When it comes to the representation of the Asian community in Hollywood, there’s a short list of names and faces who stand out from the crowd. While the world is very familiar with superstars like Jet Li and Jackie Chan, there are a number of Asian actors and actresses who do not yet share that global stardom, one of them being Ken Leung, who has been a Hollywood actor since 1995.
Ken Leung’s lack of global recognition certainly isn’t as a result of lack of film or TV appearances, having racked up over 45 movies and TV shows since he made his debut, including appearances in popular projects like Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Saw. Regardless, his career has been a success and we take a close look at the journey and his background below. Read on to learn more.
Contrary to what many might expect, Ken Leung was born in New York City and was equally raised in the city in its iconic parts like Manhattan and Brooklyn. Born Kenneth Leung on the 21st of January, 1970, his family eventually relocated to New Jersey where he completed his basic education.
Following the completion of his high school education, Ken Leung, who had fallen in love with acting as a child, enrolled in the New York University where he studied Acting. He also enrolled for training at the famous HB Studio.
Since he completed his training, Ken Leung has appeared in several movies and TV shows, and he has also expanded his body of work to the theatre, where he has a couple of stage appearances to his name, including one in Corpus Christi, Off-Broadway.
Movies and TV Shows
He started his career as a stage actor, working on a couple of Off-Broadway projects but he made his onscreen debut in 1995, in the film, Welcome to the Dollhouse, where he played the character of Barry. In the same year, he also appeared as an unnamed shopkeeper in Pictures of Baby Jane Doe.
In 1997, he appeared in his first TV show, in an episode of New York Undercover as David Kwan. Later in the year, he appeared in two more projects, Red Corner and in Kundun, in a voice role.
His first appearance in a major project came in the following year in the movie, Rush Hour, where he appeared as Sang. Before the ’90s were over, Ken Leung appeared in other movies like Man of the Century and Fly.
At the turn of the millennium, Ken Leung continued to appear in various movies and TV shows, and although they weren’t major roles, he has maintained a reputation as a talented supporting character. Over the course of the first decade of the new millennium, he starred in movies like Red Dragon, Face, Vanilla Sky, Home Sweet Hoboken and in shows like Law & Order, Whoopi, The Jury.
Towards the end of the first decade, he appeared in an episode of The Sopranos and also began to star as Miles Straume in Lost, where he appeared in 48 episodes over the course of two years. In the 2010s, Ken Leung has added movies and TV shows like Zero Hour, Person of Interest, The Night Shift, Deception, Inhumans, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, to his filmography.
Ken Leung’s Achievements
Being a volatile industry with a high turnover of talented actors, continued relevance in Hollywood over a period of two decades is an achievement. But, other than his appearances, Ken Leung has recorded personal recognition on his own, including awards from the Gold Derby TV and San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival for Lost and Shanghai Kiss respectively.
He has also been nominated by the Monte-Carlo TV Festival as an Outstanding Actor for his work on Lost. His work off-screen has also received recognition, i.e. in theatre through plays like Thoroughly Modern Millie, which received a Tony Award. Outside of awards, another recognizable achievement for Ken Leung is his net worth, which is $2 million, thanks to his career as an actor.
There is very little information available about the personal life of the actor, specifically his marital life. Although he is an active member of an industry that thrives on gossip, Ken Leung has been able to do a remarkable job of keeping his personal life away from the press and the only information we have of him is a comment he made to the media, declaring he is a married man.