TELEVISION AND THE ASIAN-AMERICAN WOMAN
The blog AfterEllen.com writes
Network TV used to have an unwritten rule that there could only be one Asian American woman, if that, in a leading (or even prominent recurring) role on TV at a time. Or in a few-year span....
But a few years ago, something happened — more specifically, Lost and Grey's Anatomy happened, or maybe common sense just finally kicked in — and we began to get three or four Asian American women in regular roles on network TV shows. Then last season, it was five.
And the networks discovered something odd: people of color tuned in, and the white people didn't stop watching. In fact, ratings even went up on some of the shows. (Gee, maybe this whole diversity thing isn't such a bad idea, after all!)
Now, going into the 2007-08 season, we're looking at a record seven shows with prominent leading or supporting roles on primetime network TV (eight if The CW renews Smallville).... The short-lived Vanished took Ming-Na with it only a few months after it debuted last fall — but if Ming-Na has proven anything over the last 20 years, it's that she has more lives than all the stray cats in Manhattan.Read the entire post, here.
Last week, Ming Na (ex-Lien; ATWT) finished up a multi-episode arc on the CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men.
What was most interesting to me about it was that her character was judged to be all wrong for childish philanderer Charlie (Charlie Sheen) because she was mature, professional, intelligent and a single mom. Her being Asian never came up once.
The script, presumably, was written for a white actress, then cast with the fantastically talented Ming Na, color-blind style. (I've always suspected that Ming Na's breakout sitcom role on Jonathan Silverman's The Single Guy was also originally written for a white actress. Her sharp-witted, sarcastic Trudy was so different from how any other Asian-American woman on television had been written up to that point, it was hard to imagine the part was conceived with a Chinese actress in mind).
Click here to read about Ming Na's commitment to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Ming-Na never imagined that a real health crisis – breast cancer – would strike so close to home.
“Vivian is one of my closest friends and godmother to my daughter,” says Ming-Na, who has played Dr. Jing-Mei Chen since ER’s sixth season. “When she told me she had breast cancer I was in shock because she’s young, and she had no family history of the disease.”
The Vivian she refers to is Vivian Gundaker, ATWT's producer.
Ming Na is pictured above left with Michael Louden as Duke, and right with Andrew Kavovit as Paul and Scott Defreitas (now Mr. Maura West) as Andy.