Chin is considered to be one of the pioneers of Asian-American theatre. He founded the Asian American Theater Workshop, which later became the Asian American Theater Company in 1973. He first gained notoriety as a playwright in the 1970s. His play The Chickencoop Chinaman was the first by an Asian American to be produced on a major New York stage. Stereotypes of Asian Americans and traditional Chinese folklore are common themes in much of his work. Much of his works revolve around criticism of the racism in the United States. Frank Chin has accused other Asian American writers, particularly Maxine Hong Kingston, of furthering such stereotypes and misrepresenting the traditional stories. Chin, during his professional career, has been highly critical of American writer, Amy Tan, for her telling of Chinese-American stories, indicating that her body of work has furthered and reinforced stereotypical views of this group. On a radio program, Chin has also debated the scholar Yunte Huang regarding the latter's evaluation of Charlie Chan in his writing. This discussion was later evaluated on the activist blog "Big WOWO."
In addition to his work as an author and playwright, Frank Chin has also worked extensively with Japanese American resisters of the draft in WWII. His novel, Born in the U.S.A., is dedicated to this subject. Chin was one of several writers (Jeffery Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong of CARP, Combined Asian American Resources Project) who worked to republish John Okada's novel No-No Boy in the 1970s; Chin contributed an afterward which can be found in every reprinting of the novel. Chin has appeared in Jeff Adachi's The Slanted Screen, a 2006 documentary film about stereotypical depictions of Asian males in American cinema. Chin was also an instrumental organizer for the first Day of Remembrance.
Early in his career, Chin worked as a story editor and scriptwriter on Sesame Street.
Frank Chin in San Francisco, 1975
Frank Chin in San Francisco, 1975.
Chin was married for five years to Kathy Chang. Kathleen Chang (October 10, 1950 - October 22, 1996), was known by her performance name Kathy Change. She was a Sino-American political activist, writer, and performance artist.
The Chickencoop Chinaman (1971) the first play by an Asian American to be produced as a mainstream New York theater production.
A snapshot from director John Korty's "Farewell to Manzanar." Chin is in the foreground, with Lawson Inada directly behind.
Chin would go on to criticize the movie in the May 1976 issue of Mother Jones.
What's Wrong with Frank Chin is a 2005 biographical documentary, directed by Curtis Choy, about Chin's life.
Frank Chin was interviewed in the documentary The Slanted Screen (2006), directed by Jeff Adachi, about the representation of Asian and Asian American men in Hollywood.
Chin wrote the script for the 1967 documentary And Still Champion! The Story of Archie Moore. Chin's script was narrated by actor Jack Palance. Some of Chin's experiences would be worked into his first play, in which the protagonist is making a documentary about a boxer.
Theatre Communications Group produced the Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project, a series highlighting influential figures in the American minority theaters. Set to be released in 2017, one of the episodes focuses on Frank Chin, his time with the Asian American Theater Company, and Chin's influence.