- Q&A session at StarTrek.com -


08.23.00

Garrett Wang
Answers Your Questions

Recently, STARTREK.COM users were asked to send in their questions for Garrett Wang, who plays Ensign Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager. In the future, other Star Trek stars and luminaries will also be answering your questions, so keep coming back for the chance to ask a question of your favorite Star Trek personality.



Question: If you could change anything about your character what would it be?
Paul, Illinois


Garrett Wang: His hair.

Q: Who is your favorite character from The Original Series and why?
Simon, UK


GW: Spock, because of his trademark raised eyebrow.

Q: Which other character would you most like to play if you werenít Harry Kim?
Robin V.


GW:
Seven of Nine.

Q:
Do you watch your shows after theyíre completed? Are you happy that you only have one more season left of Star Trek: Voyager?
David F.


GW:
I always watch the shows after theyíre completed. I have mixed feelings in regards to having one more season of Voyager. I am happy knowing that I will finally get to play a character other than Kim.

There is also sadness over the ending of a show that has been such a big influence on my development and maturity as a human being.

Q:
When was it that you, as an actor, clicked with acting and you realized that that was what you wanted to do and did you convince your parents about your career move?
Junko G.


GW:
I think I clicked with acting in my second acting class in college. Thatís when I realized that this is truly what I want to do. Iíve always been a person thatís entertained people, whether it be friends of my parents, theyíd come over to our house, and I would do impersonations and accents and whatnot, just to make them laugh. Iíve often told people that Iíd probably be happy being a lounge singer in Las Vegas, as long as Iím entertaining.

And did I convince my parents about my career move? It took a while. It took about five years for them to finally give in to my wishes in terms of a career. They were not supportive of me for five years and finally they gave in, and they still were definitely not into it, they werenít happy about my choice to be an actor, but about a year and a half after they gave in, so to speak, or at least gave in a little bit, I got on Voyager, so at that point they became very happy. And I realized they were more concerned with my succeeding than anything else and acting being such a difficult career to be successful in, that was the reason they werenít into my being an actor. But now theyíre fine with it. So itís all good.

Q:
Would you like the idea that Voyager never makes it home to Earth in the last and seventh season of the Voyager series, but instead does that in a possible future movie?
John W., Sweden


GW:
Thatís always been my belief that that would be the best deal for Voyager, is to just not let us come home, maybe have a cliffhanger, and finish up the whole series with a feature film, but of course thatís not up to me, thatís up to the producers and whatever designs they have on the finale.

Q:
Which scene of yours do you find the most memorable?
Ronda, Texas


GW: The most memorable scene for me would have to be from the episode "Timeless." The very last scene when Kim realizes what happened, when Kim is watching the message from himself fifteen years in the future to Kim present, from Future Kim to Present Kim. He realizes that he did something that caused everyone to perish basically, except for Chakotay. Luckily, fifteen years in the future he found a way to bring all his friends back.

Q:
I understand that you like electronic music. Who are some of your favorite electronic music artists or songs?
Paul R.


GW: I like Moby, I like Basement Jaxx, Chicane, I also like DJ Taylor, I like a lot of the sounds that come out of Ibiza. But mostly Trance and Hardhouse.

Q:
How would you define the relationship between Kim and a) Seven of Nine, b) Captain Janeway, c) Tom Paris and d) Neelix?
Kay


GW:
a) Seven of Nine Ė Hopeless. b) Captain Janeway - Auntie Kate, c) Tom Paris - Older brother that thinks he knows whatís up but needs a little guidance from the younger brother (laughter). d) Neelix - Friends.

Q:
I notice that a lot of actors on Voyager have musical talents, including you. How would you feel about doing Star Trek: Voyager: The Musical?
Holodarliní


GW: I think it would be a great idea. Kim has been established as being an expert at the clarinet, he played in the Youth Symphony when he was back on Earth. I have a clarinet coach; somebody who comes in here and makes sure Iím fingering the correct notes. Iím definitely a stickler for authenticity and I hate it when I watch something and someoneís playing an instrument and you can definitely tell that they are not playing the instrument. So every episode where you have seen Harry play the clarinet, I have always made sure that Iím fingering the correct notes to the music, although I do not play the clarinet on a regular basis, just for the show.

One of the episodes last year, they made mention of Harry dropping the clarinet and picking up the saxophone and this was my decision, or my request. I wanted something a little funkier than the clarinet so I went with the saxophone.

Q:
If another Star Trek series asked you to cross over, such as Michael Dorn (Worf) did for Deep Space Nine, would you consider it?
Deborah B.


GW: Well, if the next Star Trek series or the following one asked me to cross over, I probably would say no. I would definitely consider doing a guest-starring role, and maybe even a recurring role, as an alien or as Kim, but I would probably prefer doing it as a completely different character.

Q: Do you think there will ever be a movie with Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager casts, would you like to see that?
Deborah B.


