Actor and Activist BD Wong Named 2021-22 Frank Sinatra Chair in the Performing Arts
Award-winning actor and dedicated activist for Asian-American and LGBTQ+ rights BD Wong will engage the SCU community as the 2021-22 Sinatra Artist-in-Residence.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jul. 13, 2021—BD Wong, a multi-award-winning actor on stage, an Emmy-nominated actor in film, and an activist for Asian-American and LGBTQ+ issues, will hold the 2021-22 Frank Sinatra Chair in the Performing Arts at Santa Clara University.
As Sinatra Artist-in-Residence, Wong will engage the campus community through public and private events and performances during three distinct residency weeks, starting October 4-8, 2021 and continuing in winter and spring of 2022. He will be found in classes with students, engaging in provocative and thoughtful conversations with artists, scholars, and SCU’s campus community, as well as presenting, performing, and more throughout his residency.
The Sinatra Artist-in-Residence program is hosted by the Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. The residency seeks to feature performance artists with a strong physical presence on campus, who live out the University’s fundamental values to teach, learn, create, and study across disciplines to advance human understanding. The program is intended to energize the arts at Santa Clara, inspiring students and the community by bringing life to Santa Clara’s mission in a tangible way.
“BD Wong’s incredible work as an actor and his dedication as an activist exemplify the values that we embrace at Santa Clara,” said Daniel Press, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are delighted to welcome him to campus, and our students are looking forward to being able to interact with him and learn from his experience and wisdom.”
As an acclaimed actor, activist, and memoir author, BD Wong is known for his versatility and artistry both on stage and on screen. He is the only actor to have ever won all five major New York theater awards—the Tony Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and Drama Desk Award—for a single role, an accomplishment he achieved for his lead role in his debut Broadway performance in M. Butterfly.
Wong has acted in a variety of films and television series over the past 20 years, with some of his most notable appearances being in Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Law & Order: SVU, Disney’s Mulan, Bird Box, and Comedy Central’s Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, where the second season will feature his TV directorial debut. He has also received an Emmy nomination for his role in USA Network’s Mr. Robot.
Wong uses his knowledge of the issues within the film and entertainment industries and his experience as an Asian-American to address problems of diversity such as the whitewashing of Asian roles, representation of identities in media, Asian-American parental pressure, and the “model minority myth.” Wong’s activism also extends to issues of LGBTQ+ rights. He won the GLAAD Davidson/Valenti award presented by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and is an advocate for The Trevor Project's "It Gets Better" campaign supporting LGBTQ+ youth around the world. His memoir, Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of The Chestnut Man, discusses the ups and downs along his journey to queer parenthood with the help of a surrogate mother.
“It is inspiring to see BD Wong’s commitment to activism and unwavering support for the Asian-American and LGBTQ+ communities,” said Michelle Burnham, director of the Center for the Arts and Humanities. “His fight for diversity and his ability to speak proudly about what he believes in aligns with Santa Clara’s goals of being an increasingly inclusive campus and actively promoting antiracism.”
Wong is on the Board of Directors of Rosie’s Kids, which brings free musical theater classes to elementary school kids in need. He debuted as a director with The Yellow Wood for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and has since directed several other productions including the musical adaptation of Mr. Holland's Opus and Cindy Cheung's Speak Up Connie. He previously starred in the one-man musical Herringbone as nearly a dozen characters and is currently developing a new musical titled Heading East.
About the Frank Sinatra Chair in the Performing Arts
The Sinatra Artist-in-Residence is hosted by the Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University. The Frank Sinatra Chair in the Performing Arts was established as an endowment in 1980 with the proceeds of the 14th Annual Golden Circle Theatre Party featuring headliner Frank Sinatra.
About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked the No. 1 regional university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see www.scu.edu.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org | 408-554-5121