Smart, sweet and adorkable, Oka was bound for greatness from an early age. Of course, when he appeared on the cover of Time
magazine as one of "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids" at age 12, a successful acting career probably didn't seem like his destiny. Although he always harbored thespian ambitions, he graduated from Brown University as a computer-science major and quickly found work as a special-effects wizard at George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic. While he enjoyed working behind the scenes on the second Star Wars
trilogy, Oka longed to be on camera. In the early 2000s, he began landing bit movie parts and sitcom guest spots, including a recurring role as a lab technician on Scrubs
. But nothing prepared him for his breakthrough role as Hiro, a space-bending, time-traveling master on Heroes
. In its first season, the sci-fi series was a veritable smash and Oka was the show's breakout star, earning Golden Globe and Emmy nods for his work. He was also crowned Coolest Geek at Spike TV's inaugural Guys Choice Awards in 2007, and he proudly lives up to this title off screen as well by admitting his love of sci-fi, Japanese comic books and video games. His passion for gaming is so intense that he was a guild leader in the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, and his post-Heroes
career included working on a film he pitched about game-playing teens and their avatars.Masi Oka Fast Facts:
- Was pictured on the cover of Time Magazine on August 31, 1987, as one of "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids," but was not featured in the accompanying article.
- Chose Brown University over Harvard due to its diversity.
- Turned down a position with Microsoft to work for George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic.
- Worked with improv acting groups in San Francisco while doing digital art for movies such as The Perfect Storm, The Hulk and War of the Worlds.
- Is fluent in English, Japanese and Spanish.
- Masi Oka Awards:
- 2007 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Nominee
- 2007 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Nominee
- Brown University, Providence, RI (BS, Computer Science & Mathematics, 1997)