Hollywood has made an effort in creating more diverse roles, but it still has a long way to go. While movies about racial politics have certainly dominated the Academy Awards this year (with 12 Years A Slave taking home Best Picture), what was noticeably missing was the Oscars’ lack of recognition for Asian talent.
A recent Diversity Gap study conducted by Lee & Low Books found that no actor of Latino, Asian or Native American descent has won an acting Oscar in the last 10 years. Noticing that all the winners were predominantly won by white actors, we’ve decided to compile a list of our favourite Asian actors in the business to educate the masses about the diverse amount of talent that is currently working the industry.
But while these are only 10 names, there are several more we would have wanted to add! However, the following are who we see as potential leading men.
Where you’ve seen him: Many may recognize Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, one of the zombie apocalypse survivors in AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead. But while he may have gained mainstream success as a main character on the show, Yeun has a history of making many small appearances on comedy shows like The Big Bang Theory and NTSF:SD:SUV. He can also be seen in Mike Cahill’s sci-fi indie I Origins, playing a molecular biologist.
Random facts about him: Born in Seoul, South Korea, Yeun was raised in Troy, Michigan and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College. While in college, he participated in Kalamazoo’s improv group, Monkapult, inspiring him to move to Chicago after school to pursue an improv career in Chicago instead of enrolling in law school or medical school.
Where you’ll see him next: Yeun will reprise the role of Glenn on The Walking Dead‘s fifth season, premiering in October. He has also been cast in a few projects, such as a short film called Crash and the South Korean thriller The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, set to release in 2015.
Why he deserves our love: He has a great sense of humour and is adorable during interviews. In this interview, he talks about how he avoids dating by just sticking to his Walking Dead graphic novels.
And did we mention that he can also sing? Someone give this man more roles!
Where you’ve seen him: Randall Park has made several appearances on film and television, but you probably haven’t noticed him because he’s always in the background. Having made cameos in films like Neighbors and Sex Tape and television shows like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm, most people might recognize the 40-year-old actor from HBO’s Veep, in which he plays the charismatic Minnesota governor Danny Chung.
Random facts about him: Other than acting, Park has also dabbled in producing, serving as the writer, director and star of several short internet series for Channel 101 including Dr. Miracles, The Food, and Dumb Professor. As well, he can also be seen in WongFu Productions’ short film Too Fast.
Where you’ll see him next: By the end of 2014, we’ll be seeing a lot more from Mr. Park. In ABC’s new sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, the actor will be playing the father figure of a Taiwanese family who embraces the ‘American Dream’ as he moves his family from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida to open up a steak restaurant. As well, Park will also star in the upcoming Seth Rogen comedy, The Interview, playing Kim Jong Un.
Why he deserves our love: He shares the screen with his family. He co-wrote an internet series called Baby Mentalist, featuring his adorable baby daughter.
Where you’ve seen him: If you’re a comedy fan, chances are you’ve ran into Ken Jeong’s genius a couple of times. Fans may first recognize him as the eccentric gynaecologist in Knocked Up. If not, they may remember him running around stark naked as gangster Leslie Chow in The Hangover movies. Though if you’re a fan of the sitcom Community, Jeong may be recognized the most as Señor Chang, Greendale Community College’s kooky Spanish professor.
Random facts about him: Jeong is a licensed physician in the state of California. But while he was completing his residency in at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, he developed a love and talent for stand-up comedy. In fact, his wife Tran, who is also a doctor, encouraged Jeong to quit his job to pursue acting full time.
Where you’ll see him next: Jeong will be heard voicing roles for films like Penguins of Madagascar and Norm of the North. As well, he’ll star in an upcoming adult coming-of-age comedy called Ktown Cowboys, alongside Daniel Dae Kim and Eric Roberts.
Why he deserves our love: He isn’t afraid to embarrass himself to make us laugh. Here, he photobombs Kate Upton’s GQ photoshoot…just because.
Where you’ve seen him: While you may have only caught notice of him on HBO’s Silicon Valley as software designer Dinesh Chughtai, Kumail Nanjiani actually has quite the comedic background. Having guest-starred on shows like Portlandia and Veep, Nanjiani also co-hosts the Comedy Central show The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail with Jonah Ray.
Random facts about him: He co-hosts a video game-themed podcast called the The Indoor Kids with his wife Emily V. Gordon.
Where you’ll see him next: Nanjiani is expected to star in the upcoming comedy Loaded and appear in Flock of Dudes, alongside Skylar Astin and Hannah Simone.
