Updated August 11, 2006 Compiled & written by Mike Fitzpatrick
Quest News Update
Reality Check: The Column
BD Wong Named 2006 AIDS Walk Honorary Chair
Asian American Star Known For Work on NBC’s Law & Order SVU, HBO’s Oz
Milwaukee - Tony award-winning actor BD Wong has been named the Honorary Chair of the 17th AIDS Walk Wisconsin 2006 to be held on the Lakefront here Saturday, September 30. Wong will deliver the keynote address kicking off the “Soles Helping Souls” themed event at the Opening Ceremony to be held on the Henry B. Maier “Summerfest” grounds.
“With popular roles in the NBC television series Law & Order SVU and the HBO series Oz, BD Wong is a star of screen and stage as well as strong advocate for the fight against AIDS, human rights, and social justice,” ARCW President and CEO Doug Nelson said in the formal announcement August 1. “He will come to AIDS Walk Wisconsin on September 30th with a powerful message that the fight against AIDS is more important than ever before.”
One of America’s most versatile actors, B.D. Wong has given award-winning performances in comedy and drama, on screen and stage. Wong currently plays forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang on NBC’s Law and Order: SVU. His role on the controversial HBO television series, Oz, was further proof of his range and appeal. The character, Father Ray Mukada, was a stimulating showcase for his talent and has made him a cult favorite on college campuses.
It is in the theater that Wong first gained national attention, beginning with his Broadway debut starring in the celebrated M. Butterfly. His performance earned the Outer Critic’s Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award, Clarence Derwent Award and the coveted Tony Award. He is the only actor to have won all five awards for a single role.
Wong also gave a critically-acclaimed performance in the Broadway musical revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown as the intellectual, blanket-dependent Linus. He played the dashing general in Charles Busch’s Shanghai Moon. Recently, he starred in the first Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures.
Wong has played several roles well known to the LGBT community. He co-starred as the brainy younger brother in Margaret Cho’s ABC sitcom All American Girl. Wong also shone in the role of Kico Govantes, the life partner of early San Francisco AIDS activist Bill Kraus, played by Sir Ian McKellan in the riveting 1993 HBO docudrama And the Band Played On. The film, based on Randy Shilts eponymous best seller, chronicled the early history of HIV/AIDS in the United States.
Wong is a veteran in the fight against AIDS, having lent his name and talent to fundraisers around the United States for over a decade. In 2003 as Master of Ceremonies, Wong joined Cyndi Lauper, Larry Kramer and the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) in honoring leaders in the gay and lesbian community who have played pioneering roles in the fight against AIDS at amfAR’s annual Honoring with Pride benefit. That one evening alone raised $400,000 for amfAR and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The lessons Wong has learned in order to not only survive but excel in a vocation fraught with rejection and racism have given him a keen perspective on the subject of diversity. He has lectured throughout the country. His presentations have addressed many issues, including racial self-image, race-based rejection, Asian-American parental pressure and the “model-minority myth.” Openly gay, Wong co-parents his son Jackson Foo Wong, with former partner Richie Jackson.
Wong currently is in China filming the four hour mini-series Marco Polo, co-starring with Ian Somerhalder, the recently departed Boone from the ABC hit series Lost. He will return to the United States in time to appear at the kick-off ceremony for AIDS Walk Wisconsin 2006.
The walk is shaping up to be one of ARCW’s most successful in recent years. As of July 26, 1500 people were registered for this year’s Walk, a quarter of the way toward the goal of 6,000. According to Walk organizer Joe Keeton, the registration pace is “approximately one month ahead of where we have been over the past couple of years.”
This year’s Walk marks the event’s seventeenth year and will be the Walk that pushes the total amount of money raised for the fight against AIDS in Wisconsin to over $9,000,000.
The Pabst Foundation also has launched a “Raising The Bar” project to boost participation from the state’s gay bars. Individuals and teams may sign-up for this year’s Walk online at: www.aidswalkwis.org or call 1-800-348-WALK.