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Voices of Asian American Talent Featured in Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6′


Frozen’s crystalline winter melts away beneath the San Fransokyo sun, as the same Disney team that created last year’s international blockbuster film releases its latest animated adventure, Big Hero 6, which hits theaters Nov. 7. This time, directors Don Hall and Chris Williams present a world of 3D-rendered robotics and vibrantly futuristic cityscapes as they re-envision superhero team Big Hero 6 from the Marvel Comics of the same name.

While the somewhat obscure 1998 comic featured a Japanese crime-busting team made up of seasoned secrets agents and former criminals, Big Hero 6 comes alive in this onscreen adventure as a motley team of youthful brainiacs, led by protagonist Hiro Hamada (played by Asian American actor Ryan Potter) and his huggable, supersized medical robot Baymax (Scott Adsit). When a mysterious figure poses a menace, Hiro and company are called to work through their fears, and with one another, in order to protect their home city.

KoreAm recently sat down at Disney Animation Studios in Burbank with the diverse vocal talents behind the Big Hero 6 characters, including Potter (Supah Ninjas) and Korean American actor Daniel Henney (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), who plays Tadashi, Hiro’s wise older brother and the creator of Baymax. Seated side by side, their clothes in a complementing neutral palette, hair neatly parted to the same side and donning easy grins, the actors certainly bore a brotherly vibe, as they ambled through a relaxed discussion about the range of qualities revealed in their onscreen characters.

“Tadashi, on the surface, is very laidback, which I think I am,” said Henney, to which Potter teasingly interjected, “No, you’re not!”

Big brother quickly shot back with, “Come on, you don’t make the bed at home.”

These intermittent bursts of verbal sparring drew merry brushstrokes over the picture of a close pair of siblings who have been at it for years. Henney added, “[Tadashi]’s very much sarcastic in the way he sort of gets Hiro to do the things he wants him to do. He uses sarcasm and irony, which I do a lot.”

01072001 - ryan potter, daniel henney.MOV_snapshot_01.53_[2014.10.29_10.11.06]Daniel Henny (left) and Ryan Potter, who play Tadashi and Hiro, respectively, in Big Hero 6.

In the film, the Hamada brothers are parentless, and Henney’s Tadashi plays as much a parenting role as a big brother one to Potter’s 14-year-old Hiro, who would love nothing more than to spend his days scamming underground robot fights. But Tadashi tests the limits of his little brother’s potential and imagination by introducing him to the gifted young individuals—and soon-to-be superheroes—at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where Tadashi is a researcher.

Though the film packs in plenty of action, the theme of family is very much at the core of the film—with the brothers’ relationship, as well as that between Hiro and Baymax, central to that. There’s also the timeless idea of what makes a hero.

“I think sometimes we get lost in what the word ‘hero’ or ‘superhero’ is,” said Henney. “[With Tadashi] it’s just about being a good person and a good brother.”

For Potter, he said it was his character’s resolve. “When he sets his mind on something, he gets it done. That’s a trait you see in a lot of superheroes, but Hiro shows just a little bit more of that,” said the actor.


Though Potter and Henney portray brothers onscreen, they say that it was after recording their parts for the animated film—which often has individual actors working alone in a sound booth—that their off-screen apparently dynamic kicked off.

“We’ve moved in together. We’ve actually adopted a few dogs together, we’re signing up for the local YMCA together … what? No,” Potter said, laughing. “It’s funny because we’ve been working together for a year-and-a-half now, but we haven’t. When I met [Daniel Henney] for the first time, I was like, man, there’s Tadashi. Daniel is Tadashi.”

Henney affirmed, “We met at dinner, and it just felt like we were meant to have played these parts. It felt right, like we had a connection, for sure.”

Big Hero 6‘s directors have said that every cast member seemed perfectly matched for their roles. Rounding out the diverse cast are Jamie Chung (Once Upon a Time), who plays surly speed demon GoGo Tomago; Damon Wayans, Jr. (Let’s Be Cops), who plays high-strung perfectionist Wasabi; Génesis Rodríguez (The Last Stand), who is the brilliant and bubbly Honey Lemon; and T.J. Miller (How To Train Your Dragon), who voices part-time mascot/full-time nerd Fred. Maya Randolph also stars in the film as Aunt Cass, who has been the Hamada brothers’ guardian after the death of their parents.

