"In an ideal world you won't see a Korean-American playing a Taiwanese character, especially an immigrant character"
Fresh Off The Boat star Randall Park has said he hesitated to play a Taiwanese American character.
Fresh Off The Boat focuses on a Taiwanese family who moves to Ameria in the 1990s. Park plays the father of the family, Louis Huang.
In an interview with Vulture, the Korean American actor said that he was concerned that people would have an issue with him playing a Taiwanese American character.
“I haven’t gotten too much flak, if any, from the community in regards to being a Korean-American playing a Taiwanese character. I know there’re definitely people out there who find that problematic and I totally get it, but I was wondering if that would be an issue in Taiwan.”
Park even spoke to the directors before the show was filmed, expressing his concern about playing an Asian character that was not of the same ethnicity as him.
“It was a problem for me, for sure. And early on I talked to the producers about it. I remember having that conversation, I think with Melvin and definitely with Eddie [Huang], because Eddie was more a part of the show at the time. I remember going into his office and saying, “I don’t know if this is right. I don’t feel right playing this character.””
Fortunately, Huang supported the decision to cast Park and encouraged him to take on the role.
“But he was so supportive, and the fact that it was his father that I was playing, and I remember him saying, “No one else can play this part but you.” I really took that to heart.”
Whilst Park hasn’t received any criticism for taking on the role, he suspects it might be because he just hasn’t met the people who would be offended by it, “I don’t know if it’s just because I didn’t meet the people who would be offended by that or if there’s just more of a Pan-Asian consciousness in regards to entertainment out there — I’m not sure.”
Whilst Park has come to terms with playing a Taiwanese American despite his prior concerns, he hopes for a future in which actors are cast to represent their own ethnicities.
“I guess the goal is that, eventually we can be at a place where we won’t see white people playing Asian people anymore. We’re not there yet [laughs]. But in an ideal world you won’t see a Korean-American playing a Taiwanese character, especially an immigrant character.”