Michelle Yeoh and five other SEA stars in Hollywood TV series
Malaysian pride Datuk Michelle Yeoh is the first cast announced to join the latest “Star Trek” TV series, the highly anticipated “Star Trek: Discovery”, set 10 years before the events of the original series.
According to various sources, the actress will be a recurring character playing the role of Han Bo, captain of the United Space Ship Shenzhou.
The 54-year-old Malaysian-born actress is one of the biggest movie stars in Asia, and is best known to globally for several hit films like “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” as well as its sequel, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny”.
Asian actors are slowly gaining prominence in Hollywood, though they are still not getting the leading roles that they deserve, they have started to gain key supporting roles in various movies for the past years.
On the other hand, many have voiced out their concerns on the whitewashing of Asian characters in recent films such as the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in “Doctor Strange” or Scarlett Johansson as the main lead of “Ghost in the Shell”, and with the announcement of the live-action remake of “Mulan”, many have also stressed that they would want an Asian actress as the lead.
It is clear that things are beginning to change in the film industry, and hopefully in the future, Southeast Asian actors too will have more chances to appear in huge Hollywood projects.
Apart from Michelle Yeoh, here are five other SEA actors and actresses that have starred in Hollywood TV series.
Elodie Yung – “Daredevil”
Cambodian-French actress Elodie Yung was cast as Elektra, a mysterious woman from Matt Murdock’s past in the highly popular Netflix series, “Daredevil”. Before making her Hollywood debut in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, the 35-year-old actress had been acting in various French films and series. Some of her notable roles include Jinx in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”, Eva Gray in “Narcopolis”, and Hathor in “Gods of Egypt”, She will reprise her role as Elektra in Netflix miniseries, “The Defenders”, next.
Ng Chin Han – “Marco Polo”
The 46-year-old Singaporean actor first broke into the Hollywood film industry with the Canadian drama film, “3 Needles”. He is also credited in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” in 2008 and other big-budgeted Hollywood films like “2012”, “Contagion”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Independence Day: Resurgence”. He joined Netflix’s “Marco Polo” as a recurring character, playing the role of Song Emperors’ chancellor, Jia Sidao.
Tania Gunadi – “Aaron Stone”
Tania Gunadi is an Indonesian-born American actress who is best known for her regular role as Emma Lau on the Disney XD series “Aaron Stone”. Though she is ethnically Indonesian, she has been acting in American movies and series her whole life as she was raised in the Unites States. Some of her other famous roles include Miko Nakadai on “Transformer: Prime”, Cindy in “Pixel Perfect”, Mojo in “Go Figure” and more. Despite spending her whole life in the States, the 33-year-old actress is revealed to have been able to speak the Indonesian language as seen in the 2009 movie, “Bob Funk”.
Reggie Lee – “Prison Break”
The Filipino-American actor is probably most known for playing William Kim in the 20th Century Fox television series, “Prison Break”. Born in Quezon City, Philippines, the now 40-year-old actor moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio when he was five, thus enabling him to dabble in the Hollywood film industry since the early 2000s. Lee also starred in box office hits like “The Fast and the Furious” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” and “At World’s End”, “Star Trek”, and “The Dark Knight Rises”.
Charice – “Glee”
Filipina singer Charice rose to popularity through YouTube, and her single “Pyramid” featuring Iyaz is her most successful single to date. Her first international studio album “Charice” entered the Billboard 200 at number eight, making her the first Asian solo singer in history to land in the Top 10 of the chart. The 24-year-old singer joined the cast of the hit US television series “Glee” on its second season as one of the recurring roles named Sunshine.