Top 10 Asian American Actors of 2008

JohnChoBy: Ed Penano
2008 was a banner year for Asian Americans in US entertainment. From film and television, to music and dance – Asians have impressed themselves onto the mainstream, into the American psyche, and are proving that they are more than just a model minority group. So in celebration of this – a Top 8(+2) of Asian American Male actors in 2008. Why 8?  Because its a lucky number in Asian Culture!

Putting together a Top 10 list of Asian American male actors, however, was admittedly a bit of a challenge. But not an impossibility. In years’ past, a lack of Asian American actors would have prevented a list such as this. And if said list were to be compiled, it would have been one filled with either a) Asian actors from outside the US, or b) those from previous years in acting, and not in a single year. Fortunately, that all changed in the lucky year of the 8. 2008. Derailing the previous trends that put most Asian actors into categorized actors who either knew “kung-fu” or those who only spoke with a “who you?” accent, the Asian actors of today are fulfilling roles in the US that are more universal – more human.

And now, for your considerations, the Top 10 (in no particular order):

Bobby Lee

Bobby Lee

   “Uh oh! Hotdog!” Bobby Lee is an American comedian, mostly known for his role in the recurring cast of comedians on MADtv. The show’s first Asian cast member, he plays most of its Asian roles. Those including Kim Jong-il and Connie Chung. He has also made brief cameo appearances in Harold & Kumar and Pineapple Express.

James Kyson Lee

James Kyson Lee

   James Kyson Lee is a Korean American actor best known for his role of Ando Masahashi on the NBC series Heroes. And yes, that was his voice as Shang Tsung in the video game hit – Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

BD Wong

BD Wong   Bradley Darryl “B.D.” Wong is an American Tony Award-winning actor who has quite the resume: M. Butterfly, Father of the Bride movies, voiceover for Kingdom Hearts II, the list goes on and on. He is currently playing Dr. George Huang on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Ken Leung

Ken LeungKen Leung is an American actor best known for his roles in Shanghai Kiss (which also stars Kelly Hu and Hayden Panettiere), Saw and X-Men: The Last Stand. Most recently Leung became known for his recurring role as Miles Straume in the popular ABC drama television series Lost.

Rex Lee

Rex Lee

Rex L. Lee is an American actor best known for his role on HBO’s Entourage.

Daniel Dae Kim

Daniel Dae Kim Daniel Dae Kim is an American actor best known for playing Jin-Soo Kwon on the television series Lost.


JabbaWockeeZAlthough not actors in the traditional sense, they entertain – the essential heart of acting. The JabbaWockeeZ are a diverse male dance crew best known for competing and winning the 1st Season of Americas Best Dance Crew.

Kal Penn

Kal PennKal Penn is an American actor, producer, and political activist.
You will find him in such films such as: National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, The Namesake, Epic Movie, and Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. He currently plays Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the series House.

Masi Oka

Masi OkaYatta! Masi Oka is a Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-nominated Japanese American actor and a digital effects artist. He has performed in many films and TV shows, and is currently playing the role of Hiro Nakamura in the NBC series Heroes. He recently appeared in the film Get Smart.

John Cho

John ChoJohn Cho is a Korean-born American actor and musician, best known for his “dude” roles in the American Pie flicks and the Harold & Kumar comedy. Next up for John Cho, the new Star Trek film where he plays Sulu.

Notable Mentions

James SaitoWill Yun LeeJack YangSendhil Ramamurthy

And there you have it. The 2008 Top 10 Asian American Actors for 2008. And suffice it to say, I am going to go ahead and dub 2008 – “The Year of the Asian American Males.” ‘Nuf Said.

So, did you enjoy the list? Did we name them all? If you have anyone we may have missed, let us know by leaving a comment below. Or, send us an email! We encourage you to share this Top 10 list to your friends and family.

Up next? 2009. It will be an exciting new year for the US and Asian Americans in acting. Can’t wait!


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