Will Harry Shum, Jr. finally be able to shed his moniker as Glee‘s “Other Asian” this season?
From a non-speaking role that was only supposed to last an episode to series regular, Shum’s Mike Chang has finally been promoted to a series regular for season 3 of Glee. Yay!
He, along with the ever-popular Darren Criss (who plays Blaine) will follow in cast-mates Heather Morris and Naya Rivera‘s footsteps to a season with hopefully better story arcs and funnier lines.
We know one person who will be thrilled about Shum’s promotion–longtime friend and collaborator, director John M. Chu.
Chu has already concocted a storyline for the smooth-moving Mike Chang. Chu tweeted to Audrey Magazine:
Hope you take note of that, Ryan Murphy!
“When I see someone like a Harry [Shum, Jr.], I get excited. I think about me as a kid — like, ‘oh my god, I want to be cool like that.’” — Jon M. Chu on Asian role models.
ISSUE: Spring 2011
STORY: Katrina Guevara
Jon M. Chu may be known for directing dance films, namely Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D, but don’t pigeonhole him just yet. The 31-year-old says he’s just a modern fairytale story- teller, whether it be through dance, superhero stories, or an old fashioned boy-meets-girl romance. He even considers his latest film, the 3D musical documentary, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, a modern-day fairytale. “[It’s] about a kid from a small town who follows his dream, has Usher as a mentor, finds his way and is anointed by the king,” says Chu.
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It’s time for that annual rite of passage: prom season!
As a woman who’s attended my own high school proms not one, not two, but three times, I know a thing or two about having a good time at prom. Hence, a good ol’ to-do (and don’t) list to help you along on your big night.
How many of you cried at Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never? You ain’t gotta be ashamed. So did we. If you did, it’s all thanks to the talented director Jon Chu who directed the teen mega-star’s documentary and infused it with an extra dose of heart as opposed to cheese. The director has Bieber Fever and a veritable man crush on Glee‘s Harry Shum Jr. (don’t we all?). After this interview, we think we may have a crush on Jon. Featured in Audrey’s Spring 2011 issue, and we’ve got the extras here.
Audrey Magazine: Tell us about a day in the life of Jon M. Chu.
Jon M. Chu: It’s The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers or Never Say Never or Step Up 3D DVD release — it’s all coming in at the same time. So yesterday we wake up at 6 in the morning and work on sound, music and sound effects. And at the same time we’re doing color timing. So I had my editors work on the pictures with color timing and the mix. In the afternoon we switched, and then I came back to the office because I had to do a Twitter conversation online to help promote the Step Up 3D DVD release, which came out yesterday. So we did that or a couple hours. Checked out visual effects. And then we’re meeting about a secret project, and then we had to do a Christmas party, with our white elephant craziness. And I had to recheck the movie last week to see if it’s good to preview. It depends on the day.
If you can’t seem to get enough of Mike Chang in Glee, then you have to check out Harry Shum Jr.’s YouTube channel and see what else he’s been up to.
On January 10, 3 Minutes will be released on YouTube. Ross Ching directed and George Wang and Don Le produced the film. The teasers on the Facebook and YouTube pages are just that: teasers. It gives a little glimpse of the film, but not much of a plot behind it. All we know from trailers 1 and 2 is that Shum has three minutes to do something, but we don’t know what. Does he get hurt? Are Shum and Stephen “tWitch” Boss from So You Think You Can Dance enemies? What is going to happen?! If you love Shum , make sure you check it out come Monday to see what all the buzz is about.
Glee’s second episode of the season is on tonight! And this being the Britney episode, we know it’s going to be a good one.
However, it was last week’s episode that was an unforgettable one to our writer, Camelia.
Here are her thoughts.
As an admitted gleek I had been waiting all summer for last week’s season two premiere of the Fox hit show Glee. As a Filipina American I was eagerly anticipating seeing 18-year-old singing sensation Charice belt her heart out for the world to hear. Charice’s appearance on Glee is a huge deal for the Filipino/Filipino American communities, but it is also a huge deal for the Asian/Asian American communities as a whole because she is continuing to put Asians/Asian Americans on the map in big ways.
