Have you noticed the significant increase in Korean-American actors and actresses on TV and movies lately? Have you noticed there are more men than women in Hollywood? You would think that there would be more women in front of the camera because let’s be honest, Korean women are great to look at which makes sense in such a visual medium. Not that the Korean men aren’t studs but who doesn’t like looking at a Korean women? They are undeniably beautiful women. Then again, I guess it does take more than just looking good in front of a camera to make it in Hollywood.
This is a an anecdotal story I’m going to share and it does not provide any empirical evidence as to why there are more Korean guys than gals on the screen. However, it does suggest something. In my earlier days living in NYC, I roomed with actors and guys who worked at a movie studio. I was the odd man out because I had a regular job unrelated to the entertainment industry. I once asked one of my buddies if he ever saw Asian guys out on the audition circuit. He quickly responded, “Are you kidding me?! Those guys get more work than most actors out there.” Huh?! What? He continued to tell me that though there are only a few roles seeking Asian male faces, there were even less auditioning for them and he suggested that I just give acting a try – even though I had very little acting talent. Well, to best illustrate this perception, let’s do a quick roll call here.
Ladies on a TV show or in a film in 2009
Smith Cho, Moon Bloodgood, Grace Park, Jamie Chung, Kelly Choi, Margaret Cho, Jenna Ushkowitz, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Price & Yunjin Kim
Guys on a TV show or in a film in 2009
Daniel Henney, Tim Kang, Ken Jeong, Aaron Yoo, John Cho, Rex Lee, C.S. Lee, Justin Chon, Rick Yune, Sung Kang, Rain, Lee Byung Hun, Daniel Dae Kim & James Kyson Lee
We may have missed a few folks but these are the Korean-Americans who were in a prominent role in their film or show. Now 14 to 10 in favor of the men doesn’t seem like a big difference, but if we were to count up the hours of coverage or viewer impressions, then we would see the greater disparity. We don’t have time to count up every second and sum it all up but here are a couple proxies.
Weekly TV program comparison: Tim Kang, Ken Jeong, Rex Lee, John Cho, C.S. lee, Daniel Dae Kim and James Kyson Lee are in key roles on current weekly network television shows.
Movies: Only Moon Bloodgood and Jamie Chung were in big screen films this year versus John Cho, Aaron Yoo, Ken Jeong, Justin Chon, Rick Yune and Sung Kang. And don’t forget that Hollywood is really gambling with Ninja Assassins and the predominantly Korean cast with Rain as the lead role.
So what are we trying to say? Simple observations suggest that America is becoming more accepting of the Asian male and there are more opportunities for them. But what about the ladies? My conclusion is that there’s that much more competition on the female side of the fence where they’re competing against more open non-ethnic/racial specific roles. Though they may be going on casting calls for Asian-American woman between 25-30, they’re also going on casting calls for (all) women between 25-30. I thoroughly root for all the Korean women on the big and small screen, but I wish there were more of them up there. Don’t you?