A STAR FOR JAMES HONG
James Hong is 91 years old. I hope that he lives to be a comfortable 150. But, betting against that possibility, let's start showing our appreciation now.
Career character actors are already overlooked for their contributions to the art form and the culture. Especially, people of color. Hong has been acting since the mid-1950s, and has had to suffer all of the degradations and humilities that came with that time's stereotypes.
Even excluding his youth, and his early acting career, it shouldn't take well over 50 years to recognize his worth.
People have their favorite leading actors and actresses. But, I have my favorite supporting actors and actresses. The ones that materially made my favorite movies better by showing up, focusing on their profession, and stealing the show.
He has more than 430 credits to his name that range from actor, voice actor, writer, and director. I don't know what your favorite appearances by Hong are, but here are a few of mine: "Chinatown," "Blade Runner," "Mission Impossible, TV" "The Golden Child," "Big Trouble in Little China," "Seinfeld," "Kung Fu Panda," and "Avatar: The Last Airbender.".
Living in Los Angeles, I have seen James Hong in casual circumstances several times. The supermarket, festivals, performances, and others. Each time, he would acknowledge fans and people that recognized him. Myself included. When he caught me staring at him, he smiled at me and gave me "the Nod". It is customary as an Angeleno to give celebrities their space, but I was too in awe to let the first time I saw him in real life pass without saying something. In those few moments, he was generous, accommodating, and sincere.
On August 5, Daniel Dae Kim created a GoFundMe campaign in order to honor James Hong with a "star" on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame". 1,700 donors quickly helped Kim raise $55,000.
The money that Kim and fans have raised is not the end though. There is an application and panel process that is yet to be completed. So in the meantime, show your support, share your stories, and let's give this man his flowers in his life, and not at his funeral.
By: Jared Birdsong