He became an actor at the right time. Here is a link to a book review to the new book: "Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom". Written by Dasuke Miyao and produced by Duke University Press, it covers the life of Sessue Hayakawa, one of the most successful Japanese stars that ever was.
"In 1916, Hayakawa was, for example, "ranked number one in the Chicago Tribune popular star contests," and in a poster advertising "A Mammoth Triple Feature Program," reproduced in Daisuke Miyao's "Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom," the space accorded to Hayakawa is equal to that devoted to Hart and Charlie Chaplin, indicating that, Miyao notes, "Hayakawa had ... by 1917 achieved star status equal to that of Chaplin and Hart." - asahi, David Cozy