“When you simply look at the cast, you see how diverse the cast is,” said Potter. “And the diversity onscreen is something we haven’t seen before [in an animated film].”


Another never-before-seen feature from Disney is the combined use of innovative lighting and character-generation software, Hyperion and Denizen respectively, which were incorporated in the realization of the fictitious setting of San Fransokyo, a melding of Tokyo (where the original comic took place) and San Francisco.

Cast member and San Francisco native Jamie Chung marveled at the hybrid city’s design. “The script briefly describes the city, but I had zero idea the detail and how colorful and beautiful it really became,” said the Korean American actress. “I love the attention to all of the San Francisco landmarks—you have the Transamerica building, the Golden Gate Bridge and Treasure Island and Broadway Street and Little Tokyo.”

Chung also had high praise for her animated alter ego GoGo Tomago, who functions as the silent backbone of the Big Hero 6 team. “She’s a woman that believes that actions speak louder than words. She’s kind of the first one really to step up and try to convince the guys that they should turn into Big Hero 6,” she said.



Despite the unique array of teen heroes like Hiro and Gogo Tomago featured in the film, Chung predicted Baymax will likely steal the spotlight and that kids will soon be clamoring over toys created in the inflatable nurse robot’s likeness. “I think everyone [will want] Baymax. It’s the one that everyone wants, but there’s only like two in the batch, and it just drives you crazy,” she said, as she clenched her firsts to emphasize her zeal. (We’re unsure of whether for candy or cute robots.)

On a more serious note, Potter, who is of half-Japanese descent, expressed his excitement over the opportunity to portray a Disney protagonist who is also half-Japanese. “If you’re going to call the United States the melting pot of the world, you’re going to need films and television to represent that,” he said. “All the mixed-race kids are going to be able to see this film and go, ‘Wow, I see myself up there.’”

Here’s a peek at Big Hero 6, which hits theaters Nov. 7.

All images: © 2014 Disney



Jamie Chung And Daniel Henney Cast In Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6′


No strangers to kicking butt, Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney have joined cast of Disney and Marvel’s upcoming animated action-comedy, Big Hero 6, which hits theaters Nov. 7. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams unveiled the young superhero team yesterday.

Big Hero 6 is set in the fictional San Fransokyo, a metropolis where underground robot fights are all the rage. Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter), a 14-year-old robotics prodigy, and his robot Baymax (Scott Adsitt) must join forces with a group of inexperienced crime-fighting “techie heroes” when they uncover a dangerous plot.


Chung voices GoGo Tomago, who is described as a “laconic Clint Eastwood type” who can take care of herself. An industrial engineering student, Go Go developed a bike with magnetic-levitation technology, which also made its way into her super-suit.

Henney voices Tadashi Hamada, the older brother of Hiro, who is heavily involved in the underground bot fights. Tadashi, fortunately, helps inspire Hiro to put his smarts to good use and gain admission to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where he meets a robot named Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsitt). Together, they join forces with the four others to complete the crucial mission.

The team includes Fred (T.J. Miller), a big sci-fi and comic book geek whose “Fredzilla” creature suit is a homage to Godzilla. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) is a chemistry student who is a bit geeky, but her sweet personality, positive attitude, and smarts make her a valuable member of the team. Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) sports plasma-induced lasers that come out of his arms, but he’s very cautious about how to go about being a superhero-until he learns to embrace the crazy that comes with the job.





Images via USA Today

Ken Jeong

Korean Americans On TV: Who’s In And Who’s Out?

Farewell, Señor Chang. Photo via NBC 

Wondering whether or not you’ll see your favorite Korean American faces on screen this season? Here’s a rundown of which of their shows got the green light—and which ones got the boot.

Sniff! Here are the shows that have been cancelled:   

The Neighbors: The aliens are moving out of New Jersey. Tim Jo, who plays the extraterrestrial Reggie Jackson on the ABC comedy, will have has his last laugh as the show ends after its second season. In a KoreAm interview, he said, “There’s no doubt that the world is getting more accustomed to seeing minority faces on screen.” We doubt this funny man will stay off the screen for very long.

The Tomorrow People: With the foresight of their telepathic abilities, you’d think that The Tomorrow People saw this one coming. Unfortunately, the superhuman cast of the CW Network sci-fi series is being transported back to the future, including Korean American actor Aaron Yoo, who played Russell Kwon, one of the leading roles.

