by Ann Lee
Let’s say you’re a doctor — and I mean a real doctor, not some resident working 80-hour shifts for barely any pay– and you decide that you want to become an actor. How would your parents react?
It’s unlikely that they’ll be pleased with the decision, let alone support it. They might even start beating their chest and asking God where exactly they had gone wrong in raising you. Sure, a couple of you may have a stage parent eager to live vicariously through you, but in general, Asian people really like doctors.
Given this mindset, it’s refreshing to learn that the parents of comedian Ken Jeong were incredibly supportive of Jeong’s desire to leave his secure occupation as an established physician for the tumultuous world of entertainment.
During a recent interview in Seoul, while promoting the R-rated blockbuster The Hangover Part 2, Ken Jeong talked about his parents’ reaction to his interest in becoming a full-time actor. With his wife already supporting him, Jeong went to his parents for their approval.
“I called my father to ask for his blessings and the only thing he told me was, ‘What does your wife think?’ and said, ‘You have your answer’,” Jeong told the Korea Times. “It was the purest act of love I ever received from my parents.”
And though Jeong has managed to do what many waiters in Los Angeles can only dream of, landing roles in films like Transformers: Dark of the Moon and being a series regular on the NBC sitcom Community, he maintains that his parents judge him not by his social status, but according to his work ethic.
“My parents are so proud of me not because I am famous but because I work hard,” Jeong revealed. “My father said, ‘I don’t care if you’re famous or not famous, rich or poor, doctor or actor, as long as you work hard. Just do the same thing you’ve been doing since you were a kid.”
To read more about Jeong’s journey from physician to (fictional) psychotic criminal, and how comedy “saved [his] life,” read the article at the Korea Times. Also, check out our June 2011 cover story on Ken Jeong.