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CBS has let go Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park from the hit show, Hawaii Five-0. The same show that has seen a resurgence in ratings this year.,

So why let the actors who play native Hawai’ians go? Because the powers that be didn’t want to pay either one of them the same money as the white people. According to reports, Kim and Park were offered 15% less than their co-stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. All four have been with the show since it began in 2010.

With Masi Oka’s departure in January, that leaves NO Asian Pacific main character in a show based in Hawai’i. That’s like a show based in San Francisco or Berkeley with no Asian Pacific lead characters. Oh, wait. They do that, too.

Problematic from the Get-Go

H50 was problematic from the get-go. A natural choice was to cast Daniel Dae Kim, fresh off the cult favorite, Lost, as the lead. Instead, they went with an actor who starred in multiple failed series. Kim wasn’t given the second lead either. That went to the son of a famous actor. Kim and Park both had less screen time than Terry O’Quinn, Jorge Garcia, and Lauren German in the early days. German left but then they brought Michelle Borth on. And yes, she’s white and also had more screen time and stories than the Asian stars. Slowly, Park and Kim got serialized storylines, and while their roles weren’t as meaty as Pecs’ and Puny’s, they were an integral part of the show.

Complaints arose because of the relegation to the background of Kim and Park, but also because 90% of the guest stars were white. Samoan Taylor Wily was made a regular though he was never part of the main team. Oka had the obligatory techie role as does Brian Yang. They never drive the main story, save for the one or two episodes that centered around them. (I stopped tuning in so I can only attest to Oka’s episodes; I do not know if Yang ever had a centralized story.)

Aha! This Disproves Your Theory

Oh, so now you’re thinking that since Kim and Park had smaller roles than Pec and Puny, they should be paid less.

Never mind that both actors have been with the show from the beginning. Let’s even, for the briefest of moments, forget that they’re Asian Pacific. In an ensemble show, it’s the ensemble that brings people to the show. Make no doubt about it–H50 is an ensemble show. As much as Loughlin shows off his huge pecs, that’s not the draw. It’s how the team works together to solve a crime. You cut two people from the team, and you have no team. Sure, you can bring in Chi McBride, Christine Lahti, and Julie Benz, but ultimately there’s always going to be something missing.

The Big Bang

Time’s up. Because we can’t be like CBS and show creator Peter Lenkov and remove the fact from our minds that Park and Kim are Asian Pacific. It’s extraordinary that there was absolutely no thought of the optics in offering less money to the “minorities.” Doesn’t this tell us that they believe Asian Pacifics are dispensable? But it also tells us that they don’t care to reflect the real Hawai’i. They don’t care to reflect the real world which, I hate to tell them, is not all white. They don’t care that they seem to be saying, “We’ve shown you the minorities for 7 years. We’ve done what’s due. Now, fuck off.”

Kim was actually a staunch defender of the show’s casting. I wonder if he realizes now how devalued he was.

I find it disheartening that Pecs and Puny didn’t value their co-stars as the cast members of The Big Bang Theory do. When Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik were offered less money than their co-stars, the rest of the cast chipped in $100,000 per episode. Do you know how much that generosity is worth to each actor? At least 2.2 million dollars.

Pecs and Puny didn’t offer a penny.

And that’s a big Fuck You.

Another big Fuck You was Lenkov and CBS Spokesperson using the Hawai’ian language as a way to politely say, “Fuck You.”

Spokesperson: “we wish them all the best and much success in their next chapters. Mahalo and a hui hou….” Like Aloha, that means “Fuck You.”

Lenkov: “They will always be ohana to us.” That means “Fuck You” too.

No Show

I think the Hawai’i Film Commission should revoke the show’s license on the grounds that it does not accurately reflect the state in a positive or accurate light. I hope that my fellow API actors not take any role on H50 in protest.

It’s time to say Aloha (but really mean “Fuck You”) too.

 

-Ken Choy

 

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