John Cho just did an interview with AsianPopcorn about what it’s like being an Asian American actor in the US.
It’s a great interview; go check it out. But if you want just the highlights:
“I didn’t think it was possible for Asians to be actors,” he said. But things changed with his first professional role in a play called “The Woman Warrior,” written by Chinese-American Maxine Hong Kingston. “When I met all these (Asian) professionals, it really opened a door for me.”
Cho was voted one of the 2006 “Sexiest Men Alive” by People magazine. “I think that was a mistake… a typo… It’s very nice, but it’s difficult to take that sort of thing seriously. You know what, print ‘I am sexy,”‘ he told reporters, and the room burst into laughter.
Cho pointed out the problem of actors agreeing to play an insulting or racist role in Hollywood, thereby endorsing those values. He said actors can advance change very simply and powerfully by “saying no.”
“What if they audition 100 people and 100 actors said no. Then two things would happen: One is that they would know that what they wrote was offensive. They would know that. And secondly, they couldn’t do it. So we take their tools away because we are their tools. So when we do stereotypical roles we are helping them, and so I think to turn that around, we should say no, and that’s the most powerful tool that we have,” he said.
Since his rise in popularity being one of the most searched names in Youtube, and appearing on popular TV shows like “The Singles Table” and “Kitchen Confidential” Cho has become a face for the Asian American community. Asked if he ever feels burdened about it, he said that he is sometimes “jealous” of white actors because “they don’t have to think about representing their race.
“We (Asian American actors) shouldn’t have to do this. So it feels unfair. And yet, it is an opportunity. It just so happens that I’m in a position to, by some bizarre act of God, I’m in a position to change things… So I might as well do what I can,” he said.