George Takei on breaking the Hollywood mold

Global Business

George Takei on breaking the Hollywood mold

The original 1960s TV series “Star Trek”, which followed the galactic journeys of the USS Enterprise, was groundbreaking. It featured a diverse, multi-cultural cast at the height of the civil rights movement in the U.S. 

CGTN’s May Lee sits down with George Takei to talk about his acting career in Hollywood.

Japanese-American actor George Takei played Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu. Takei was a hero to the Asian American community. This was one of the first times that an Asian wasn’t stereotyped as a villain or subservient sidekick. 

Takei was a true pioneer for Asian actors in Hollywood, something he has proudly embraced throughout his career. He’s been at the forefront of civil rights issues his entire life… which comes as no surprise given his own tragic history. 

At the age of five, Takei and his family were forcibly interned during World War II for three years along with 120-thousand other Japanese Americans who were declared by the U.S. government as “enemy non-aliens”. Everything was taken and after three years of imprisonment, Takei’s family had to start over with nothing.

That dark period of U.S. history forever impacted Takei, so much so that decades later, his personal story inspired “Allegiance”, a musical, that he stars in, about the Japanese American internment.

The musical, created and written by Asian Americans with a predominantly Asian cast is currently running in Los Angeles after a stint on Broadway. Two of the young stars in the LA production are grateful to work alongside Takei.

One more Question for George Takei on Hollywood whitewashing:

Ethan Le Phong who plays “Sammy Kimura” in “Allegiance,” says, “His personal stories of when he was in the internment camp gave us huge background and knowledge for the show”. 

Elena Wang who plays Kei Kimura adds, “what a resource to have…to have somebody who’s been through it and this is his legacy project so to have that person in the room to even work with that person is huge.”

Not to mention, the inroads George Takei has paved for generations to follow.

“Not only is he an actor,” says Wang, “but he’s an activist, so he goes out of his way to make a point, 8:38  he goes out of his way to make a stamp for the community and make these changes, and he’s so aware of the changes that he makes and knows that directly affects us and the next generation.”