Daniel Dae Kim just raised $55,000 for James Hong’s Hollywood star. Now it gets harder
It took Daniel Dae Kim only four days to raise enough money to put veteran performer James Hong’s name on the celestial sidewalks of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. But getting the star itself is going to take a lot longer.
“We don’t take petitions,” said Ana Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which administers and maintains the stars. “We take applications.”
Kim’s effort, if successful, would immortalize Hong’s name among the Hollywood greats who have already received stars, including fellow actors of Asian descent such as Anna May Wong, Mako, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu.
Inspired by a recent CNN profile of the 91-year-old Chinese American actor, “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0” alumnus Kim launched an online fundraiser to honor Hong’s prolific seven-decade career and his pioneering moves for Asians in the entertainment industry.
He offered anyone “generous enough to donate $5,000 or more” a 30-minute group Zoom call with him and actors Ken Jeong, Ming Na Wen and Randall Park as a thank-you.
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“Let’s show this man the respect and love his career has merited by getting him a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! ... If you’re reading this you probably agree that James deserves to be among them,” Kim wrote on GoFundMe.
“This man epitomizes the term ‘working actor,’ and that’s not even taking into account all he’s done to help further representation for actors of color,” he continued, adding later, “It’s time James Hong was honored in the way he deserves, and it’s time to show him how much he — and all the actors of color of earlier generations — have done to pave the way for us today.”
Hong’s lengthy résumé includes memorable roles in “Chinatown,” “Blade Runner,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Wayne’s World 2” and “Seinfeld” as well as voice roles in “Kung Fu Panda,” “Mulan” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” He has worked toward better representation and inclusivity and cocreated the East West Players theater company with fellow trailblazers Mako and Nobu McCarthy to further serve the Asian American community.
Kim’s fundraiser was created Aug. 5 and swiftly surpassed its goal with support from nearly all 50 states, a rep for GoFundMe said Monday. More than 1,700 donors raised $55,307 in four days, prompting the fundraiser to shut down on Sunday.
Of that total, $50,000 is for creation and installation of the pink-and-gold star, plus general maintenance of the Walk of Fame. The rest will cover estimated GoFundMe service charges.
“Though we’ve now got the money for the fees, keep tweeting your support & I’ll submit them as supporting materials for his application,” Kim tweeted Sunday. “We will make this happen together! #StarForJamesHong”
Having the money in hand doesn’t mean a star is automatically granted. But Kim, whose representative did not respond immediately to The Times’ request for comment Monday, appears to understand how competitive it is to get onto the Walk of Fame. The plan is to submit an application in April 2021 for the class of 2022.
“Though we’re confident we’ll be successful in 2021, in the unlikely event we aren’t the first time around, we will redouble our efforts the following year,” the actor wrote on GoFundMe. “And if for some unimaginable reason his nomination is not accepted either year, we will donate all proceeds to a charity in James’ honor.”
He asked donors for permission to hold the money for up to two years.
So Kim — or his team — still has to apply to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. He also has to get Hong’s permission in writing verifying that he’s interested in the nomination. Hong’s reps didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The process begins when the application is submitted. A selection panel meets annually in June to vote on the following year’s class of recipients. The chamber gets an average of 200 to 300 applications annually and usually about 24 people are selected for recognition. An application is valid for two years.
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The 2021 class has already been selected, meaning the earliest Hong could get a star — if an application is submitted in time and he’s selected — is 2022, the chamber’s Martinez said.
“We’re happy to consider him. He’s very deserving, but there’s a lot of competition,” she said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, five of this year’s star-studded sidewalk ceremonies have been postponed. The last star to be immortalized on the streets of Hollywood was NPR “founding mother” Susan Stamberg, who was honored by actress Annette Bening on March 3.
Though studios, networks, record labels and other companies usually front the cash for a star’s placement, Kim’s fan-sourced campaign for Hong isn’t unique. For example, fans of actress-singer Liza Minnelli held movie nights and sold baked goods to raise money for her star. Likewise, “Quantum Leap” actor and environmentalist Dean Stockwell got his star funded in part by his fans running a paper-recycling program.
“The Walk of Fame began in 1960 and since day one we’ve been very inclusive,” Martinez said. “Wong got her star early on in the 1,558 stars placed when it first began, along with many Latino [and] African American stars.”
“We’re equal-opportunity star givers,” she added.
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