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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 11, 2005

Written by C.N.

The State of Asian American TV Stars

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article and commentary by Jeff Yang about the current state of Asian Americans trying to achieve stardom on television:

The CBS sitcom “King of Queens” takes place in a region of New York where one out of five people is Asian, yet none of the regular or recurring characters is Asian American. You won’t find any of Orange County’s half a million Asians on Fox’s “The OC.” And though the WB’s “Charmed” is set in San Francisco, the three witchy Halliwell sisters seem mysteriously oblivious to the fact that a third of the city’s population — the Asian third — has magically vanished.

In fact, although Asian Americans make up about five percent of the U.S. population, we represent just 2.7 percent of all regularly appearing characters on prime-time TV and have only a handful of the starring or recurring roles in television’s traditional staple commodities: dramas and situation comedies. Oddly enough, hope has come from an unlikely source: reality TV, which has offered a backdoor means for some of Asian America’s most dynamic talents and, uh, colorful personalities to finally find a spotlight on the world’s biggest stage.

On ABC’s breakout reality hit “Dancing with the Stars,” Carrie Ann Inaba was showcased as one of three professional judges evaluating the fancy footwork of celebs like Evander Holyfield, “Seinfeld”‘s John O’Hurley and “General Hospital”‘s Kelly Monaco. And NBC’s much-buzzed-about new reality program “Three Wishes” features Diane Mizota as one of its three “angels,” who travel across small-town America, making dreams come true.

Yang notes that ironically, the one Asian American personality who’s been able to achieve the most fame and stardom is actually the dreaded William Hung — a pretty depressing thought. Yang’s article also gives a nice breakdown of some of the most notable Asian Americans who have appeared on reality TV in recent years and what they’re doing now. So I guess we’ll just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing — doing the best we can given the opportunities we have, and at the same time, trying our best to open our own doors.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "The State of Asian American TV Stars" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/10/the-state-of-asian-american-tv-stars/> ().

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