The Real Reason BD Wong Left Law And Order: SVU

Although actor BD Wong didn't join the Law and Order: SVU team until its second season, Special Agent Dr. George Huang soon became the in-house forensic psychiatrist. However, after nine seasons as a regular cast member, Wong announced via Twitter that he wouldn't be returning to the show full-time. "I actually do not return for Season 13," Wong replied during USA Network's "What Would BD Do?" marathon live-tweet back in 2011. But why did he decide to leave the hit crime drama?

"[The SVU powers-that-be] gave me the blessing to do [the Awake pilot], which was really nice," he told TVLine. "But I don't really know if I can do both or not." As it turns out, Wong left SVU for another NBC drama. "I am jumping to Awake! It's awesome!" he added during the live-tweet conversation. "I don't know if or when I'll be back [on SVU]! It was amazing to have such a cool job for 11 years and to be a real NY Actor."

For those who might've missed Awake, which was cancelled after one season, the show followed police detective Michael Britten, portrayed by Jason Isaacs, as he alternated between two parallel lives after an unexpected car crash upended his reality. Wong played Dr. John Lee, one of Britten's psychiatrists. But, despite the fact that Wong's first post-SVU gig didn't pan out, the actor found success with Netflix's viral hit Bird Box and USA Network's Mr. Robot in the years since his departure.

BD Wong's 'Law and Order: SVU' role changed some viewers' lives

Although BD Wong had no intention of playing another psychiatrist, the Law and Order: SVU alum "was looking for change" and "jumped at the chance" to join Awake because he loved the script. Many asked the actor if his time was up on SVU when he transitioned from one show to another, but as he told Daily Actor, he "decided to just kind of throw [his] hat in the ring again" to see what opportunities might come his way. In fact, SVU offered little explanation as to why Dr. Huang left the team, allowing room for guest appearances, of which Wong has made several.

But no matter how much time passes, Wong will forever appreciate how his character impacted the show's audience. "The most gratifying kind of fan interaction that you can have is 'I decided to be a forensic psychiatrist because I saw you in the show when I was very young, and I didn't know there was such a career opportunity," Wong told NPR's The Cooler podcast in 2019.

"That's why it's very important for television writers and television producers to be responsible about their content because it's reaching young people at a very impressionable time," he continued. "When you realize that [television] actually influences people, it's an eye-opening kind of thing, which I love. I like understanding that something that we're doing isn't just reduced to its popularity but there's a little bit more to it."

BD Wong thought Dr. Huang's gay reveal 'felt a little cheap'

Before BD Wong's character Dr. Huang left the Law and Order: SVU team, writers launched a coming out storyline that aligned the character with Wong's real-life sexual orientation. However, as Wong told NPR's The Cooler podcast, the concept felt forced. "I had no idea throughout the time that I was doing the show for ten and a half years, so it felt a little cheap to me," Wong explained.

"I was also kind of torn because, you know, it's positive... But it did feel a little convenient or kind of lazy or, you know, kind of not particularly the best way that you want to come out as a character," Wong added. "It wasn't like Ellen coming out. It wasn't a great thing that was really impactful and funny or human or whatever; it was just kind of a minor point made."

However, Wong noted that despite growing up with few positive Asian or gay people on-screen — a factor that was a "double insult" in his eyes—  he's grateful that his struggle ultimately empowered him to break barriers within the industry. "The thing that you think is going to kill you is actually the thing that enlivens you and drives you and pushes you forward," he explained. "It's really actually an amazingly great feeling to be yourself. What a concept, right?" Wong's success has surely inspired multiple generations to embrace their truest selves.

BD Wong believes 'the system' isn't kind to actors who are 'different'

While BD Wong has expressed nothing but gratitude when it comes to Law and Order: SVU, the 59-year-old actor recognizes that Hollywood offers few opportunities for those who aren't cisgender white men. "There will always be a majority — a majority that has power and can make decisions—and that's not really going to change," Wong told GQ in 2018 as he pondered how American politics impact all aspects of our social order. "Do we need to feel that there's an end to white privilege in order to work against it?"

And, as Wong added, this dilemma isn't something that those who are deemed "different" can ever truly escape. Some stars, such as actress Reese Witherspoon, have taken it upon themselves to develop the roles they wish to play and the characters they wish to see on-screen, but not everyone has that luxury.

"Very few of us are really self-generating," Wong explained. "The whole notion that women over 40 have a tremendous challenge getting parts that are right unless they're self-generating is an example of how there are things built into the system that are inherently extremely challenging for actors of all different types. We're always going to be feeling like we have to suck up to people."

It's impossible to deny Hollywood's lack of diversity, but as more stars speak out against such injustices, we hope to see their efforts reflected on-screen soon.