Born in South Korea and raised in Los Angeles, John Cho worked hard to become one of the most influential Asian American actors of his generation. Cho first gained widespread praise for his role in the 1999 smash hit “American Pie." Afterwards, the sharp-witted actor was applauded for breaking Hollywood stereotypes with his portrayal of Harold Lee in the "Harold and Kumar" series. In 2009, Cho found himself the center of attention again for his portrayal of Sulu, one of science fiction's most celebrated characters, in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek.” Cho has also appeared in a number of popular television shows, such as "How I Met Your Mother" and "New Girl." His ability to alternate between broad comedy and high drama has made Cho not only one of the more versatile and likeable performers in Hollywood, but his achievements continue to challenge Asian stereotypes in the U.S. media.
Looking back at his career, Cho credits UC Berkeley with fostering his success, as it was during his formative undergraduate years that he discovered acting for the first time. Cho was a member of a writing group at UC Berkeley when another member announced that he was directing a campus play and needed to make a last minute cast substitution. This turned out to be a turning point in Cho's life. He only had two lines in his first play, but by the end of its limited run, Cho realized that he’d been bitten by the acting bug. By 1994 he was touring nationally for a stage production of Maxine Hong Kingston's "The Woman Warrior" with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. However, Cho didn't forget the importance of his academics, and he returned to school and graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Cho's time in the Hollywood spotlight has not diminished his affection for his alma mater. Over the years, he has continually made a point to return for various events, including in 2013 when he became a member of the UC Berkeley Wall of Fame. Previously, Cho was also a panelist for a special campus event titled, "Dreaming in Different Tongues: Languages and the Way We Think." Before that, Cho was selected as the keynote speaker for the 2005 December Graduates Convocation, a campus-wide celebration for undergraduate and graduate students graduating from UC Berkeley in the winter.