The dragon painter was a film under his own company, his wife played his opposite.
Ahn’s Father was an activist who promoted Korean Independence during Japanese occupation, conflicted with his role as Japanese
The green hornet was being aired as the kato show in hong kong
Top ten apia actors
TOP TEN A/PIA
CINEMA & TELEVISION
Why Top Ten A/PIA Actors?
Growing up in a predominantly white area, most of
my exposure to other A/PIAs was through film and
Seeing “people who looked like me” on television
was something I got excited about.
Now that I know more about the history of Asian
Americans, I am able to understand the
relationship between A/PIAs and the media in a
- Compiled a list of actors based on reoccurrence within
various scholarly works.
- Decided if actors were Asian American
- Narrowed down list on the basis of legacy, popularity (# of
apearances), awards/nominations, involvement in the Asian
American community, and the significance of individual
Born in Nanawa, Japan in 1890
After his destiny of joining the Navy fell through, he came to
American to become a banker. He graduated from the University of
Chicago, but became interested in a theater company in Little Tokyo
His silent film career took off with Typhoon (1914). He later
appeared in works such as The Cheat (1915) and The Dragon Painter
He made his talking debut in Daughter of the Dragon (with Anna May
At the height of his popularity, Hayakawa earned about $7,500 a
He was nominated for an academy award for his performance in The
Bridge on The River Kwai (1957).
He had gained the popularity equal to that of Charlie Chaplin,
William S. Hart, Douglas Fairbanks.
Hayakawa appeared in 80 movies (23 made by his own company).
Died in 1973.
Hayakawa’s career endured the move from silent films to talkies, as
well as through a period of miscegenation and a post WWII U.S.
Philip Ahn was born in Highland Park, CA in 1905. Ahn is
allegedly the first US citizen of Korean heritage born in the
He had his debut in Anything Goes (1936). He went on to play
many roles in which he portrayed evil Japanese. He left acting
and joined the army after a lot of hate mail and death threats
because of his convincing acting.
Played more than 270 character roles. Ahn is most remembered
for his role as Master Kan in Kung Fu . Career highlights also
included King of Chinatown and Daughter of Shanghai.
He obtained a star on Hollywood Boulevard. November 14 is
Philip Ahn day in L.A.
Ahn was Honorary Mayor of Panorama City, California. He gave
the Korean American community a voice.
Philip Ahn passed away in 1978 after surgery complications.
Ahn was a talented actor who also was involved in politics and
creating visibility for the Korean American community.
Born in 1904 in Canton, China. Was raised in Seattle,
Debuted in The Painted Veil (1934)
Notable roles include “Number One Son” Lee Chan, in
the Charlie Chan movies, the first Kato in the Green
Hornet series, and as Master Po in the Kung Fu series.
His role in Dr. Gillespie was significant because his
character was not a villain during a time of “yellow
Featured in over 100 films and over 30 television shows.
Luke was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild
Won a lifetime achievement award from the Association
of Asian/Pacific American Artists, and was given a star on
Keye Luke passed away in 1991
Mako Iwamatsu Born in 1933 in Kobe, became a naturalized
US citizen in 1956.
Moved to New York after the War, but
moved to L.A. after serving in the Korean
First major role was as Po-han in The Sand
Pebbles (1966). Nominated for an Academy
Award for Best Supporting Actor and the
Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1965, Mako co-founded the East/West
Players, an Asian American theater
company. This helped give Asian Americans
a chance to play roles that were not the
stereotypical characters of Hollywood.
Received the Margaret Harford Award,
from the Los Angeles Drama Critics
Black belt in Karate
Passed away in 2006
Bruce Lee Born in 1940 (Year of the Dragon) in San Francisco,
He was raised in Hong Kong and gained some roles as a
child actor. He came back to the US when he turned 19 in
order to claim his dual citizenship.
He made major debut in the U.S. as Kato in The Green
Lee came up with the concept for the show Kung Fu and
was set to be the lead. David Carradine played the main
protagonists role in place of Lee.
