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    • The Advocate:

       Do you miss Oz?

    • Wong:

       I do. Oz was great. The character was Asian because I’m Asian. Tom [Fontana, the show’s creator] said, “I want you to be the priest.” Not “I want you to be the first Asian-American priest on TV.” It was the first time somebody came to me and said, “I’ll write a part for you.”

    • The Advocate:

       You don’t like being the first Asian-American this or that?

    • Wong:

       I have a fear of labels. If someone labels me, I have to respond—do I acknowledge it, reject it, deny it, live up to it, and defy it? Labels can affect your ability to be yourself. If you’re not careful, like I wasn’t when I was young, that can take a toll on you.  You find yourself conforming to everyone else’s ideas of who you are.

    • ...

    • The Advocate:

       But you have had roles that weren’t “written Asian,” right?

    • Wong:

       I get very, very close to a lot of nontraditionally cast roles. And then they chicken out

    • at the end, or they go with the other guy for whatever reason. In Shakespeare, I’m only allowed to play Ariel, in The Tempest, because he’s a spirit, not a human being.

    • The Advocate:

       What human being in Shakespeare would you like to play?

    • Wong:

       Iago.

    • The Advocate:

      Could you bring something to the role because you’re Asian-American?

    • Wong:

       No. I cannot. It’s about the literature, about illuminating the text.

    • ...

    • The Advocate:

       You played Linus in the Broadway revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

    • Wong:

       It was a really big deal for Charles Schulz to sign off on that. He did not draw a diverse group of kids. But I think in 1999 he recognized that the world is a diverse place, and being so literal on the stage would send not such a great message. I really related to Linus, and I never took liberties with the essence of whothat person was.

    • The Advocate:

       In 1990, Jonathan Pryce, the British actor, was slated to play a Eurasian character in the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. You wrote a letter denouncing the casting as “dangerously

    • wrong” and arguing on behalf of Asian-American actors, “We may never get to do the work we dream of if a Caucasian actor with taped eyelids hops on the Concorde.” That led to a bitter struggle with the producer of the show.  What do you think about the controversy now?

    • Wong:

       It was a triumph on the part of the Asian-American community. Until we protested, Jonathan Pryce was going to wear yellow makeup. [Pryce was dropped from the show in 1992.] When we compared it to blackface, people started to get it. Apparently, the lighter the ethnicity, the harder it is for people to fathom.

    • The Advocate:

      So it had a positive effect?

    • Wong:

       It was undeniably positive. People didn’t understand what we were talking about before that.  Everything that’s happened since then resonates with that moment.

    • The Advocate:

       But if you say that a Caucasian actor can’t play an Asian character, why can’t someone else say that an Asian actor can’t play a Caucasian character?

    • Wong:

      I would say, it doesn’t work both ways.  It’s just one of those things that doesn’t.

    • ...

    • The Advocate:

       I guess you don’t like it when people expect you to know particular things because you’re gay or because you’re Asian.

    • Wong:

       I know about lots of things that have nothing todo with being Asian, that you would never guess from looking at me. I know all about musical theater. I could go on Jeopardy! and knock off the whole Broadway show tunes category. Also the whole Bible stories category.

    • The Advocate:

       Because of your upbringing?

    • Wong:

       No. I wasn’t raised in any religion. Because of Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

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