Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, two of the stars of the long-running CBS police procedural Hawaii Five-0, will not be returning to the television series for season 8 due to failed contract negotiations.
Last week, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Kim and Park were leaving the series after having requested and been denied pay parity with their white co-stars and fellow veteran cast members, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. In a Facebook post published on Wednesday, Kim wrote, "CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue." While Kim did not explicitly address the discussion about pay equity, many interpreted his remark that "the path to equality is rarely easy" as an allusion to the salary dispute.
Following Kim's post about leaving the show, CBS released a statement about both actors' departure, noting that they were offered "large and significant salary increases." Series showrunner Peter Lenkov also addressed the matter on his Twitter feed, writing that CBS had offered both actors "unprecedented raises."
According to Variety, Kim's and Park's final offers were reportedly 10-15% lower than those of O'Loughlin and Caan, who also receive a cut of the series' back-end deals. Kim and Park have appeared as regular cast members since the show premiered in 2010 and have the same number of episode credits as O'Loughlin and Caan.
Their departure raises new questions about diversity on the show, especially since series regular Masi Oka announced in January that he planned to leave the show. The absence of Kim and Park will result in a complete lack of Asian-American regulars on Hawaii Five-0 for season 8 — which may be perceived as problematic for a show set in a state where the majority of the population claims some Asian heritage.
The conversation takes place against the backdrop of ongoing discussions about the representation of Asian-Americans and the whitewashing of Asian-American roles in Hollywood. It also falls on the heels of CBS' admission that the network needs to do a better job with the diversity of the casts and showrunners of its series.
Kim's and Park's decision to leave the series was met with support from the industry, with everyone from Constance Wu to Courtney Love weighing in on the issue.