Jake Choi, Single Parents, and the importance of representation

Jake Choi is no stranger to trailblazing. While Choi is well-known among American audiences for playing Miggy on the hit TV show Single Parents, he’s also a trailblazer for LGBTQ2S+ people of colour, bringing discussions of sexuality and diversity to Hollywood through his acting and advocacy.

Pride Month with Jake Choi interview

Recently, we caught up with man himself to discuss Asian representation in film and on TV, the upcoming season of Single Parents, and what he believes makes his character different than other portrayals of Asian Americans on television. 

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Single Parents and Miggy 

Choi describes Single Parents as a comedy about parents who are raising children on their own and come together to help each other with the trials of parenthood. 

“They’re not chosen friends – they’re more friends who had no choice but to come together,” says Choi. “And they become a family. What I love about Single Parents is that not only is it funny and written well, but it has a lot of heart. You can relate to somebody.”

Single Parents promotional poster
Single Parents Promotional Image. Photo Credit: ABC.

Choi’s character, Miggy Park, has received praise for bringing a different type of Asian representation to the screen. Most notably, Miggy is a character who feels like a friend from high school rather than a token minority character. As Choi puts it: “My character is this really nice, clueless new single dad. He’s a sneakerhead – he’s hip.

“You never see a young Asian American character on network TV with tattoos who’s not a gangster. [He’s] a single parent, but not a deadbeat dad. Hip, but not any kind of stereotype. You never see that! I don’t think you’ve ever, in the history of television, seen a character like Miggy.”

A Disconnect with Representation

Representation is very important Choi, who grew up in Elmhurst, Queens in New York. His neighborhood was multicultural, which was a stark contrast from what he saw on the big and small screen. 

“[In Elmhurt] people of colour were the majority. White people were the minority… Media fucked with my head because growing up when you went outside you saw so many people [of colour], but when you watched TV and movies you never really saw that.”

Instead, the heroes and leads that Choi saw on screen were largely white. “That’s why I had an identity crisis growing up,” he says. “You never saw Asian faces ever. Maybe Power Rangers. But that was it!”

Jake Choi on Growing up in Queens and diversity on screen

With this in mind, Choi was determined to make Miggy a different kind of Asian American character. He had a lot of input on the character’s development, bringing much of himself and the people he grew up with into the role. 

Miggy, played by Jake Choi, and baby Jack from Single Parents
Miggy, played by Jake Choi, and baby Jack. Photo Credit: ABC.

“I had ideas of how the character would talk and walk and how he lives in everyday life. Me and the creatives, we talk about it. They’re very collaborative and generous,” he says. 

“A couple of my friends were young single parents at 17 or 18. So I just really saw myself in Miggy and it makes it so much easier to play a character when there’s this unspoken connection.”

Resonating with Asian Audiences 

Choi’s portrayal of Miggy has hit a chord with Asian audiences. Choi has heard fans remark that this was their first time seeing a character like Miggy – someone who is into sneaker culture and designer streetwear and not entirely defined by their ethnicity.  

Choi knows it’s a big step to be able to bring a new kind of Asian character to network television. And while he’s teaching audiences a thing or two about representation and the struggles of single parents, he’s also learning a lot – mostly about parenthood! 

“I’ve always had baby fever,” Choi admits. “But now I’m realizing, it’s not all peaches and cream. There’s a lot of poop!”

Check out the interview in its entirety below and be sure to tune into the newest season of Single Parents, out today! 

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

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