Monday, May 16, 2011

The Asian James Bond

Ian Anthony Dale
I was lucky enough to stumble upon an invite to "Inside the Asian Studio" presented by NBCUniversal's Asian Pacific Americans group. For this particular event, actor Ian Anthony Dale (The Event, The Hangover) would be interviewed by Ted Chen from NBC4's Channel 4 news.  I've run into Ian before, but we've never spoken at length and I was eager to hear what the industry was like from his point of view.

Ted Chen got the evening started with some good jokes and anecdotes and proceeded to grill Ian with some rather profound questions.  All of the women in the room were definitely enchanted by his good looks.  The men in attendance weren't invulnerable to Ian either as he won them (and me) over with his charm and poise.

This evening's particular discussion topic revolved around the under-representation of Asian Americans in the entertainment industry past and present.  While there has been some progress in getting Asian Americans in front of and behind the camera, the progress has been slow and there is still a long way to go.  As Ian said, a huge change probably won't happen with this generation, but he's more than willing to help set up the foundation for future generations.

Photo courtesy David Yeh
When asked what his ultimate dream role would be; his answer: An Asian James Bond.  I'm totally supportive of that goal and would like nothing more than to see Ian play a James Bond type character.  The Asian American community could really use a suave and sophisticated role model so that our kids can grow up knowing that they too can be more than just a tech geek or math whiz.

When the discussion was opened up to questions from the audience, I jumped at the opportunity to ask him:

"With many of the roles currently available for Asian American actors being of the "character" or "caricature" type, did you have difficulties establishing yourself as a "leading man" type?"

"I'm still having difficulties right now." replied Ian.

I was completely floored.  Apparently, it was something that Ian and his manager are constantly struggling with.  Take a look at the photo to the left.  Do you see anything less than a leading man?  I don't.  But why is Hollywood having difficulties with Ian (or any other Asian American male) being a leading man type?  Ian's suggestion to help remedy this issue was to always depict yourself in a positive, leading light.  You may have a piece of great acting for your demo reel, but if it doesn't portray you in a way that you want to be portrayed, then don't use it.  If you remove access to negative stereotypes, then the world will only be left with positive portrayals.  Eventually, people will begin to see what you see in the mirror every day: an all-American, homegrown hero who is educated, well spoken and romantically desirable.

We can't change people's perceptions overnight, but we can affect one person at a time.  We can educate the people that we meet just by being ourselves, being involved in the community and sharing with them our world, which really isn't any different than theirs.  Negative thoughts stem from fear of the unknown, so get out and make yourself known to the world!

Official Ian Anthony Dale photos courtesy of

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