In the wake of Donnie Yen's inspired performance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, there is hope that Hollywood is finally starting to open its arms to diversity when it comes to #Asian actors. Star Wars has been a leader in promoting diversity in its more recent films.
Several actors have worked tirelessly to increase awareness and promote the inclusion of people of color in the film industry. As we continue to strive for diversity in the entertainment industry, here are 11 Asian actors and actresses who are killing it in #scifi and fantasy film and TV.
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1. B.D. Wong
Bradley Darryl "B.D." Wong has been in several of our favorite sci-fi and fantasy films and shows. Wong appeared as Dr. Henry Wu in the original #JurassicPark film as well as in 2015's Jurassic World; his character created the hybrid Indominus rex. It is rumored he will be in the untitled sequel.
This year, Wong can be seen in the sci-fi romance film The Space Between Us as Genesis Director Tom Chen. It's a story about the first human born on Mars traveling to, and experiencing, Earth for the first time.
On the small screen, Wong appeared as Detective Glen Chao in The X-Files episode "Hell Money." More recently, he was brought Professor Hugo Strange to life in Season 2 of Gotham. Overseeing Arkham Asylum and Indian Hill, Dr. Strange performed experiments on superhuman individuals, including Mr. Freeze and Firefly.
2. Rila Fukushima
The stunning Rila Fukushima is a Japanese model and actress whom many will remember as Yukio in 2013’s The Wolverine. Yukio is both a precognitive mutant and a deadly assassin associated with the Yashida clan. Hugh Jackman's Logan and Yukio form a relationship reminiscent of that between Logan and Rogue in earlier #XMen films, though Yukio was substantially more badass that Rogue was ever allowed to be. We can only hope to catch a glimpse of Fukushima's Yukio in this year's concluding Wolverine chapter, Logan.
Arrow fans will recognize Fukushima as Katana after she replaced Devon Aoki in the role on the show. She also appeared in the Game of Thrones Season 5 episode "High Sparrow" as a Red Priestess.
3. Ki Hong Lee
Ki Hong Lee is a Korean-American actor best known for his work as Minho in #TheMazeRunner films, where he made his big-screen debut. In this film adaptation of the dystopian science-fiction novel series, Minho is the keeper of the Runners, a role that keeps him constantly on the run as he takes lead on navigating and mapping out the Maze. Minho will return in the third Maze Runner installment, The Death Cure, due in 2018.
Prior to his time in the maze, Lee had a leading role on the fantasy drama The Nine Lives of Chloe King as Paul Chun. As Chun, Lee played an optimistic comic book geek who knows about Chloe's cat-like powers powers and even demands to be her sidekick. Lee also appeared as Peter Kim in the science fiction drama The Whispers episode "X Marks The Spot."
4. Bae Doona
Anyone who has ever seen the epic film Cloud Atlas will recognize Bae Doo-Na. The South Korean actress played a handful of roles in the film, most notably that of Sonmi-451, a clone in dystopian Neo Seoul, Korea. She also portrayed American Civil War-era abolitionist Tilda Ewing and a Mexican woman who takes on an assassin.
In 2015, Doo-Na teamed up with the Wachowskis again as a bounty hunter in the lackluster sci-fi space opera, Jupiter Ascending. She followed this up with a role in the TV show Sense8, also with the Wachowskis. The sci-fi series focuses on eight strangers from different cultures who share a violent psychic vision and find themselves inexplicably connected telepathically.
5. Brian Tee
Brian Tee (born Jae-bum Takata) is a Japanese American actor who has appeared in several sci-fi and fantasy films. In 2013’s The Wolverine Tee portrayed Noburo Mori, the moral-lacking minister of justice set to marry Logan’s love interest, Mariko. In another superhero world, Tee appeared as the Shredder, one of the villains in the 2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. He also appeared as Hamada, commander of the Asset Containment Unit (read: dinosaur catcher) in 2015’s Jurassic World.
Outside of film, Tee portrayed Akira Kimura, one of four Schakals hunting for the Coins of Zakynthos during the second season of the Portland-based horror-fantasy, Grimm. He also appeared as Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat Legacy YouTube series.