GW:
There will be if thereís ever a writer who is smart enough to be able to incorporate all three. But itís highly improbable, that that will happen. But I would love to see that. I think it would be a fantastic film to have all three casts together and somehow maybe incorporate some of the old timers there too.

Q:
As a fellow Asian American I would like to know whether the fact youíre Asian American ever plays a role in how you view and play your character on Voyager. Do you find that it affects how you are viewed in general as an actor in Hollywood?
Amara S.


GW: Well, it doesnít really affect how I view or play my character on Voyager. One of my biggest concerns in the beginning, when I got the role of Harry Kim, was I did not want Kim to be an Asian first. I didnít want him to be singled out as "the Asian Guy on the show." I really wanted him to be the young Starfleet officer. And so I really told the producers in the beginning of the run of the series that I didnít want Kim to be in the mess hall ordering a bowl of chow mein, I didnít want him using chopsticks, you know.

And they listen to me, because during the second or third season I had to wear an outfit, which was bordering on very Asian looking, a very Asian influenced non-Starfleet uniform, an off-duty outfit. It was a remake of something that Patrick Stewart wore in Next Generation in his off-duty costume. And they actually called me up and said they wanted me to take a look at this, was I okay with this. I looked at it, I said yeah, I could wear that outfit. I donít think itís offensive in any way. So they have been very cognizant of my wishes when it comes to keeping this character a Starfleet officer first and foremost.

As far as being an Asian American actor in Hollywood, I think being an Asian American male actor in Hollywood is probably next to being a Middle Eastern male actor or Native American actor. Itís one of the most difficult ethnic groups to succeed in, in this business. Because mainly, because of the stereotypes that are involved.

Asian males have typically only been able to get roles (like) the enemy, be it the Viet Cong or the N Koreans or the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor. Itís either been the enemy orÖ say, Japanese auto makers, you know, the trade wars with Japan during the 80ís, or even Chinatown gangsters, I mean these are all negative, negative stereotypes out there.

The only other male characters that pop up arenít the enemy are really asexual, non-masculine, dorky computer nerd guys. Braniacs or brains. So you donít really have any fantastic roles to play. If you look at the history of television since TV has been a part of our society, thereís really only been about five or six roles that havenít been stereotypical, series regular and has lasted longer than one season.

The 1960ís, the entire decade of the 60ís the only person who had a chance to play a role that was non-stereotypical for more than one season was George Takei as Sulu. In the 70ís we had Detective Jack Soo in the comedy Barney Miller, in the 80ís we had the character that Robert Ito played on Quincy, the coroner, and Dustin Nguyenís character on 21 Jump Street. And finally rounding up the 90ís into the year 2000, we have Ensign Kim.

Now if you look at that and you talk about those roles, you have five gems; non-stereotypical roles for Asian American actors on television in the history of television and thatís horrible, thatís bad. And like I said, the only two ethnic groups that have it worse off are Native Americans and Middle Eastern men.

So yes, it definitely affects how Iím viewed in general as an actor in Hollywood. Hollywood seems to have a belief that Asians, they canít be funny, they canít be romantic, they canít be placed in any situations that normal human beings are always in. So Iím very fortunate to be part of Star Trek, which has given me the chance to be all those things that Asian American males have not been. A romantic lead, Iíve had romantic scenes, Iíve had action scenes, Iíve been able to play the good guy, I havenít been the bad guy, so it has definitely affected how Iíve been viewed as an actor in Hollywood, my ethnicity.

One of my goals as an actor has always been to change that, to change the perception of Asian Americans in this country. And I hope to use Voyager, Star Trek as a platform, a stepping stone to the next step of becoming as widely known as, say, Denzel Washington. And at that point, hopefully, views or stereotypes and prejudice and all the negative things that are thought or said about Asian Americans will hopefully dissipate at that point in time.

Q: When will Harry Kim get a promotion?
Tim G.


GW: God only knows! This is something that Garret Wang, as an actor, has always been askingÖ everybody in the office, the producers. I remember one day, it was very funny, I even went up to Kate Mulgrew and asked her the question, "When am I going to get promoted?" As if Kate really has anything to do with that.

Thatís how desperate it has become. Kim has remained an ensign for so long I think that he is going to be an ensign forever. I used to joke at some of the conventions Iíve gone to and somebody asks me this question, that they shoot an episode where Kim actually wakes up, heís sleepwalking, heís so distraught about not being promoted that in this time of sleepwalking, he sneaks into everybodyís quarters and he steals their rank pips from the uniforms and he comes into the bridge the next morning completely delirious, heís wearing his Starfleet uniform with 150 other pips, placed all over his uniform. He comes in a uniform made of pips and that is his message to crew that he needs to be promoted.

But on a serious note, I donít know, it would be nice to have a promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade at some time before the end of the show and if not, then maybe in the season finale, and if not, then maybe in the feature (film), if we ever do one. But right now, I think Iím going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest ensign in the galaxy.


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