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Actor to headline 'Respecting Differences' program

March 24, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Issues related to Asian stereotypes in Hollywood, Asian-American parental pressure and the "model-minority myth" will be addressed during Kalamazoo's 11th annual "Respecting Differences" program Tuesday and Wednesday, March 31-April 1.

This year's program is a lecture titled "Exclusion to Inclusion" and features BD Wong, who is known to millions of TV viewers as Dr. George Huang, the forensic psychiatrist on NBC's "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." The lessons Wong has learned in order to survive and excel in a vocation filled with racism and rejection give him a keen perspective on diversity.

His talk is free and open to the public and will be presented twice: from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, and 9:30 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 1. Both presentations will include on-stage American Sign Language translators and be held in Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo. Parking is available behind Chenery.

As a prominent Asian American citizen, Wong makes regular speaking appearances in an effort to help conquer some of his community's unique challenges.

He made his Broadway debut in "M. Butterfly" in 1988. His performance as an alluring yet manipulative transvestite Chinese opera star earned him a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Theater World Award and Clarence Derwent Award. No other Broadway actor has won all five of these awards for a single role in one play.

A San Francisco native, Wong gained critical acclaim as well as a cult following for his portrayal of Father Ray Mikado from 1997 to 2003 on the controversial HBO TV series "Oz." He joined the cast of "Law and Order" in 2001.

Wong's presentation is part of the "Respecting Differences" lecture series, a communitywide collaboration to heighten awareness of diversity issues in the workplace. The series is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Human Resources Management Association along with the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Kalamazoo County, and Western Michigan University.

As in past years, the "Respecting Differences" event will not only draw attention to diversity issues, but also focus some of that attention on a local organization that is related to the interests or identity of the featured speaker.

The Kalamazoo Wraps project is this year's highlighted organization. The project assists youth and families by "wrapping" case workers, schools, translators and other providers around a family so all members get the support they need.

For more information about the 2009 Respecting Differences lecture, call Marte Cole with the city of Kalamazoo at (269) 337-8478 or WMU's Felicia Crawford at (269) 387-3635.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400