Actor Masi Oka is working on a telethon to raise funds for disaster relief in his native country.
Oka, who played the time-traveling Hiro Nakamura on “Heroes” and currently has a recurring role as a medical examiner on “Hawaii Five-0,” discussed his plans during an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin the week after the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan.
Regarding his own family and friends in Tokyo, he said, “I was very fortunate to get in contact with them … A couple of them were actually stuck in subway systems in the dark as well, so it was quite frightening. But Tokyo has an amazing anti-earthquake shock absorption technology, so I got away very lucky to get in contact with my friends and family.”
Oka initially planned to go to Japan to do charity work, “but after talking to a lot of people, I found that it was more effective for me to be in Los Angeles, spreading the word and raising funds to help the Japanese from the American side, and hopefully the Hollywood side,” he said. “I’m trying to actually organize a telethon. I’m putting in some calls to some of the people I know in town … I’m trying to make that happen.”
While he mentioned that a couple of “A-listers” had expressed interest, Oka declined to discuss details, saying that the fundraiser was “still in the planning phases.” He said he envisions “something in the vein of ‘Hope for Haiti.’ ”
Asked for his reaction to the images of the Tohoku area being shown on TV, Oka responded, “I hear stories from friends and friends’ family members who are actually stuck in that secluded zone. They’re spending five hours to get water. Some of them have no power. They have no means of transportation out. They’re running out of food …
“It’s just devastating to see those images and to think that that’s actually happening to us right now. Coming from an industry of entertainment, we’re used to seeing that in movies, but it’s just unbelievable to think it’s real. Not just for Japanese — it’s just horrible for mankind.”
He thanked the Red Cross for its disaster relief work and urged those who want to help to text REDCROSS to 90999 or go online to www.redcross.org.
Regarding the victims’ calm reaction to the crisis, which has been widel reported, Oka commented, “I’m very proud of the Japanese people and how everyone’s holding on together and helping each other with respect and honor. This is a very difficult time and it’s very easy to panic and just lose control, but people are putting other people’s needs before their own, and that’s a value that my mom always raised me with. I’m very grateful and now I truly understand the meaning of that, seeing the Japanese folks work together.”
Although Japanese are “not the type of people who really ask for help that much because we don’t want to be a bother to others,” he said, “we’re really grateful for the 60-plus countries that have been offering help to the Japanese government.”