Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality


Media Monday: Grant Imahara & Julia Ling

February 8, 2010

Racebending.com Television Spotlight

Spotlight on Grant Imahara

Arguably one of the highest profile Asian Americans on tv right now, Grant Imahara’s mixture of robotics know how, good humor and geek cred have made him a staple on many a families tv schedules for many years as a cast member of Mythbusters.

Born in 1970 in Los Angeles, Imahara was a typical LEGO loving kid who took his love of engineering with him when he attended the University of Southern California to study towards a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.

A lifelong film buff, he briefly considered changing his major two years into school to become a screenwriter before being convinced to stay on the engineering track by time spent working with the man who happened to be the corporate technical director of Lucasfilm Ltd and developer of the THX Sound System, Tom Holman. Working as Holman’s research assistant rekindled Imahara’s love of engineering and he found his work-study easily segued into a full time position working at the THX Labs after he graduated.

Grant Imahara on the set of MythBusters

While working at THX, he found himself being drawn back to his love of building and he applied for a position with Lucasfilm’s model workshop where he ended up staying for nine years. His work can be seen in such films such as Galaxy Quest, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the Star Wars prequels and Terminator 3:Rise of the Machines.

During this time, Imahara also participated in the series Battle Bots with his robot Deadblow (who would follow its creator to the Mythbuster set) and was also a member of the Industrial Light and Magic team on an episode of Junkyard Mega-Wars.

Around 2004, many professional model makers found that their skills were becoming obsolete in the eyes of Hollywood studios who were preferring the use of CG. Imahara was no exception and soon found himself looking at other opportunities where he found himself hired onto the cast of the Discovery Channel’s hit series Mythbusters where he has become the resident electrical and robotics expert.

When not working on Mythbusters, Imahara mentors the Richmond High Robotics Team, Biomechs #841 and has written what is widely considered the definitive book on robot construction Kickin’ Bot: An Illustrated Guide to Building Combat Robots (ExtremeTech).

Grant Imahara’s profile on Discovery.com

Kickin’ Bot: An Illustrated Guide to Building Combat Robots (ExtremeTech)


Spotlight on Julia Ling

A face who might be familiar to many tv viewers, Julia Ling is a prolific actress whose accomplishments go far beyond her work on the screen.

Born in southern California, Ling showed a diverse range of talents at a young age including artwork being featured in publications such as the Pasadena Star News and writing an award winning short story for the Chinese World Newspaper by age six. By the time she turned nine she was performing across the state as a solo dancer with her performances being aired on national television. While in high school she became a state finalist in the Miss America Pageant and graduated from the Royal Board of Music having studied piano. After graduating, Ling started college at the University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a career in medicine, majoring in biomedical chemical engineering.

Julia Ling on set

It was at this point when Ling left medicine to follow her love of performing and made her television debut on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2003. She has appeared in several independent and short films such as We Fall Down.

In 2006 Ling started gathering reccurring roles on high profile shows like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The OC and ER and gathering appearances on others like Grey’s Anatomy.

2007 saw a new challenge when she entered into Jackie Chan Disciples, a martial arts competition where the martial arts superstar would chose a protégé. Since the show focused not only on martial skill, but also aesthetic beauty, Ling performed two pieces. One was a traditional Dun Huang style dance, the other was a Wushu style choreographed sword battle that showed the fight between her and a group of bandits. Woody Wong, the head instructor of the WushuStar Martial Arts Academy said of Ling’s performance:

“She brings a clear point of view to the performance and she approached both her dance and the martial arts piece based on creating a story and a character. One moment she’s delicate, sweet, and heavenly as she dances … like a dream. The next moment she’s fierce, steely cold and expressing grief all at the same time.”

Julia Ling in Martial Arts Competition

Practicing between six and seven hours a day, Ling incurred several injuries while preparing and training for the competition and in the end won the Best Acting Award and was chosen to represent the United States in the Beijing stage of the competition.

“In Beijing, I’ll be representing the United States. My parents came to America from China, and my cultural heritage is very important to me. But I was born in America, and I consider myself an American first. I want to show them that even though everything else may be made in China, only the best are from the USA.”

Unfortunately Ling was unable to compete in Beijing, however it was for what would be one of her highest profile roles, that of Anna Wu on NBC’s Chuck. It was representing this show where Ling did a tour with the USO in the Persian Gulf visiting troops in Bahrain, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.

2009 saw her first step into the role of producer acting as the executive producer on Cinder in which she also acted and 2010 is set to be even busier. She has several films coming out including High School, Dynamite Swine and Hydrophobia.

Julia Ling’s Home page

Categories: Current Diversity Highlights

About the Author

Mike Le is the Media Liaison for Racebending. A native-born Californian, he objects to shoveling snow and is a strong proponent of pollo asado fries. Mike has been interviewed about media diversity by dozens of news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, BBC Radio, and Public Radio International.

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