Daniel Dae Kim on leaving ‘Hawaii Five-O’: ‘The path to equality is rarely easy’

Daniel Dae Kim and Marin Mazzie The King and I

Earlier this week, we discussed how Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim are leaving CBS’s Hawaii Five-O after seven seasons. Grace and Daniel were cast at the same time as Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin, at the very beginning. The four actors made up the core ensemble at the heart of the procedural, although I’m sure the argument was that Alex and Scott are the “stars” of the show and Daniel and Grace are the supporting ensemble. After seven years though, it feels like that issue is merely a technicality. When Daniel and Grace went to producers and asked to be paid the same as the white actors, apparently they were turned down flat, which is why both actors won’t appear in Season 8 of the show. Now Daniel is confirming that pay equity was absolutely at the heart of this. He posted a lengthy message to his Facebook, which you can read in its entirety here. Here are the relevant portions:

Sorry for the delay in hearing from me, but like you I’m sure, my July 4th holiday was busy with friends and family. I’m back now and didn’t want to let any more time go by without reaching out. By now many of you have heard the news, and I’m sad to say it is true. I will not be returning to Hawaii Five-0 when production starts next week. Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue.

I also want to say thank you to Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and everyone at CBS. I will always be grateful for their faith in me to bring Chin Ho Kelly to life. As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well developed, three dimensional character like Chin Ho. I will miss him sincerely.
What made him even more special is that he was a representative of a place my family and I so dearly love. It has been nothing short of an honor to be able to showcase the beauty and people of Hawaii every week, and I couldn’t be prouder to call these islands home. To my local community, mahalo nui loa.

…I’ll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture. The path to equality is rarely easy. But I hope you can be excited for the future. I am.

[From Daniel Dae Kim’s Facebook]

He ends it on a hopeful note, saying that he has new projects on the horizon, including a TV show he’s producing for ABC. I find this whole thing sad – he was obviously very happy on Hawaii Five-O and all he wanted – AFTER SEVEN SEASONS – was to be paid the same as the white actors. And in his goodbye message, he has to even thank CBS for giving him a fleshed-out Asian-American character to play, because literally, that’s a rare thing in film and television. I admire him for standing up and walking away when they refused to pay him what he felt he was worth, and I feel sick that he was in that position in the first place.

2016 Tony Awards - Arrivals

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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32 Responses to “Daniel Dae Kim on leaving ‘Hawaii Five-O’: ‘The path to equality is rarely easy’”

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  1. Ana says:

    Did you see CBS’ response that they offered “big raises” !! to Daniel and Grace, almost as if they should be grateful they are willing to pay them more, but still not as much as the other two actors that do the same amount of work as them. It’s shameful.

    I hope they get new shows soon that appreciate them as they deserve. For now, at least we can see Daniel’s behind the scenes work as the co-creator of The Good Doctor, a new TV show starring Freddie Highmore that’s premiering in the fall.

    • TGosha says:

      What makes me even matter was the fact that the two main characters ( I forget their names) didn’t come to the defense of their cast mates. The main people in the TBBT took a pay cut so that the othere’s could have a raise.

      • holly hobby says:

        That tells you all you need to know about that cast. Frankly if they did an all for one one for all thing the network would have given matching pay. Ask the Friends and Modern Family cast.

        I think the parting words were spot on without pissing off anybody. He got his point across and left that door open for future opportunities with CBS and the producers. There are no eternal “enemies” in Hollywood if you operate like that.

      • doofus says:

        “What makes me even matter was the fact that the two main characters ( I forget their names) didn’t come to the defense of their cast mates.”

        telling. but scott caan is kind of a jerky homophobic bigot, isn’t he? dude has delusions of grandeur and only gets work because of his name. whenever I see him I think “he’s trying to be Sonny Corleone.” he’s just not that good.

        I have so much respect for both Kim and Park for doing this. Stick it to them, guys!

      • Ramona says:


        Truth!!!!! Even Jimmy Caan is a faded tired version of his former talented self. Its maddening that Scott Caan got an edge using that name.

        If you watch an episode from the first season and one from latter seasons, you can see how much Scott resents the work. He thinks he is above it even as he takes the check. It must kill him that his Oceans buddy, Casey Affleck stayed on the indie grind and now has a best actor Oscar.

      • Anna says:

        Exactly. And that kind of thing happens to PoC in the workplace all the time. Everything seems fine but when push comes to shove, make note of who doesn’t stand up for you…

      • V4Real says:

        I’m only a fan of Scott’s character on the show. But we don’t know if they spoke up or not. Alex even said in an interview he tries to stay out of the politics. The Friends and Modern Family route don’t work for every show. This show is not as popular as the two other shows. As far as we know they could have been told to stay in their lane . I don’t think it’s above CBS to end an entire show. Didn’t that happen with Moonlight?

        The same thing happen with our Marvel Boys. Evans and Hemsworth renegotiated their contracts to get more money. They got a bump in salary but it was no where near what ScarJo or RDJ were being paid. People were also saying why didn’t RDJ fight for them, I heard he did but he didn’t take a pay cut. In order for them to get more.

        Unfortunately DDK would have never been the lead. They took the formula from the original and the main two leads were White with the exact same names. Chin Ho was more of a supporting cast in the original. I’m glad DDK got a lot of screen time and a good story arc. I’m sad to see them go. The show won’t be the same without them. That also means no more Sara and no more Ian Anthony Dale. What a gorgeous man Anthony is. I will miss them all and CBS sucks ass for this one. I just hope they could at least replace them with two more minority cast, which they will probably hire at a much lower salary. I will watch with a heavy heart.

