From MILF Guy #2 in “American Pie” to Harold Lee in “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle” to, most recently, lead man David Kim in “Searching,” John Cho has been an outspoken and long-standing crusader for Asian representation in film and television.
The 46-year-old actor was born in Seoul, South Korea but his family immigrated to the United States in 1978 when he was just 6 years old. Cho’s father suggested, at first, that he get into news because he didn’t see much Asian representation in film and television but Cho caught the acting bug while he was in college and a friend asked him to be in a student play.
After one of Cho’s first roles as a Chinese delivery man, he decided he was only going to take on roles that defied Asian stereotypes which led him straight to MILF Guy #2 in “American Pie,” a role that would change his career forever.
Along the way, Cho never lost sight of his ethos — sticking by his promise to never play a character that reinforces Asian stereotypes. On the set of “Big Fat Liar,” where Cho played Hong Kong director Dusty Wang, he refused to do an accent because he did not want to do an accent in a children’s comedy where young people would be laughing inadvertently at an Asian stereotype.
The role of Harold Lee, in “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,” was written specifically for Cho by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg after they were inspired by his performance as MILF Guy #2. “Harold and Kumar” was a hit and had two more sequels and a cult following.
John Cho quickly rose through the Hollywood ranks in 2009, when he was not only named one of People Magazine’s sexiest men alive but also landed his most prestigious role to date as Sulu in JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek.”
Throughout the years, Cho tried his hand at television but hasn’t managed to land a show that lasted more than one season. Cho’s wife, actress Kerri Higuchi, was featured in TV Show “Selfie” alongside her husband who played American TV’s first Asian American romantic lead. John and Kerri have been married since 2006 and have two children. Cho also starred in TV shows “Kitchen Confidential” and “Flashforward.”
Cho’s most recent role in “Searching,” where the audience watches him try to find his missing daughter from the perspective of a computer screen, made him the first Asian actor to lead a Hollywood thriller.
With more than 100 credits to his name and a net worth of $20 million, John cho has lived his American dream while populating our screens with complex and compelling representations of Asian Americans.