There's this guy I used to run into named Da-Ming. He's Chinese from China or Hong Kong but he spoke English pretty well. Handsome guy, and as such, it turned out he was an actor and stuntman as well. When he introduced himself to people, he would say his name firmly and proudly, "I'm Da-Ming."
This was about 14 years ago, when the industry was a different beast, especially for Asians and Asian Americans. As mentioned before, I was a journalist and magazine editor before, and so I met most of the Asian celebrities when I first arrived in L.A. During the same time, I also met a lot of actor/actress wannabes, most of whom had no screen or stage presence, and very few of them were what you'd consider handsome or pretty.
I learned that most Asian celebrities weren't much different than me. And I learned that most actor/actress wannabes were different from me in one way: They were all trying to do what most people didn't have the guts to attempt.
But back to Da-Ming. Da-Ming had a certain kind of air to him. I think he truly believed he was meant for greatness and his path to it would be a short one. And so every step he took, every gesture he made looked like a grand performance meant for a camera somewhere.
I should also mention that Da-Ming would occasionally display a different sort of air. A get-in-your-face-and-challenge-you- to-a-pissing-contest kind of air. I never had to confront that challenge with him since I was typically cool with him. And whenever I'd bump into him, he always remembered my name.
One of his claims to fame was that he had done the Mandarin voiceover for Russell Wong in The Joy Luck Club. But other than that, I don't think he did a whole lot of work. And so he headed back to HK. Hadn't seen nor heard from him in years. Until one day, when I was watching the DVD for Kill Bill. On one of the behind-the-scenes shorts, there was Daming, working as one of the crew members.
And soon after seeing that, I ran into him at a film festival in L.A. "Hey, man! I saw you in the Kill Bill DVD," I told him.
He said, "Yeah? I worked on that in Hong Kong."
"As an actor?"
"No, just crew."
"Oh." And that was pretty much the extent of the conversation. Sorry, folks, there's no big ending to it. Did he remember my name? Doubt it. But he remembered my face, and either he was trying to recall my name or how he knew me during our conversation, or he was embarrassed to be talking about the DVD. As actors headed for greatness tend to be, they don't like to talk about being the Hong Kong crew member on a DVD behind-the-scenes feature.
Then again, maybe he thought I was challenging him to a pissing contest.