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Out actor BD Wong debuts tonight in Awake

Former Law & Order: SVU star talks to Gay Star News about new NBC series
BD Wong
Photo: NBC

BD Wong has made a terrific living as the voice of reason trying to help screwed-up people make sense of themselves on some very successful television shows.

Wong played Father Ray Makada on HBO's Oz for six seasons and Dr. George Huang for 11 seasons on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and returns to series television tonight (1 March) on NBC's new drama Awake.

On Awake, he plays Dr. John Lee, a psychiatrist who is trying to help series lead Jason Isaacs figure out which of his alternate realities is his real life.

'I was taught early on in my acting training that being an actor relied a great deal on being a good listening,' Wong tells Gay Star News. 'If you could really learn how to listen then you could really be a better actor and I think I really took that to heart.'

'I like to think of myself as a person as someone who listens well to my friends and family in situations where it really counts,' he adds. 'I hope that's what I'm accessing when I'm playing these parts. It may be indicative that I'm somewhat successful that I keep getting asked to do this listening thing.'

A Tony Award winner for the Broadway musical M Butterfly, Wong signed on to his long-running gig on Law & Order: SVU when his son was born in 2000. Even though that New York-based series continues to ride high in the ratings, the actor felt it was time for him to try something new.

'I just opened my horizons up to potentially doing a show that was shooting in LA which I haven't done for many years,' he said. 'My son's 11 now and I stayed on that show for 11 years. He was old enough and it was time for me creatively.'

'I always hunger to do something new and different,' he added. 'This show, even though it's someone with the same job description [as his SVU character], it's a very different show and it's a great opportunity for me in different ways.'

Wong, 51, has built up an impressive list of television, stage and feature film credits over the years and he wants to continue to try new things.

'I always am looking to do something wildly different,' he says. 'I continue to try and do independent films and work in the theater so I can have that. When I was on Law & Order for so long, I was able to do theater and that allowed me to feel much more three-dimensional.'

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