Fact of the Day (2/28) - Philip Ahn

Philip Ahn was an outstanding Korean-American actor and community leader. Ahn was a pioneer: he was the first Korean American to have appeared in Hollywood movies and first Asian American with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Born on March 29, 1905, in Highland Park, California, he was the first Korean American citizen born in the United States. Ahn’s father was a diplomat and his mother was only the second Korean woman at the time in the country. He went to high school and graduated as the valedictorian and then studied at the University of Southern California. Although he wanted to be an actor, his mother did not and wanted him to focus on his studies instead and even grounded him for days. His father encouraged him to be the best actor possible, and he started to take drama and speech classes to improve his performance. However, that did not essentially give him opportunities. Producers discriminated him early in his career and wanted him to portray stereotypical “yellow peril” roles with heavy Asian accents. In one instance, Ahn was rejected from a role, because his English was too good. Still, Ahn persevered and acted in many films, such as The Story of Dr. WassellDaughter of ShanghaiThoroughly Modern Millie. Moreover, aside from acting, Ahn was a profound leader, advocate, and spokesperson for the Korean American community.

"The screen is not restricted to one class of people,” Ahn expressed, "and through bringing the customs of one country to another it creates understanding among the peoples; thus eventually international relations will be brought about.”

Source: http://www.philipahn.com/pacessay.html