        Grace is so beautiful and Daniel is handsome as hell bye bye eye candies.

      • Ana says:

        Like @V4Real said, we can’t know for sure what the other cast members did or didn’t do about this. Friends is kind of a staple because they all negotiated their contracts together, meaning that they got the 6 of them for the same price or no one. They could afford that, since NBC was willing to do anything to keep that show on the air. I’m not so sure about Hawaii 5-0’s power, though. It gets a lot of viewers for it being moving to its eight season, but that’s not the only thing networks consider when renewing a show. Also, I feel like TBBT’s move was more a PR thing. The cast members who offered that had already signed their contracts and Mayim Bialik later suggested that they hadn’t really taken a pay cut.

        That being said, still the outrageous thing is that they don’t all get paid the same when they share co-lead status. Like I said in another post, it’s understandable if it’s the first season and one actor is better known than other, but a seven season show should have parity by now.

      • KiddVicious says:


        Exactly! He’s the reason I don’t watch the show. He has such a Douche Bro face he might as well have it tattooed on his forehead. I think I said the same thing about Michael Douglas’s son. They should start a Douche Bro club.

        Daniel Dae Kim is a great actor, and nice eye candy.

  2. Ayra. says:

    It rarely is.

    He’s a great and good looking actor, I hope he finds work. Same with Grace Park.

    What pissed me off even more is that the response of the network was them offering “significant pay rises”, and still not EQUAL pay. They basically tried to make him and Grace Park seem greedy.
    And the other actors are silent on this.. you’d think after 7 seasons together, there woulf be some sort of solidarity.

    How many Asian characters do they have on the show now? A show based in… Hawaii.

    • Sami says:

      They have asian and Polynesian actors on the show. All subordinate to the white boys. It is a complete mystery why they didnt make DDK the lead character given that the guy there now had and continues to have no name recognition while Daniel was literally coming off Lost at the time. Ok, no its not a mystery. The man is white thats why.

    • aenflex says:

      He’s gorgeous.

  3. anna222 says:

    I’m determined to support his next project. That’s how we can change the entertainment industry – throw our money at projects that reflect our values. I want the future to be diverse and inclusive and exciting so that’s what I’ll go out of my way to support.

  4. nicegirl says:

    I will also support his future endeavors.

    I will not watch Hawaii five o.

    CBS should be ashamed.

  5. Megan says:

    Something superficial, those cheeks bones are making me swoon. Damn, Daniel.

  6. Dragonlady Sakura says:

    What really makes me mad about the situation is how on other sites people are claiming the two actors are greedy?! Like how dare they actually want equal pay for doing the same work as the “lead” actors. I wish Park and Kim the best on new shows.

    • Anna says:

      But that’s always the response when PoC and Black folks stand up for equality. This country is founded on white supremacy and it infiltrates and affects every aspect of day to day life. This is just a public example of how it goes down. And how entrenched it is shows in the way the network and “lead” actors behave, expecting DDK to be grateful for a raise–but not speaking to the matter of equality–and crickets from the white actors. Just another day in the life of how this country operates…

  7. Aims says:

    It’s a rarity for someone to stand up against inequality , but when someone does my admiration soars for that individual . I fully support anyone who stands up for what’s right .

  8. The Original Mia says:

    The other two negotiated back cut deals, which nets them a percentage of the revenue. CBS was underpaying them considerably. It wasn’t right and good on them for walking.

    • Sami says:

      Yes. Apparently, the white actors despite constantly bitching about the workload on their own show actually have points on the show that will live in syndication. I’m glad Grace Park and DDK walked and I hope it kills this white masturbatory fantasy of Hawaii. Hawaii for those who dont know is over two thirds POC but in this played out cop show, the two leads are white.

  9. astrid says:

    I didn’t know anything about him or the Hawaii-5-0 show until this week when the pay disparity came up. He’s very well spoken and I wish him the best in his new projects.

  10. Darlene says:

    I support him fully.

  11. Kelly says:

    I don’t watch the show but did all four actors have the same screen time? If that was the case then I could understand wanting equal pay for equal work. But if his character has less screen time and presence than Scott and Alex then he should not get the same pay. Pretty simple.

    • Tiffany says:

      Ding Dong Caan requested that his screen time be scaled back and that gave Daniel and Grace more of a storyline and screen time. So, Ding Dong got what he wanted and was still getting paid. Only in White America.

      • Lady Rain says:

        I hope the show tanks. If Scott wanted to spend more time with his family he should’ve stood up for his fellow cast mates so they could get pay parity and stay the course of the show, and Scott could back to being a supporting character instead of a pretend show lead.

  12. V4Real says:

    Daniel did have a lot of screentime from go and yes he had more time than Scott. Scott has been out quite a bit of episodes. He had it added to his contract not to film all 22 or 25 episodes in order to spend more time with his family back in LA. He doesn’t live on the island like Alex and Daniel. That right there should be reason enough to pay DDK more than Scott but Scott is supposed to be a lead. Grace didn’t have as much time in the first couple of seasons, they were not sure if she wss going to be a permanent fixture on the show and tried out other actresses. But Alex gets the most screen time out of all of them and does a lot of his own stunts.

  13. Alix says:

    Scott Caan gets by on his name and his face. He shouldn’t be out-earning ANYBODY. Now that Kim and Park are gone, I hope the show tanks.