Brian Tee’s Ethan Choi has been a core part of NBC’s Chicago Med since the popular television drama series hit the airwaves in 2015. However, the actor has been a part of the Hollywood scene for many years prior to landing his role on the hit One Chicago franchise installment.
Over the years, Tee has had some memorable roles. Some of these include a run on the popular Fast and Furious franchise; Grey’s Anatomy; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Jurassic World, among others.
However, landing such roles in such prolific films and shows hasn’t always been easy for the actor. In fact, he faced challenges early in his career that led him to make a big decision; changing his stage name from Brian Takada to Brian Tee.
Before Chicago Med Brian Tee Went By Another Name As An Actor
Brian Tee was born Jae-bum Takata to a first-generation South Korean mother and a Japanese-American father. When the actor first entered the acting industry he decided to alter his name just a bit. It was at this point Tee decided to use the name Brian Takada. However, there was one early audition that made the Chicago Med actor question keeping his original Japanese last name. Changing it again, this time to one he says is more “unambiguously identified.”
The One Chicago star stepped in to audition for a student film headed by a Korean director. However, despite being half-Korean, Tee wasn’t able to try out for the role. All because of his Japanese-based surname.
“And from that on, I felt like my name was almost a detriment,” Brian Tee explains in a discussion with Today.
“To not allow me to play certain roles,” the actor adds. “Or certain parts because people so much tried to put me inside a particular box.” Tee adds that his original stage name identified him with “a particular sector.”
“Not only because of the way I looked in the industry, or what I was supposed to play,” Tee explains. “But then on top of that my name identified me with a particular sector of being Japanese.”
A Multicultural Environment Leads Tee To Being ‘Very Open’ With All Cultures
Brian Tee notes that despite his initial issues landing roles in the acting industry, his upbringing afforded him the ability to identify with a wide range of cultures. Of course, Tee’s home life was a fusion of his mother’s Korean culture and his father’s Japanese ancestry.
“It just allowed me to be very open and broad with all cultures,” Tee explains of his multicultural upbringing.
“And all environments,” the Chicago Med star adds.
“But I was never really ‘othered’ for my race,” the actor adds of the rest of his career leading up to Med. “I never felt ‘othered’ for the way that I looked.”