Was asked to name 5 Asian American leading men who deserve more screen time in this PRI story: How many Asian Hollywood stars can you name? Right, it’s not easy
Cast these actors
Ada Tseng, long-time editor of Asia Pacific Arts and frequent contributor to Audrey Magazine — including the Haikus With Hotties feature, which is exactly what it sounds like — gets us ahead of the casting agencies with these five picks of Asian American men who deserve more screen time.
The South Carolina-born Indian American actor is best known for playing Hassan Kadam in 2014’s The Hundred-Foot Journey, where he goes from clean-cut, small-town ingenue to slick, bearded, successful-but-frustrated culinary star. But what Hollywood should really do is let him use his real-life Southern accent in a film. Even his co-star Dame Helen Mirren called it “sexy.”
The Korean-Irish American actor is already a heartthrob in Korea, and he’s shown he can carry an American film in the independent romantic comedy Shanghai Calling, but Hollywood seems to only know how to cast him as a supporting character. You can make him a cop; you can make him a villain; even if you make him wear glasses, no one will complain about him being a Asian nerd stereotype, because he’ll just look like a really hot professor.
The Chinese American is another veteran actor who is already a star in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the closet he’s gotten to a Hollywood crossover is co-starring with Kevin Spacey in 2011’s Inseparable. But fall 2015 brings AMC’s martial arts drama Into the Badlands, Wu’s first starring role in an American TV series, which will hopefully make him a household name here as well.
Before the Korean American actor set hearts aflutter as Minho in The Maze Runner, young fans around the world knew him from his popular YouTube videos with Wong Fu Productions. But with his role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he showed he could even play a heavily-accented Asian immigrant named Dong that looks like an offensive stereotype but turn it into a lovable, three-dimensional character, allowing us all to breathe a sign of relief that it was okay for us to continue to worship the show’s producer, Tina Fey.
Johnny Trí Nguyễn
If Hollywood is looking to cast a good-looking, muscular Asian American action hero, Johnny Trí Nguyễn is kind of a no-brainer. Already a star in Vietnam, the Vietnamese American actor got his start working as a stuntman in films like Spiderman 2 and Jarhead. Even Bollywood has come knocking.