September Issue: Actor Kenneth Choi Brings a Steely Demeanor to ‘Ironside’
Author: James S. Kim
Posted: September 23rd, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , September 2013
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Photo courtesy of J.R. Mankoff/NBC.

Kenneth Choi

Capt. Ed Rollins

Ironside on NBC


For actor Kenneth Choi, you might say 13 is his lucky number.

Two thousand thirteen is turning out to be the biggest year of his acting career thus far. He has a role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which boasts a star-studded cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. As he waits for that film’s November release, however, he won’t be lying idle. He’ll be busy playing Capt. Ed Rollins on the new NBC drama Ironside, premiering in October. The role will be Choi’s first TV role as a series regularover a 13-year acting career.

“Right now I’m in the best position I’ve ever been in,” he said. “Being in that position where I’ve done some big movies, and now I have a series regular role, this is exactly where I wanted to be. I thought it would take about 10 years—it took 13. My timeline was off a bit, but I’m exactly where I want to be.”

Choi spoke to KoreAm last month by phone, as he and the rest of the Ironside cast had just wrapped up a weekend in Beverly Hills at the Television Critics Association press tour, where they were promoting their new show. Continue Reading »

Korean American TV Host Tells ‘Big Brother’ Racist She Lost Her Job
Y. Peter Kang
Author: Y. Peter Kang
Posted: September 20th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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It was the moment many reality TV fans were waiting for.

The young, blonde and racist Big Brother contestant Aaryn Gries finally received the news that she was dropped from her modeling agency due to her racist comments and she reacted with a familiar emotion: denial.

Yahoo OMG Insider host Michael Yo, who is black and Korean, thought Gries knew about her termination from Texas-based Zephyr Talent and asked her what her reaction was to being fired. Gries was visibly shocked by the news and confused.

“Lost my job? I haven’t lost any jobs,” she insisted. “I don’t think I necessarily believe that.” Continue Reading »

September Issue: SWAT Officer Charles Yang Inspires Reality TV Show Viewers
Author: Grace Kang
Posted: September 19th, 2013
Filed Under: Back Issues , BLOG , September 2013
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Back in June, in the vein of winner-take-all reality competitions like Survivor and Fear Factor, TNT aspired to add a trickle of honor to the genre with The Hero, produced and hosted by wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Nine individuals were selected from all walks of life and brought to Panama to compete in challenges designed to test physical prowess, mental fortitude and moral integrity. Then, it was up to viewers to decide who would be declared The Hero and go home with a staggering cash prize.

Among the contenders was Charles Yang, 39, a SWAT officer from Los Angeles, who on a daily basis puts his life on the line for the public at large. Yet, he was drawn to the show because he was still mystified by this concept of “hero.”

“I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a hero and what that means,” he told KoreAm. “Being in law enforcement, I’m just surrounded by all these stories of people doing heroic things and officers who gave up everything, and I’ve always been just kind of amazed. That was, more than anything, what motivated me to do the show.” Continue Reading »

ABC’s Head of Casting Keli Lee Provides Opportunities for Minority Actors
Author: KoreAm
Posted: August 28th, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Photo by Narith Vann Ta / Audrey Magazine


For everyone who’s grateful for the recent rise of minority faces on American television, it’s important to note that behind every Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy, every Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Jorge Garcia and Naveen Andrews in Lost, is a casting director responsible for pairing these actors with the unforgettable roles that will go down in television history.

Keli Lee, who has been casting TV shows at ABC for more than 20 years, was on her way to law school when she landed a fortuitous college internship that introduced her to the entertainment casting industry. In her first week working for Phyllis Huffman, who often did casting for Clint Eastwood’s films, Lee operated the video camera that captured the auditions for the Academy Award-winning 1992 film Unforgiven. From there, she eventually worked her way up the ladder, and as Executive Vice President of Casting at ABC, Lee now has a corner office with a view and spends her days looking for the next new star.

Born in South Korea, Lee moved to the States as a toddler, and while her father stayed behind in Korea for work, her adventurous, road trip-loving mother would move her young kids to a new state every six or seven months on a whim.

“Up until I was 13, I never started or finished the same school, so I met thousands of people from around the country,” says Lee. “It forced me to socialize and understand people, and ultimately I think that’s how I got to be good at what I do. I’m searching for people and learning about their emotional core.” Continue Reading »

Korean American Target of Racial Abuse Evicted From ‘Big Brother’
Author: Grace Kang
Posted: August 23rd, 2013
Filed Under: BLOG
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Photo via CBS.

The Big Brother household has been rumbling with the shifting of alliances and last Thursday, the odds finally rolled against contestant Helen Kim, a 37-year-old political consultant based in Chicago. The Korean American mother of two has had a target on her back ever since she joined forces with household pariah and fellow mother Elissa Slater, and she was finally felled by a vote of 4 to 1.

Noxious slurs flung around the house have created a stench of controversy on the current season of the long-running reality show.

Host Julie Chen has commented that she took personal offense from some of the racist jokes and insults targeting Asian Americans, particularly from contestant Aaryn Gries, whose modeling contracts have been terminated by two agencies. But Chen stuck to asking strategy-related questions when she conducted an exit interview with Kim, and quickly turned the subject to a challenge that would allow the previously evicted houseguests — including Kim — to compete for an opportunity to return to the contest. Continue Reading »

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