There are many actors who complain about stereotypes. Obviously, I’m an ethnic type. Part of my responsibility as an actor is to humanize those who have been cast in stereotypical ‘Asian’ roles. There are many Asian actors who say, ‘I won’t play waiters’ or ‘I won’t play menials,’ I think; first of all, that’s dumb. Secondly, that’s disrespectful of our ancestors, some of whom did work as servants and waiters.
My grandfather was a farmer. My father, when he came out of the [World War II internment] camps, worked as a dishwasher in a Chinatown restaurant. To say I’m ashamed of that is to say I’m ashamed of who I am. My father and my grandparents made great sacrifices so that they could provide me with the kind of world that I live in today. Sure, there are stereotyped depictions, but my attitude is to play those roles and humanize them, to get the writers to flesh out those characters so that they aren’t laughable simpletons, as they are often portrayed. The so-called stereotypes are roles that have great potential for drama."
— George Takei in a Starlog interview in August, 1986. (via trekkiefeminist)