This is a striking and intensely personal long-form conversation with acting and civil rights icon, George Takei. We discuss his role on the Howard Stern show, decision to come out of the closet publicly, social media, and his involvement in the new musical, Allegiance.
George shares some very personal stories of his upbringing and his Japanese-American family’s internment during WWII, and how that shaped him and eventually led him to his current theater gig. This is a very funny and moving conversation with an icon–one that gives a rare look into his experience.
George Takei, an actor best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the acclaimed television and film series Star Trek, has more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest-starring roles to his credit.
George and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga are developing a new musical called “Allegiance” (music and lyrics by Jay Kuo, book by Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione). The musical is an epic story of love, family and heroism during the Japanese American internment. Allegiance’s world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in September 2012 will be followed by a Broadway run.
George is a regular guest on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM Radio. George was the announcer and on-air personality during Stern’s debut week in January 2006.
Recognized worldwide as a member of the original Star Trek cast, George received a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame in 1986 and he placed his signature and hand print in the forecourt of the landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 1991.
As told in his autobiography, To the Stars, published by Pocket Books in 1994, George was born in Los Angeles, California. With the outbreak of World War II, he and his family together with 120,000 other Japanese Americans were placed behind the barbed-wire enclosures of United States internment camps. George spent most of his childhood at Camp Rohwer in the swamps of Arkansas and at wind-swept Camp Tule Lake in northern California.
George’s family eventually returned to his native Los Angeles, which shaped his acting career.
After graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1956, George enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley. Later, he transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor of arts in theater in 1960 and a master of arts in theater in 1964. He attended the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-Upon-Avon in England and Sophia University.
A member of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender political organization, George was a spokesman for HRC’s Coming Out Project. In April 2006, he embarked on a nationwide speaking tour called “Equality Trek” in which he talked about his life as a gay Japanese American. Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy presented George with HRC’s Equality Award at its San Francisco gala dinner in July 2007.
George and his husband, Brad Takei, are residents of Los Angeles. They met while running with the Los Angeles Frontrunners in the early 1980s. Life partners for more than two decades, they were married on September 14, 2008, in the Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
00:01 Media Mayhem Opening.
00:31 Introducing George Takei.
02:50 What made you agree to go on the Howard Stern show?
04:32 The decision to come out to the press.
08:02 Being in the closet in Hollywood.
10:50 William Shatner’s real motivations.
12:34 Artie Lange and dealing directly with homophobia: “Boldly going where you haven’t been before.”
16:39 Serving as an ambassador of the Japanese American community.
18:07 Americans put into concentration camps and how the Takei family was taken away.
22:36 Being trained off to a camp in Arkansas.
25:06 The conflict of wanting to serve a country that oppressed you.
33:59 Resisters among the Japanese Americans.
36:24 Turning the experience into a musical.
38:42 The chance meeting that turned into “Allegiance.”
44:19 George’s teenage resentment at internment and a watershed moment with his father.
47:15 Legislation that infringes on minorities.
49:05 How George’s parents dealt with the experience and provided guidance.
53:18 Why George went to UCLA and not the Actor’s Studio.
56:36 Becoming an icon of social media and having legions of followers.
1:00:11 George’s response to Clint McCance
1:02:57 Thanks and Goodbye!