Kicking The Nerd Syndrome

A new cohort of the best and brightest Asian-American students is rejecting the science stereotype and the ethic behind it

Tohoru Masamune, 31, grew up in a Japanese-American household distinguished by world-class scientists on both sides of his family. He graduated from M.I.T. in 1982 with a degree in chemical engineering. His success in the family tradition appeared assured. Then everything went haywire. "I realized I was totally in the wrong line of work," he says. Last year Masamune stunned his parents by dropping a well-paying job with a computer company to become an actor, a career he had been pursuing furtively on a part-time basis. "It was a huge risk," he says, "but it is also a huge risk going...

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