By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Sometimes, when one person’s dream begins, the dream unfortunately ends for someone else. Such is the case for two Asian celebrities featured in this month’s column.
The latest news on Asians abroad
Watch out, Justin Bieber! Japanese pop idol sensation Jin Akanishi has his eyes set on taking over the American entertainment industry next year. Akanishi is best known in Asia for his song writing skills, hip hop dancing, and being a former member of the popular Japanese pop band, KAT-TUN.
In a series of web videos known as “The Takeover,” Akanishi has been routinely documenting his efforts to break into the American industry. Examples include footage of him hard at work in the studio, meeting American celebrities such as hip hop artist Sean Kingston, and giving interviews about his work in English.
His debut American single “Test Drive,” featuring R&B musician Jason Derulo, dropped in November. Akanishi will also co-star with actor Keanu Reeves (who has Hawaiian and Chinese ancestry) in “47 Ronin,” a fictionalized American fantasy-adventure film about the 47 Ronin — a real-life group of samurai in 18th century Japan who avenged the murder of their master. The movie will be released in 2012.
It’s always interesting to watch immensely popular Asian musicians attempt to break into the American industry. The jump is rarely an easy one, and I have yet to see anyone who’s been able to do it successfully. Several Asian celebrities have already preceded Akanishi, such as popular Korean pop stars Rain and BoA, as well as Japanese songstress Utada Hikaru (“Utada”) — with only nominal success. Only time will tell if Akanishi will be the first Asian musician to legitimately break into the U.S. showbiz scene once and for all.
Meanwhile, Bollywood movie star Dev Anand, a legend in the Indian film industry for decades, recently passed away due to a heart attack. He was 88 and in London at the time.
Anand was a renowned Indian actor known for starring in and directing several Indian movies across a variety of genres, including “Des Pardes” and “Hare Rama Hare Krishna.” Known for his dashing good looks and leading roles in romantic movies, Anand also released a book, “Romancing with Life,” in 2007.
Rest in peace, Anand. There is no doubt you will long be remembered by fans worldwide.
Asian Americans setting a “bad example”
Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld was slammed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a photo shoot the 14-year-old actress did with fashion brand Miu Miu during their autumn/winter 2011 advertising campaign.
The image in question shows Steinfeld, who is of Filipina descent, casually sitting on train tracks and wiping a tear away from her eye. ASA argued that the photo is deemed “irresponsible,” as it shows a young girl in an unsafe location due to the potentially hazardous railway setting. Um, what?
According to UK online outlet Telegraph.com, a representative for Prada, who owns the Miu Miu brand, said that it was obvious that Steinfeld “could have easily moved from where she was sitting because she was not restrained in any way.”
It is hard not to scoff at the ASA’s allegation. The photo was clearly taken in a very deserted area, and it does not in any way encourage teens to play on train tracks. The setting is merely an afterthought given that it’s a fashion shoot. The focus of the image is on the clothes and the model — not the train tracks.
But perhaps this point is now moot, as Miu Miu recently swapped Steinfeld for 34-year-old model Guinevere Van Seenus as the brand’s new face. Tough luck, Steinfeld. Or is it? The actress’ star power still runs high as she will star as Juliet in a 2012 film remake of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Sit back, relax, and watch Asians on the silver screen.
November ushered in several movie openings for notable Asian actors, including Michelle Yeoh, who shines in “The Lady” — a biopic on Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” also opened last month and stars Korean American actor John Cho and Indian American actor Kal Penn in another crazy adventure involving marijuana, and Christmas, of course. This is the third installment in the raunchy R-rated comedy franchise.
Lastly, the teen-romance vampire flick, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn,” opened in theaters shortly before Thanksgiving. Booboo Stewart, an actor of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese descent, plays a supporting role as a werewolf. This is the fourth and second-to-last installment in the movie series. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.