Thursday, February 5, 2009

Guess who's Asian? (Part 2)

Of all the posts I've done, this one seems to garner the most traffic and interest. Yep, the post about famous people who have Asian blood. Apparently everyone wants to know who's Asian and who's not.

In particular, the most traffic I seem to get (there are websites that break down this data for you) is from people googling "is Pharrell Williams Asian?" I wish people came to my site for its biting humour and insightful social analysis and stunningly handsome picture of yours truly, but if all I'm good for is info about why Pharrell has chinky eyes, well I'll take that too. Admittedly, I'm damn curious myself.

On the subject of Pharrell, still nothing conclusive has come out of my extensive research (which consists of little more than googling "is Pharrell Williams Asian?") The most evidence of his supposed blasian-ness is some chick whose friend's cousin met his friend or something and he said he's part Korean. Someone else claims he's part Thai. One person who commented here gave the rock-solid evidence that he hangs out with designer Nigo and fellow Neptune Chad Hugo, who are both Asian. Wow, he has 2 Asian friends, he must be Asian. (By that logic, I must be Jamaican, Bangladeshi, gay, a woman, a Ba'Hai, an accountant and a doctor, among other things)

Another thing I learned from my previous post is that I need to put photos up of everyone I mention. Because 2 people commented that I forgot Tiger Woods. Tiger actually was the first blasian I mentioned, and I wrote 2 sentences about him, but I didnt include a photo (since everyone knows what Tiger looks like). So if there isn't a photo, apparently it didn't happen. So here's a picture of Tiger for all those of you out there who don't really like words but prefer pictures.

Oh, and in the earlier post I put up the wrong picture for Black Eyed Peas' Afro-Filipino rapper Apl de Ap, so here is a correct one:

Here are some readers' suggestions of Eurasians and Blasians that I forgot:

R&B hottie Kelis is another blasian - her dad is African-American and her moms is Chinese/Puerto Rican. This Caribbean connection is common with celebrity blasians, due to large Chinese and Indian populations in the islands.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, a former Superbowl MVP, was born in South Korea, with an African American father. He has used his profile to advocate for minorities and multiracial kids in the country of his birth - respect to him.

You might recognise actress and model Maggie Q (Q is for Quigley) from movies such as "Mission Impossible III", "Balls of Fury" and "Live Free or Die Hard." Born in Hawaii, she has a Vietnamese mother and a father of Irish, Polish and French ancestry.

While I drool over Maggie Q, my friend Sheree is busy drooling over Daniel Henney. The US-born Korean/British hunk has a high profile in Korea due to modelling and film work, but you can see him in the upcoming "X-Men Origins: Wolverine".

I feel kinda gay decribing someone as a hunk, by the way.

And of course, how could we forget Keanu? The actor is as mixed-up as you can get: Raised in Canada but born in Lebanon to a British mother and a Hawaiian dad of Chinese/Portuguese/Irish heritage.

Model, TV host and fashion label head Kimora Lee Simmons was born to a black American father and Korean/Japanese mother. Formerly married to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, she is apparently now expecting a baby with Benin's most famous actor, Djimon Hounsou. Another flavour added to the melting pot.

I used to watch Dean Cain star as Superman in "Lois and Clark", back in the day, not noticing his Asian ancestry. But his paternal grandfather was Japanese, hence his original surname of Tanaka.

And finally we have Latin/pop star Enrique Iglesias. His father is the legendary Spanish pants-man and crooner Julio Iglesias, his mother a Filipino magazine editor.

Oh and regarding NZ rugby star Tana Umaga and his somewhat Asian looks (one comment agreed that he had Chinese in there somewhere, another comment basically implied I was racist for even suggesting it), the jury is still out. I used to teach a Samoan-Australian kid (now an Australian under-20 rugby star in his own right) who claimed that Umaga was his cousin, and that he indeed had some Japanese in his ancestry somewhere. Which may be so, but I'm not especially inclined to believe it - sounds a bit like the thing I wrote above about Pharrell allegedly being Korean. Plus, since Pacific Islanders are originally from South East Asia (albeit 2000 years ago), it shouldn't be too surprising if some have a slightly Asian look.

There are plenty more half-Asians and quarter-Asians out there, and I will definitely post more on this, so keep the suggestions coming. Note though, that I'm mostly including those who are not quite so obviously Asian and who may sneak under the radar, due to their non-Asian names or appearance. That's why no Devon Aoki or Russell Wong, for instance.

Keep mixing, y'all.

Want more on this topic? Try "Guess who's Asian?" part 3 and part 4.


  1. You can add in Sandrine Pinna, also known as Zhang Rong Rong and is a rising star in Taiwan, who is French through her father and Chinese through her mum.

    William "Willie" George Harcourt-Cooze, the British entrepeneur, is 1/4 Burmese through his father (1/2Burmese).

    Anthony Wong Chau Sang (born Anthony Perry), a Hong Kong actor (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, 2008) who is 1/2 English through his father and 1/2 Chinese through his mother.

    Isabella Leong Lok Sze (born Luisa Isabella Nolasco da Silva), a Hong Kong actress, is of Portuguese-English and Chinese Macanese heritage.

  2. I was quite surprised to find out that superman was part Japanese a while back. Do you think he changed his last name or "whitened it" to get excepted in hollywood because we all know of how Asian men are portyed in Hollywood.

    I mean Russell Wong and Keanu Reeves comes to mind, both eurasian but Keanu could and has passed for white but then again he has more white ancestry than asian.

  3. @ Aiyo: I think his name change was actually due to his mother remarrying someone with the surname Cain.

    But I dare say he wouldn't have had the same success if his name was Dean Tanaka. I doubt he would have got the role of Superman, who is meant to be the all-American good-guy, if he had a Japanese name.

    @ Sam: thanks for all that.

  4. @Eurasian Sensation

    "I doubt he would have got the role of Superman, who is meant to be the all-American good-guy, if he had a Japanese name."

    You're right but I don't think you worded it very well. Japanese is his race, not his nationality. As a result, a Japanese name can be just as "American" as an Anglo name.

  5. @ Commenter:

    You are right, but I think you miss the point. "Tanaka" is just as American a name as "Cain", but someone named Dean Tanaka would be less likely to get the iconic role of Superman than someone named Dean Cain.

  6. No, I got your point. It was a valid one. But again I just didn't think you worded it well.

    Part of gaining recognition for minorities is educating the public to understand that names like Tanaka and Chan are just as American as Smith and Jones. If people like yourself are going to fall into those mainstream language traps by saying those names are not American but Japanese or Chinese, then it doesn't help the cause.

    Not a major criticism, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from.

  7. ^ Meh. I never said it wasn't an American name anyway. Can't be bothered to split hairs any further.

  8. awww...never thought enrique's mother is a filipino :)