As a child I wasn't consciously aware of the Asian faces I saw on TV and in the movies, though my awareness grew as I grew into my teenage years and beyond. Eventually, I took notice of the Asian and Asian American actors who seemed to get screen work most often -- most prominently, folks like Pat Morita, James Hong and Tamlyn Tomita, who seemed to be increasingly hard to find after her promising debut in the late '80s and early '90s.

Of course I loved iconic characters like Morita's famous Mr. Miyagi, as much for the ethnocentric pride that 'The Karate Kid' and 'The Karate Kid Part II' stirred in me as for the more general appreciation stemming from the fact that I was a child of the '80s and loved just about all of the decade's glorious coming-of-age films. Morita himself surely deserves a dedicated column, but I'd like to highlight another of the great Japanese American character actors who put a face to the underrepresented minority on stage, film and television: Makoto "Mako" Iwamatsu.
Sidekicks Movie Poster
Sidekicks
PG1993
In Theaters on April 6, 1993

An otherwise rejected or ignored boy (Jonathan Brandis) creates a fantasy pal (Chuck Norris) from his... Read More

Conan the Barbarian Movie Poster
Conan the Barbarian
R1982
Based on 10 critics

Orphaned boy Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is enslaved after his village is destroyed by the forces of... Read More

The Sand Pebbles Movie Poster
The Sand Pebbles
PG-131966
In Theaters on April 6, 2003

In 1926, the USS San Pablo patrols the Yangtze River during the clashes between Chiang Kai-shek's communists... Read More

categories Columns, Cinematical