

I consider this my legacy project,” said Mr. Takei, who is 77 and spent about four years of his childhood in two camps. “This is the first time that this dark chapter of American history will be done on the Broadway stage.”

Mindful that theatergoers often skip Broadway musicals that are tagged (however unfairly) as ruminations on history, like “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Mr. Takei highlighted the romantic subplots and centrality of baseball in “Allegiance,” as well as the overarching theme of family unity.

The show’s backdrop is the imprisonment of innocent Americans simply because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, but the story is universal – people falling in love, getting married, having a family,” Mr. Takei said. “The musical will find an audience because whether you are white, black, Latino, young or old, people can identify with the idea of family and the stresses put on a family, which in this case were enormous.”

Allegiance” had its world premiere in 2012 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, receiving mixed reviews but drawing large and ethnically diverse audiences. Since then, Mr. Takei said, some scenes and dialogue have been tweaked but the show is essentially the same. The Old Globe cast included the Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Telly Leung (the 2011 Broadway revival of “Godspell”). Mr. Takei said Ms. Salonga and Mr. Leung were in negotiations to do “Allegiance” on Broadway but no casting beyond his was confirmed at this point.

The musical’s producers, Lorenzo Thione and Andrew Treagus, have been waiting for an available Broadway theater for about two years, but other shows – some more evidently commercial than “Allegiance,” and some flops – landed them first. “Allegiance” will arrive during a period of increasingly steady opportunities for Asian-American theater actors in New York: a Broadway revival of “The King & I” is set to open this spring, while the hit London revival of “Miss Saigon” looks likely to arrive on Broadway at some point, though probably not before the 2016-17 theater season.

Allegiance,” which has a book by Marc Acito and music and lyrics by Jay Kuo, will be directed by Stafford Arima (Off Broadway’s “Carrie,” “Altar Boyz”). Preview performances are scheduled to begin Oct. 6, with an opening night of Nov. 8.

The musical grew out of a chance encounter several years ago that Mr. Takei and his husband, Brad, had with Mr. Thione and Mr. Kuo at back-to-back theater outings in New York, after which Mr. Takei shared his childhood memories of the camps over dinner.

We talked for a long time about my childhood imprisonment, about my father’s anguish at being challenged over his loyalty to America – my dad was born in San Francisco and played baseball, my mother was born in Sacramento,” Mr. Takei said. “I’m a weeper, and when Jay emailed me a song after that, about my father and the idea of allegiance, I just gushed. I knew I had to do this.”

George Takei’s documentary “To Be Takei” now available for digital download


Angry Asian Man: 

The feature documentary To Be Takei is a fun and insightful look at the life and career of celebrated actor, activist and internet personality George Takei. Or, as I like to call him, Uncle George.

If you missed To Be Takei in theaters or have not yet seen it on DVD, it’s now available as a direct digital download. Want a discount on the download?

The film, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, chronicles Takei’s seven-decade journey from a World War II internment camp, to the helm of the Starship Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans. Join George and his husband Brad on this star’s playful and profound trek for life, liberty, and love.

Here’s the trailer:

To Be Takei is now available as a digital download in both a standard edition ($9.99) and deluxe edition ($19.99) with 80 minutes of bonus scenes (including 15 exclusive scenes featuring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and more hilarity with George and Brad Takei) and the film’s soundtrack.

“Fast & Furious 6” helmer Justin Lin to direct “Star Trek 3”

Justin Lin Directing Star Trek 3

Variety:

Justin Lin is boarding the USS Enterprise and will direct the third installment in Paramount Pictures’ “Star Trek” franchise.

The hiring of Lin came two weeks after Roberto Orci backed away from the directing gig.

Orci had been hired for the helming job after J.J. Abrams had to exit the sequel due to his commitment to direct Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Abrams directed the first two “Star Trek” reboots in 2009 and 2013.

David Ellison’s Skydance Prods. is producing along with Orci and Abrams. Paramount has not yet set a release date for “Star Trek 3″ but speculation has emerged that the studio will release the film in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original “Star Trek” series on TV.

Patrick McKay and John D. Payne worked on the most recent draft of the script.

Lin directed the third, fourth, fifth and sixth installments of the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Last year’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” grossed $467 million worldwide, including $229 million domestically.

George Takei: Star treks to the Smithsonian

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Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center:

There are few people in today’s public forum that have made cultural and political impact like that of George Takei. From his iconic role as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, to his deep involvement in obtaining a redress of Japanese Americans who were forced into relocation during World War II, to his fervent fight for LGBT rights, George has proven himself to be a force to reckon with. Plus, his cat memes are awesome!!!georgetakei-catGeorge and Brad Takei graced us with their presence at the DC Film Premiere of To Be Takei, a new documentary starring the couple. We also found some time to show him some powerful pieces from the Smithsonian collection (thanks to National Museum of American History curators Noriko Sanefuji and Katherine Ott!) and hung with him backstage. Join our play-by-play!14220415211_4315e6b839_oThe evening kicked off with a special reception to honor our friends and supporters. As you can see, Brad Takei thoroughly enjoyed the regal wallpaper at the VIP room. DSC_003914037268619_c09b92332f_bThe WB Theater was packed for To Be Takei! DSC_0076Our director Konrad Ng, along with Daphne Kwok – AARP Vice President of Multicultural Markets & Engagement for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience – introduced George, and then the man of the hour came out to introduce the film. DSC_0115While the film played, we took George and Brad upstairs to view some items selected by NMAH curators, including the Congressional Gold Medal for Nisei World War II veterans. DSC_013914037132770_474163c91e_bIrene Hirano Inouye, President of the U.S.-Japan Council, Daphne Kwok, and Floyd Mori, President of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies joined them while Noriko and Katherine led a conversation around pieces from Japanese American families who were forced to relocate during World War II, as well as items from the National Museum of American History’s LGBT collection. DSC_019914223581844_2690d14479_bPowerful pieces included artifacts from Rohwer Confinement Site, where George was incarcerated as a boy before his family was sent to Tule Lake. 14037187699_3051e269ca_bBackstage, George sat down with Adriel Luis, our Curator of Digital and Emerging Media, to talk about how his career has been driven by a range of influences – from old Samurai films to African American civil rights leaders. 14243958873_12e14dd261_bSenator Mazie Hirono stopped by to say “Hello.” DSC_0011After the film, George and Brad went back to the auditorium to participate in a Q&A moderated by Gautam Raghavan, Public Engagement Advisor for the White House. 14037114548_920ced67ec_b

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We had a spectacular time with George and Brad! Check out a trailer of his film below, and stay tuned for more amazing events!

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‘To Be Takei’, A Documentary About ‘Star Trek’ Actor and Social Activist George Takei

 

To Be Takei is an upcoming documentary directed by filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot that examines the life of actor, activist, and social media icon George Takei. Best known as the USS Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek series, Takei has maintained prominence in recent years as an LGBT activist, popular social media figure, and due to frequent cameo appearances on shows like Futurama and Archer.

The documentary follows the actor’s life from his early years spent in a World War II Japanese American internment camp to his rise as one of the most prominent Asian-American actors on television. The movie is scheduled to release in theaters on August 22nd, 2014.

 

I was the best helmsman in the galaxy — and put to rest all of those stereotypes about Asian drivers.

 

To Be Takei

image via George Takei