2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 OTHER SECTIONS
2005 2004 2002 2001 OTHER SECTIONS
2004 2002 2001 OTHER SECTIONS
In 1965, there were no Asians in America. At least according to Hollywood, there were only Orientals: Japanese and Korean enemies, mysterious foreigners crammed into exotic Chinatowns, geisha girls beguiling American servicemen abroad, Charlie Chans, Fu Manchus and the cook on "Bonanza." To the movies, an Oriental was Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Luise Rainer in "The Good Earth" or Marlon Brando in "The Teahouse of the August Moon."
Yet in 1965, a young actor named Mako believed Asians did exist in this country, and he spent his life proving it, not only through his most acclaimed performances — his Oscar- and Tony Award-nominated roles in, respectively, "The Sand Pebbles" and "Pacific Overtures" — but also in the everyday jobs of a working actor — from "McHale's Navy" to "F Troop" — where his talent and dedication consistently managed to elevate stereotypes into fully realized human beings.
Had Mako's achievement been limited to his own performances, we would be remembering him today as a brilliant artist and pioneer. But he was also a fighter and activist of extraordinary vision and courage. In 1965, he co-founded East West Players, the nation's first Asian American theater, and served as its artistic director until 1989. . . . . Though the invention of Asian American theater was a collective act, Mako was its center, its heart, its founding father, the glue that held all else together. . . .
. . . . . Mako's life touched that of every Asian American theater artist,
whether he or she knew him or not; when he passed away on July 21, we
all lost a colleague, a friend and an ardently supportive father Moreover,
anyone who has ever attended an Asian American play, or watched Asian
actors perform onstage or onscreen in recent decades, has seen the work
of Mako. He lives, not only through the roles he played himself but also
in those played by others, and those yet to come. Goodbye, Mako. Thank
you for helping us find so much of ourselves. We will miss you, even as
we see you everywhere. To read the entire tribute, click HERE.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: Minorities and women often complain about being "objectified." Becoming a role model is a form of objectification also, and just as pernicious (though rather more seductive). The obligation of good role model is to become as full a human being as possible, an objective which often conflicts with the expectations imposed upon role models.
US ASIANS: To what extent do you embrace the position of being a role model and/or a leadership capacity for those within the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities and why do you feel that there are more legitimate role models to share this responsibility with you? Do you embrace the Charles Barkley saying that one's parents should be one's role model?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I try to contribute to those APA (Asian Pacific American) organizations with which I feel an affinity. As for Barkley, one's parents are one's role models; whether they're good ones or not varies widely from family to family.
US ASIANS: What other artists should be and/or are "role models" for aspiring Asian/Asian Pacific American artists in the fields of theater, film, television and music?
DAVID HENRY HWANG: No one "should" or "shouldn't
be" a role model. If APAs accept them as such, then they are, for better
or worse. That said, I feel artists such as Ang Lee, Yo-Yo Ma, Gish Jen, and
Jessica Hagedorn have been excellent leaders and inspirations. (Additional information about other artists can be found by clicking HERE.