Up and Coming Asian Actors in Hollywood

This piece also appeared in the Fall 2009 issue.

By Jessica Louie


“This industry is for fighters and those who do not give up!  It is very important to believe in yourself.  Even when a hundred people rejected me, I did not lose hope and finally one of the biggest directors of all times [Danny Boyle] believed in me!

Freida Pinto became a sensation overnight as a star in the eight-time Oscar-winning movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.”  Freida’s surname, Pinto, means “chick” in Portuguese.  “Slumdog Millionaire” co-star, Dev Patel, and Freida made love a reality in June 2009.  Pinto won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.  The upcoming movies Freida will emerge in are “American Empire” (2010), “Miral” (2010), which is in post production and an untitled Woody Allen London project (2010) currently in pre-production.


Stephanie Jacobson, currently starring in the CW’s “Melrose Place,” gets her looks from an exotic mix of Chinese, Portuguese, Norwegian and English descent.  Born in Hong Kong, the actress moved to Australia at the age of 12 and graduated from Sydney University with degrees in philosophy and English literature.  Her work in the Australian soap opera “Home and Away” set her on the path to Hollywood with appearances in shows “Battlestar Galactica: Razor” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

The actress will soon feature in a movie entitled “The Devil’s Tomb” (2009) as well as a TV show called “Quantum Apocalypse” (2010).


A Kappa Kappa Gamma sister from the University of California, Riverside, Jamie Chung had tons of personal experience for her role in “Sorority Row.”  The Korean-American actress from San Francisco first appeared on MTV’s reality series, “The Real World: San Diego” (2004), when she was working as a bar waitress.  “Dragonball Evolution” shared its release celebration with Jamie’s 26th birthday on April 10, 2009.  Jamie’s voice was also produced in the 2009 strategy video game, “Command and Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising,” where she played Takata Sato, the Empire.  Look out for more from Chung in future movies, “Burning Palms” (2009), “Grown Ups” (2010) and “Sucker Punch” (2010).


Actor Daniel Henney won American fans as a secret agent in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”  The 6-foot-2-inch model of British and Korean descent grew up in Michigan then moved to Korea, where he became a success as he learned the language and customs.

Daniel shot a European commercial for Bean Pole casual wear with Gwyneth Paltrow and sales increased dramatically by 28.1 percent from the earlier year.  He was dating Vietnamese actress, Maggie Q., in 2005.  Henney started his first acting role in Korean drama, “My Name is Kim Sam-Soon.”  Henney won Best New Actor from Bell Grand Awards in South Korea for the TV series, “Ma-I pa-deo” (2007).  Daniel Henney will be seen in the new 2009 TV series, “Three Rivers” (CBS).


Maulik Pancholy has to balance two of the hottest comedy TV shows on his plate.  Currently starring in Emmy-winning “30 Rock” and HBO’s “Weeds,” Pancholy has become an Indian-American role model in mainstream Hollywood.  His resume boasts a Master’s degree from Yale University’s School of Drama and appearances in “27 Dresses” (2008) as well as “Hitch” (2005).  Die-hard vegetarian, Pancholy won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for “30 Rock” (2009).  Movies to catch Pancholy in include “Love Ranch” (2009) and “See You in September” (2009).


Behind his ridiculous and hilarious antics in “The Hangover” (2009) and “Role Models” (2008), Jeong boasts a medical degree which gained his recognition as “The Funniest Doctor in America” when he appeared on “The View.”  The Korean-American from Greensboro, N.C. graduated from Duke University and earned his medical degree at the University of North Carolina.

In 1995, Jeong won the Big Easy Laff Off.  Judges Brandon Tartikoff, NBC President and Improv founder, Bud Friedman encouraged Jeong to move to LA, where he performed regularly at “The Improv” and “The Laugh Factory” comedy clubs.  Jeong made television appearances in NBC’s “The Office,” “MADtv,” HBO’s “Entourage” and “Curb Enthusiasm.”

Jeong was nominated Best Movie Villain for “The Hangover” in the Teen Choice Awards (2009), as Mr. Chow, the Chinese mobster.

Jeong’s upcoming movies that will make fans continue to laugh hysterically are “How to Make Love to a Woman” (2009), “Despicable Me” (2010) and “The Zookeeper” (2010).


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