by guest contributor Jennifer Fang, originally published at Reappropriate
While in Las Vegas, this weekend, I had the opportunity to interview actress Kelly Hu. This is that interview. Many thanks to Cate Park, of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, for setting up this interview, and of course to Hu herself for agreeing to do it.
Whether portraying a deadly mutant assassin or a sensual Egyptian queen, Kelly Hu appears to be a larger-than-life character: the quintessential warrior woman. For those of us who aren’t part of the film industry, it’s easy to blur the line between reality and this entertaining fiction. I admit – when I first heard that I might have the opportunity to meet Hu during my trip to Las Vegas this weekend, part of me wondered whether she would be anything like the intimidating characters we are familiar with on-screen. Would she attempt to canvass in the chilly Nevada weather wearing the scant costume of The Scorpion King fame? Would an inappropriate remark cause her to metamorphose into the terrifying martial artist that had X2’s Wolverine shivering in his overly-tight X-Men britches? Should I be checking for mutant claws?
It only took a few minutes of chatting with Hu for me to put those silly fantasies to rest. In direct contrast to the emotionally severe women she has played in her most well-known roles, Hu is warm, open, and clearly impassioned.
According to her IMDB entry, Hu is a fourth-generation Asian American of Chinese-Filipino-Hawaiian and English identity. Originally from Hawaii, Hu made a name for herself in Hollywood in the late 80’s and early 90’s as one of a limited number of female Asian American actors consistently finding roles. “There weren’t many [Asian American actresses] to choose from,” Hu notes, listing Tamilyn Tomita, Rosalind Chao and Tia Carrere among her competitors at the time. With so few actors competing for the same roles, “it was easier to get noticed.” Hu also cites her “cross-over look” as one of the reasons for her success: “I could [also] go for roles not specifically written for Asian Americans”.
With that success, Hu has ventured into political activism. In 2004, Hu recorded a PSA, still available for download at LeastLikely.com, about Asian American voter participation. And in a recent YouTube clip, Hu (along with several other notable Asian American faces) vocally supports Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy for the presidency.
I asked Hu: why Obama?