How John Cho Took A Stand for Diversity Early in His Career

Actor John Cho

“When one does speak one’s mind, one might be surprised at how receptive people are.” – John Cho

John Cho is one of the better known Asian actors in Hollywood, and he has used his visibility to promote diversity within the industry. In an interview with Fast Company, the Harold and Kumar star reveals how he took a stand against what he thought could have been an offensive part — and how it actually led to a positive change for the film.

Like many minorities around Cho’s age and older, he remembers not seeing many positive examples of minority actors on television. He recalls, “I remember being a kid watching TV and movies, as someone who was born in Korea and came over to the United States as six years old, and being bummed at the imagery that was on television and in the movies and never seeing anyone that looked like me doing anything positive, perhaps with the exception of George Takei on Star Trek.” Of course, Cho inherited Takei’s role in Paramount’s new Star Trek series.

Interview: John Cho talks ‘Harold and Kumar’, Bad Auditions and Stumbling into Franchises

Early in his career, Cho made a decision not to play a role in a stereotypical fashion during an audition. He explains, “I got this audition for this movie called Big Fat Liar (2002). When I got there I realized I was supposed to be playing this film director from Hong Kong with this very thick accent. I thought, ‘Oh, shit, I don’t know if I want to do this.’ I felt that kids might find themselves laughing at a guy with an accent in a comedy, even though I felt the part wasn’t written to make fun of the accent, I felt that the accent could be inadvertently laughed at. I thought about it and I told them no.”

However, instead of a rejection, Cho actually helped promote diversity in the project by taking a stand. He continues, “I got a callback surprisingly from the director, Shawn Levy, and he said, ‘Well, if you’re not comfortable with that, let’s figure something else out.’ And it was just an early moment where I took a risk and a director was willing and kind enough to take that risk with me.”

Cho points out that risks like this can help promote diversity in the industry, concluding, “When one does speak one’s mind, one might be surprised at how receptive people are.”

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/alicia-silverstone-killing-of-a-sacred-deer.jpg
Alicia Silverstone on ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ and Working on Broadway
"My agent called and said, 'You need to go on this thing. It’s worth it. You should start preparing immediately" - Alicia Silverstone
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/denzel-washington-roman-j-israel-esq.jpg
Denzel Washington on ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ and Why He Keeps Coming Back to Broadway
"I’m interested in different challenges, and challenging myself and just trying to get better." - Denzel Washington
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/chadwick-boseman-black-panther.jpg
Chadwick Boseman on Playing Black Panther: “I love him because the fantasy of playing a ruler – you never get to do that”
Boseman talks about portraying T'Challa's unique background on screen.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/willem-dafoe-the-florida-project.jpg
Willem Dafoe: “I don’t think you can keep doing the same thing as an actor and be free”
"All performing is about control and discipline versus abandon and just letting go." - Willem Dafoe
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/mandy-pantinkin-wonder.jpg
Mandy Patinkin: “I love doing research for any part that I do. That’s one of the most fun parts of being an actor to me”
Patinkin why he specifically sought a comedic project, the dedication he brings to his performances, and when his parents were finally convinced he could make a living as an actor.