Randall Park was a year ahead of me at UCLA. Unlike his peers who went on to become investment bankers, doctors, and corporate lawyers, Park aspired to do the impossible: become an Asian-American actor.
I say it’s impossible because America has certain stereotypes — geeky, weak, small d***, feminine — about Asian guys. For instance, why do many local news channels have female Asian newscasters but no male ones? For some reason there are many Asian male reporters in the NY Times and WSJ. Nowadays, every TV show has a requisite black character, gay character, and Jewish one.
Park is Korean. Let me just say there are certain (ahem) expectations that Asian-American parents have for their children. First, you should get into a respectable college. Then you should do something respectable, e.g. doctor, dentist, engineer, lawyer, that coincidentally makes a lot of money. Heck, even if your parents are very understanding, it must be difficult to go the road less travelled while your friends are getting promoted in their corporate jobs, going to prestigious graduate programs, and getting paid big checks.
I’m praising Randall Park’s perseverance. After more than a decade at his craft, I finally see him in both TV and film roles. He deserves any success that comes his way. Park should inspire confidence in anyone who doubts whether they can do the seemingly impossible.