James Hong brought host Katie Phang to tears during his appearance as a guest on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show” on Sunday.
The two discussed the Oscars, with Hong describing it as “probably the biggest affair I’ve ever been to,” with a line to the entrance stretching across five blocks.
Hong then went on to talk about his early experience as one of the few Chinese Americans living in downtown Minneapolis, and how doing impressions and training himself in front of his mirror gave him a leg up when he finally moved to Hollywood.
“We did not represent the important people in the walk of life in America,” said Hong. “We were never real people. We didn’t really have any real feelings.”
Helping to form the East West Players, an Asian American theater organization in Los Angeles, in 1965 would boost opportunities for Hong and fellow Asian American actors: “We showed the so-called Hollywood producers what we were capable of — that we were really actors!”
Phang concluded the interview by mentioning Hong’s three daughters and eight grandchildren, saying that they must be “really proud” of him. She continued by sharing that she lost her father almost four years ago and thanked Hong for all the things he has done and continues to do for the Asian community.
After Hong asked if Phang’s father had seen her as “the only Asian with her own name on the program,” Phang began to get visibly emotional.
“I’m actually getting choked up because you’re asking me,” she said. “No, he passed away from Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia on Father’s Day of 2019, so he never got to see me do this. But I know he was proud of me, he was very proud of me.”
Hong responded that Phang’s father would be proud of her, saying, “I’m sure your father, and I being a father, we would be very proud of our children stepping forward, carrying our name forward.”
Phang, who started at MSNBC and NBC News as a legal analyst in 2017, became a part of MSNBC’s weekend lineup with the launch of her show in April of last year. She is also a trial attorney and media relations and crisis management consultant, founding partner of Phang & Feldman and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law.