10 Famous Asians Who Made it Big in the West
By: nobert bermosa
One of the greatest dreams of every Asian is to reach the west and make a big name in there. Making it big in the west is the surest way to be famous in the world. Here’s a list of the most popular Asians who conquered the west through their unusual abilities and capabilities in their own respective field of chosen career.
Lea Salonga: Singer/Actress
Lea Salonga is definitely one of the most successful Asian who conquered the west. Her real name is Maria Ligaya Carmen Imutan Salonga and was born on February 22, 1971 in the Philippines. She is a multi-awarded Filipino singer and actress who is best known for originating the role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon in 1989.
• She is recognized in the field of musical theater for having won the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Theater World Awards, the first to win various international awards for a single role. She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Miserables on Broadway.
• Lea Salonga is the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin in 1992 and Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II in 1998 and in 2004, respectively. She had also performed in other numerous musical plays.
Jacky Chan: Film Superstar
One of the hottest celebrities worldwide is Jackie Chan, an Asian superstar. His real name is Chan Kong Sang and was born on April 7, 1954. He is a Chinese actor, action choreographer, film director, producer, martial artist, comedian, screenwriter, singer and stunt performer.
• Chan is one of the best-known names in kung fu and action films worldwide, known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons and innovative stunts
• Chan voiced the character Master Monkey in the DreamWorks Animation film, Kung Fu Panda, released in June 2008, appearing with stars Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie.
• Chan holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Stunts by A Living Actor”. In addition, he holds an unrecognized record for the most number of takes for a single shot in a film, having shot over 2900 retakes for a complex scene involving a badminton game in Dragon Lord.
• Chan has been injured numerous times attempting stunts; many of them have been shown as outtakes or bloopers during the closing credits of his films.
• His blockbuster movies includes; Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Rush Hour 1,2&3 with Chris Tucker, Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights, The Tuxedo and others.
Jet Li: Martial Artist and Film Superstar
Another Asian that’s currently making a big name in the west is Jet Li, a Chinese martial artist (Kung Fu), actor, Wushu champion, and international film star. After three years of intensive training, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing Wushu Team. After retiring at age 17, he went on to win great acclaim in China as an actor making his debut with the film Shaolin Temple (1982). He went on to star in many critically acclaimed martial arts epic films, most notably the Once Upon a Time in China series.
• His road to stardom in the west was through the Hollywood film Lethal Weapon where he played as a villain. His first leading role was Romeo Must Die.
• Jet Li has gone on to star in many Hollywood action films, recently starring beside Jackie Chan in the Forbidden Kingdom (2008).
• His other Hollywood films are; The One with Jason Statham, Kiss of the Dragon opposite Bridget Fonda, Unleashed, Cradle 2: The Grave, Fearless, War, and his latest where he also star as the lead villain is the fantasy action film The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor with Brendan Fraser and Michelle Yeoh.
• According to Li, once, as a child, when the Chinese National Wushu Team went to perform for President Richard Nixon in the United States, he was asked by Nixon to be his personal bodyguard. Li replied, “I don’t want to protect any individual. When I grow up, I want to defend my one billion Chinese countrymen!” which earned him much respect in his homeland.
Chow Yun Fat: Film Superstar
Chow Yun-Fat is Chinese actor is one of the most famous actors in Asia and a major actor in the Hong Kong film industry, in collaboration with filmmaker John Woo in heroic bloodshed genre films A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard-Boiled. He mainly plays in dramatic films and has won Hong Kong’s “best actor” award three times and Taiwan’s twice. The Los Angeles Times proclaimed Chow Yun-Fat “the coolest actor in the world.”
• His films are the ff; The Replacement Killer, The Corruptor, Anna and the King with Jodie Foster and the most famous – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
• In 2007, Chow played the antagonist pirate captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
• In Taiwan, Chow Yun Fat is also famous in some commercial endorsements including a TV commercial of an alcoholic tonic drink called, Whisbih where he’s a product endorser for that said brand.
Michelle Yeoh: Beauty Queen and Film Superstar
Michelle Yeoh is a Chinese-Malaysian actress well known for performing her own stunts in the action films that brought her to fame in the early 1990s.
• She was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1997.
• She is best known for her roles in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and the multiple Academy Award-winning Chinese action film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she was nominated the BAFTA for “Best Actress”. In 2008, the film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked her the greatest action heroine of all time.
• At age 21, Yeoh became the winner of the Miss Malaysia Beauty Pageant in 1983. She was also Malaysia’s representative at the 1983 Miss World pageant in London.