Community: The spunky Ken Jeong will see his last days as Ben Chang, the pesky, peculiar, and totally endearing character on NBC’s cult comedy, Community. While the threat of cancellation loomed over the show in previous seasons like a dark cloud, the network will finally lay down the ax after five seasons. Ken Jeong tweeted, “A most heartfelt THANK YOU to all the Community fans. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. My life is so blessed because you’re all in it. Chang The World.”

Believe: Jamie Chung’s days as Janice Channing on NBC’s drama Believe were cut short. The KA actress doesn’t seem too fazed, though. Receiving critical acclaim for her roles as Eden in the eponymous film and Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Chung has a lot to believe in.

Growing Up Fisher: NBC’s American sitcom will be cancelled after its first season, despite the efforts of 13-year-old Lance Lim, who played Runyen. Three days before the show was cancelled, Lim posted on his Facebook page, “We really need all the viewers on this one so please please please watch tonights episode of Growing Up Fisher, again at 9:30 on NBC! 1 view really counts so even if you can’t watch it just turn the tv on at NBC! thanks guys!”

Intelligence: You’d think that any show starring the husky voice and the chiseled features of Josh Holloway would grace our screens forever. Sad to say, CBS will cancel the cyber-themed television series after only one season. Will Yun Lee had a recurring role.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still catch your fave KA TV actors on these shows, which have been renewed. 

Once Upon a Time: Who is this girl I see, staring straight back at me? Jamie Chung, that’s who. As mentioned above, Chung will continue her role as Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time as the show moves forward with its fourth season.

Modern Family: There’s no way ABC will cancel a show that features the most adorable, spunkiest little girl on television. We’re talking about Aubrey Anderson Emmons, who plays Lily Tucker-Pritchett on Modern Family. Little known fact: Emmons is the daughter of South Korean adoptee and comedian Amy Anderson and radio host Kent Emmons.

The 100: Speaking of Korean adoptees, actor and fellow adoptee Christopher Larkin will continue his role as the endearing delinquent, Monty Green, on the CW Network’s The 100. When KoreAm spoke with Larkin before the show premiered, he spoke passionately about representing Asian Americans on screen while trying to avoid stereotypical Asian roles. We’re glad that Larkin still has the chance to show us what he’s made of

The Mentalist: Surprise—Tim Kang is back as Special Agent Kimball Cho in another season of The Mentalist. Despite a series of low ratings in the sixth season, the CBS drama made the cut. Kang tweeted, “Thank you, everyone, for all your support! Seriously, couldn’t have gotten a Season 7 without you. Looking forward to it!!”

Grey’s Anatomy: There’s no rest for the weary: wrapping up its tenth season, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy will move on to its 11th season. Operations will resume at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital but without one pivotal character: Sandra Oh. Read all about Oh’s decision to move on from her groundbreaking role as Dr. Cristina Yang in the latest issue of KoreAm. And see her before she scrubs in for the final time—Oh’s final episode airs tomorrow.

There’s also some fresh meat coming in on the ABC network—John Cho will play an arrogant, successful marketing expert in his new sitcom Selfie. Rex Lee, who starred in Entourage and in the recently cancelled show Suburgatory, will explore a new role as a high-strung, metrosexual publicist in an upcoming comedy, Young & Hungry.

And last but not least—and at last!—ABC filled one more slot with an unprecedented sitcom that focuses on an Asian American family. Based on food personality Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off the Boat will feature Hudson Yang, Randall Park, and Constance Wu.

Tuesday's Link Attack: Jamie Chung, Marja Vongerichten, Megan Lee

Off-duty firefighter tried to save victim in tree accident
Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.)

Off-duty Newport Beach Battalion Chief Todd Knipp was waiting for his son in an orthodontist’s office when someone burst in and said a tree fell on a car across the corner.

Knipp told those around him to call 911 and raced downstairs to the scene at 17th Street and Irvine Avenue.

“First thing I did was check to see if there was immediately a problem with the driver and then check to see how many victims or patients we’d have in the car,” Knipp said. “My first thought was given the time of day and location that I was just praying there wasn’t any kids in the car.”

There were no children inside the blue 2002 Hyundai. But 29-year-old Haeyoon Miller, a childhood musical prodigy who lived in Tustin with her boyfriend, was trapped in the coupe beneath the 50-foot blue gum eucalyptus that officials later said weighed 10 tons.

