Photo by Peter Csanadi via Flickr Creative Commons
91-year-old Chinese American actor James Hong, known for playing various East Asian film characters since the 1950s, has been inducted into the Asian Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Resonate reports.
According to the source, the actor has over 600 acting credits in films and TV shows like Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China, Kung Fu Panda, Seinfeld, Friends, and Hawaii Five-0.
“You know… it’s about time because if you wait too much longer, who knows what will happen? But I’m still here,” Hong said about receiving the award, Spectrum News reports. “Actually I don’t know exactly what I’ve done to deserve it, but I’ve arrived.”
But in an Instagram post, The Asian Hall of Fame — a national recognition event established in 2004 honoring AAPI achievements — wrote that the “legendary artist overcame tremendous odds to increase Asian representation in film and entertainment.”
When Hong began his acting career, he realized he was only being accepted for stereotypical, cliche roles, he told Spectrum News. “[I was] only getting the so-called gimmick roles,” Hong said.
In 1965, Hong and fellow actor Mako Iwamatsu founded East West Players to “break from stereotypical roles.” Today, East West Players is considered by many to be the nation’s premiere Asian American theater company.
“I think it’s very important that we become people that will speak up and be seen,” Hong said to Spectrum News. “You need that relationship with one another in order to understand each other. It’s like me to you. How can I understand you or you understand me unless I talk to you, right? Unless we discuss things.”
According to Malay Mail, Hong was born in Minneapolis Minnesota in 1929 to Chinese immigrant parents. He studied civil engineering at the University of Southern California and worked as a road engineer in Los Angeles County before pursuing acting full-time.
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story.