Ridley, whose wife is Asian American, says he is perhaps more sensitive to the problems facing Asian American actors because of his own experiences as an African American writer. The author of six novels, Ridley has written several movies, including "Undercover Brother," "Three Kings" and "U-Turn." He recently completed a rewrite of "The Night Watchman" for director Spike Lee and is executive producer of a new TV series, "Barber Shop," scheduled to air this fall on Showtime.
"I went through a phase where every script I was offered was a 'Boyz N the Hood,' " Ridley says. "The guys and girls involved in this play are incredibly talented. Without them, the play's just a 97-page paperweight."
Matthew Yang King, who portrays the base commander Yoshida, has appeared in numerous plays, including Sir Peter Hall's "Romeo and Juliet" at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2002 and Broadway's "Titanic, the Musical."
"There are more opportunities for Asian Americans in theater than TV and film," King says. "It's tough for Asian American females, but the stereotypes are harder for actors. The Asian American male hasn't been made sexy yet. This play has given me a chance to dig my teeth into something new. It's historical drama that represents Asians as real human beings."