Eddy Lee is set to be the first Asian American featured in the renowned Broadway musical “Hamilton” as he tackles cultural diversity in films and challenges the ethnic group faces in the entertainment industry.
It’s no exaggeration that Lee worked tirelessly to reach stardom, but he can now impart knowledge on the struggles that Asian Americans face in a white-dominated market as well as his recipe for success to aspiring performers.
While becoming the first Asian in “Hamilton” is an impressive feat in itself, Lee admitted that he never expected it, saying, “I never thought I’d be the first in anything!”
In an interview with HuffPost, Lee revealed the significance of the growing number of Asian Americans in pop culture.
Lee believes that the reason behind the lack of cultural diversity in films is due to producers who are worried that “diversity won’t sell.” However, the Asian American dancer believes tha “Hamilton” continues to disprove that notion with its “unconventional casting.”
Man…. I still can’t believe that happened yesterday!! I got to perform on a Broadway stage for the first time and my mom and sister were there to see it!!! And it was freaking Hamilton!! A show I’ve wanted to be a part of since I first heard murmurings of it! I never could have dreamed that something like this could happen in my life, but I’m so thankful to everyone who supported me and helped push me to get it this point. Thank you everyone for the love and support that was flooding my feed yesterday! Haha. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me as I was getting ready. And a million TRILLION Thank you’s to my cast and crew both on stage and off!!! The love and energy you gave me helped me to survive and thrive! Couldn’t have done it without all of you!!!! There’s so many feelings I have that I can’t put it into words. All that comes to mind is…I Love You All!! I hope you guys will be able to join me someday in the room where it happens! (I’m sorry I had to throw a Hamilton line in there somewhere! Haha) ❤️❤️❤️ #Hamilton #Broadwaydebut #love #familyandfriends #swing #Hamiltonpuns #Thatroomtho
Lee hopes that there would be more shows that will follow the footsteps of “Hamilton” in showcasing diversity to an even wider audience, explaining that there’s still a “lack of any representation” of Asian Americans being portrayed as Americans in Western stories.
Ok just one more sappy post about this and then I’m Done! I promise! Haha. But this affected me so much I just have to share it. So… there is always that talk about representation in theatre and the entertainment industry and having role models that look like you. And I know it’s extremely important, but maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up thinking I would be a part of this industry that it never affected me as much? I watched what I liked and was inspired by the characters and the story. The look of characters never mattered to me personally. A ton of my friends echo’d the previous sentiment. That it was huge that I booked this show. That it was opening more doors, and I did and didn’t believe it at the same time. But after the show I brought my family and friends on the stage and noticed the boy in this picture looking over at me. I waved to him and his mom and she told him “Go on ask him” he then came over and asked if I could take a picture with him and sign his playbill (Of course I said yes! How could you say no to that face and that full on outfit!). As I was signing his playbill his mom told me “He was so excited when he saw you in the playbill. He said ‘Look mom, there’s an Asian in the cast! That means I can be in this show!'” When I heard that, it took my breath away… That talk of representation, having role models that look like you, or feel like you, or have the same orientation as you, or everything and any combination you can think of became truly real to me in that moment. I’ve never thought of myself as being inspirational or a role model. I just do what I love and try to be good to the people around me. But, it definitely lifted my heart and soul to hear that even if it’s only one, I was able to bring excitement and inspiration to the next generation! Here’s to you Leo! (And of course your mom Mindy!) Thank you for inspiring me and may our paths cross again in the future!! Maybe even on the same stage! Thank you Lin and everyone a part of Hamilton for creating this platform that inspires so many!! I am so fortunate to be a part of this family! ❤️ #Hamilton #inspiration #mademyheartmelt #thenextgeneration #thatwouldbeenough
Lee described Asians as “being clumped together in this huge umbrella” but in reality, Asians are so diverse in culture that it isn’t right to fit every sub-category into just one group. As for Lee’s tips for success to aspiring Asian American performers, he advised them to “trust in yourself” regardless of how cliché it might sound.
“I think we rule ourselves out before we’ve even given casting the chance to do so,” Lee added. Given the rising number of Asian Americans appearing in pop culture, from a new TV series to theatrical renditions of a Disney classic, it seems that now truly is their time to shine.
Featured Image via Instagram / edru00