Brian Tee, star on NBC’s Chicago Med as Ethan Choi, grew up in a multicultural environment. Tee was born in Okinawa City, Japan and at the age of 2-years-old moved to a suburb of Los Angeles.
His mother is a first-generation South Korean and his father is Japanese American. His father was born during World War II. in a U.S. incarceration camp.
Brian Tee was not actually his birth name and he has had a couple of different names since then. Tee was born as Jae-bum Takata, but went by the name Brian Takada at the beginning of his acting career.
Despite his parents not wanting him to be an actor, they still supported him. After entering the entertainment industry, for the first time in his life he faced discrimination. Tee soon realized he needed to change his name to fit a more generic Asian last name. Despite being half-Korean he found himself not allowed to audition for a Korean role in a student film because of his last name.
“And from that on, I felt like my name was almost a detriment to not allow me to play certain roles or certain parts because people so much tried to put me inside a particular box,” Tee said to Today. “Not only because of the way I looked in the industry, or what I was supposed to play, but then on top of that my name identified me with a particular sector of being Japanese.”
Tee was a nickname he had when he was younger, so it wasn’t too much of a leap. He told Today that some people found ‘Tee’ to be easier to pronounce rather than Takata.
He noted to Today that there are two parts that come with portraying a character of Asian American descent. Simplifying being seen is important and not “necessarily identified” because of the way he “looks or because of the culture of my upbringing.” The other part is after identifying your culture that “creates this sense of education and understanding” for those who don’t understand or have different feelings. Both of these parts, he told Today, hopefully create a “sense of understanding” between people potentially from different backgrounds.
“I think that’s what is going to change people’s perspectives for the long run,” Tee said to Today.
The season finale of Season 7aired on May 25. Tee has been largely absent from the season. On the show, he’s recovering from a gunshot wound after being injured last season.
The List reports the real reason he has not been seen too much this season is his schedule. He is busy filming Expats for Amazon. He’ll play Clarke, the husband of a character portrayed by Nicole Kidman. Expat is set in Hong Kong and follows three women struggling with a family tragedy.
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