VOLUME 28 NO. 7 | FEBRUARY 7 - 13, 2009


The good, the bad, and the ugly oxen
Which celebrity born in the year of the ox wears the mantle well?

Last updated 2-5-09 at 1:50 p.m.

Joan Chen, Andy Lau, and George Takei

By Ryan Pangilinan
Northwest Asian Weekly

People who are born in the Year of the Ox are subject to rather ambitious qualities. Even though there are those who represent these attributes well, there are certainly others who characterize the opposite traits.

The Ox is a born leader and dependable, as well as someone who has the ability to achieve great things. An interesting example of this is musician, author, poet, actor, and television talk show host Henry Rollins (b. 1961), who began his career (at least the well-known part of it) as the singer of the influential punk band, Black Flag. Over time, Rollins has gone on to write several books and is often tapped to do commentaries for cable shows in regards to pop culture.

Another example is Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau (b. 1961). While Lau is probably most well known stateside for his role in “House of Flying Daggers,” like many API celebrities, he’s worked in recording studios and has a pop hit or two.
Another quality of the Ox is working hard, oftentimes to benefit others.

Actress Portia de Rossi (b. 1973) is known mostly for her catty and shallow character on the beloved, defunct sitcom “Arrested Development” as Lindsay Bluth Funke, but in real life, de Rossi has worked with AIDS relief organizations and, most recently, has been an outspoken critic of California’s Proposition 8.

George Takei (b. 1937) is widely known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek.” For anyone who is familiar with the “Star Trek” canon, Takei’s Sulu was revealed to be a captain in the sixth film, “The Undiscovered Country,” ensuring the notion that Asian Americans will indeed command the space ships in the future.

Off screen, however, Takei has been a political figure by serving as an alternate delegate from California to the Democratic National Convention, as well as a member on the board of directors for the Southern California Rapid Transit District. Takei has been a longtime supporter of gay and lesbian rights, and he married his partner in 2008.

Actress/director/writer Joan Chen is one of the few Asians who has been able to achieve crossover success in both the Hong Kong film market and Hollywood. Initially just an actress, she went behind the camera for the Richard Gere/Winona Ryder tearjerker “Autumn in New York” and appeared in Eric Byler’s independent feature “Americanese.”
As mentioned above, however, for many of these positive traits, the Ox carries some darker traits. The Ox is described as a polarizing personality of sorts, and for the great amount of affection and genius that may exist inside, stubbornness and anger looms as well.

One of the most public examples of this is erstwhile celebrity Boy George (b. 1961), whose pop music fame in the ’80s took him to the heights of stardom. These days, amid reported years of drug abuse (as well as several arrests), George is in jail for assaulting a male escort in his home.

Perhaps far less public, but still the fodder for tabloids, is Tyra Banks (b. 1973), whose never-ending fame began with her career as a teenage model in the early ’90s. In the last six years, however, Banks’ popularity has been linked to her TV series “America’s Next Top Model,” a reality show that gives women the chance to become professional models in the form of a competition. The U.S. version has become so popular that it’s spawned several international spin offs, such as “China’s Next Top Model,” “Philippines’ Next Top Model,” and Kazakhstan’s “I’m Beautiful.”

But for all this public success, Banks is often targeted by tabloid papers and gossip blogs for being a difficult person to work with. People cite “Top Model’s” rotating lineup of judges as proof. Of course, none of this is ever verified, so for now it’s just rumor and hearsay.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities, especially given Banks’ reported egomaniacal attitude. That being said, she’s also given many women the opportunity to follow their dreams.

There’s much to be said about people who are born in the Year of the Ox, and it will be interesting to see what future celebrities born this year will be like. (end)

Ryan Pangilinan can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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