WTF: Jamie Chung’s Chinese Accent in the Upcoming Film “Premium Rush”

Jamie Chung in a leading role opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt? At least that’s what Slashfilm was predicting for the upcoming film Premium Rush: “Chung would play Levitt’s ex-girlfriend, ‘a fellow daredevil bike messenger who helps him outwit the cop.’” It seemed exciting enough that Chung was rising from the ranks of being a borderline reality star to actually appearing in legitimate cinema and, finally, a co-starring role with one of young Hollywood’s big names. But a few days ago, when the trailer for Premium Rush finally dropped, we saw something different: Chung was now playing a Chinese girl with broken English who gets caught in the crossfire.

The Kimchi Chronicles’ Marja Vongerichten on Korean American Cooking
Women’s Health

“Korean food is very healthy on the whole,” Marja says. Plus, “a lot of recipes are versatile enough to substitute ingredients. For instance, you could use the Bulgogi marinade on chicken or fish instead of beef.” Easy, right?

Women’s Health: What’s the number-one rule of cooking Korean dishes?
Marja: The number one rule is taste, taste, taste as you go. Most Korean cooks don’t measure, so tasting is essential.

YG Entertainment and Ludacris announce collaboration for ‘Soul By Ludacris’ headphones

A press conference was held on Sept. 20 at the Seoul Plaza Hotel to commemorate the agreement between YG Entertainment, American company ‘Signeo‘, and Soul and Media Group. Ludacris himself also made a visit and promoted his ‘Soul by Ludacris’ headphones, which will soon be available in Korea.


Prominent pastor faces probe over alleged embezzlement

Rev. Cho Yong-gi, the founder of one of the world’s largest Christian churches, may face an investigation by prosecutors over allegations that he and his family embezzled large amounts of church funds, church elders said Tuesday.

A group of 29 elders at Yeouido Full Gospel Church in Seoul filed a suit Monday against Cho and his first son Cho Hee-jun, the former CEO of the church-affiliated local daily Kookmin Ilbo, accusing them of misappropriating over 20 billion won (US$ 17.4 million) of church funds for speculative stock market investment.

6 best tapas in Seoul

Given Korea’s love affair with small plates, it should thus come as no surprise that Seoul’s affinity for banchan has carried over into a hunger for tapas.

In recent months, the Spanish specialties have spread across the city faster than you can say “¿Que pasa?”

Bursting with flavors from the tongue-tingling saltiness of anchovies to the piquant sharpness of Manchego cheese, tapas at these eateries prove they’re tops around town.

Michelle Le’s remains identified
Los Angeles Times

Police said Tuesday morning that human remains found in an Alameda County canyon are those of missing nursing student Michelle Le. Le, who was raised in San Diego County, went missing May 27 after she left a Hayward hospital where she had been training.

A woman who went to high school with Le in San Diego, Giselle Esteban, was arrested last week in connection with Le’s disappearance.

The remains were identified by the Alameda County coroner’s office, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Esteban had been a person of interest in the investigation, authorities said, because she had blamed Le for ruining her relationship with her boyfriend, the father of Esteban’s child.

Chinese Journalist Following ‘Gutter Oil’ Scandal Is Found Dead
New York Times

A Chinese journalist reporting on a scandal surrounding illegal cooking oil was found stabbed to death this week, the journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said on Tuesday.

The reporter, Li Xiang, was stabbed more than 10 times as he returned to his home in the city of Luoyang on Monday, the official English-language China Daily reported.

Mr. Li had been following the story of restaurants illegally recycling cooking oil, a dangerous health hazard to diners, and had written about it on his personal blog before his death. Though he had never published any reports for his employer, Luoyang Television, news reports cited Chinese bloggers who said his death was likely connected to his investigation of the oil scandal.

Megan Lee “DESTINY” [Official Music Video]

Check out the latest video for YouTube sensation Megan Lee. Gotta love her spunk!

Jamie Chung To Star in Indie Film About Human Trafficking

Jamie Chung is set to star in the upcoming indie drama Eden, about a Korean American girl forced into prostitution by human trafickers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The “gritty” film, based on a true story, will also star Scoot McNairy (Monsters) and will be directed by Megan Griffiths, director of The Off Hours. The story is by Richard B. Phillips and Chong Kim and Phillips and Griffiths co-wrote the screenplay.

