Fil-Am Hollywood actor, Reggie Lee, is EWP’s Visionary Awardee for 2014
Los Angeles –Fil-Am actor Reggie Lee has quite the Hollywood résumé, having played William Kim on the TV show “Prison Break” and Sgt. Wu on “Grimm,” as well as Tai Huang in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” police officer Ross in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and Lance Nguyen in “The Fast and the Furious.”
Born Reggie Valdez to Zenaida Telmo and Jesus Espiritu Valdez in Quezon City, the 40-year-old actor was recently honored by the East West Players (EWP), the nation’s largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work and the longest-running professional theatre of color in the U.S.
He received the highest accolade, the Visionary Award, which honors individuals, groups and organizations who raise the visibility of the Asian Pacific American community through their respective craft.
Unlike some of his peers that have allowed fame and wealth to get into their heads, Reggie has remained grounded, friendly and positive. So when this charming film and TV actor graced EWP’s 48th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner and Silent Auction at the Hilton Universal Hotel in Universal City, his colleagues – most of the cast and crew of “Grimm” – came in full force to show their support.
Receiving his award from his “Grimm” colleagues David Giuntoli (who portrays Detective Nick Burkhardt) and Bitsie Tulloch (Juliette Silverton), Reggie became emotional during his acceptance speech.
He said, “When I moved to LA from Cleveland, Ohio, the EWP gave me a home. They gave me a sandbox to play in and I was able to work with some great people like Tim Dang (producing artistic director of EWP), David Henry Hwang (who wrote the Obie Award-winning ‘FOB’ play where Reggie received a Dramalogue Critics Award for his performance), among others. I got to play roles (that) I don’t usually get to play because I am Asian. At EWP, I was able to express my humanness first without regards to race and color.”
He continued, “In ‘Grimm,’ there is the same parallel because… all cultures are highlighted in the show. In fact, for the first time in national television, we had an episode (‘Mommy Dearest,’ 14th episode of Season 3) where the Filipino culture was highlighted with Filipino actors speaking Tagalog.”
The said episode featured the Philippine aswang. Reggie worked closely with its writer, Brenna Kouf, who was seated at our table during the EWP event.
Reggie ended his speech by saying, “It’s good to be home.”
Aside from his parents, his manager Adam Griffin, David and Bitsie, the other “Grimm” cast members that came were Claire Coffee (portrays Adalind Schade), Bree Turner (Rosalee Calvert), Silas Weir Mitchell (Monroe) and Russell Hornsby (Hank Griffin).
After the event, Reggie told us, “Accepting the Visionary Award was not what I expected. It became quite an emotional speech for me due, in most part, to the fact that my entire ‘Grimm’ family came in support. It really accentuated my journey starting at East West Players in 1997 and being on a pretty successful television show now. All the struggles and the work became really clear to me when I was up there accepting the award.
“I think EWP does such important work to move the visibility of Asian American actors along through inclusion; that it was nice to not only be recognized by them but to be able to give back to them in some way. They’ve been my ‘home’ theater since I got to Los Angeles and they deserve all the support they can get!”
Other celebrities present were Daniel Dae Kim (“Hawaii Five-O”), Ming Na (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”), Fil-Am actor Dante Basco (“Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “The Debut,” “Hook”), Takayo Fischer (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Pursuit of Happyness”), Jerrika Hinton (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Tim Jo (“The Neighbors”), Oscar Award-winner Chris Tashima (“Visas and Virtue”), Manu Narayan (“Bombay Dreams” on Broadway), Clyde Kusatsu (“Star Trek: Next Generation”) and KK Dodds (“Prison Break”).
Hosted by Parvesh Cheena (“Outsourced,” “Barbershop”), the event also showcased some great performances from former “Miss Saigon” Joan Almedilla and Clifton Hall doing “Just Give Me A Reason,” Deedee Magno Hall performing “Brave,” Nicole Santiago-Barredo doing the popular Robert Lopez-Kristen Anderson Lopez-penned “Frozen” song “Let It Go,” and Shay Louise capping the evening with “Roar.” (Photos by Ruben V. Nepales)