Over the weekend, the San Diego Asian Film Festival invited actors like Lost alumnus Daniel Dae Kim, Glee’s Harry Shum Jr., Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), and Aaron Yoo (Friday the 13th) to a panel entitled “Asian Americans in Hollywood” (we checked to see if the panel was also subtitled “Best-Looking Actors You Can Think Of,” but results were inconclusive). While Kim had plenty of success to share with the audience, he said that even now, his race is still an issue on his current show, Hawaii Five-0; in fact, it’s affecting who he gets to knock onscreen boots with.
Speakeasy columnist Michelle Kung was on the scene:
Kim — who was awarded the festival’s “Influential Asian American Artist” award — told that audience that he was currently in the midst of discussing what race the love interest of his “Hawaii Five-O” character Detective Chin Ho Kelly should be — a conversation that was more difficult that he had initially thought. He noted that while he was excited that race was a topic of discussion, the decision was more difficult than he originally thought, because he realized that the ultimate choice would have cultural ramifications. He then took a quick poll of the audience to see if they thought Kelly should be with another Asian, another non-Asian minority, or a Caucasian woman. (The reply was weighted toward the first two options.)
Did the audience reaction shake out that way because there are so few Asian sex symbols on TV right now that their romantic lives take on additional resonance and invite extra scrutiny, or will we simply be unable to let Kim date anyone who is not his Lost love Yunjin Kim, somehow arriving in the Hawaii Five-0 world with the baby Sun and Jin left behind to go deep-sea diving?
Daniel Dae Kim, Harry Shum Jr on Being Working Asian Actors [Speakeasy/WSJ]