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Get the scoop on the upcoming television show "Hold the Rice." Finally, a sitcom about an Asian American family that stars an Asian with blonde hair.
Name an Asian American actor who plays the lead character on a current television show. No? You're right. Not even Lucy Liu or Ming-Na played lead characters in hit sitcoms Ally McBeal and E.R.
While there are 11.9 million Asian Americans in the United States, with the fastest growing population group and the largest median income per year (2000 US Census Bureau), there are still 0 Asian American lead roles on television. You might recall one Asian American on an award winning show, and another Asian American girl who plays that one doctor that everyone likes, but Asian Americans are not exactly misrepresented on television but underrepresented.
However, Hollywood might have found an answer to the problem. Mix a bright smile, spunk, intelligence, and peroxide infused hair as the next biggest thing - an Asian Blonde named Cece Tsou. Look out world because she’s coming to a television station near you, with her drama-comedic sitcom Hold the Rice.
Premiering at festivals in 2003 and based on Tsou’s one-woman comedy show, Hold the Rice tells the story of a Chinese-American, punk-rock, female mechanic, Tess Green, on her journey towards discovering her identity as an Asian American woman. After Tess discovers that she is the lovechild of her mother’s affair with a Chinese restaurant owner, her world is shaken and her identity in shambles. Upon her father's death, the Green Family is included in the man's will, and Tess inherits his famous Chinese Restaurant, which she knows nothing about. While some might parallel this attempt at Asian American Television to Margaret Cho's short-lived comedy sitcom, All-American Girl, the difference lies in the way that Rice presents multiple angles on Asian American life. This show is not merely a comedy that uses Asian American culture as a one-dimensional onset of ethnic comedy, but an Asian American show that utilizes laughter and drama to represent its complexity. Tsou’s brainchild, Hold the Rice, combines laughter and tears to capture the way love, family, and ethnicity are constantly at odds with each other but all an integral part of our spirit.
Amazingly, Tsou is more than the writer, director, actor, producer and creator of Hold the Rice. She’s no stranger to show business, with a list of credits to her name like films such as Speed and Thirteen, as well as the television shows Strong Medicine and Diagnosis Murder. In addition to acting for fifteen years, Tsou also is an accomplished improve-comedienne, novel writer and the mother of an adorable baby boy, Zane, who she proudly posts on her "Diary of a Blonde" website.
With nothing to hide, Tsou also brings her own personal experiences of growing up in conflict of balancing both the Asian and American aspects of her identity. On the Hold the Rice website Tsou remarks, “Every time I dodged a stereotype, I actually felt like I was letting people down. I was supposed to be a bad driver. I was supposed to have the right answers to a test. I was supposed to be able to know the answer to 342 times 31 without a calculator.” A few bottles of bleach later and a full head of plantinum blonde hair, she finds that blondes may possibly have more fun after all. No longer is she offered the stereotypical Asian American acting roles like “doctor, newscaster and secretary” but now, she takes prides in her ability to play anything from nerdy Latino teacher to neurotic drug addict.
Tsou's Rice takes the typical media portrayal of an Asian American’s identity struggle with extra spice added to this familiar theme. The most remarkable feature is Tsou’s gift for creating an Asian heroine who is serious and hard-working, but still hip and rebellious. Audiences will fall in love with Tess’ sparkling, free spirit and relate to her vulnerability as the average person. The depth and complexity of Tess presents a dimension to Asian Americans in contrast to the stereotypical roles that Tsou had become accustomed to auditioning for. When is the last time the main character could change a car transmission and serve up a side of fried rice all in a day’s work? The complexity of character Tess Green is inspiring as a woman, an Asian American, and a human being.
Complimented with an equally impressive cast of characters, the show is complete with an ignorantly racist, country singing, Caucasian sister and a restaurant cook who speaks words of wisdom in the form of folk songs. In the pilot, Tess turns to the old man with questions about why she was given the restaurant. Solemnly, he answers with the Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and hilarity ensues. With it's unique offering to today's television, the success of this show will undoubtedly bring opportunities to other Asian Americans with acting aspirations. It’s about time we see a little more yellow on the small screen.
Hold the Rice serves up a steaming bowl of delicious sitcom goodness to the world of television that is long overdue. So, take a bite and see what the buzz is all about!
For more all information about Hold the Rice and to view the pilot, visit: www.HoldtheRice.com
To learn more about Cece Tsou and her other upcoming projects, please visit: www.DiaryofaBlonde.com
Date Posted: 4/9/2004