BD Wong is opening up about being a working gay actor in Hollywood, his long career of work, and when one of his characters came out as gay.
You’re probably familiar with several of the many projects that BD Wong has been engaged in. From Jurassic Park to Law and Order: SVU, Mulan, Mr. Robot, Birdbox, and more.
With a lasting career in Hollywood, BD Wong has experienced a lot. As an actor, and specifically a Gay and Asian actor, he also has a lot to say.
And BD Wong said a good bit in an interview with podcast “The Cooler” for NPR. In the interview, BD Wong spoke about how his identities have affected his life and work.
Wong notes that growing up, he couldn't find Asian representation in tv and movies. As for gay characters, they were often negative presentations. But he also shares how those stories inspired him to make a change himself:
“It made me not want to be those things. I was kind of in denial about it,” he shared on the podcast. “And this is a kind of denial that a lot of ethnic kids, specifically I think Asian American kids and some gay kids, have where they avoid the issue of the truth of them. And when you avoid that, it causes only problems for you and it takes you a long time to kind of untangle.
He then added:
“The thing that you think is going to kill you is actually the thing that enlivens you and drives you and pushes you forward. It's really actually an amazingly great feeling to be yourself. What a concept, right? And I think more people definitely know that now than they did before, although it's still a struggle for lots of people."
Thankfully, BD Wong’s career was successful and he participated in that before mentioned list of hits. He shares that he was especially proud of his work on Law & Order: SVU.
“The most gratifying kind of fan interaction that you can have is 'I decided to be a forensic psychiatrist because I saw you in the show when I was very young, and I didn't know there was such a career opportunity.' …That's why it's very important for television writers and television producers to be responsible about their content because it's reaching young people at a very impressionable time.”
But it wasn’t all good for BD Wong. He wasn’t too pleased with how the show chose to have his character, Dr. George Huang, come out as gay just before he left.
"I had no idea throughout the time that I was doing the show for ten and a half years, so it felt a little cheap to me. I was also kind of torn because, you know, it's positive… But it did feel a little convenient or kind of lazy or, you know, kind of not particularly the best way that you want to come out as a character. It wasn't like Ellen coming out. It wasn't a great thing that was really impactful and funny or human or whatever; it was just kind of a minor point made."
Despite that sour note to his career, BD Wong is honored to get to work as an actor and influence the lives of viewers around the globe.
If you want to listen to the whole podcast interview, you can click this link here or listen below.
h/t: KQED & NPR