The fact that Charice landed a role on an über popular primetime television show is a big deal to me, personally, because I grew up rarely seeing any Asian Americans on TV. However, when I did see an Asian American they were usually the bad guys beating people up with their karate moves; the nerdy guy or girl in the background; or the outcast foreigner with a thick accent and only speak broken English. What’s even more exciting to me is that on Glee Charice, a girl born and raised in the Philippines is playing the role of a Filipina girl born and raised in the Philippines who “totally” speaks English, as she told Rachel Berry.
As soon as Charice’s character Sunshine Corazon began singing her breathtaking version of “Listen” from Dreamgirls, tweets about Charice exploded on Twitter and people immediately updated their Facebook statuses to praise the young vocal prodigy. YouTube star AJ Rafael tweeted to the singer, “Charice, I love you. You make us singers proud. And most importantly you make us Filipinos proud.” Hundreds of Filipinos instantaneously retweeted Rafael’s message in support of their fellow Filipino.
The fact that individuals like Charice, Harry Shum, Jr., Jason Wu, AJ Rafael and Manny Pacquiao can become household names here in the U.S. shows the positive shift going on in our society right now. More and more people are recognizing the talents of Asian Americans and are no longer limiting them to just being intelligent and hard working. We’re slowly moving away from further perpetuating stereotypes about Asians such as being the “model minority” and it is FREAKING AWESOME. It’s awesome that young Asian Americans growing up right now can look up to musicians, dancers, fashion designers and athletes who may have similar backgrounds to theirs and look like them.
Glee airs on FOX Tuesdays at 9PM.
You got a taste of Glee‘s Harry Shum, Jr., in our Fall 2010 issue. The Costa Rica-born Chinese American is a mega-talent, dancing in the summer’s Step Up 3D, dancing and choreographing the Legion of Extraordinary Dancer (catch his Elliot Hoo episode here), and now back as Mike Chang in the season premiere of Glee, Tuesday, September 21. If you wanna see him in the flesh, you just might catch him (and a bunch of other stars) at Audrey’s Night Out 2010, our fashion event extravaganza on September 23, 2010. Buy tickets now, because we always sell out early.
Here, writer Han Cho gives us more from her interview with Harry Shum, Jr.
Q: Do you think your multicultural background has helped you relate to the multicultural cast of Glee?
Harry Shum, Jr.: Yes, I am very fortunate. I am very thankful for my parents for making me be open to things. My best analogy, I like to look at it like food. I love all different kinds of food, I love eating. I’m open to try anything. Sometimes I won’t like it, and sometimes I’ll find something good. And that’s what I do when I meet people in general. I am open to meeting anybody, everybody and learning about what they’re about. And sometimes it might be their culture or their different personalities. And yeah, with the Glee cast, everyone has a different background for the most part, and I think that’s what makes the show so great. What makes the show so popular is that someone can relate to it in some way, whether it be a character or an issue.
Q: How is Glee different from High School Musical?
HSJ: I think my friend said it the best: “Glee is as if High School Musical got punched in the stomach and got their lunch money taken away.” I think the only similarity is that there is singing and dancing. But beyond that, it’s in the scope of the choir room. That’s the setting. That’s what we do every day after you finish your class, it’s our extracurricular activity. That’s our second life outside of school.
I think definitely it’s a show that tackles all sorts of issues, especially like what it means to be gay in high school or race issues, and I think [creator and writer] Ryan Murphy hinted that he wants to dive into what it means to have faith and the questions surrounding it. I think it’s really tackling the issues that people go through everyday, and I think not many shows do that anymore. The writers are so brilliant that they like to take that extra leap and question things. They might get themselves in trouble, but at least they spark some conversation.
Q: On Glee, you play the role of the football player who deviates from the norm and joins the choir. You don’t see many Asian men in that role where they are playing the tough guy or jock. Could you share your thoughts on that?
HSJ: I have to commend the writers for doing that. You have the stereotype of Asians that they’re nerds and all that, and I think it’s really cool that they made Mike Chang a football player. From there, it goes from you’re on the football team and you’re popula, and then you go into into the glee club, and you’re non-existent after that. You’re on the bottom of the levels of popularity. As far as Mike Chang goes, he’s a guy who has this ability, and one of his lines is, “I was afraid outside my room.” He found this thing, this art that he is able to express publicly. And I think it says a lot for this character and a lot of people. A lot of people are scared to showcase what they have.
