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:

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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.

 

Sulu will be married and gay in ‘Star Trek Beyond’

NBC News:

Star Trek Beyond,” the latest of the “Star Trek” movies, will show Hikaru Sulu with a husband and a daughter, according to a report by Australia-based Herald Sun newspaper.

John Cho, who plays Sulu in the rebooted “Star Trek” movies, told the newspaper that that the decision to reveal Sulu as gay was made by film writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin.

I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he told the newspaper.

He also told the Herald Sun that the decision was a nod to George Takei, who played Sulu in the original 1966 “Star Trek” television series. Takei and his now-husband, Brad Altman, have been together for 29 years.

Sulu will be the first LGBTQ main character in the franchise, which is known for breaking boundaries. The original TV series famously featured American television’s first interracial on-screen kiss in 1968, only a year after anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Star Trek’s John Cho breaks barriers as romantic lead: ‘I would call this revolutionary’

John Cho and Karen Gillan co-star in this fall's "Selfie," a series based on George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion."

John Cho and Karen Gillan co-star in this fall’s “Selfie,” a series based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.

 

John Cho in a romantic lead?

It’s hard to remember the last time an Asian male played a romantic character in a television series. Unless you count the time George Takei as Sulu in Star Trek groped Uhura. But that’s because he was momentarily insane.

Asians are among the most under-represented minority group on TV and Asian males in romantic leads are practically unheard of.

But Cho now finds himself starring in a modern remake of Pygmalion and the color-blind casting of himself as “Henry” with co-star Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) as Eliza Dooley in ABC’s Selfie for the fall TV season.

I would call this revolutionary. It’s certainly a personal revolution for me,” said the 42-year old actor who says he normally never gets offered such roles. Fans may best know the actor as the current Sulu in the rebooted Star Trek, or as stoner Harold Lee of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.

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,” says Cho.

Selfie tells the story of Dooley, who seeks the help of Henry, who happens to be a marketing whiz, to remake her Internet brand. In the process, he changes who she is as a person.

Creator Emily Kapnek says producers initially thought along more conventional lines, casting someone who was British in the vein of the original Henry Higgins character.

The casting process was pretty extensive . . . the idea was to find someone several generations older and British,” says Kapnek. “We looked at tons of different actors, and really once we kind of opened our minds and said let’s get off of what we think Henry is supposed to be and just talk about who is, we just need a brilliant actor—and John’s name came up.”

Kapnek said it was ABC who first brought up the idea of color-blind casting.

Once Cho was cast, writers decided not to dwell on the interracial relationship, making it a non-issue in the storyline.

To not even talk about it is a really new and, I think, mature way to look at it,” says Cho.

There aren’t obvious similarities between Cho’s tech-savvy character and the curmudgeonly Henry Higgins who teaches Eliza Doolittle linguistics in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

But Cho says he could relate to the role from his experience as a high school English teacher in California.

His immigrant background (he was born in Seoul, South Korea) also helped him to further appreciate the spirit of Henry Higgins, a character who has spent his life studying the mannerisms and speech of others.

As an immigrant, I learned by watching other people,” says Cho. “When you’re not born in this country, you kind of study how people talk and how they act and you try and break things down.

Unlike Eliza, Cho doesn’t have a lot of choice when he finds himself needing a mentor for his upcoming role. The question is, will his new-found leading man status pave the way for other actors of color?

I sure hope so,” he says.

Link

“To Be Takei” to premiere at Sundance Film Festival

Actor/activist George Takei holds up a Sulu action figure.

Rafu Shimpo:

The documentary “To Be Takei” will have its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Showtimes are Saturday, Jan. 18, at 9 p.m. at the Yarrow Hotel Theatre in Park City; Sunday, Jan. 19, at 12:30 p.m. at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City; Monday, Jan. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Redstone Cinema 1 in Park City; and Saturday, Jan. 25, at 9 p.m. at Temple Theatre in Park City.

The festival website gives the following description: “George Takei doesn’t shy away from digging into his remarkable career and personal life in Jennifer Kroot’s delightful and incisive film … As a child forced into Japanese American internment camps, the actor-turned-activist reveals the ways that racism affected him well into his early acting career, where he played stereotypical Asian stock characters in film and television shows.

“Even after landing the iconic role of Hikaru Sulu on ‘Star Trek,’ Takei’s sharp eye, coupled with his wicked sense of humor, continued to challenge the status quo well into the 21st century.

“Now at 76, nine years after formally coming out of the closet, Takei and his husband, Brad, have become the poster couple for marriage equality, highlighting homophobia through television interviews and hilarious skits, many of which have gone viral and garnered widespread attention.

“Whether dishing on William Shatner or parodying the now-infamous comments made by Tim Hardaway, Takei proves time and again why his presence in popular culture remains as fresh and necessary as ever.

Kroot directed the documentary feature “It Came from Kuchar,” about the legendary underground filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar, which screened at SXSW in 2009. She also wrote, directed, and starred in the gender-bending, sci-fi, narrative feature “Sirens of the 23rd Century” in 2003. She studied film briefly at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she now teaches.

Co-director and editor Bill Weber is a San Francisco–based documentary film editor. He directed and edited the documentary feature “The Cockettes,” which screened at the 2002 Sundance and Berlin film festivals, and co-directed and edited the documentary feature “We Were Here,” which played at the Sundance and Berlin festivals in 2011. He also edited the Academy Award–nominated documentary short film “The Final Inch.”

For reservations and more information, visit www.sundance.org. The film’s website is www.tobetakei.com.

Check out this link:

“To Be Takei” to premiere at Sundance Film Festival

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