Daniel Dae Kim, the actor seen on shows like Lost and Hawaii Five-0, has finally landed his first lead role in a TV series after 30-plus years.
Daniel Dae Kim, the award-winning actor seen on shows like Lost and Hawaii Five-0, has finally landed his first lead role in a TV series after 30-plus years of working in television. Kim was born in South Korea, but emigrated to the United States when he was only one year old. After growing up on the east coast, Kim got his MFA in Acting from NYU and almost immediately launched a career as a television actor, getting his big break (as many actors do) on NBC's Law & Order.
Years of day work and supporting roles followed on shows like CSI, Angel, Beverly Hills 90210, and Seinfeld. After a breakthrough role as part of the ensemble on ABC's massively popular series Lost, Kim continued to work as part of an ensemble on the CBS revival of Hawaii Five-0. Kim admitted he walked away from Hawaii Five-0 because of a disparity that was paying him, and his co-star Grace Park (also of Korean descent), between 10-15% less than their Caucasian cast mates. Now, after 31 years of hard work, Kim has been rewarded with a lead role on an upcoming series.
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Variety reports Kim will take the lead in The Hot Zone: Anthrax, an anthology series on the National Geographic Channel. This will be a follow-up to season 1 of The Hot Zone, which starred Julianna Marguiles and was National Geographic's most-watched scripted series of all-time. Filming on The Hot Zone is expected to begin later this year, while a premiere date has yet to be announced. Kim will play Matthew Ryker, an FBI agent with a specialty in microbiology, in the series that centers on the anonymous bioterror attacks that caused panic across the country weeks after 9/11. Kim celebrated the news with a quick post on Twitter:
Hardly the biggest news given what’s going on in the world today,
But after 31 years of working in TV, this is my first series lead. https://t.co/Z6IuoWL0f7
It's a big step forward for Kim, who has been open in the past about his frustrations as a working Korean actor. His honesty has helped increase diversity in a number of projects, most recently when the Hellboy reboot was criticized for casting a Caucasian actor (Ed Skrein) in a role that was written for an Asian performer. Skrein ultimately left the part under his own volition and producers reached out to Kim to play the role of Major Ben Daimio in the film. Kim later thanked Skrein for voluntarily stepping down from the film, allowing an Asian actor to take his place.
As Kim has noted in the past, diversity to him is more than just a buzzword or a trending topic; it directly affects his ability to get work as an actor. While promoting the action/sci-fi film Insurgent, Kim admitted he, and many other minority actors, "live and die by the industry's attitude towards diversity" and that if they take it seriously, there will be more opportunities for actors like him. Luckily producers 20th Television and Ridley Scott are taking a more serious attitude toward diversity and awarding Daniel Dae Kim a long overdue lead role.
Source: Variety, Daniel Dae Kim
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