Sure, more than two decades of credits in TV and film is great. But having a doughnut named after him? "That's like winning an Oscar," says actor Reggie Lee, known for his roles in series like NBC's Grimm and Fox's Prison Break, as well as blockbuster movies like The Fast and the Furious and The Dark Knight Rises.
That namesake confection — cinnamon and sugar topped with Nutella, raw honey and sea salt — is made by Pip's Original Doughnuts & Chai in Portland, Oregon. "I spent a lot of time in Portland, since it's where we filmed Grimm," Lee explains. "When they told me they wanted to name a doughnut after my character, I couldn't say yes fast enough."
The treat was originally dubbed the Dirty Wu (Lee played Sergeant Drew Wu), but Pip's called last summer to ask if they could change it to the Reggie Lee. His response? "It was like winning a second Oscar."
Currently, Lee plays head deputy district attorney Thomas Choi in CBS's All Rise. The actor, who was born in the Philippines, takes the role very personally — it means a lot to him when Asian performers appear in positions of power on network shows.
"I can see changes happening," Lee says. "They're finally writing roles for Asian actors that are three-dimensional. I love the leadership position, the ethnic position, and I really love where they're taking [Choi] professionally."
When he was five, Lee moved with his family from the Philippines to Cleveland. As a teen, he turned down Harvard and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting dreams. He's now been in more than 60 productions; look for him next in the Netflix film Sweet Girl, with Jason Momoa and Marissa Tomei.
Lee hopes to expand Asian representation with Concepcion, a Filipino crime drama he's shopping to networks with Grimm cocreator David Greenwalt . The project marks his first outing as a producer. "While I never see myself moving away from acting," Lee says, "I view production as my next challenge."
He also looks forward to lending his name to another food. "I'd love to have my own pizza," he says. "It would have double pepperoni, green bell peppers, black olives, a touch of truffle sauce and a hand-tossed crust."
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This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2021