Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park Will Leave Hawaii Five-0 After CBS Refused to Pay Them As Much As Their White Co-Stars

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Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park will both depart Hawaii Five-0 before its eighth season – and according to Variety, it’s due to a pay dispute. Both Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly, and Park, who plays Kono Kalakaua, have been with the show since it premiered in 2010.

Variety‘s sources said that “Park and Kim had been seeking pay equality with stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan” – who are both white men – “but were unable to reach satisfactory deals with CBS Television Studios.” CBS reportedly offered Kim and Park 10-15% less than what O’Loughlin and Caan make in the final round of negotiations; it’s unclear how high the pay discrepancy was before that.

This sounds all-too-familiar in the world of television, where actors of color are often paid less or summarily replaced. (However, it’s worth noting that neither Park nor Kim has commented yet, so Variety‘s sources are the only ones telling us it’s a pay dispute. The cause for the departure may turn out to be something different later on.)

Still, should the rumors prove true, this would be yet another unsurprising example of network TV’s deep-seated racism. Now, salary disputes are admittedly relative: most actors are paid far more than the average person, and so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them. But when even people of color in coveted, well-paying jobs can’t get fair treatment as compared to their white coworkers, it says a lot about the depth of discrimination in our world.

Network executives rarely believe actors of color are worth the hassle of a salary negotiation, and they rarely recognize when a character of color is a beloved, essential part of a series. (Hello, Sleepy Hollow.) When both the characters and the actors are treated like they’re dispensable and interchangeable, we end up with situations like this. Asian and Asian-American actors in particular face issues with visibility, and so it’s depressing to see CBS let these two leads leave the show rather than cough up the 10-15% for a salary bump.

I don’t personally watch Hawaii Five-0, but I can’t imagine fans will be happy with this departure. This is never the way you want to see actors leave a show.

(Via Variety; image via CBS)

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