The Working APA Actor is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander American actors in the entertainment world, whether it be theater, film, television, or commercials. It is an inside look at these actors exploring their passion in their craft and how they balance their personal lives with their work. But more importantly, this column is dedicated to knowing these busy actors a little better as individuals.
Before we start, first, you must watch this video.
As you watch, you might have noticed a very intense looking woman who is the highlight of this hilarious video. That woman is none other than Lynn Chen, who has played significant roles in Saving Face, The People I’ve Slept With, and White on Rice (all films that you must watch, by the way). If there’s one thing you can immediately tell with Lynn, it’s that she has a very fresh and quirky sense of humor that makes her truly one of a kind. With that being said, let’s take an inside look at Lynn’s life and how she became the fabulous actress she is today. After the jump.
Tell us about yourself! What are you most passionate about in this world?
Food. I spent most of my life obsessed with it in an unhealthy way (many years of eating disorders) and now I live the life of a foodie through my blog, “The Actor’s Diet.” I read about food for fun, watch cooking shows, listen to podcasts, and of course EAT EAT EAT.
What is your favorite junk food of all time?
What is this, Sophie’s Choice?! I can’t choose! It should be noted that I really don’t believe in labeling foods as “good” or “bad” though I do take nutritional value into consideration when making my eating decisions. There are “healthier” versions of virtually everything out there, but I’ve found no alternative to my beloved Tootsie Roll Pop – nobody makes a naturally-sweetened version of equal size, taste, and texture that even comes close to its corn syrup-y goodness.
Besides being an actor, what else do you do that you like to share?
Food blogging (obviously). I also play piano, sing, and love video games.
When did you know for sure you wanted to be an actor? What inspired you to become an actor?
I’ve known since I can remember remembering. I started performing early – at the Metropolitan Opera in the Children’s Chorus when I was five. I’ve always been comfortable pretending to be someone else. It’s being myself that makes me a little nervous.
When you act, how do you get yourself into character? We want to know! 😀
It varies for each project. Sometimes I’ll do a journal to figure out a backstory. I do a lot of research – interviewing people or reading books/watching movies. I often make a music mix of songs that evoke whatever I think the character is going through, and listen to it on set.
What has been your most memorable experience as an actor?
My first day on “Saving Face.” When I arrived on set, I heard a producer yell out, “There’s Vivian!” and immediately I began walking like her, becoming her. We moved quickly, and I remember being shocked that I was able to keep up with everything we were doing. At the end of the day, there was no doubt in my mind that I loved acting and all of its challenges. Every time I want to call it quits I remember that feeling.
When it comes to auditions, what has been your most awkward/fail one you have had so far?
I just had a commercial one where my bra was showing the entire time. I didn’t book it.
Acting requires a tremendous lot of work, both physically and mentally. How do you keep yourself active and level-headed?
I used to have a podcast called “Actor’s Off” about what actors do when they’re not on set. I came to the realization that most of the time, actors are NOT acting or getting paid, but that doesn’t mean we’re not working. When I’m not writing, blogging, taking meetings, auditioning, prepping, etc. I’m just trying to keep a balanced life – which means relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends.
Who would you love to work with, whether directors, writers, or other actors?
I recently made a list on my blog of all my favorite directors – working with any of them would be a dream come true. In terms of people in the Asian community, I’d love to collaborate with some of my buddies whose films I truly admire – Mike Kang, Jessica Sanders, Mora Stephens, Tze Chun, Georgia Lee to name just a few…and to reunite with Alice Wu and Eric Lin (who directed me in my very first project ever, “Fortune”) would be a lot of fun as well.
Let your imagination run free. If you could create your own story you want to put on screen or on stage, what would it be about?
It would involve music, food, and dogs. Think “Eat Pray Love” meets “Amadeus” meets “Lady and the Tramp.” Yup, I’m sure everyone wants to greenlight THAT pic!
What advice would you like to give to aspiring actors?
Don’t listen to advice about the business. Nobody has it figured out.
BONUS QUESTION #1: If you could be any animal/fantastical creature, what would it be and why?
Which ones fly and eat a lot of sugar? Hummingbirds?
BONUS QUESTION #2: What is your favorite guilty pleasure movie of all time?
I haven’t watched it in over a decade, but it’s probably a little known 80’s film called “Electric Dreams.” Starring Virginia Madsen as a cello player in a love triangle between a computer (Bud Cort from “Harold and Maude,” one of my not-so-guilty faves) and her next door neighbor. The theme song also makes me jump and down with glee.
BONUS QUESTION #3: Tell us about the Actor’s Diet! Where did it get its start?
I began blogging because I wanted to hold myself accountable when it came to binge eating and anorexia. I figured if I channeled my obsessive mind about food in a public forum, there would be no hiding. I certainly hoped that I would be successful and inspire others, but when I initially began I had no idea what was going to happen. I felt it was important to show that if somebody whose career depended on how they looked could come to terms with the truth – that size/weight/outer beauty isn’t important- be honest with herself, fall down and make mistakes, and still persevere, then maybe that would inspire/help someone who was struggling with food as well.