Q: Do you draw upon your personal experiences when you play this role?
HSJ: Definitely. As myself too, I was very quiet, and I didn’t talk much. I was afraid to talk to people. I didn’t know what they would think of me. And with this character, it’s still developing. I still don’t know much about the character because the character wasn’t as developed as it will hopefully be in the second season. I’m open to see what, who Mike Chang really, really is, but I know he’s going to open a lot more. He’s taken Artie’s girlfriend. He’s got some balls.
Q: So we can expect to see you with more of a speaking role next season?
HSJ: Yeah. We’re going to be shooting soon for that.
Q: Will you be dancing more too?
HSJ: Oh yeah.
Q: I know you’re heavily involved with LXD [Legion of Extraordinary Dancers], and LXD is pretty frickin’ awesome. What is your role as part of LXD?
HSJ: I’m an actor in it, a dancer, and a choreographer for it. I recently got bumped up to producer. It’s really cool to be in all aspects of it. In a sense, it’s like a dream project because you get to be a part of every single thing. With LXD, what I’m so proud of, besides being a part of it, is that it’s the first of its kind. There’s been webseries, but we like to call these “dance adventures.” When you watch them, they’re like Origin stories with different characters. These episodes aren’t 30 minutes or an hour. They range from 7 to 15 minutes. What’s cool is that you watch it, and you’re gonna see some awesome dancing and see a story unfold. It’s like little pieces to a puzzle. And people are really getting into it and trying to figure out what LXD really is.
It’s a passion project. I mean, we shoot an episode in a day. And when you watch the episode, we have some awesome, awesome crew and awesome talent in front of it. What comes out of it, we don’t expect sometimes. We’re like, “OK, we have a vision for it.” Then we come together and choreograph. We get a lot of input from the dancers as well because they’re so unique in their style. But when it comes together, it’s a whole different feeling.
Q: How do you juggle the acting, the dancing and the choreographing?
HSJ: Live shows are different. One thing that doesn’t change is that you have some of the best talent in the world. You have these guys who are amazing at what they do, so we showcase them in that way, but also we tweak the music in the sense that we can make it beautiful. Usually when you look at street dance, it’s hard, and everything hits. While still keeping that integrity, we want to place something on top of it that allows you to see something different. A great example is my mom and dad. They’ve seen this style for a while, but on tour when we did it and then coupled it with classical musical, they were like, “Oh my god, the music is so beautiful, and the dancing is so beautiful.” And I was, “Mom you’ve seen this before!”
One day, I get to dance with Beyonce. The next day, I’m doing a scene with Jane Lynch or dancing on an iPod. It’s so surreal. I look, and I’m so lucky to be doing these things.
Q: Is there a particular kind of dance you specialize in?
HSJ: I definitely can’t do everything. That’s funny. People have been asking me that a lot. I’m not a popper. I’m not a breakdancer. I’m not a locker. I’m not specific to that. I feel like I’m just fusion. I dance because I love to dance. For me, it came from freestyling. I love taking things from different styles. You might see a hint of jazz. You might see a hint of popping. I’m just unclassified, I guess. What I like to see is a dancer who likes to dance. Whatever I see and I like, I like to try it. For one of the episodes, I’m tap dancing on Glee. I’ve never tapped in my life, and I learned it three days before. And I fell in love with it. I was like, “Oh man, this is so hard, but I love this.” There are certain things I can’t do. Like ballroom, I tried that, and I was like, “Wow this is difficult.”
Q: You don’t have any professional training in dance. How did you get to where you are now?
HSJ: I think it’s really the art of mimicking. I turn my brain off and just say, “I’m just going to mirror this person.” And this is where the technique stuff falls into place.
Q: How are your parents dealing with your decision to take this unorthodox and very creative career path now?
