Some of the most famous and inspiring Asian men in this world also happen to have non-Asian wives (women like me). Even though they’re not all Chinese, they’re worthy of a shout-out. Here are my five favorites, in alphabetical order (by family name):
Who says a Nobel-prize-winning Chinese-American physicist can’t rise in the world of politics? Steven Chu’s prominent role as US Secretary of Energy — as well as his vocal advocacy for renewable energy — defies the usual stereotypes about Asians in the sciences, especially someone with his accolades. He’s married to Jean Fetter, a British-American and Oxford-trained physicist.
Time named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945, with haunting works such as The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. He stunned the world by capturing the English world so perfectly in The Remains of the Day, which some considered impossible for a
British-born Japanese man Japanese-born British man. It’s no wonder then that he once said, ”Publicity for me has to a large extent been fighting the urge to be stereotyped by people.” And fight he did, with great success. He married Lorna MacDougall in 1986.
Li Cunxin made his mark on the ballet stage, winning silver and bronze medals at three international ballet competitions — and shattering stereotypes that Chinese (or Asians, for that matter) can’t dance well. He also moved us with his story Mao’s Last Dancer, the story of his rise from poverty to world-renowned ballet star (also a movie), and even won the Australian father of the year award in 2009. Li Cunxin married Australian ballerina Mary McKendry in 1987, and lives with his family in Melbourne.
The talented and acclaimed Chinese-American cellist brings a sense of joy, experimentation and even humor to his music — such as in his most recent album The Goat Rodeo Sessions— which might seem unexpected from an Asian musical genius. He’s never been afraid to push the boundaries in his career as a cellist, dabbling in a vast range of musical genres far beyond the usual Bach and Brahms. Maybe it’s no wonder, then, that he pushed the boundaries of his own parents expectations for
his marriage (that he would wed a Chinese girl); he still insisted on tying the knot with Jill Hornor, his longtime white American girlfriend.
This Japanese-Canadian geneticist and professor challenged the stereotype that scientists — especially Asian ones — aren’t great communicators. Well, anyone who’s seen his award-winning shows — such as The Secret of Life and The Nature of Things— knows David Suzuki as a people’s scientist for the natural world, explaining the complexities of natural science to the general public. He’s also become one of the world’s
most vocal environmental activists, and was even voted as the most trusted Canadian by a Reader’s Digest poll. He’s clearly passed on the torch in his family, since his daughter, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, has made her name in the world as an environmental activist, speaker, TV host and author. (And by the way, David Suzuki is married to writer and former Harvard professor Tara Cullis.)
Did I miss any other famous Asian men with non-Asian wives who have inspired you? Let me know.
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