Daniel Dae Kim’s and Grace Park’s exits illustrate why relegating minorities to supporting roles just isn’t helping
Even if you’re not a regular “Hawaii Five-0” viewer, last week’s reported departures of series regulars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park might have come as a shock. Kim and Park were part the CBS thriller’s core cast, and they’ve been with the show since its first season, occupying third and fourth billing behind Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, who play updated versions of Steve McGarrett and Daniel “Danno” Williams.
Kim and Park also portrayed characters that originated in the 1968 series, Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua respectively. But according to a Variety report, when lengthy negotiations with CBS Television Studios did not result in salary parity with O’Loughlin and Caan, Kim and Park decided it was time to leave the island.
“As sad as it feels to say goodbye, what I feel most is gratitude,” Kim wrote a heartfelt letter confirming the news, which posted on his Facebook fan page early Wednesday morning. “I am so deeply thankful to our crew, writers and everyone associated with the show – and especially the cast, who have been nothing but supportive through this entire process.”
Near the end of the note, Kim tacitly acknowledged that he did not arrive at his decision without some dispute. “I’ll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture,” he said. “The path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future.”
Any time a core member of a long-running series departs it’s bound to make headlines. The combined exit of Kim and Park prior to the eighth season of “Hawaii Five-0″ effectively decreases a small action ensemble to just two main players. Other series would be crippled by a similar egress.
Potentially of greater significance, however, is what the departure of two well-known Asian actors signals about CBS itself, especially considering that this story broke nearly 11 months after an L.A. Times report criticized CBS for having what was, at that time, the whitest fall schedule on broadcast.