Five Non-Asian Asians

non asian asians

Because May is Asian Pacific Heritage month, I wanted to write about all the people I assumed or rather wanted to believe were Asian/Pacific Islander. Some of these are more benign than others but they all stem from the simple fact that as a child (and as an adult) I wanted there to be more people that resembled me in politics and entertainment.

  1. Snake Eyes (from G.I. Joe). I’ve written about this before but as a kid I always believed that under his black helmet Snake Eyes was Asian. He was the closest thing I had to a good guy Asian in G.I. Joe or in any other cartoon/toy at the time. I remember playing out whole scenarios in my head where I would grow up to be just like him — black helmet and all!
  2. David Carradine. I remember watching this show and REALLY liking it. I assumed that Carradine was part Asian because he was playing a hapa character. Imagine my surprise when I found out he wasn’t hapa. I wasn’t angry at the time (I was too young to be angry about such things) but I was more perplexed, I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t find someone Asian to play the role. Thankfully, I didn’t find out that Carradine had been cast over Bruce Lee (my childhood hero)  or my child brain may have exploded.
  3. Mickey Rooney. I admit I had a huge huge huge huge crush on Audrey Hepburn as a teenager. In high school, I went back and watched every single movie that she was in. I remember seeing Roony’s character on Breakfast at Tiffany’s and wanting to believe that the actor playing the offensive Japanese neighbor was at least Asian. Deep down, I knew he wasn’t but there was a part of me that was hoping. I still am.
  4. George Noory. Unless you’re a talk radio nerd, you’re probably asking yourself, who the hell is George Noory and why is he on this list? George is the popular host of Coast to Coast AM, a radio show that discusses paranormal related phenomenon very late at night or in the morning (depending on where you’re listening). The first time I heard George, I wanted to believe he was Japanese/Japanese American because of his last name. I assumed Norry was “Nori.” Of course, this has nothing to do with him and he never said he was Asian but a part of me was saddened when I found out the truth.
  5. President Obama. Of course President Obama has never claimed to be Asian but deep down I believe he is. He was raised in Indonesian and Hawai’i. His sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is half-Indonesian. In my book, it doesn’t get more Asian than that (or at least more than any other President before him)!

Do you have any non-Asian Asians I should included? Leave a comment and let me know.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (, the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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