A Check-up With B.D. Wong

November 5, 2007

On the AAAA’s 25th anniversary:

"I feel like as artists we really depend upon organizations such as this because I know that in my experience with my own family there was always a sense that the arts was kind of a secondary, less important kind of thing. The alliance has forced people within the community to have an understanding that the work of an Asian American artists and an aesthetic is essential and part of what being an Asian American is – not just an extracurricular thing. That in itself is a huge contribution to all of our lives as Asian Americans."

On the young Asian American stars at the gala and their presence in Hollywood:

“I definitely feel that things have gotten better [as far as representation]. I felt since the beginning of my career a sense of moving forward.....it’s really slow progress so I go back and forth between complaining about it and celebrating it. I think things will always be that way."

On “Harlod & Kumar Go To White Castle” and the connection Kal Penn makes with the younger Asian American audience:

“To make any connection to the younger generation is a vital thing that we really don’t get the opportunity to do very often as a community. For that movie in particular and for those actors in it to be able to establish themselves as role models just by being in it and by establishing a sense……there was always, when I was younger, a sense that Asian people weren’t funny; we’re not able to be funny or considered funny. I always found that very damaging and embarrassing and when I became an actor that was something that was perceived to be an obstacle, so anything that breaks that down is really valuable to us. The success of the movie is part of putting us on the map in the way – seeing us in a light we haven’t been seen in before and that’s not to be taken lightly at all."

Favorite theater production he’s worked on:

“Everything means something to me in a different way. For my career I appeared in my first Broadway play which was M. Butterfly, and that play was really meaningful to me for my career, it was an incredible part and that kind of would be my first answer. At the same time it wasn’t my heart’s favorite; it wasn’t my favorite positive experience it was just an incredible time in my life and it was a great part – the part of a lifetime. But there have been other productions that have meant jus t as much to me in different ways but I’d say that one though."

Wong played Father Ray Mukada on HBO’s Oz – he spoke about the show’s cutting edge dramatics during its run:

“I feel that there are a lot of shows that are continuing to explore some of the stuff that was in Oz, that the corner was being turned at that point where you could push the envelope on a non-network station. The envelope that was being pushed is continuing to be pushed in different ways and different channels, like I saw the ads on television for “Dexter” – no, no for “On the Bus” – with a picture where the leading actor had blood all over his face. When we were kids you could never see anything like that. You could never see anything like that on network; there was a whole other kind of parental control that actually came from the network itself. Now that stuff is kind of available and I think that our show was a part of turning that corner, not the only reason for it."

Do you see HBO continuing to put out hit programs?

Things go in waves and I don’t really think it’s because Sex and the City, Oz and The Sopranos aren’t on anymore….I just think it’s about what’s next and there’s bound to be something great.

Does BD miss the Bay?

"If I could do what I do in San Francisco I would do it – I would live there my whole life, all the time 24/7. I miss it and I visit a lot."