THE GREATEST ASIAN AMERICAN HERO
Asian American "Whiz Kid" Done Good
I'm long overdue in acknowledging the greatness that is actor Masi Oka, who plays Hiro Nakamura on the NBC cult show Heroes, which Dima and I TiVo with great affection.
Originally, I thought my affinity toward Oka was rooted in a biased self-loving affection for a stocky Japanese American guy in his 30s. But after steadily following the series, I remain firm in my conviction that I would consider him an incredible actor and his character one of the most endearing on TV -- even if I was a blond cheerleader in her tweens.
In a clear sign the apocalypse is upon us, Oka was also included in People Magazine's "sexiest cast," which is a huge milestone in the history of Asian American males being considered sexy.
Most incredibly, the Heroes cast, with the addition of George Takei (who will soon be playing Hiro's father), will soon regularly employ at least four Asian American male actors on its show. And none of them pull rickshaws or serve kung pao chicken. The season premiere also gave a prime cameo to the "Asian Backstreet Boys" from China, one of the breakout YouTube sensations of last year.
What really blows me away is that Oka is not only an actor, but a behind-the-scenes special effects wizard, as well. He works (or, perhaps, used to work) at George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic as a programmer; his resume includes coding effects in Terminator 3, Star Wars: Episode II and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Finally, as if his programmer-turned-actor-turned-EW-cover-model story wasn't interesting enough, he also was on the cover of a 1987 Time Magazine issue featuring an (in)famous story on "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids."
For those of you who can't tell Asians apart, Masi Oka is the model minority on the very left sporting the backpack filled with either Kumon textbooks or Hustler magazines.
Unfortunately, I missed my opportunity to meet Oka on Friday night. (He and the cast of Heroes showed up to the Dixie Chicks show in LA. Heroes cast member Adrian Pasdar is Natalie Maines's husband.)
I was hoping to yell to him what I think should be the catch-phrase of the year, "Yatta!"