Frank Chin

Frank Chin is an American author and playwright. He is considered one of the pioneers of the Asian-American theater. He is well known for fighting Chinese folklore and Asian American stereotypes in his plays in which he challenged the racist vision of American (white) people regarding Asian origin. He even criticized other Asian authors for furthering such stereotypes and misinterpreting the traditional stories.

Frank Chin was born February 25, 1940 in Berkeley, California. Until the age of six he stayed with a vaudeville couple in Placerville, California. At that age his mother brought him back to the San Francisco Bay area and thereafter he grew up in Oakland, Chinatown. He followed in his grandfather's footsteps and first worked around the Western Pacific Railway’s Oakland Yard. Later he attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated at University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in English.

He described that he was a child of a fourth generation-Chinatown mother whose father worked in the steward service of the Southern Pacific Railroad and a Chinese immigrant father. Also, he thought of himself as a fifth - generation Chinaman. The term Chinese American was considered by him to be a term that inscribes a sense of complicit assimilation into the controlling white society.

Image credits: - Alexander Schimmeck

Chin founded the Asian American Theater Workshop which was later known as the Asian American Theater Company in 1973. He became known as a playwright in 1970. His play The Chickencoop Chinaman was the first Asian American play to be produced on the New York stage. Chin won three American Book Awards: The first in 1982 for his two plays, The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon, the second in 1989 for his collection of short stories The Chinaman Pacific and Frisco R.R. Co. and the third in 2000 for lifetime achievement.

Besides his work as an author and playwright he also worked with the Japanese American resisters of the draft in WWII. The novel, Born in the U.S.A., is dedicated to this subject.

Chin is also a musician. He’s the one that taught Robbie Krieger (a member of the Doors) to play the Flamenco guitar. In 1990 Frank Chin had a stroke and was unable to play the guitar and temporarily to laugh.

Frank was married for five years to Kathy Chang in the 1970s who was a Sino-American political activist, writer and performance artist.

Currently, Frank Chin resides in Los Angeles. As an active critic of Asian American stereotypes, we can definitely say that he left his mark on the subject through his plays and books and with the Asian American Theater Company he definitely left a legacy to be continued.

Written by: Mislav Zlomislić


Mislav Zlomislić is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. He is a former student of Zagreb school of economics and management, Zagreb, Croatia


A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
based in California that advocates
social inclusion of minorities with
Asian heritage though cultural awareness.


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Frank Chin
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