Throughout the two years she is held, she ensures her own survival by carving out power and influence within the very organization that has imprisoned her.

Chung is currently shooting Knife Fight along with Rob Lowe.

She has Columbia’s Premium Rush, a thiller in which he appears opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon, in the can, as well as Man with the Iron First.

Sucka Free

Jamie Chung is caught up in sex trafficking. She keeps getting distracted by the thought of the international sex trade.  She likens them, the girls, the young women from Taiwan or  China who end up working in the massage parlors in her hometown of San Francisco, to the Korean women forced into sexual slavery during WWII.

“It could be me. It could be my little niece. It’s tragic, and they’re stuck, and it’s terrifying,” she says. “It’s great that law enforcement is cutting down on these things. It’s just tragic that the mass population has no idea about it. It’s just disturbing, you know?”


You might know Chung best from The Real World: San Diego, the 14th season of the MTV party-in-a-reality series that paved the way for Jersey Shore. It’s where she got her first taste of fame. It’s also where anyone who had thirsted, unknowingly, for the sight of an assimilated Asian American in popular culture got a mass media vision of someone familiar.

While on a break from her studies at the University of California, Riverside, Chung lived for three months in a giant house with six strangers. Every day at 4922 North Harbor Drive was rent-free, and when she came back to school, Chung was able to quit her two waitressing jobs, shake off her student loans and get paid to do more Real World-related appearances. It’s not something she regrets, she says—but come on, that was so long ago, all the way back in 2004. Can we just forget about it already? So much has changed since then.

For one thing, she’s an actress now, one who’s got sizable parts in two new big-budget films: Sucker Punch, which came out last month, and The Hangover Part II, which hits theaters in May. She’s also taking a shot at producing and developing her own projects; this is, she believes, the only way to really
shape the kind of career she wants.

Which brings us back to sex trafficking. “Would I like to do a movie that documents the issues, the real-life issues that are happening, like the sex trade or comfort women? Yeah. I’d like to do a movie like that to tell the world what’s going on, you know? Knowledge is power.”

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Behind the Scenes: April '11 Cover

We’re so excited for this upcoming issue – not only is it our 21st Anniversary issue (time to get crunk!), but we also have the sweet and sassy Jamie Chung on the cover!

We shot Jamie at the Watermarke Tower in Los Angeles earlier this month, and even though the shoot was jam-packed, Jamie rocked (excuse the pun) the shoot.

Completely at ease in front of the camera, Jamie started posing and flirting with the camera as soon as the photographer, Eric, started. And when Eric asked her to lift the 80’s style boombox (which, though it looks fake, is very real and very heavy), she did it gamely – even in that pretty pink strapless dress (just one of the many girly dresses that she enthused over).

But before you start thinking we worked Jamie too hard, Jamie got her playtime when we migrated over to the game room, where she got to play ping pong. When the entire staff started pelting the colorful plastic balls at her, Jamie put all that Sucker Punch training to good use and slammed one back, hitting KoreAm intern, Allen, square in the eye. (Sorry Allen.)

Check out all the fun in the behind the scenes video below!

A big thank you to all who helped make this shoot possible!

Photographer: Eric Sueyoshi
Location: Watermarke Tower, Los Angeles
Stylist: Lyndzi Trang
Hair: Kristin Ess
Makeup: Suzie K
Video: Elizabeth Eun (film), Allen Lee (edit)
Special Thanks: BWR, Nicole Perna, Cindy Troesh, Jacqueline Nguyen, Esther Kim, Janice Jann and Jamie Chung

Talk About A Sucker Punch

For someone who’s supposed to be a featured star in a film, she really isn’t getting much visibility – at least not in the new trailer for Sucker Punch.

The latest trailer for Sucker Punch mainly features the protagonist, Baby Doll played by Emily Browning, but shows nothing of Jamie Chung‘s character, Amber. I’ve watched through this trailer twice now and I haven’t spotted her once in it. The new trailer mainly focuses on the special effects from the film, which are absolutely gorgeous, but I WANT MORE JAMIE CHUNG.

I mean, they have a character poster for her, doesn’t that mean she should have some screen time in the new trailer?

At least Vanessa Hudgen‘s character gets some screen time near the end of the trailer. What do you guys think about the lack of Asian American actors in this trailer when they’re supposed to be featured stars in the film?