Why he deserves our love: His comedy is extremely underrated. Below, he talks about how he tried to be cool as a child.
Where you’ve seen him: While many may know Dev Patel as the Mumbai man who tries to connect with his lost love through a game show in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, the actor first got his start starring in the British drama Skins playing a dorky teenager named Anwar Kharral. Most recently, he can be seen acting as a blogger in the HBO series The Newsroom. As well, he had the opportunity to work with veteran actors such as Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, in which the cast was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture.
Random facts about him: Patel has been dating his Slumdog Millionaire co-star Freida Pinto since 2009. Although she’s six years older than him, they remain one of the cutest/most underrated couples in Hollywood. Patel also has a black belt in Taekwondo, which came in handy when he filmed The Last Airbender.
Where you’ll see him next: Patel will return to the third and final season of The Newsroom, which is set to premiere in the fall. He will also reprise his role as Sonny Kapoor in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Why he deserves our love: He’s funny and endearing. Watch him guess what his co-star Judi Dench pushed through her neighbour’s mailbox as a child.
Where you’ve seen him: While Justin Chon has appeared in several productions such as Jack & Bobby and the Disney production of Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, his most recognizable role would probably be playing Twilight‘s Eric Yorkie, a classmate of Bella Swan’s who becomes interested in her. As well, he recent starred in the comedy 21 and Over alongside Miles Teller and Skylar Astin. In the film, he played Jeff Chang, a student who gets taken out by his friends to celebrate his 21st birthday a day before his med school exam.
Where you’ll see him next: He is currently filming Revenge of the Green Dragons, an action crime drama film with Ray Liotta, Harry Shum Jr. and Kevin Wu (aka YouTuber Kevjumba).
Why he deserves our love: Because he’s a dork and he’s tight with KevJumba.
Where you’ve seen him: Daniel Henney became a household name in South Korea, starring in the Korean television series My Name is Kim Sam Soon despite not speaking the language. He has also held supporting roles in films like The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He was also a season regular on a short-lived television show called Three Rivers, playing Dr. David Lee.
Random facts about him: Henney was born to a Korean adoptee mother and an American father of Irish descent. He got his start modelling in 2001 and has worked in France, Italy and Hong Kong.
Where you’ll see him next: He can be heard voicing the role of Tadashi Hamada in Disney’s upcoming animation film Big Hero 6.
Why he deserves our love: He’ll make anything look good, and encourage you to support good causes at the same time. I mean, just look at HIM.
Where you’ve seen him: He may have been the guy who coined the term MILF in the American Pie movies, but he’s most known for playing Harold in the hilarious Harold & Kumar movies. Most recently, he took part in the Star Trek films, playing Sulu, a role originated by George Takei.
Random facts about him: He’s the lead singer of Viva La Union, a garage rock band comprised of former students from the UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California. Their song ‘Chinese Baby‘ is featured on the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay soundtrack.
Where you’ll see him next: Cho will be starring in the new sitcom Selfie, in which he plays a marketing expert hired to help a social media addict revamp her image after an embarrassing viral video.
Why he deserves our love: This man has simply played too many supporting roles in the past. It’s about time he gets a REAL leading role. Also, the man just never ages! Did you know he’s 42 years old?
Where you’ve seen him: Aziz Ansari can be seen charming his way into our hearts as the tech-savvy and stylish Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. He has also appeared in films like This Is The End, Funny People and I Love You, Man.
Random facts about him: He’s good friends with Kanye West. And the story behind their friendship, is EPIC.
Where you’ll see him next: He’ll be reprising his role of Tom Haverford in the final season of Parks and Recreation. He’ll also appear in the comedy film Date and Switch.
Why he deserves our love: He’s adorable. Check him out in this iconic Parks and Rec scene.
Harry Shum Jr.
Where you’ve seen him: Harry Shum Jr. is most known for playing the quiet yet talented dancer Mike Chang on FOX’s Glee. He has also appeared as a dancer in films like You Got Served, Step Up 3D and Stomp The Yard.
Random facts about him: Even though he is full Chinese, he was born in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica. He has also danced for Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey and Jessica Simpson and took part in an iPod Nano commercial.
Where you’ll see him next: Shum will star alongside YouTuber KevJumba and Justin Chon in Revenge of the Green Dragons. He has also been cast as Tie-Fang in the upcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel.
Why he deserves our love: Because he can REALLY dance. Watch him take part in a pole dancing competition with KevJumba!!