Still Few Leading Roles for Asian Actors in Hollywood Movies - But the Star is Rising for Randall Park and Miyavi

Suzanne Kai


Asian American actors are still largely missing from the big screen in major roles. A year-end wrap up shows small gains for major movie roles for Asian American actors in Hollywood.

ISHIHARA TAKAMASA - MIYAVI IN UNBROKEN BY UNIVERSALEven for Asian actors who are not American, major roles in a current Hollywood movie are scarce.

First time actor Takamasa Ishihara from Japan made the most of his opportunity.

Ishihara,33 year old singer, songwriter, guitarist and record producer known to his fans as Miyavi gave a chilling break-out performance as the brutal sergeant in Angelina Jolie's film "Unbroken."

Ishihara's role as Sergeant Matsuhiro Watanabe was so intense, he told Vanity Fair's Natalie Finn "It's a story that is still painful for my country," ... "But she (Director Angelina Jolie) told me she wanted to make a bridge between all countries that had conflict. She was very persuasive." And after filming some of the more violent scenes, "I couldn't stop crying," he admitted.

Ishihara has two daughters with American-born wife, Melody Ishihara, a fashion designer, who was a former TV show host and J-Pop singer known as Melody Miyuki Ishikawa.

One notable win to be celebrated for an Asian American actor in a Hollywood movie is Randall Park's role in "The Interview." 


While the hacking scandal at Sony has grabbed international headlines for the comedy "The Interview" and its stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, some writers in the Asian American blogosphere have been abuzz about American actor Randall Park, praising his performance in the movie as Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader.  

Park, 40, said there was very little footage of Kim Jong-un available to research his role. He reviewed video of Kim Jong-un from HBO's show "Vice" about basketball star Dennis Rodman's visit to North Korea. 

RANDALL PARK PLAYS N KOREAN LEADER KIM JUNG-un IN COMEDY THE INTERVIEWPrior to "The Interview" Park was previously best known for his role on the HBO comedy series "Veep," as Minnesota Govenor Danny Chung, and has made a number of guest appearances on other television shows.

He has a recurring role on "The Mindy Project" as 'Colin."

This February, 2015 Park takes a big step forward again for his career. He is part of the cast of the new landmark ABC TV television series "Fresh Off the Boat," the first network series in twenty years to focus on an Asian American family.

In the series, Park plays the patriarch "Louis," as Eddie Huang's immigrant father based on the book "Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir" by Huang.

Park was born in Los Angeles to parents who emigrated to the U.S. from South Korea. He now lives in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, and is married to actress Jae Suh Park and they have one daughter.

An actor, comedian, writer and director, Park earned a bachelors degree in English and creative writing, and a masters degree in Asian American studies from UCLA. 

In our next feature, we will spotlight Joan Chen, who currently plays Kublai Khan's wife in Marco Polo the ten episode Netflix original series which debuted December 12, 2014.



How Randall Park became Kim Jong-un for 'The Interview' by Jim Henahan,  December 17, 2014.

'The Interview's' Kim Jong-un actor, Randal Park, knew it was 'insane' by Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times December 16, 2014

Q&A: Randall Park Talks Playing Kim Jong-un in "The Interview" by Justin Kroll, Variety December 11, 2014

An Interview with Randall Park by Ashok Kondabolu, Asian American Writers Workshop  July 26, 2013


September 20, 2014 

Are Asian Americans seeking careers in entertainment fleeing Hollywood for Asia? 


Writer Dana Ter presents compelling evidence in her article for

AC - MAGGIE Q IN NIKITALam wrote early this year about the "Bamboo Ceiling" in Hollywood. 

For decades, Asian Americans have faced an uphill battle to secure major starring roles in feature films and television. 

Non-profit (Coalition for Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) in Hollywood has carried the flag for 23 years to train, connect and open opportunities for Asian Americans into the film industry. 

This year CAPE has decided to eliminate all membership fees, and has opened its programs, services, and events to anyone seeking to make a meaningful impact in support of the AAPI community. So if you want to see more improvement for Asian Americans in Entertainment and Media in Hollywood - get involved, donate and be part of the solution.

Photo (above) of American film and television actress Maggie Q, (Margaret Quigley), star of the now canceled television series Nikita which aired on CW from 2010 to 2013. She was the second Asian American actress to play a series lead in an American television drama. The first Asian American actress to win a lead role in a television series was Anna May Wong for The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong which aired in 1951.


Annenberg Media Center: Yellow In A White Industry: Asians In American Film September 18, 2014

Why It Matters When Asian Women Leave TV Shows by Joanna Robinson for Vanity Fair Magazine May 15, 2014

The "Bamboo Ceiling": Hollywood Shuns Asians, While New Media Embraces Them by Andrew Lam for New America Media Jan. 26, 2014

Six Young Asian American Filmmakers Who Are Shattering America's Asian Film Bias by Dana Ter, Dec. 9, 2013

Star Types and Stereotypes Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies by Mike Hale, New York Times, Nov. 23, 2013

In Memoriam: Roger Ebert 1942-2013 American Journalist, Film critic and Asian American Cinema Champion by Suzanne Joe Kai;3599 April 3, 2013