George Takei: Leading Man

IntroductionJulia Shu:

Whether through his role on Star Trek or his millions of followers on social media, many people recognize George Takei for both his humor and his deep voice. Not as known are the injustices from his past and the barriers he had to break through. Takei spent his youth in Japanese internment camps. In 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, an order that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans across the western states in camps that confined them inside barbed wires just because of their race. When his family answered "no" to the Loyalty Questionnaire, they were sent to a harsher prison, the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

Years later, Takei pursued acting, a career often limited for Asian Americans because of their confined stereotypical roles as nerds or villains. His role in Star Trek as "the best driver in the galaxy" became a role that broke through these boundaries.

Using his acting fame and social media as a powerful outlet, Takei has been at the forefront of LGBT issues and speaking out against the injustices of Japanese American internment. His advocacy for same-sex marriage, his advocacy for positive roles for Asian Americans in acting, and his enlightening of fans on internment through his play Allegiance, have all shed light to these civil rights issues.

The "George Takei" story is one that not only celebrates Takei's accomplishes as an inspiring and leading man, but also one that encourages others to break traditional boundaries and accept their own identity. As Takei himself has said, "it's Ok to be Takei."