Alex Chu is an actor and voice over artist based in Los Angeles. He grew up in Canada and spent his childhood in Libya. Prior to LA, he spent the last decade living in Vancouver, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Singapore and Hong Kong. His previous credits include the television series Psych and jPod, and he will be in the upcoming Blasian show Audrey & Dre. I completed this interview with him on July 25th, 2010.
What got you into acting, and how old were you?
I was in musicals back in elementary school, but didn't act at all since then until after college. I was actually originally working on being a singer-songwriter, and one day over a smoke break a sound engineer I knew suggested I take an acting class when I was asking him about improving my stagecraft as a performing musician. So I took an intro acting class purely as a "why not?", figuring I would learn something new and an excuse to meet girls.
The decision to pursue seriously was a more gradual thing - there wasn't a singular moment. But from the very first time I stepped foot in that acting class, I knew acting was something I enjoyed.
Do you have any formal training?
I trained at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for a bit. After that, it was a hodgepodge of acting classes through private teachers - nothing unusual - just the typical scene study / on camera classes, some improv here and there.
Let’s go off topic for a moment. You’ve lived everywhere. What was with all the traveling? And how did you like living in North Africa?
That wasn't really my choice. My father was in the oil business when I was young, so we'd move wherever his assignments took him.
And I had great memories of living in North Africa - it has made me a beach person, growing up along the Mediterranean sea and salt water air. Also, it was an expatriate lifestyle - going to private schools with other kids from around the world.
Sounds idyllic. What languages do you speak, after all this traveling?
I speak English, and a little bit of Mandarin.
Now, when you decided to be an actor, how did your family react?
My family is 110% supportive. I don't come from the typical Asian family - my father was a political activist for a long time, and my mother is a musician, author, artist and teacher. I was always encouraged to beat to my own drum - because they also did as well in their own lives. So I've been blessed that way to have a family that not only supports me, but encourages me to not be afraid to defy convention. Having parents who have a lifetime of their own as artists and rebels really helps because they understand (probably more than I do) the journey and process that I go through as an actor.
In fact, to this day, both my parents are the ones who introduce me to obscure foreign films!
How did you get involved with Audrey & Dre? What made you decide this was the project for you?
Pretty simple - I auditioned for it because it sounded like an interesting project, and they offered me a role. Plus, they seemed like good-hearted people, and I like working with good-hearted people. Good people, good karma.
We haven’t gotten to see your character in the previews yet. What can you tell me about “Denison”?
He'll talk about race and relationships in the abstract as a way to cope with what he's experienced personally. In other words, he'll talk about how "Asian men" are perceived as unattractive, as opposed to talking about how he himself was perceived as unattractive in his own life.
Ms. Kelley and Ms. Hunt were both surprised by the size of the market for Blasian media. Were you surprised by the overwhelming interest as well?
I never really heard about it before either, so I'm surprised myself. It's all good though!
Why do you think there’s such an interest in the Blasian genre?
Love is love I guess, and like any color combo it's probably been happening for a while. It's just that while every other color combo has been exposed to the media, Blasian hasn't until recently, so it seems "novel" at least for now. In most major cities in the US, there's tons of people from many backgrounds, so it's bound to happen.
It’s no secret about how hard it is to break into and stay in showbiz. What difficulties have you personally encountered?
The hardest thing is just staying patient - it's like digging yourself out of prison with a spoon. You have to work on it everyday, and have faith that each little scoop will lead you to the other side eventually without knowing how deep you have to dig or how far the other side is. For me, it's just staying positive amidst the daily grind.
What’s been your favorite gig to date, and what’s your ideal role?
I was part of a sketch comedy troupe "Laughing Make Mind Damage!" back in Vancouver - writing, rehearsing and performing alongside great friends. We were good, and had a lot of fun doing it - simple as that.
As for my ideal role, probably playing King Lear on stage when I'm really old. I've always found powerful men at the end of their lives struggling with their legacy to be the most fascinating, because it puts you in that moment of having to take stock of your own life and what you leave behind.
What was it like getting to work on Psych?
That was so much fun. I was blessed. John Landis (Animal House, Trading Places, Coming to America, etc) directed that episode, so it was amazing to work with a director whose films I absolutely loved. Also, Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show) was a guest star on that show as well. Watching these two people with decades of experience between them work on set really showed me what being a real professional is all about.
What are you currently working on, and what can fans expect from you in the future?
I'm working on my own web series now - it's called "Interview Don'ts" about all the things people inadvertently do in job interviews. I've released the first episode this week, and will release the next 16 episodes every week. You can find the epsiodes on www.funnyordie.com/redturtleindustries or on www.youtube.com/user/redturtleindustries.
Alex, thanks once more for "stopping by". You're a very interesting individual.