I can imagine it must be tough to have a wuxia martial arts legend for your mom, but for Eugenia Yuan, being the daughter of the legendary Cheng Pei Pei doesn’t faze her at all. Not only has she pursued her own path as a rhythmic gymnast on the U.S. Olympic Team among other pursuits, she’s even had opportunities to work alongside her mother on various projects like Shanghai Hotel and Flying Dragon, Leaping Tiger. She also has a preference for indie films, though she played a role in Memoirs of a Geisha that even inspired jewelry design. Recently she played the role Karena Lee in the movie Asian American serial killer movie CHINK. More on her thoughts on the industry, the APIA community, and family in 8Questions.
What made you decide to pursue your current career?
I had been a dancer since I was six and then a national team rhythmic gymnast and I think all of that training and performance was just another form of expression using your face, eyes, body to tell a story, a feeling…and this perhaps was the natural progression from all of that…
Who is your greatest inspiration?
I think I am constantly fortunate enough to be inspired by people all around me every day in some way…someone, either a close friend or relative, or even a new acquaintance can touch your heart and teach you something if you’re open to it…I’m trying to learn how to be open to that always…
Where do you see the Asian Pacific Islander American community in 10 years?
I don’t have an answer for that because I don’t think I’m completely in the know as to the position we are in now…i believe everyone has the capacity to grow, move forwards in your life…and if as a community, everyone strives to do so even just as individuals, the whole will automatically become more and more positive as a result.
What advice would you give the next generation of API aspiring to make it in entertainment?
I would tell them nothing in life is easy. No one owes you anything. If you love doing this, remember that it is not for fame, or money, or whatever, but only for the contentment of your own heart. Also, the more life you live, the better artist, and human being in general, you will be…
What is your goal with the film CHINK?
I definitely hope and believe CHINK will have a release for the general public so that people can be entertained by this tragic, romantic, darkly comedic script and be mesmerized by the performance of Jason Tobin and the fine direction of Stanley Yung.
How do you feel people will respond to the intentionally offensive name?
They will be offended. Intentionally.
What stereotypes will CHINK break and what new ones could it potentially create?
It will break what everyone’s definition of “chink” is…it’s funny, when I told several people the name, they did not even know it was an offensive term!
What is your favorite Asian comfort food?
Anything my family makes together and eats together. I love my family.