Densho Poll March 2009

Japanese American Actors

Thank you for participating in Densho's monthly poll. We will share the results in the next eNews.
For this month’s poll on Japanese American entertainers, we decided to narrow the focus to actors. The growing number of talented Nikkei working in film, on TV, and on stage is encouraging. We acknowledge the earlier generation of pioneer Japanese Americans whose careers were limited by stereotyping. Remember Mickey Rooney playing a bucktoothed Mr. Yuniyoshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Tell us who are your favorites among the actors listed. We also welcome your nominations for younger J.A. actors who are breaking barriers.
Paving the Way
Sessue Hayakawa – The Cheat, The Bridge on the River Kwai
Mako – The Sand Pebbles, Seven Years in Tibet, Pacific Overtures, founder of East West Players theatre troupe
Nobu McCarthy – Farewell to Manzanar, Karate Kid, The Wash
Noriyuki (Pat) Morita – Happy Days, The Karate Kid (with sequels)
Jack Soo (Goro Suzuki)– Flower Drum Song, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Barney Miller
Pat Suzuki–Teahouse of the August Moon, Flower Drum Song, The Year of the Dragon
Going Strong
Lane Nishikawa – Life in the Fast Lane, I'm on a Mission from Buddha, Only the Brave (directed)
James Saito – Farewell to Manzanar, Henry Fool, The Thomas Crown Affair
James Shigeta – Flower Drum Song, Murder She Wrote, Mulan
George Takei – Star Trek (with sequels), The Year of the Dragon, Heroes
Chris Tashima – American Knees, Visas and Virtue
Tamlyn Tomita – Joy Luck Club, Picture Bride, “24”
Fresh Faces
Christine Toy Johnson – The Music Man, Cats, Bombay Dreams
Suzy Nakamura – Strawberry Fields, The West Wing, Funny People
Sophie Oda – Bee Season, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
Masi Oka - Heroes, Get Smart
Are we making enough progress?

The yellowface days of Caucasian actors playing Asians are behind us. Do you think Asian stereotypes in entertainment are a thing of the past? What about the types of roles Japanese American actors are cast in?
Do you have suggestions for topics of future polls?
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