HSJ: They’re super Asian. They were like, “Go to school, be a doctor, be a lawyer, I don’t care just make sure it has something to do with school and something to do with being adoctor.” It took a while. I had to slowly tell them. So I told them, “I’ll try school.” And I did. I went to college for a little bit, but it didn’t work out. I didn’t really like it. I had this whole opportunity to go down to L.A. And I did. I got lucky in the sense that I started getting jobs, and some tours here and there. And then came a time, where I said, “OK, I’m going to take this seriously and not get distracted from my art.” Parents are only worried that you can have a good life and make money. So I just came up with a plan, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to dive into the business side of entertainment as far as understand it and get myself through, and utilize it too.”
And I think it was after I started making a living out of it. But really, I think it was after they started seeing me on TV. Then they were like, “Oh!” and started telling all their friends, “He’s on TV!” That definitely helped. And especially for my dad, he still lives in Costa Rica. So he doesn’t really get it. So his friends in Costa Rica, American TV isn’t that big there, but they show Glee there. And people are going up to his work and saying, “We saw your son on the show!” And he’s really proud. And that’s also cool. His English is okay. It’s not the greatest. And ever since he found Google Translate. I can’t even translate “choreography” in Chinese, and now he can read the articles on me.
Q: Any yummy foods you’ve tried since our last interview?
HSJ: Oh man. I’ve finally tried uni [sea urchin sushi]. I think I tasted a bad one before. Now I’m just like, if I try these things, it has to be high quality because I don’t want them to ruin it for me. Because it ruined it one time. And I love it now. And I went to the Philippines, and I tried jumping shrimp where it’s like a live shrimp and you pour a lime over it, and it’s like jumping, it’s still moving, and you squeeze the head and the tail and you eat the body of it. That was really good. And you could still taste the ocean on it.
Q: Do you have any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with Asian Americans who are pursuing an artistic, more unorthodox career like yourself?
HSJ: There’s no right way to do it. I think that there are many ways. Learning the business side of it. You know making sure you are practicing your art as much as you are understanding that business. Once you get into it, you’ll have lawyers and stuff to take care of it, but you still have to understand what you’re signing. And don’t be limited by what the media tells you of stereotypes. Because you can go against the grain. They’ll be like, “You’re not nerdy enough,” and I’ll be like, “WTF does that mean?” “You’re not Asian enough” — I’m like, “what?” I’ve been in rooms where they’re like, “No, you’re not Asian enough. You don’t fit that type. And I’ll be like, “Um, OK.” Don’t be limited by that. If you really believe where you’re going, I believe you’ll find some success. And hopefully you’ll get going and going.
Q: Any final words?
HSJ: I can’t just thank people who love what I do enough. It means a lot. You do something, and you just hope that people respond to it in some way or another. I’m just so thankful that people are supporting me in that way. And I wouldn’t be here without them.
Never knew Harry Shum, Jr. of Glee (he plays Mike Chang) could dance, didya? Our writer Han Cho was certainly impressed when she interviewed him for our upcoming Fall issue. And now he’s starring in Jon Chu’s Step Up 3D, along with AA actress Ally Maki (10 Things I Hate About You), out in theaters tomorrow! Check out his moves:
Ramona and Beezus
Release Date: July 23rd, 2010
Based off a children’s novel written by Beverly Cleary (who not only was a librarian before quitting to write childrens’ novels, but is also named Beverly Cleary–clearly suited for her profession), this movie follows the life and times of Ramona, a third grader whose wild imagination and unusual energy will undoubtedly cause some sort of mild conflict for her loved ones. Feelings may be hurt! Expect sass!
Her teacher and arch-nemesis, Mrs. Meacham, is played in typically mature fashion (has she ever played a role young?) by Sandra Oh. As a side note, it’s actually possible to emerge from a productivity-killing Youtube session on Oh with a higher level of respect for her, which is more than can be said for many actors, actresses, and people in general.
Joey King plays Ramona while Selena Gomez of Disney Channel fame takes the part of older sister Beezus. If you haven’t heard of them, there’s a good chance you don’t fall into the target demographic for this movie. That’s A-OK. Continue Reading »
Finally! Glee is back!
Season 2 of the cult hit is back on the air tonight on Fox.
Yesterday we republished the story we did on Jenna Ushkowitz, who plays Tina Cohen-Chang on Fox’s hit series. Now get to know the other hot Asian American character in the glee club, Harry Shum, Jr., who plays football player-turned-glee-club-member Mike Chang.
Read our interview with Harry here.