You’ve seen KevJumba on YouTube and The Amazing Race, but soon you can watch him on the big screen in Rock Jocks, his first feature film! 8Asians was invited to the set of the indie comedy, which follows the adventures of a highly classified government agency with the sole responsibility of shooting down asteroids to save the Earth. We caught up with Justin Chon earlier but here’s what Kevin Wu had to say about working on his new movie.
Tell me your character in Rock Jocks.
I play a kid named Danny. He’s basically new to the job. He’s the youngest who’s ever been recruited so he has a lot of pressure on him. Also, his dad is the best shooter that the world’s ever seen so he’s basically living in his shadow. He’s very naive but his goal in the movie is to make people happy, because Justin plays a dick in the movie.
How did you prepare for your character?
For my character, I first figured out how Danny fits into this movie, analyzed the script and then I started building his character. Now I’m trying to be Danny. When I’m on set or sometimes when I’m at home, I’ll wear this ugly vest, just like in the movie.
How are you finding yourself in front of the camera vs. filming for your videos?
I have a lot more control over what I do in my YouTube stuff, so when I’m at home, I’ll do like 50 takes until I’m happy. Here, they’re time sensitive. We’ve got like 2 takes and we have to perform . When the director is happy, he says good job. But for my videos, I just do my own stuff and have complete freedom. [Director] Paul Seetachitt is cool. He’s the man.
Are you still in school?
I took this quarter off and recently am living in LA for the past couple months. It’s been good. School is definitely a priority for me, but it was just too much. Life became more stressful than it needed it to me, so I begged and convinced my parents that I should take a break. And if things don’t work out, I’ll go back to school.
Is acting a new ambition of yours? Or was it a surprise turn in you career?
I would say it was a surprise turn. Even when I was doing YouTube videos, I had no intention of doing comedy or having it becoming a thing. Now that it’s been done really well and I’ve learned a lot from doing it, a lot of doors have opened up to for me. Even for this role, the producer asked if I wanted to be in it, and I said that I’ve never done a feature film before. She set me up with acting lessons and so I decided to just go for it. Take advantage of this surprise change of events.
First YouTube and then The Amazing Race, and now you’re going deeper into the world of Hollywood.
I’m trying everything. I haven’t decided what exactly I wanted to do, whether it’s acting, stand-up comedy, YouTube videos. It’s fun to try everything so this is definitely a new experience, just like how The Amazing Race was for me.
You have a very good connection with your fans over social media compared to other actors. How are you planning on using your fan base to push yourself forward as an actor?
It is hard to balance between pursuing an acting career with YouTube. I’ve built [up] my YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook with people who actually support me and it’s really amazing. It does help my career. If there’s a movie that comes out, I get to make a video or Tweet about it, and share it with my viewers so they can go see it.
As an artist, I sort of have something to offer that other actors may not have to offer. I have a supportive network who I can talk to and get direct feedback. I think it will help me if I do decide to pursue other types of entertainment. I definitely don’t want to abandon my YouTube and my whole social media. It’s really what got me here… I do need to stay consistent and make sure that I’m thankful for them getting me here.
Your plan is to stay with YouTube?
My plan is to never abandon it. I may have a month–if I’m shooting something–or maybe a period where I don’t make a video, but in the end, I’m never going to abandon YouTube. Not like, “screw YouTube, I’m an actor now, I don’t need you guys.” That will never happen.
Even with this movie, I’ve been filming behind the scenes stuff and posting it on my website.I want to get people engaged. You have to be a social media person and keep people caring about you. You have to give and take.
Any tips for actors who are trying to gain that online audience?
I’ve been trying to help Justin build his YouTube. I have a lot of advice and that’s a whole other conversation about building an online network, because I’ve done it for four years.
You can be a social media consultant.
I could honestly be a very good social media consultant.
Maybe that’s the next step, after this.
After you win an Oscar?
I’m going to win an Oscar for Rock Jocks.
Then you become a director, go to rehab or something and then…
Yeah, for some addiction or something! And then come back, and be a success story. And then consult for Youtubers.
Then maybe med school?
Yeah, just to make my parents happy. Yeah, you just set my whole life up. There. That’s my timeline.
What’s your Asian comfort food?
Oh my god, so last night we had hot pot. It was amazing in Alhambra. But I just love Asian food, like Taiwanese food when I got there, I get beef noodle soup, spicy wontons, the intestines with pork blood. Chinese food is awesome. I stick with my roots. My mom’s cooking. She makes the best jajang-myun.