• In 2002, Michelle Yeoh was honored as The Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) (Cultural Achievement) by JCI (Junior Chamber International).
• In 2007 President Lacques Chirac awarded her Knight of the Legion of Honor of France.
Ang Lee: Film Director
Ang Lee On is an Academey Award-winning film director from Taiwan
His greatest achievements that lead him to stardom were as follows;
• Best Director, National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and New York Film Critics Circle Awards, for Sense and Sensibility (1995)
• Best Director, Independent Spirit Awards for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001)
• Best Director/Motion Picture, Golden Globes for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001)
• Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Directors Guild of America for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(2001)
• The David Lean Award for Achievement in Directing, BAFTA Awards for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001)
• Best Director, Boston Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Independent Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, San Francisco Film Critic Circle Awards and Vancouver Film Critics Circle for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
• Best Director/Motion Picture, Golden Globes for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
• Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Director Guild of America for Brokeback Mountain(2005)
• The David Lean Award for Achievement in Directing, BAFTA Awards for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
• Best Achievement in Directing, 78th Academy Awards for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
• A Golden Lion, the most prestigious award offered at the Venice Film Festival for Brockback Mountain (2005)
• One of 100 individuals included in Time Magazine’s TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World (2006)
• Another Golden Lion, the most prestigious award offered at the Venice Film Festival for Lust, Caution (2007); as of 2007, he is one of only two directors to have ever won two Golden Lions (the other being Andre Cayatte), and he is the only director to have won two Golden Lions within three years of each other.
M. Night Shyamalan: Film Director
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Night_Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan is one of the youngest blockbuster directors of Hollywood film industry. Born in India but raised in the suburban Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan is the son of two doctors. His passion for filmmaking began when he was given a Super-8 camera at age eight, and even at that young age began to model his career on that of his idol, Steven Spielberg.
Outstanding films that he directed and catapulted him to stardom were the ff;
• Wide Awake (1998)
• The Sixth Sense (1999)
• Unbreakable (2000)
• Signs (2002)
• The Village (2004).
• Lady in the Water (2006)
He and Dan Aykroyd are the only two men to direct themselves in performances that won them a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor. Shyamalan “won” the award for, and also directed, the film Lady in the Water.
Ichiro Suzuki: Major League Baseball Superstar
This Asian became famous in the west because of his outstanding abilities in playing America’s favorite past-time – baseball. Ichiro Suzuki often known simply as Ichiro was born in 1973 in Japan. He is a Japanese outfielder for the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball team.
He became the first Japanese-born everyday position player in the Major Leagues. Ichiro did not miss a beat in his transition. He immediately established himself as one of the premier players in the Major Leagues. In 2004 he set several MBL records, including a new all-time, single-season Major League record with 262 hits. Ichiro, equipped with one of the strongest and most accurate throwing arms in the league, is generally recognized as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. He has won a Gold Glove award in each of his first seven years in the majors as an outfielder.
Yao Ming: NBA Basketball Superstar
This Asian sports celebrity became famous in basketball because of his towering height and basketball prowess. Yao Ming is a professional basketball player who plays for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is currently the tallest player in the NBA, at 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 m).
Yao is one of China’s most recognizable athletes, along with Liu Xiang He has led Forbes’ Chinese celebrities list in income and popularity for five straight years, earning 54.6 million US dollars (387.8 million yuan) in 2007.He is an endorser of Reebok, Coca-cola, Visa, Apple, Garmin and McDonalds. Yao donated $2 million dollars to relief work, and created a foundation to help rebuild schools destroyed in the earthquake.
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao: World Boxing Champion
This Filipino boxer needs no introduction for he is very well-known the world over. As of now, he’s the hottest Asian sports celebrity in the world, and possibly the highest earning athlete. He demolished Oscar dela Hoya on their fight last December 6, 2008 in an embarrassing defeat where dela Hoya surrendered prior to the start of the 9th round. His fight with dela Hoya is considered the biggest fight in his boxing career.
He is currently the WBC Lightweight Champion and the WBC Super Featherweight Champion, and was the former world champion at IBF Super Bantamweight, and WBC Flyweight divisions, therefore making him the first Filipino and Asian boxer to win four world titles in four weight divisions. He took over as the Ring Magazine pound for pound number 1 ranked boxer in the world on June 9, 2008 after Floyd Mayweather, Jr. announced his retirement from boxing. On December 6, 2008 he recorded one of the most devastating and greatest upsets in boxing history by winning via TKO to the six-time world champion Oscar Dela Hoya.
I did not include Bruce Lee and Lucy Liu on the list, although they’re both of Asian heritages, because they were both born in the US, meaning to say, they’re both US citizens.