6. Jamie Chung
Jamie Chung is a former reality television personality turned actress whom many will recognize from the fantasy drama Once Upon a Time. Chung first appeared as Mulan during the series' second season as a warrior who assisted her best friend, Prince Phillip, during his search to rescue Princess Aurora.
Chung also appeared recently on Gotham as Valerie Vale (a precursor to Vicki?!), a reporter and love interest of James Gordon. On the big screen, Chung voiced GoGo Tomago in Disney's animated film adaptation of Big Hero 6, a role she will reprise in the animated series. She also provided the voice of Aimi Yoshida in the video game X-Men: Destiny.
7. Daniel Wu
Daniel Wu (also known as Yin-cho) is a Hong Kong-American actor who has been featured in over 60 films since 1998. Referred to by some as a "young Donnie Yen," Wu currently stars as Sunny in AMC's TV series Into the Badlands. Sunny is a regent (also known as a Head Clipper) to Quinn, the Badlands' most powerful Baron, and is skilled in martial arts and with various weapons. Sunny is considered to be the deadliest Clipper in all of the Badlands.
Recently, Wu took on the role of Gul'dan, a sinister Shadowmoon orc warlock, in the 2016 film Warcraft, based on the video game of the same name. In 2018, Wu will costar in the new Tomb Raider movie as Lu Ren, a ship captain who helps Lara in the search for her father.
8. John Harlan Kim
John Kim's first stint in sci-fi/fantasy came about in The Librarians, a TV series that premiered in 2014 and is a direct spin-off of #TheLibrarian film series. Kim plays the part of Ezekiel Jones, a master thief and librarian from down under in this Portland-based fantasy-comedy.
As Jones, Kim is a master of technology an "international man of mystery" of sorts. He has hacked the London Police's security network, the NSA and several other law enforcement agencies. Kim can be seen in Season 1–3 and you can look forward to seeing more of this Aussie in next year's Season 4.
9. Ming-Na Wen
Ming-Na Wen has an impressive resume spanning over 30 years. Beyond being the voice of Fa Mulan in Disney's Mulan, Mulan II and the video game Kingdom Hearts II, she has also provided the voice of Detective Ellen Yin in the animated series The Batman. It seems people can't get enough of Ming-Na's voice; she can also be heard as the voice of Aki Ross in the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Jade in the HBO animated series Spawn.
Outside of animation, Wen is most recognizable as Agent Melinda May in the Marvel action drama TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which began airing in 2013. An ace pilot, weapons expert, martial arts extraordinaire and right-hand woman to team leader Agent Coulson, Agent May is every bit worthy of her nickname: the Calvary. Wen has also had roles in Stargate Universe, Eureka and Street Fighter.
10. Harry Shum Jr.
Harry Shum Jr. may have caught our eye as Glee's Mike Chang, but this Costa Rican-American actor of Chinese descent has completely won us over as Magnus Bane in Freeform's fantasy TV series Shadowhunters. Based on the Mortal Instruments novels, Shum is every bit the perfect perfect fit to portray the immortal High Warlock of Brooklyn. You can catch him now in the series' second season.
Previously, Shum has portrayed the younger Sub-Zero in the second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Last year, he starred as Wei-Fang, alongside Donnie Yen, in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
11. Arden Cho
Arden Cho is best known for work in the hit MTV series Teen Wolf as Kira Yukimura. During Season 3, in a world of werewolves and other mystical creatures, Cho's character appeared as the love interest of the show's lead wolf, Scott McCall. As her story unfolds, Kira learns she is a kitsune, a Japanese trickster spirit that appears as a fox. After learning of her supernatural abilities and becoming a series regular, Kira becomes part of Scott's pack, a role she held until she announced she would not be returning for Teen Wolf's final season.
Prior to being a kitsune, Cho appeared as Gia in the 2011 monster film Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, which involves animal activists triggering the rapid growth of snakes and alligators. We prefer her work on Teen Wolf and look forward to what we see her do next in the work of sci-fi fantasy.
Which of these actors or actresses would you like to see more of on screen?
Here are a few Asian action movies that are also well worth your consideration: