Audrey & Dre. Based in Los Angeles, Mr. Chen is an actor, writer, producer...and engineer. I completed this interview with him on July 28th, 2010.
I was first introduced to you via previews of Audrey & Dre, and even though Ms. Kelley sent me the amazing synopsis, we’ll shy away from spoilers. *wink* So how about we start with you telling us a few things about yourself?
I am originally from Houston, TX where I was born and raised. As you can tell from the previews, I do not have a southern accent, but I do know how to ride a horse. =) I led a pretty normal life while growing up in Texas: I got good grades in school, played varsity tennis and did the things that every other young person did. Nothing out of the norm; although, I did have a desire to be in the entertainment industry. But of course being from an Asian American family, to pursue that in college would have meant disownment, so I studied chemical engineering instead.
And how did your family react when you announced your career choice?
Technically, my career is still chemical engineering. My parents weren't ok with me moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but they were ok with me moving to Los Angeles to be a chemical engineer. I worked for a year or so in Texas as an engineer, then I found an engineering job in Los Angeles that paid for all of my moving expenses and then some. So now that my parents can rest easy and "have face" that their son isn't a starving artist in Los Angeles, I'm free to pursue acting and producing in my free time.
I understand you’ve previously been in commercials, and that you also produced a short film called “One Degree”. What can you tell us about it?
"One Degree" was a project that I produced for the 48 hour film festival. The premise was you had 48 hours to write, produce, shoot and edit a short film. I was brought on as a last minute replacement for someone who had backed out, and I rocked it! I managed to land sponsors for our film that were larger than the sponsors of the festival itself! You might be able to catch me on a DirectTV commercial that is currently airing on multiple cable channels.
Out of curiosity, what’s the synopsis for “One Degree”?
"One Degree" is a thriller about an ex-boyfriend who tries to win his way back into his ex-girlfriend's heart by showing her that her husband is cheating on her...but he does so in a very strange way.
I dig the sound of that! Now...it’s my understanding you got into acting with the intention of changing views of Asian Americans (males in particular). However, there’s this notion that in order for people of color to “come up” in American media, they have to be in films and shows helmed by and starring Caucasians. What inspired you to audition for a Blasian show?
What inspired me to audition for the show was the fact that they were just looking for an "everyday man" that just happened to be Asian. That's what really drew me to the project. They weren't looking to fill the role of a stereotypical Asian nerd or tech wizard. "Dre" was just an everyday man with everyday problems. That's really what I'm trying to portray to everyone: Asian Americans are just everyday people with everyday problems and are no different than anyone else in the United States. We're all just people.
In the “intimacy” department, Romeo Must Die disappointed a lot of fans. Ninja Assassin was a source of hope, but it too fell short in that area. Once again, Asian male sexuality was repressed. What can fans expect to be different about Audrey & Dre in this respect?
"Audrey & Dre" definitely do not hold back in the area of sexuality. In fact, it's one area that they explore as a couple.
What was it like filming the intimate scenes in Audrey & Dre? I’m always amazed at how actors do that with a film crew in the room. Have you done such scenes before?
It was fun/crazy/nerve-racking all in one while filming the intimate scenes for "Audrey & Dre". I had never done anything like that before and was really concerned about making sure Audrey was comfortable with me in the scene. I think she kept telling me to loosen up and really "don't hold back". ;) She is great to work with and made the set really fun and relaxed, so having the film crew there really didn't bother me. I just relied on my acting training to really play the relationship so the scene would come off as intimate.
Never done that before, huh? Could've fooled me! Could've fooled a lot of us! I notice the ladies have expressed an interest in Mr. Andrew Chen. Just from watching the first preview, one commenter wrote: “… He's one of them sneak attack type dudes. You gotta watch them closely. They'll have the panties dropped before you can say "What?"” Another describes you as “…pretty sexy.”
Wow! I didn't know people wrote that about me. I'll have to browse through the comments. Hahaha!
I'll say. You're creating a ripple with the ladies. Are you currently attached (you know they'll want to know)? What do you look for in a woman?
I'm not married...but I know that's not what you're asking. ;) ...Some of the key traits that I look for in a partner: She has to be intellectually stimulating; i.e., having her own opinions and interests that don't necessarily need to be the same as mine. I definitely look for someone who is outgoing and fun to be around. Being a driven individual is important as well; having a life goal or a purpose in life, regardless of how big or small it is.
Ms. Kelley stated in an interview that she was surprised there was such a great interest in the Blasian genre. What are your thoughts on this steadily growing market?
Prior to working on Audrey & Dre, I did not know that there was such a genre. I am happy that it exists and am glad to see that the genre is growing and strengthening its voice.
Aside for acting and producing, do you have any other artistic interests?
I used to make flip books when I was a kid. I'd animate little fight sequences or funny events. I've always been fascinated with animation, 3D and 2D, because you are free to create anything that you want. I also enjoy listening to music from around the world.
What’s your ideal role? And if you could work with anyone, whom would it be?
My ideal role would be a leading role in a race-blind show or movie; just a fantastic story with a great leading man, and that man just happens to be Asian. If I could work with anyone, I'd love to work with Leonardo DiCaprio because I think he is an amazing talented actor who really delves deep into each character he is portraying.
What projects are you working on now, and what can fans expect to see in the future?
I am currently producing a project that is tentatively titled "The Apex Kings". It's a dramedy about a grass roots racing team that's trying to make it into the big time. I also just hosted a special correspondence for an automotive show called "Fast Lane Daily". You can catch the episode here: http://autostream.com/2010/07/mini-to-wrc-volt-pricing-pagani-c9-gullwing-72810/. My segment starts at 3:55.
What goals have you set for your career?
Most importantly, I'm out to have fun! My goal is to sustain a comfortable living doing what I love.
Mr. Chen, thanks so much again for "stopping by".
Thank you for interviewing me!