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Should It Matter That ‘Hawaii Five-o’ Offered Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park 15% Less Than Their White Co-Stars?

Recently, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park quit Hawaii Five-o over a pay dispute. The story is that CBS offered them 10-15 percent less than their white co-stars, Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin.

Kim and Park played Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua respectively. Both have been with the show since it started in 2010.

Seeing as how this show was an ensemble show, you’d expect all actors to have equal pay. There have been a lot of instances where actors in ensemble shows come together for equitable pay raises for all.

Should we really be angry that Kim and Park got offered 10-15% less doing the same work as their co-stars though? This sounds like sour grapes on the part of Kim and Park. Perhaps they got offered less because TV audiences prefer to see white people on TV. Obviously, if Hawaii Five-o‘s audience was more comfortable viewing Asian people, the studios would ante up.

Kim and Park should’ve looked on the bright side. If they accepted CBS’ offer, they would’ve received 80-90 cents more on the dollar than the unemployed Asian-American actors who get nothing. How many Asian-American actors were there on TV fifty years ago? Zero. This is progress. Maybe in 10-20 years, they will get 95-98% of what white actors get.

Kim took to Facebook to graciously thank his fans.

As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely.

I’ll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture. The path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am.

Caan and O’Loughlin haven’t made any comments about Kim and Park’s departure. I assume they won’t do so. Ever.

They already get paid more AND get points on the show’s back end. Any money the studio would’ve paid Kim and Park probably comes out of Caan and O’Loughlin’s overall revenue somewhere, somehow. Better for them to be the passive majority and not speak up.

They probably looked at this brouhaha and thought quietly, “They’re still Asian, right? Yeaaa, not a big deal.”

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