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As a reader of this blog, you may know that HAWAII FIVE-O regular cast members Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are not returning to the new season, after 7 years and 168 episodes of the CBS crime procedural. They both left when they couldn’t come to an agreement over salary negotiations with CBS, and there were calls that of racial and gender disparity over salaries compared to their white male co-stars. 

This morning, Daniel Dae Kim released an official statement on his social media channels regarding his departure and although it isn’t as scintillating about the behind-the-scenes negotiations as many of us hoped it would be, it is indicative of how much of a classy guy he is. His full statement is listed below:

A MESSAGE TO MY FANS ABOUT HAWAII 5-0

Sorry for the delay in hearing from me, but like you I’m sure, my July 4th holiday was busy with friends and family. I’m back now and didn’t want to let any more time go by without reaching out. By now many of you have heard the news, and I’m sad to say it is true. I will not be returning to Hawaii Five-0 when production starts next week. Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue. 

As sad as it feels to say goodbye, what I feel most is gratitude. I am so deeply thankful to our crew, writers and everyone associated with the show – and especially the cast, who have been nothing but supportive through this entire process. They and the crew have been my second family for seven years and I wish them nothing but success for season 8 – and beyond.

I also want to say to thank you to Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and everyone at CBS. I will always be grateful for their faith in me to bring Chin Ho Kelly to life. 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.  

What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn’t be prouder to call these islands home. To my local community, mahalo nui loa.

Finally, I want to thank all of you, the fans.  I’ve read your messages and I can’t tell you how much they’ve meant to me.  I never, ever forget that YOU are the reason Hawaii Five-0 is the success that it is, and interacting with you online and in person around the world(!) has been one of the greatest joys of this entire experience. I’m so sorry we won’t be continuing this journey together. 

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. 5-0 continues on after one of its strongest seasons. I’ve got new acting projects on the horizon, and as a producer, my company, 3AD, has its first show, THE GOOD DOCTOR, set to air this fall on ABC. I hope you’ll tune in. There’s a lot to look forward to and I’ll be sure to share it with you. In the meantime, 

Aloha, thank you and Happy Independence Day!

-DDK

So there you have it, folks. It’s official and kind of sad, but I’m optimistic about Kim’s foray into actually producing content. I’m encouraged to see how he sets forth into his new career as a producer.

But now that the news has sunk in that most of the Asian American cast will no longer be on the show, I recall a conversation I had with Phil Yu, Angry Asian Man himself. When the show first started, we talked about how amazing it was to see a scene where Chin, Kono, and Charlie Fong (Brian Yang) were discussing about a case in Fong’s lab. It was a pretty mudance scene, but the point was it was only Asian American characters on TV on a national broadcast network viewed by approximately 10 million viewers at that moment. We were giddy to see that.

No matter what your feelings are of the show (I’m personally more attuned to something like TWIN PEAKS or TRUE DETECTIVE over CBS crime procedurals), I watched H50 just to see these characters on a weekly basis, being integral to the weekly crime solving plots and also a part of this crime fighting ohana. And to see scenes of Chin and Kono being front and center as main characters talking about their everyday lives, their desires and worries, or simply about surfing, was refreshing to see. The thought that these images were beamed to millions of households is still astonishing to me. It shows how far APA media representation has come but also how behind the curve we are, when Kim and Park’s departure becomes a socio-political event, because from a media and cultural perspective, APA representation is still tenuous in mainstream culture.

For a cookie-cutter CBS crime procedural, much like the network’s usual fare of countless CSI, NCIS and CRIMINAL MIND shows, H50 was revolutionary in paving the way for Asian Pacific American actors.

With Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Brian Yang and Masi Oka all gone from the show, it’s a wait-and-see on who the H50 producers are going to cast for the upcoming 8th season. Will they accurately portray the multi-ethnic background of Hawaii’s culture and population or will they fall in line with precedent of APA invisibility? I guess we will see.

Your move, CBS.

Here’s Kim’s original post from his Facebook fan page this morning:

4 Comments

  1. I hope they’ll cast more Native Hawaiians.

  2. What did you expect? People of color WILL NOT achieve parity in America until they produce and OWN their own content.

  3. “The producers have a right to choose actors they think are more talented and beautiful. It’s just their preference! It has nothing to do with racism.” -Auntie Chew

  4. As much air time H5O displayed more Asian faces, most of the time Daniel and Grace had to play 2nd fiddle support to the 2 white male leads. Not to mention the low pay compared to the leads.