His choreography set the standard for martial arts movies.
Notable works: Fist of Fury, Enter the Dragon, The Game of
In Los Angeles, June 8 has been declared Bruce Lee Day
TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the
Inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame
He has become a cultural icon and has left one of the
greatest legacies in history.
Passed away in 1973, mysteriously.
Born in California in 1932
At a young age Pat and his family were put into a
concentration camp for the duration of the war.
He began as a comedian taking on the stage name the “Hip
Nip.” He looked deeper into issues and used them as
material for his jokes. During his guest appearance on The
Tonight Show, Morita made jokes about how Asian
Americans or people of Asian descent are not viewed as
truly being Americans.
He played roles on popular T.V. shows such as Happy Days,
Sanford and Son, Ohara, Kung Fu, Magnum P.I., Amos and
Most well known for his role as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate
Kid series. In 1984, Morita was nominated for the Academy
Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Star on Walk of Fame, multiple Golden Globe Award
nominations, and an Emmy nomination.
Pat Morita passed away in 2005 from natural causes.
Born in 1937 in California
His family was relocated during WWII
He appeared on T.V. shows such as Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu,
Twilight Zone, and more recently Heroes.
His biggest role was as Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek.
The role of Captain Sulu was significant because it portrayed an
Asian character in a more positive, non-stereotypical way than
the media had portrayed Asians up to this point.
Star on Hollywood Boulevard (1986)
He has worked to better relations between the U.S. and Japan.
Takei is a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign.
East/West Players advocate
His groundbreaking role as Hikaru Sulu, and his work to
promote rights and equality for Gays and Asian Americans has
made George Takei an incredibly influential Asian American
Lou Diamond Phillips
Born in Zambales, Philippines in 1962.
He is of Filipino, Cherokee, Hawaiian, Scottish-
Raised in Arlington, Texas
Phillips’ debut was in Trespasses (1983).
His career took off with his role as Richie
Valens in La Bamba (1987).
He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his
performance in Stand and Deliver (1987).
Independent Spirit Award, Tony Award
nominee, and more.
He has played roles as a Latino, Inuit, and
He as also been involved in getting Filipino
WWII Veterans equal benefits.
Lou Diamond Phillips represents a largely
under represented group of the A/PIA
community in Hollywood.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/LouDiamondPhill
• Born Kalpen Suresh Modi in 1977 in Montclair, New
• Took on the stage name Kal Penn because he felt a
more “Americanized” name would land him more roles.
He was right.
• He had roles in quite a few roles in television series
before he gained exposure through his role in National
Lampoon’s Van Wilder.
• He is most well known for playing Kumar in the Harold &
• He made appearances in other popular works such as
Superman Returns, House, and 24.
• In 2009, he worked in the Obama administration as the
Associate Director of the White House Office of Public
Engagement. He left after a year to make another
Harold and Kumar movie.
• Kal Penn is one of the few Indian Americans to find
success in Hollywood and has been involved in helping
the Asian American community through his connection
to the White House.
• Born in 1972 in Seoul, South Korea. Moved to
Los Angeles in 1978.
• He appeared in many television series but
gained his first notable roles in American Pie
(1999) and Harold & Kumar go to White Castle
• He played the role of Hikaru Sulu in the 2009
remake of Star Trek. A role that remained
equally as significant as its original.
• Cho has also appeared in T.V. series such as
Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Ugly
Betty, and Flash Forward.
• John Cho has also been involved with the
iconic East/West players.
• John Cho has become a well known face in
Hollywood and continues to help build a
legacy for the younger generation of Asian
• Garcia, Roger. Out of the Shadows: Asians In American Cinema. Milan, Italy:
Edizioni Olivares , 2001.
• Huang, Guiyou. Asian American Autobiographers: a Bio-bibliographical Critical
Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001: 351-355.
• Miyao, Daisuke. Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema And Transnational Stardom.
Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.
• TCM Turner Classic Movies. Time Warner Company. Web. 23 Nov. 2010.