EXCLUSIVE: The Star Trek icon Mr. Sulu and the real-life social activist who played him will mark the eve of the cut-off date for Tony eligibility by saluting Broadway’s most diverse season ever. George Takei adds, in this year of #OscarsSoWhite, a Bronx cheer to Hollywood in general and the treatment of Asian Americans at February’s Academy Awards show in particular.
Here, exclusively, is Takei’s post on his widely read and disseminated (and sometimes ghost-written) Facebook page. He tells Deadline it will go up at 7 AM Pacific time on a page that boasts nearly 10 million “Likes.” The post offers a reflection on his Broadway debut earlier this season as the co-star of Allegiance, a musical based on his family’s experience as Japanese-Americans forcibly relocated to internment camps when the U.S entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Takei also gives voice, shared by many Asian-Americans in the business, to the lingering anger over the Oscar broadcast that relegated them to punchlines and excluded them from a larger conversation about the explosive issue of diversity in Hollywood:
I am writing to give thanks to the Broadway community — for not being Hollywood. In a year when the movie industry celebrated only white actors for awards, then used gross stereotypes of Asians during the broadcast to gain cheap laughs, Broadway celebrated its most diverse year ever.
We told important, often untold stories from a myriad new storytellers. I am grateful that shows like Hamilton, On Your Feet!, The Color Purple, Shuffle Along and Allegiance brought not only underrepresented voices to the stage, but critical employment opportunities for minority actors as well as many new communities and audiences to New York theaters.
On a personal note, I am especially thankful I have had the opportunity, at the age of 78, to fulfill a lifelong dream to tell the story of the Japanese American internment. Our Broadway production was able to reach 120,000 audience members, the same number as those who were unjustly imprisoned out of base fear and prejudice. Each of those audience members are now part of our story. They will help ensure that we never forget the difficult lessons of the past. Indeed, our show could not have had more contemporary resonance, as certain politicians once again stoke public fears, and call for profiling and surveillance of whole groups of innocent people.
Because of the incredible support of the Broadway community, Allegiance and its important story were able to delight, entertain and inform thousands. We now look forward to bringing it to more audiences across the country and around the world. It is our hope that this story and its message will not be forgotten and that, thanks to Broadway, Allegiance indeed will live long, and prosper.
From the depth of my heart to all of the incredible Broadway community, thank you.
Allegiance opened at the Longacre Theatre on November 8, 2015, after 37 previews, and closed February 14, 2016 after 111 performances. Nominees for the Tony Awards will be announced May 3.