BD Wong is a celebrated actor and activist with over three decades of excellence on stage, on television, and in film. His experiences as an openly gay Asian-American actor in Hollywood have shaped his career and inform his ongoing advocacy work. Having faced rejection, typecasting, racism, and homophobia in his journeys through the entertainment industry, he has a sharp perspective on the importance and necessity of diversity and representation in the media and beyond. In his heartfelt, inspirational, and often amusing talks, he addresses issues like racial self-image, the “model minority myth,” moving beyond preconceptions and seeing everyone’s full humanity, the beauty and challenges of owning multiple identities, and the importance of passing the torch of all of the above to younger people.
BD made his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly in the leading role which earned him a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and Theater World Award. To this day, he is the only actor to win all five major New York theater awards for a single role. In addition to performances on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theatre, BD is also known for his roles in popular TV shows including Law & Order: SVU, Mr. Robot, Oz, and most recently, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens. Some of his most immediately recognizable work on the silver screen includes four films of the Jurassic Park franchise, Mulan, and Netflix’s Bird Box.
Following much success as an actor, BD is making a name for himself as a theater director. His directorial debut was The Yellow Wood at the 4th annual New York Musical Theatre Festival. In 2022, he co-authored and World Premiered the stage adaptation of the Oscar-nominated film Mr. Holland’s Opus at Ogunquit Playhouse and is currently directing Yes, I Can Say That!, starring actor-writer and stand-up comic Judy Gold at Primary Stages in New York City.
BD often speaks to the importance of mentorship and intergenerational collaboration in every stage of his life and career. Without the stewardship of his high school drama teacher who told him, “You must not waste this potential,” BD would not have so effectively connected to his calling. Mrs. Chanes steered his love for performing from a casual hobby into a legitimate career choice, and other mentors along the way helped develop him into the star he is today. As a veteran performer who has achieved great success, he sees mentoring future generations as a sworn duty. Originally involved as a guest teaching artist, he currently serves on the board of Rosie’s Theater Kids, an arts education organization providing free performing arts instruction, life skills development, and tutoring to underserved students in New York City’s public schools.
His support for and pride in being a member of the Asian-American and LGBTQ+ communities extend beyond fighting for respectful and nuanced representation in Hollywood. He used his celebrity to elevate the Stop Asian Hate movement, appearing in national PSAs and social media campaigns. He is an advocate for The Trevor Project and its “It Gets Better” campaign and has also received community service awards from GLAAD, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Empire State Pride Agenda, Marriage Equality NY, the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, among many others.
An Evening with BD Wong: From M. Butterfly to Jurassic World
Behind the glitz and glamour of a career in the entertainment industry is a labyrinth of uncertainty, racism, homophobia and ignorance/inexperience that benefits greatly from the kind of communication and dialogue BD instigates. When you step off the beaten path, away from “conventional" careers, you assume certain risks. Passion and talent aren’t enough to take you to the top; and your dream job will still be a job. In this talk, award-winning actor BD Wong takes audiences through his adventurous life and career, highlighting the lessons he’s learned every step of the way. You’ll hear how he went from enthusiastic hobbyist to Tony Award winner, his insights on the importance of mentorship, and why this career pursuit must be taken as seriously as any other.
All the World's a Stage: From Exclusion to Inclusion
When a young BD Wong first discovered his love of performing, the world was his oyster — roles of all kinds were his for the taking. Stepping into the entertainment space as a professional, however, he learned that the horizon was woefully limited. Few roles were available to him: always the supporting character, never the leading man, presented with numerous opportunities to perpetuate a stereotype. Through these attempts to pigeonhole him, he unearthed the stark difference between the way the world views him and his own self-image — a reductionist snapshot stuffed into a constricting mold as opposed to a multifaceted human being. In a talk that is equal parts poignant and humorous, BD walks you through how he created a space for himself and opened doors for others while offering reflections on the work that is yet to be done. Audiences will walk away with a deeper appreciation for the nuances of being human and a clearer understanding of what it means to be truly open-minded and move beyond prejudice, as well as the power and essential role that media representation plays in our daily lives and the lives of our children.