Fan-favorite cast members Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park will not be joining Hawaii Five-O Season 8. The two quit the show due to salary disparity. Kim and Park are among the original cast members of the series since it was rebooted back in 2010.
Reports indicate that both Kim (Chin Ho Kelly) and Park (Kono Kalakaua) were seeking for equal pay with their white co-stars. However, they were unable to settle a contract deal during a salary negotiation and decided to leave the show. CBS reportedly offered the Asian-American actors a pay that is 10 to 15 percent lower than what their co-stars, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. are earning.
According to Variety, both O’Loughlin (Steve McGarrett) and Caan (Danny “Danno” Williams) also have back-end deals in their contract. These allow them to earn a cut from the show’s profit on top of their salary. It is not clear whether the same deal was offered to Kim and Park.
CBS and Hawaii Five-O executive producer Peter Lenkov released a statement praising both actors for their contribution to the show. However, they did not address the issue of pay gap that reportedly caused the departure of two of its cast members.
“There was no other actor who I’d want to play Chin Ho Kelly … Needless to say, Daniel has been an instrumental part of the success of Hawaii Five-O over the past seven seasons. Grace’s presence gave ‘Hawaii Five-0’ a beauty and serenity to each episode. She was the consummate collaborator, helping build her character from day one,” Lenkov said in a statement.
Park and Kim’s exit in Hawaii Five-O once again raises the issue of a pay gap in Hollywood that extends not only to gender but also race. Kim is a South Korean-born American actor, while Park is a Canadian-American actress of Korean heritage. Kim has been particularly outspoken about the issue of pay inequality.
The Lost actor told the New York Times last year, “The harsh reality of being an actor is that it’s hard to make a living, and that puts actors of color in a very difficult position.”
Hawaii Five-O Season 8 Without Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua
Kim and Park’s absence in the upcoming season will definitely shake things up in the show. Apparently, the absence of cousins Kelly and Kono will be addressed in the premiere episode of Hawaii Five-O Season 8. It is unclear, though, if they will be killed off.
In the Season 7 finale, the storylines of both characters were left open-ended. Kelly is heading to San Francisco to lead a task force, whereas Kalakaua, on the other hand, was seen leaving to investigate a sex-trafficking ring.
Aside from acting, Kim also made his directorial debut in Hawaii Five-0 Season 5. Earlier this year, CBS renewed the show for an eighth season. Hawaii Five-0 Season 8 will premiere on Sept. 29 on CBS.